Thursday, March 22, 2012

Put Your Clothes On!

Recently we read one of children's favorite stories, The Emperor's New Clothes. My kids think it is unimaginable that anyone would actually believe to be wearing clothes while prancing through the streets of the town for all the world to see in only their skivvies. His pride draped around his shoulders masquerading as wisdom.

Wasn't he cold? Didn't he notice the shocked and embarrassed faces of the townspeople and his court? WHAT was he thinking?!

After putting the book away, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my own unimaginable prideful practice. Every morning when I rise, I go through a mental checklist of all there is to accomplish that day. And because I am a list-maker, those items get put in order of priority. The usual things like laundry, dishes, piano practice, schooling, Bible study, and exercise (last on the priority list, I'm ashamed to say) are placed and ready to be tackled.

Sounds good to be so organized and on top of things, right? Well, those things are all well and good IF I am doing them under and through the power of our Lord. To be honest though, I tend to get ahead of myself and plan MY day MY way. Bible study and quiet time are not slotted until 2:00 p.m. so I'll address the Lord then.

Can you believe the audacity of that sin?! My pride and selfishness masquerading as efficiency and organization.

I go about my business and plan on my own power. And any of us know the result of that effort, right? Lost tempers and a complaining spirit. An unkind voice and impatient attitude. Sin piled atop of sin.

However, there are days that I actually slow down a bit and greet the Lord first thing. I take a moment to lay all that day holds at His feet and ask Him what,when, and how I should accomplish all that lies ahead of me. I ask Him for His plan His way. I ask for His guidance and direction for every detail ahead.

He never fails me. He clothes me with patience and kindness that can only come from Him. He increases my faith in Him and my understanding of His truth and promises. He gives me opportunity to tell others (usually my own children) of His great love. He wraps me in a cloak of joyful preparedness that I could never wear on my own accord.

On the days when things begin to slip out of control and slide into craziness, I picture myself as that crazy emperor. Crazy enough to parade around the halls of my home and community without the covering of his daily dose of grace and mercy.

Then, I dash to my "closet" and ask the Lord to help me get my clothes on! He's always waiting with His merciful garment.

Proverbs 4:11-13
4:11 I will guide you in the way of wisdom and I will lead you in upright paths. 4:12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered, and when you run, you will not stumble.4:13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; protect it, because it is your life.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Duct Tape Sometimes Required

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This past weekend I witnessed my husband reveling in teenage memories.  We were visiting his parents in El Paso and I secretly set up a dinner with his best friend since 1st grade.  Unbeknownst to Mario, we headed out for dinner to meet "B" and his wife.  Unbeknowst to me, B contacted the third of the Three Amigos, "G" and asked him to join us.

There was much man-hugging, back slapping, and boyish grins as we arrived.  Mario had the best smile!  We all settled in over dinner to relive some of the "best" times of their lives. 

Boy-oh-boy the stories!  Adolescent ignorance paired with lots of free time and daring personalities created life-long memories of what not to do.  Some of which were down right miraculous that anyone survived - a.22 , a VW, and sand dunes!

As I listened over the next several hours of their stories and experiences, a thought struck me.  None of these 40-something men sounded ashamed or regretful of their past.  They laughed and pointed and guffawed like it was yesterday.  None of the details were glossed over or left out.  No embarrassing situations were left hidden.  Much was disclosed and without shame.

As Mario and I drove away, I told him what had occurred to my over-analytical brain. 

"None of you sounded ashamed of all you did" said amazed-me.

"Why should we?  It's over.  It's the past.  What could we do about any of it now?  You learn from it and go on.  Why hang on to it?" said my amazing husband.

Wow.  Here is an example of someone who has fully surrendered the old him and has allowed God to make a new creation in him.  The old Mario is passed away and the new has been made through a relationship with Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says,

So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away look, what is new  has come!

My hubby has clearly "allowed" Jesus to carry burden of those long-past sins and is able to spend his energy and time looking forward to what God has planned and intended for him.  Frankly, this is something I struggle with.  It's not a matter of questioning my salvation.  For I know and believe what Romans 8:38-39 tells me:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor the present or the future, nor any powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The forgetting is the difficult task.  It's similar to when you say something that's on the border of being ugly or tacky.  You can ask and receive forgiveness from the one you spoke against.  But, the words and their intentions are not so easily forgotten.  The moment I trusted Jesus as my soul-carrier, all-and-all, and Savior, he took my ugly sin-ridden past and waded it in a giant ball.  They were thrown as far as the east is from the west never to be seen again. He has forgotten them.  

Since becoming a new creation myself, painful memories have dimmed and details have gone gray.  Occasionally, things flash across my mind like a bad movie.  Ewww.  Then, I make a conscious decision to wrap that memory up in a box, duct tape it together, and lay it at Jesus's feet. 

Done and over.  Thank you, Lord.

As far as the eastern horizon is from the west, so he removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us. Psalm 103:12