Thursday, April 4, 2013

Its Only Through Grace That We Grow.

Thinking a lot about my parenting skills. Last night during our bible study (Gospel Revolution) we were given a set of questions to ask ourselves in order to help us identify our idols. These questions revealed several things to me, in addition to my idols. One was how much pressure I put on my children.... how much I emphasize to them what roads not to take and what roads (negative) I see them easily going down, based on their current attitudes. I reflect back to my childhood and my way of thinking back then, while I'm admonishing/chastising them. I always think, "If I could go back, knowing what I know now, I would tell myself_______ or change _______" and this morning I thought, what good would it do? I wouldn't listen. My parents told me much of the same things I would tell myself and I didn't listen to them. Why is it this way? Why are we so bent on making mistakes and learning the hard way..... and I think of the following story in Luke. Why don't we listen?

And I also think, maybe I should not be such a clanging cymbal. Maybe, I'm drowning out the encouragement and conviction of the Holy Spirit? Maybe I should trust Him more in the development of my children. Have I taught them to listen to Him? Have I been silent enough for them to hear? And this question takes me in a different direction.... I mean, this allowing the Holy Spirit to speak.... its what I wish the church would do. Less pressure/sermons for their attendees/members to do more--give more--making much of what should be a love gift into an obligation, convincing us that God's approval rests on how much we volunteer our time/money for their specific agenda. Their needs. What if we've been lead to reach out further than their "needs". Why do they think God couldn't possibly speak to us directly? Or IF He does, it must line up with what they desire. Why do they think we're wrong and not serving the same Lord because we're not falling in line with their agenda or interpretation? Do they not have faith that God will provide elsewhere or are they so deceived that they think there is only one agenda? Theirs? Will God not give them someone else? And if He doesn't, are they not humble enough to think, maybe they were wrong in the direction they feel they should go? ( I have been "unchurched" for over a year - and this is partly the reason - not entirely )

And why do I always want from others (in this case, the church) what I am not willing to give? I expect certain actions/reactions/behaviors when it concerns me.... but not them. Where is the grace I wish so much for myself? Why am I so afraid to speak up/out? I can't expect change, if I don't voice my desire for one? And I'm not alone in this thinking, in regards to church, there are several others not so afraid to speak out. There is a movement going on. People are starting to seek Christ apart form the church and this is why. We have heard so much about this freeing love of Christ but yet are boxed in by rules and expectations... so much so that we can't possibly love God the way we should because we're being told that we aren't doing enough. So then we do more, out of compulsion, and need for approval, when we already have it. Its contradictory. Christ died for us while we were YET sinners. There is so much zeal (and I understand that, I have it for my children), that we are compelled to grow at the speed of the church.... not the speed of the Holy Spirit. Mark 4:26-29 teaches that the Word of God, when sown in men's hearts, produces fruit sometimes slowly but always surely. But don't be mistaken, the church also has so much good. I have fond memories of the church I grew up in. I still see faces on here and recall songs and people that were my teachers and I feel such love and admiration for them. Am I robbing my children of this? Do I feel these things because it was during my youth when I was too young to be involved in or understand all the politics? And what about the hard questions? Do our church leaders allow them to be asked? Do they encourage them? I mean 2 Peter 3:18 says we are to GROW in the GRACE of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Get to know Him better...." well, I don't know about you, but when I want to know someone I ask them questions.... Do we not have faith that the Lord knows who is genuinely seeking Him? He even says in Matthew 12:32 that "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven..." Did not Jacob wrestle with the Lord? I know from my own experience, it was through the wrestling and seeking of God, that He revealed to me my true nature. Who I am. And just like in the story of Jacob, it wasn't until I humbled myself, and admitted my CONSTANT struggle with pride/arrogance/self-righteousness that He blessed me with answers. I couldn't find Him because I was looking from my perspective. When I was humbled and could see myself properly, then I was finally able to see Him better. And once I could see my need for His grace, love & mercy and finally was able to accept His true love for me apart from any works or deeds was I able to understand His love for others. When I understood I couldn't and didn't earn His love.... I no longer expected others to follow rules in order to earn His love & approval or mine, for that matter. Its still a struggle. I think that's why when Christ taught us to pray, He said "give us this day our DAILY bread." I need His help & guidance everyday in order to put my best foot forward. And I need His grace because I am bound to mess up... and its in the mistakes that we grow; GROW in the GRACE. And then I'm brought full circle, aren't I? Maybe just maybe, my children need more grace. Because its in the mistakes that we grow. Its painful to sit on the other side of our mistakes and watch them make similar ones. As I am sure its heart wrenching for God our Father to know how much easier life would be, could be, if we could just get it right. But He in His infinite wisdom knew we never would. And we would never experience full joy apart from the sacrificing of His Son. Because through that sacrifice came the only way to experience His approval and therefore, His constant presence with us.