December 30, 2010
Today while trudging through Leviticus, I had a moment which made me feel like a cartoon character. If someone decided to sketch the moment, I believe fully that they would see me, rocking a baby to sleep with my Bible in hand. Then, suddenly, an angel would appear just over my right shoulder to whisper God’s message in my ear. My eyes would widen and a light bulb would appear above my head. That’s how it felt, anyway.
In chapter 4, Leviticus begins to detail the proper sacrifices for unintentional sins. At first, it seems very redundant. The rules are all the same (which I will come back to), and to be frank, it’s boring. We don’t do this anymore. The Jews don’t even do this anymore, so it’s very hard to feign interest.
But, don’t forget…Lightbulb.
Five times in chapter 5 it says if a person commits some sin “even though he is unaware of it, he has become unclean and is guilty.” When I first started reading this, back in chapter 4, I felt that compulsion that you feel as a child: to offer some blanket prayer of forgiveness for all the sins I didn’t know I committed that day, but I felt strongly that there was something more.
Here was what was whispered to me that caused the light bulb: “Maybe the intent isn’t to make you pray about something you don’t know you’ve done. Maybe the intent is to make you be aware of how you are living.”
Let me see if I can be more clear.
Clearly the passage says that we are held accountable for even the sins we didn’t know we committed, but maybe just maybe it is also implying that we should always be aware of the sins we commit. Eventually they will be revealed to us, anyway. I have this nagging feeling that we would know instantly we were sinning–no matter how small the sin–if we were really in tune with God.
There was so much more. In my Bible, chapter 5 is titled ‘What to Give if One is Poor’, and what interested me was that rich or poor the price was ultimately the same: the death of an animal in place of the person. “For the wages of sin is death…” It has always been the price. And it couldn’t be just any animal. It had to be “one without defect and of proper value.”
So, either I got another whisper or just another layer of the same whisper was revealed.
Some people say that the old system of sacrifices was inefficient. Some say it simply became outdated, and this is why we needed Jesus. I disagree. It’s not that the sacrifices were inefficient, it’s just that we stopped getting it. It wasn’t enough to watch perfect animals slaughtered to take our place. We had to have something more powerful. Enter Jesus.
December 28, 2010
1: one that causes wonder or astonishment
2: intense surprise or interest : astonishment
There are words in praise and worship songs, in the psalms and in general conversation which we use in reference to God but are immensely difficult to comprehend. Awe, infinite, forgiving…
In the past, ‘marvel’ has been a word that I would place in that category as well. Astonished amazement isn’t the easiest thing to wrap your mind around, but this week, as I really looked at my sons and reveled in the joy of being a mother, I connected with the word.
My oldest boy is almost 5, and while he continuously amazes me and surpasses my every want, hope and expectation, I often take him for granted unintentionally. But, with the birth of my newbie, I was re-introduced to the art of marveling. From the first moment of meeting, to the early days of bonding, there was intense love. Now, however, 5 weeks later, there is simply a lot of marveling.
I spend countless hours simply holding him, looking at him, smelling his hair, listening to his coos and touching his skin. I hoard every hour, every memory, every look and sound and move to store up and cherish. I look back on those first weeks with my oldest and I have a new, overwhelming appreciation of that time with him.
In short, marveling comes more naturally than I assumed.
When I apply that word to my life of faith, I come to a new understanding of just how I should view God and His works in my life and in the world. His beauty, His divine planning, His providence and provision should hold me captive.
I should be able to easily linger in His presence, eager to soak up just one more detail of His essence that is almost beyond comprehension. I should recognize that each moment in His presence is a gift and I should never, never become disenchanted with His glory.
That is to marvel.
To be wonderfully surprised and intensely interested in who He is at all times, not just when He is fulfilling some obvious need, but when He simply is. That should be enough. Like yearning to hold a sleeping baby, I should yearn simply to be with Him. To touch Him, and to feel Him breathe.
Now that I understand, I think that word says it all.
November 10, 2010
I watch a very popular teen drama. It’s not something I’m terribly proud of, but it’s true. Occasionally, it’s poignant; more often, it’s ridiculous. Last night was a rare glimpse of writing genius, and I came away with two nuggets worth repeating.
1.) “Happiness is a mood—not a destination.”
In church, we are taught to distinguish between happiness and joy, but this simple explanation of the fleeting nature of an emotion and the significance we place on it really hit home for me.
2.) We need to start viewing Jesus as a life-saving organ donor instead of a patch or even a bridge to some mysterious “other side.”
On the show, a character I grew to love last season survived a gunshot wound because another young man died and was the needed match.
Here’s why this shift in perception is necessary:
Firstly, viewing the sacrifice of Jesus as an organ donation requires us recipients to recognize the severity of our situation. Organs are not taken from one person and placed in another to improve function, extend a healthy life or brighten someone’s outlook. No. Organs are given when a person’s life is on the line. When there is no other way; no option; no treatment available.
Viewing the reality of our sin in this light, we see that God had tried every other treatment. There was the law, the sacrifices, the rituals…these treatments did not work. It was only when our situation was deadly, and all other options had been exhausted that this drastic procedure was offered as an option.
Secondly, it is important for us to realize that we have no choice.
On the show, the character was in a coma when the other man died and the decision was made to give him the organ that allowed him to live. Similarly, we have no say in who gave for us, nor whether or not it was for us. The sacrifice of Christ was for all men whether they want it or not. We all have a new life available to us, we need only take it.
Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, we should view Christ as an organ donor because it demonstrates the attitude we should carry about life going forward.
Again, my nighttime soap opera shed some light on this.
The character who had been saved was struggling with rehab. He was frustrated by the length of time that his recovery was taking, and he was getting discouraged. When he saw the obituary of the young donor, and seriously contemplated the immense sacrifice that it had taken to give him life, he changed his attitude. Suddenly, the struggle of rehab seemed like a welcome fight and the annoyance with his slow recovery was put in proper perspective.
To view Christ as a man who gave His life, who willingly traded our lives for His grave, puts all the struggles of Christian life in perspective.
Ok, we might take longer to “arrive” than we’d like. It’s frustrating that we aren’t instantaneously transformed into new, sinless beings, but so what. We have been given life.
Our family and friends may label us cooky, zealous, or insincere and the world might question our sanity or stability, but so what. A man died to give us the chance to live this zealous, odd, blessed life.
Who are we to scoff at such a sacrifice?
Just like in organ donation, there was only one match. Our family and friends, our ideals and hopes, the systems of the world and our own attempts to right our wrongs…no matter how well intentioned…cannot fit the need within us. They simply are not a match, and Christ was.