Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Beauty of the Steadfast

I stand at the kitchen sink looking out the window. I see the brown, the brittle, the bare, and I long for spring! The warmth, the color, new life! I'd even welcome a bumble bee buzzing around between blossoms. I feel that unsettling desire for change, and then he walks down the stairs.

He is dressed for work, after having run his five miles at the crack of dawn and after breakfast, he's ready to head out for another day at the office.

He's smiling. Seems thrilled to see me even though we had breakfast together just twenty minutes ago. He says, as he hugs me, heading out the door, I'm looking forward to lunch with you and Chelle!

Steadfastness... I ponder... He knows what it is. He embodies it every day.

My heart overflows with gratitude and the desire to let the longing for change just slip away so that I can focus on the joy of this moment and my next task for this wonderful day God has given me.

I can wait. I can do the next task happily, because it is a beautiful thing to be steadfast. I want that beauty in my life every moment.

...the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with steadfastness. (Luke 8:15)

In your steadfastness possess ye your souls. (Luke 21:19)

To them who by steadfast continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: (Rom 2:7 )

 Now the God of steadfastness and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: (Rom 15:5 )

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all steadfastness and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (Col 1:10-13)

...thou, O man of God... follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, meekness. (1Ti 6:11)

...let steadfastness have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (Jam 1:4)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tess of the D'Urbervilles: Pure or Evil?

I just finished reading Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I thought I'd never get through it! How depressing! I've read enough about Hardy and the book to realize there are layers upon layers of study one could do to more deeply grasp what all He is saying, what all he is reacting to, all the symbolism and other literary devices throughout the book. I'm only touching upon what I was most moved to think about.

I resisted getting completely pulled in emotionally though it pushed me to the limit of resolve! I would read a while and then go off to ponder while I worked around the house. Forcing myself to step outside the book, to step away from the feelings I was fighting, I would ponder how Hardy was depicting evil and good and how that compared to my understanding. It frustrated me that he was so effective at pulling the reader into sympathy for characters that were basically evil.

I see why he is considered a classic author and why Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a classic novel. It will make you think, and it will make you cry - if you don't work hard to resist! It was tempting to sympathize with Tess, accepting Hardy's view that she was innocent and trapped. But I kept coming back to what I believe to be true. She was idolizing Angel Clare. She was allowing him to think for her instead of seeking truth for herself. She was allowing herself to be victimized over and over to her own destruction. Certainly there were times in her life when she was a victim, but all of us experience injustice. We are responsible for our response.

As a child, I had the simple understanding that sin was transgressing a known law of God. When you know something is wrong and you do it anyway, you have sinned. As an adult, I realize there is far more to it.

"Sin" is often translated from the Greek word hamartia (or harmatano.) The first definition in my BibleWorks program of the original Greek word is "to be without a share in."  We have talked extensively about this in our Bible studies at church, and I'm often working it over in my mind, trying to see how the concept applies to my life and how it shapes my view of the world.

In one of our Bible studies, the picture was given of God having a grand drama. He has a part for each of us to play, but He will not force us to be a part of His drama. We can go about life doing our own thing, acting out our own wishes, creating our own drama, deciding what we think is good and what we think is evil, but we will also bear the consequences for where our story ends. That, as I understand it, is one way to picture a person living in sin. Sin - "not having a part" in God's drama. A sinner - one who refuses to submit his or her will to God and be a part of what God is doing.

When I reflect on poor Tess of the D'Urbervilles, I go back to my foundation, to the best understanding I presently have, and I have to conclude, if we refuse to be a part of what God is doing, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Jesus came to reveal what God is like. He came to show us how to live the way God intended, a life that plays the part God designed for it. He calls us to follow His example, to surrender ourselves completely to our loving Creator so that He can help us know what is good and what is evil, and so that we can be a part of His unending Kingdom!

How sad it is when we try to make sense of life outside of what Jesus taught. Tess of the D'Urbervilles gives us yet another example.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Life - Centered Around A Pursuit of Jesus - Is Good

LaRae, with my parents

I've had these pictures as screensavers on my desktop 
since Christmas time. I had intended to do a newsy post, 
but it just isn't happening.

I knew some of you would enjoy the antics
of Curt and the girls... 

Wherever LaRae is, there is some sort of energetic goings on!

Rachelle and Curt have a different sort of delightful (often very funny) energy that keeps
my life interesting when she is gone. We miss her but are 
so thankful that she is where she feels God wants her.
That makes so much difference!

I'm blessed and grateful. 

I trust your days are full of joy and meaning
as you go about your duties.

"There are many benefits to walking obediently with Jesus," I recently
read in my Elisabeth Elliot book, Be Still My Soul.
She's so right, and her book is so good!
If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Longing and Desire

Keith, Me, and Dad
What a beautiful example he and Mother set for us!

I've had many helpful conversations with my brother, Keith, through the years. It has been a while since we discussed the issue of human desire, but the last time I asked him a question about it, he wrote some thoughts down for me. At the time, I was wrestling with C. S. Lewis's take on the subject. If my memory serves me correctly, Lewis was influenced by Augustine on this issue.

I recently found Keith's thoughts in a pile of papers I was going through as I organized and deep-cleaned our home office. They spoke to my heart.

If you don't know my brother, let me tell you, he is a rare one. He has been studying the Bible since he was young. He still has an unquenchable passion to seek the truth. He has had an immeasurable influence on my life, and I am grateful beyond words. I hope these lines speak to you as well, and may they inspire further seeking and desire (for lack of a better word) to know God and know truth.

There is a sense of longing for the one who has trusted in Christ and has grown to love Him, a pull to hear Him - not a sound, but to hear what He means, what He wants, how He assesses. A pull to know Him: to understand reality as He does - as it is.  A pull to see Him: not a form, but the fullness of what He is and to see how He sees all else.  
But this longing is not an extension of the desires of the senses for sublime stimulation. It is more a place of rest for those who have seen the final emptiness of sensual experience. It is trust. Trusting Him instead of them. 
It is rest because there is a cessation of feeding desire like a fire, a submission of pursuing or even defining fulfillment other than to trust it to Him. He is our exceeding great desire. And yet, at one in Him I find rest.

Isn't that beautiful!?

Thanks be to God, I have found Keith's words to be true.