November 19, 2009
At 16, I believed full that love was forever and only came around once in a person’s life. After the person was found, the search ended. That relationship was then supposed to lead to a marriage that would last until death.
There is no identifiable cause for that theory. Maybe it was the excessive amount of movie watching I did as a child or the voracious reading of a million books with happy endings. Whatever the cause, the idea stuck and wreaked havoc on my adolescent life.
When a high school romance ended, as most do, I became convinced that my chance at love was gone. And later, as relationships ended, I felt my theory was justified.
Thankfully, mercifully, God thinks differently than I do.
One of the most awe-inspiring characteristics of God is His willingness to pursue His children. He is the shepherd who leaves the flock of 99 to recover the 1 lost sheep. He is the whisper who followed Moses to his hiding place, the master who lead by fire and wind in the midst of the desert.
God does not let shame, fear, pride, busy-ness, ignorance, or even sin keep us from Him. He provides healing, strength, humility, focus, truth, and salvation.
But here’s the best part—God does not reach out once. There is no such thing as “missing” a shot at salvation. He spends a lifetime, eons reaching out to us. My sister once quoted someone as having said that the first chapter of the first book of the Bible is about the fall of man, the remaining 65 books are about God lovingly pursuing a solution to that division.
But hurt is hard to overcome. “Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven Times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”- Matthew 18:21-22
The reason there is no limit on God’s acceptance, grace, and forgiveness is because there are no bounds to His love.
Likewise, there are no bounds keeping humanity from loving infinitely. Not only were we made in His image, but we were also given access to His very spirit. And, we can become ruled by the heart of God. 7 million forgivenesses dwell within us because infinite love exists there too.
So, maybe love will find me and lead to the ending I saw years ago—but my standards are different now. Even my heart is different now, so maybe my priorities are different too.
Just knowing I am capable of loving again and again in every way that could be required of me is enough. I know love is not a one time opportunity. I have faith in the spirit that God has given me.
There are closed hearts but mine will not be one of them.
November 11, 2009
“…They let worries, riches, and pleasures of this life keep them from growing and producing good fruit.”-Luke 8:14
Unfortunately, the addictions I suffer from are completely accepted, even praised by American society. I feel no shame as I walk through campus with my nose stuck in some book. There are no support groups for excessive hockey watching. In short, there are no external pressures causing me to feel shame.
Just because my addictions aren’t illegal or shameful doesn’t mean they are not destructive.
There are the small ways my life is affected when I am absorbed in a book or in a television series. First, I start putting off small responsibilities in favor of a few extra minutes with the fictional world I am consuming. Then, larger responsibilities begin to get less and less of my attention and time. Most embarrassingly, I begin to ignore my son. I become glad that the electronic babysitter in our living room captivates him for ten minute spans…In short, I become a different person.
Unfortunately these changes aren’t the most destructive paths my addictions take me down. Inevitably, my daily time spent in Bible reading gets re-allocated to novel reading time. This doesn’t seem like a massive change, however, I know me. I know that I am a different person when I am away from God’s word. I cuss more. I become overwhelmed easily. I look for satisfaction and peace outside of prayer and faith. These changes in my personality provide the momentum to perpetuate the cycle of disregarding responsibility and ignoring the people I love the most.
So, again the providence of God taught me multiple lessons through one simple paragraph. The words “distractions are the archnemesis of productivity. It’s a battle to avoid getting sidetracked and ruled by interruptions. Distractions can choke out your focus on God’s truth and rob you of the life Christ offers you” greeted me when I finally returned to my study Bible.
Ah…ok, God. I got the message.
Distractions, not crimes. The distractions I allow to rule my life end up robbing me of the joys God placed in my life.
So, what does this mean? Do I stop reading? Do I throw out my television? (Maybe the TV thing isn’t such a bad idea…) No.
I simply need to focus, to balance. When my life is focused on God and making sure every day that I am in His will, then all other things fall into place. I have no trouble cherishing time with son when I understand the significant responsibility I was given. When I study, I am better. When I am better, I love more. When I love more, I do more for those I love.
It’s a much more positive cycle.
So, my lesson is this—Balance is only possible when God is the center mcuh like in a relationship. It sounds much simpler than it is.
He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of the sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory…