Thursday, August 11, 2011

Right in front of me

Have you ever had one of those days where you hop right out of bed, get some good hair going on, and feel skinny in your outfit? You go on about your day seeing half the people you know and life is full of high fives and big smiles. Then at a quick glance in the mirror something grabs you and demands a second glance. All the sudden, you realize there is a huge zit right on the corner of your chin or side of your nose! Where did that come from? How long has it been there? How many people have seen you with that bulging thing today? Better yet, why didn't someone mention to you, this thing that now feels like Mt Kilimanjaro?! 

Sigh. Thankfully those pesky things that pop up with lightening fast skills usually are removable equally as fast with little to no sign of remains. I hate those bad boys!

I had that entire scenario happen to me this week. Only it played out spiritually. 

I was having a pretty good day, feeling pretty comfortable and confident. Connecting with some friends and having some laughs. Then late in the evening, Mike and I were discussing a particular situation and he said something that just rang in my ears. We were actually discussing someone else and he said "Sometimes people just cant see their own religion that's right in front of their own faces." Now that's not a hugely profound statement in and of itself. The saying 'You can't see the forest for the trees' is as old as the day is long, but for whatever reason this idea clocked me upside the head. 

Shortly after when I went to bed,  I felt like the Lord gave me a snap shot of my day and revealed some big, irritated and exposed religion of mine that was right in front of me. Multiple occasions. With multiple people. Yikes! Not good! I was so embarrassed and frustrated! How had I been so blind to my own motives? Where had that stuff come from? How long has it been there? I certainly didn't remember seeing that this morning! Sigh.

In bible study this week we landed on James 1:14-18 which says this: 
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Verse 15 and 16 were the ones that continued to show me where this ugly manifestation were coming from. Selfish ambition was the culprit. And it brings earthly, unspiritual and demonic wisdom, disorder and every vile practice. Yes it was vile alright, a big 'ol spiritual zit if there ever was one. 

It would make this a cool post if I had some scientific insight about the human body as to why those unsightly things surface and I could make some interesting parallel, but I don't. What I do know is that usually they clean up pretty quickly and relatively painlessly and most often don't even leave a scar. That's so like Jesus. Check out this passage in Isaiah where someone else had a double take in the mirror.

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for." Isaiah 6:4-7
As quickly as I saw my own junk, and confessed it to Jesus, healing was right there waiting. After repenting and asking for the Holy Spirit to come and lead me into life, the Lord comforted me with a few of his precious promises:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13 
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

And then reminded me of a few truths too.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:23-25
The take away for me was this. Seemingly out of nowhere stuff can surface that I had no idea was in me. It is the truth of the depravity of my sinful nature. Given the right circumstances, my vile heart is capable of anything. But, confession and repentance bring swift realignment. Then seeking wisdom from above, which is keeping in step with the Spirit, bring a harvest of righteousness which is being in "right standing" with God. 

Oh how I hate the days where others see a side of me that is less than becoming. Especially when I'm oblivious! How humbling yet clearly the way of life. But I'm so much more thankful for his word and grace that extracts my impurity and fills the void all at once. Grace that cleans and heals, and reminds me "I'm still a work in progress." 

How great is our God? 

Jesus, truly your love is patient!  It is your kindness Lord that leads me to repentance. Thank you for grace.  Keep working in my heart Lord and take all the junk out until all that is left is a reflection of you! Your love is extravagant and I am humbled and amazed. All praise belongs to you God! You are a good God!

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