Today in church I was really convicted about this blog I am writing. Our current sermon series is about learning how to incorporate spiritual disciplines in our lives. Today’s topic was about getting into the Word of God…not for information, but for transformation.
Do I read these scriptures just so I can check them off a list? Do I approach them the way I do the newspaper, skipping over or skimming items that don’t interest me, or do I approach them as I would a letter from a friend? Do I tweak what I read to make it fit the way I think I should live my life, or do I ask God to transform me through my reading? Do I draw near to God as I read, or do I hurriedly speed read so I can feel good about my actions?
And…what is the condition of my heart as I read?
Am I giving the seeds that are in the Word fertile, receptive soil in my heart? Truthfully, I confess that my heart is not made up of the perfect mixture of soil. I have my fair share of weedy worries that choke out and obscure the truth I find in God’s words.
I’ve noticed that some of my blogs about Job and Genesis reflect the weedy condition of my heart. I wish I could go back and change them…but this blog is a process. It’s a written testimony of my attempt to put the Lord first. Along the way I will make mistakes, so please be sure to measure my words against the truth of scripture. I pray right now, before I write another word, that the Lord will clear out the stones and weeds from my heart so that I will be receptive – and teachable.
God is the God of the impossible. He choses time and time again to use impossible scenarios to accomplish his purposes. Chapters 16-18 of Genesis deal with Abraham and Sarah’s struggles with infertility. God had already told Abraham that he would be the father of many, many descendants. Yet Sarah lost hope, and she took matters into her own hands when she gave her maid, Hagar, to Abraham and told him to take her as a wife. Hagar did indeed get pregnant, but the fruit of that union was filled with strife. Jealousy arose between the two women to such an extreme that Hagar ran away.
When I take matters into my own hands rather than waiting on the Lord, my life ends up just as convoluted as Sarah’s. She thought she wanted a child via Hagar, but she discovered quickly that she couldn’t handle the jealousy when Hagar did get pregnant. Rather than bringing my cares to God, I am on the lookout for a quick fix. Or, when I bring Him my cares, I am prone to start fixing things without him when it seems that it’s taking too long. I can relate to Sarah’s anguish about not being able to have a child, because I will never have another. Unlike Abraham, the Lord has not approached my husband and promised him that we would have many children…but even if he had, I don’t know how that would be accomplished. It’s now medically impossible, unless we adopt. And now we’ve reached the point where we accept our situation and praise God for giving us the daughter we have. The “urge” I’ve had to adopt has gradually faded away. I’m not sure if that is a blessing or not! But it’s real, and if I ever feel it again, it will be because God tells my husband we will have another child and not because I take matters into my own hands. I tried being in that driver’s seat…convincing my husband to attend an adoption seminar despite his disinclination to adopt, compiling scriptures about adoption, researching adoption agencies…and not following the leadership of my husband, who is, after all, the head of my household the way Christ is the head of the church. The “what-ifs” resulting from all my research led to painful fruit. It would have been much better if I had waited on the Lord. Now that I accept that, I have peace.
I wanted to gloss over the portion of chapter 17 that describes circumcision because, being a woman, I don’t really understand it! Was it a cultural norm in other societies back then to circumcise baby boys? God promised Abraham a child by his wife Sarah and established the covenant with him through circumcision. I can only imagine what it must have been like for those men. His son Ishmael was thirteen and Abraham was 99. Did they have medicine for pain? At any rate, Abraham’s obedience in this covenant shows his complete respect for God and his willingness to endure anything for Him.
What about me? Am I willing to endure suffering for God? There may come a time, even in my lifetime, when those of us who follow Christ will suffer as he suffered, for our faith. Already pastors around the world are going to jail for “hate speech” for speaking out against homosexual behavior. When will that extreme political correctness come to America, and where will it stop? What should we Christians do when the society around us hates us and persecutes us for our beliefs? Stay silent?
I watched Ben Stein’s Expelled movie about a week ago and can’t get something one of the scientists said out of my mind. This scientist discounted Intelligent Design and blamed the movement on “church people.” He said that it should be fine for people in America to go to church for “social” reasons but that they should not let it permeate their rational lives. This is what unbelievers do not understand: when we accept Christ, a transformation begins in us. Our entire view of the world is radically changed. Knowing that death has no sting…that there is life after death…has a way of changing our perceptions of the world and of our Creator.
I could not debate the scientist because he was confined to the television screen, but there are others out there who believe as he does because they have not yet discovered the truth. But I’m not taking this situation into my own hands. I will wait on the Lord to show me how to respond if, and when, I am confronted with someone who believes it is okay for me to go to church for social reasons but that I should not let it change who I am.
Transform me, Lord. Make me who you want me to be.