Tuesday, January 31, 2012

If you only knew

Well it's the last day of January, so I'm not technically too late for the whole New Years post am I? My new years resolution was to stop procrastinating, but well .... Just kidding, I'd never make that resolution. Grin.

But the New Year did come and go and in the bustle of it all I didn't make time to do the whole reflect-on-the-past-and-dream-for the-future-thing till a few weeks ago.

As I was reminiscing the past year on my blog, I noticed while there were some tough things in 2011, there were lots of good things too. My word for the year last year was obedience. What I wanted from God was not a master/slave type of obedience. But a closer walk with Him. A keep in step with the Spirit, personal relationship type of obedience. Obedience that is a response from love, not from command. There has definitely been progress there.

I kept reading even past 2011 into 2010 and was reminded of some truth I felt God speak to me in a new way. I had blogged about a passage in Matthew and condemning the innocent. I was dealing with my own insecurity and the fact that I needed to stop rehearsing abusive thoughts towards myself.

Well God just so worked it out that the day before I read that old post, I was writing and studding this same passage for a different connection.

The scripture is Matthew 12:1-8 and the setting is Sunday, the Sabbath. The disciples are hungry and as they are walking through the wheat fields, they help themselves to some dinner. The Pharisees observe this and start a'fussin. They rebuke Jesus for the unlawful act of working on the day of rest.  Jesus accurately uses scripture to correct them and help adjust their flawed thinking. What he says to them grabbed me as if Jesus turned from the Pharisees and began speaking directly to me;
"And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is the lord of the Sabbath." 

The words 'I desire mercy' rang in my head.

One of the things that made 2011 tough in some ways was a period of transition. Life always brings change. And change brings to the surface stuff that you may or may not have recognized, or more importantly, may or may not have wanted to deal with.  And upon remembering, (oh the pain of transparency) the Lord has revealed a critical spirit in me.

Ministry is tough. Because when ministry is as it should be, it's not about programs or events or Sunday mornings. Ministry is about people. And people, beginning with me, are messy. And just like a Pharisee whose vision gets too tightly zoomed in on 'this is how we do it', I forget that God is sovereign and not really interested in everyone keeping my rules that falsely make my little corner of the world feel secure.

How intriguing that my "goal" for myself last year was to obtain a more loving relationship with my Creator by keeping in step with him. The very thing I want for myself is the very thing he wants for everyone.

He desires I give mercy to the people around me that aren't keeping my "rules." He wants to walk with them too, and give them the freedom to eat when they are hungry. The truth is, when I find more comfort in obedience to my self imposed "rules" than in recognizing Jesus, I'm living as if he is not the Sovereign God that he is.

He is the Lord of the Sabbath, and of every other day of the week. And he is working and moving in other peoples lives at different times and ways than how he works and moves in mine. And to be critical of what Jesus himself is allowing displays a dangerous lie.

He is God. And he is Sovereign.

And his loving compassionate heart desires mercy.

The delicate intimacy that an ever reigning God has indivisibly linked to compassionate kindness is the beauty of the gospel.  It is exactly what he means when he defines himself as love. He didn't come here to condemn me. And he didn't come here to condemn anyone else. He came to bring mercy. And satisfaction not from food. And comfort not from rules. And fulfillment not from good behavior. Treasures I am learning as I walk with him.

The mercy that he brings allows for relationship. Relationship most importantly with him, but also with each other. Mercy that is ready to feed the hungry. Mercy that is inconvenient and selfless. Mercy that is judgement free. Mercy that gives life to this hungry, selfish, unreasonable heart.

So now I know.  He desires mercy.

Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8

Precious Jesus, how freely you have given grace and mercy to me. How selfishly I have held onto it until it has become a moldy critical mess inside. This is why your mercies are new every morning! Help me to remember who you are and to give like you give.  Thank you that you are in control. Thank you for your patience as I slowly realize more and more just how in control I am not. Your grace is enough Jesus. Enough for me and all those around me. Forgive me and remove this prideful critical spirit. Make my heart a catalyst of your mercy Lord, and hold me accountable for what I now know. Your love is so beautiful! 

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