Friday, April 18, 2014

Perfection

Awhile ago, one of my professors was teaching about Creation and the Garden of Eden.  In his lecture, he focused on a phrase that, while repeated over and over throughout Genesis 1, has often been misinterpreted in our modern context.

 "And God saw that it was good."

Good.  As we stretch our imaginations to envision what the Garden of Eden looked like, Creation unspoiled by sin and death and decay, often we envision a place of perfection.  A garden vibrant with trees in full bloom, the fragrance of flowers filling the air, animals living in complete peace, humanity at it's wisest and grandest; we envision a world in which all inhabitants thrive together rather than competitively stepping on one another to get ahead.  We envision perfection.

Yet God doesn't declare His creation as perfect.  He calls it good.  In fact, God commands humans and animals to multiply and fill the earth; He blesses Adam and Eve and says to them "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Gen 1:28).  God creates, then invites His creation to join in fulfilling His plan; He invites us to take part in His glorious design.

As a recovering perfectionist, this is good news for me.  It removes the burden of perfectionism from my shoulders.  God did not create me in my fullest forms but invites me into His work, giving me space to grow and learn in Him.  He creates me in humble form that I may rely on Him always instead of pridefully puffing myself up through my own deeds and character.  Like a little child, God invites me to follow Him as He leads and guides me for His name sake.


Sappy Movies



Those who know me know that I'm not generally a fan of sappy movies; I'm not drawn to the "happily ever after" media, the tales that neatly get wrapped with a bow in one setting.  My friends tease me about my love for sad movies.  Truth is, I'm drawn to sad movies because they seem to better mirror reality; life is difficult; it doesn't get worked out after a 30 minute episode.

Earlier this week I was watching a movie in one of my classes.  It dealt with a lot of difficult issues, so initially I liked it.  And then the ending: it ended with the kid getting out of the psych ward after 5 days and meeting a girlfriend there and his buddies all getting better and the coveted pizza party celebrated.  Blah!  Way to ruin what felt like a descent film by throwing a Hollywood ending on it.

As this thought crossed my mind, I was convicted in my spirit.  Wait, maybe this isn't as far fetched as I first judged.  As Christians, aren't we promised a day in which there will be no more tears, crying, pain, or death (Rev 21)?  Don't we have the hope of a Redeemer who will return and restore His world to become what He originally created it to be?  Don't we have a Conqueror who will once and for all defeat crafty Sin and Death?  Aren't we promised a happy ending in which our God and King returns, bringing us into right relationship with Him, creation, and one another?

Perhaps Hollywood doesn't have it all wrong.  Yes, we currently live in a broken world filled with heartache and pain; we see it everyday in the news and in our own lives.  But there is a greater reality, one that we often cannot see: God's reality of shalom and hope and prosperity, His original creation.  And further, His promise to restore His world to what it once was.  The Easter story proves that we are promised a happy ending.

Come, Lord Jesus, come. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Beautiful things





I woke up this morning with this song in my head.  The beauty of God's plan amazes me.  It amazes me how He can transform the aches and pains of our life into beauty.  The creativity of His plan is incredible.

Take this for example: two summers ago, I went into the dentist to get a cavity filled; not a fun process, but a necessary one.  In the process, I ended up speaking with a woman who, come May, I get to call my mother-in-law.  Through the irritation of a damaged tooth, I met a man who has become the love of my life, who seemed impossible, who loves God, people, and Africa, who cares for me and draws me closer to the LORD daily.  Beautiful things out of dust.

As I reflect on the past year, I'm amazed by how much God has grown me.  And growth comes through growing pains: facing lies in my life, conflicts with loved ones, loose in the pruning process, awareness of my own sinfulness.  Yet through it all, God has transformed my heart, transformed my life.  He's molded me into who He as created me to be.  And I praise Him!  I thank Him for His patience and grace.  I thank Him for seeing beauty in this speak of dust.

Pain

Pain is a topic that I've been wrestling with lately as well. As people, we tend to run from pain.  We tend to fear pain.  We find ways to distract ourselves when we feel uncomfortable: we flee the situation, thought, or emotion. We numb, deny, devalue, or distract away our pain.  But pain has a purpose.  The pain in my foot tells me that something is wrong, that something needs to be attended to.  If I choose to ignore the pain and run anyway, I could end up seriously injuring myself.  Without acknowledging the pain, I can't give it the time and attention that it needs.  If I don't admit the hurt, I can't heal.  This doesn't mean that we're to dwell in our pain or seek out ways to hurt ourselves.  It simply means that we must take the time to acknowledge our pain and give it time and attention to heal that we may be healthy again and grow stronger from it.  Pain doesn't go away from ignoring it; pain continues until we deal with it.

I think another piece of pain is also accepting that it is a part of life.  I think part of the reason that we long for a pain-free life is because something deep in our souls tell us this is not how life is meant to be; this is not what we were created for.  And that piece of us is right!  God didn't create pain; pain is a result of sin in the world.  Yet praise God that He hasn't left us in hopeless brokenness!  He has promised a world of restoration, and not just for the future, but also for now!  Look at the beauty of the human body: when you get a scrap, you don't bleed infinitely; though God did not design one's body to experience pain and evil, He has graciously adapted it for healing; quickly white blood cells respond to the scrap and a new layer of skin is created to heal the body.  And so God also heals our hearts.  He graciously gives us the hope and peace of His perfect plan.  Though in this world we will have trouble, we may take heart, for Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33).  We didn't fear or flee from pain, but rather accept it as a part of fallen creation knowing that God is greater than our pain.  There are times when are pain is too much for us, but it is never too much for God.  God is bigger than our pain.  He is our strength and source of healing.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Who-lo Crew!

Merry Christmas from the Who-le Crew!

Off to visit the Grinch in the Whoville 5k







3 puppies and a Robyn hanging out in Whoville



Da-da-da The GRINCH!



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tis the Season for Consumption

Black Friday has always been a tradition in my family.  For as long as I can remember, my mom and I would get up long before the sun to stand in lines.  Perhaps back in the day it was because we treasured a promised item worth the extra hassle, but throughout the years we've come to enjoy the routine of it: the stories of those who stand behind and before us, assisting strangers throughout the stores, speaking of family traditions and loved ones near and far.  As strange as it may seem, it become a fun way to connect with my mother as well as my community each year.

Yet this year felt different.  Truly, there were very few lines as we made our rounds; several of the stores had opened the day prior, leaving their aisles like ghost towns.  It returned to what most people see it to be: a day to engage in a plethora of shopping for knick-knacks and what's its.  And with such motivation, it quickly got old.

I think it felt different as well because my heart has changed.  In the past, I often become consumed by a good deal, buying way too much for my loved ones simply because I thought they'd like it and it was a good deal.  I've now become more cautious in my approach, buying for loved ones not everything that somehow relates to them but only what I know they will really appreciate and enjoy.

As I returned home for the day, I worked on Christmas gifts as the television played in the background.  Mind you, I haven't had television in years, so it was a bit of a culture shock as every commercial declared: shop shop shop!  After all, isn't that what the holidays are all about?

And that's when my stomach started to churn.  No, I have nothing against giving loved ones gifts: gift  giving is one of my favorite ways to express love!  Yet I feel like our culture has become obsessive.  We're overwhelmed with consumerism, with having more more more!  So much that the one day of the year that we're called to give thanks has been overwhelmed by buying more and more stuff.

And the dizzying effect of it has caused me to pause.  What really matters in this life?  What are the things that will make an eternal difference?  This season, as I reflect on all that God has given me, and His Son the greatest gift of all, how can I give not only material things but also of myself?  How can I love the least of these and outcasts in our community?  How can I love God by loving my brother?  How can I give and receive in a way that glorifies God?  How can you?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lessons from 1st John: Truth teaching

Want to be popular?  Give the people what they want!  Tell everyone what they want to hear, and they'll love you!  That seems to be the message of our culture today.  But it isn't biblical.

Too often in our society, we've become afraid to call sin sin for fear of pushing away people from God or for being seen as politically incorrect.  But if we do not acknowledge sin in our world, then people forget that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and we don't understand why we need Jesus to be our Savior.  Ignoring sin truly is a disservice, for it gives people false confidence that they're doing okay, that they're really a good person who messes up here or there.  But this isn't what the Bible teaches; the Bible teaches that we've sinned to the point that we literally killed God;  that is the reality of who we are.  And God, in His great mercy, sent His Son to save us by dying in our place on the cross that we may repent and have life again. that through His Spirit we are able to once again live holy lives.

1 John teaches that false teaching is easily accepted, while godly teaching isn't.  People don't like to be confronted about their sin, so standing up for our Christian beliefs is going to bring us under fire.  LORD, please give us the courage to stand for Your truth.