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Friday, October 29, 2010

Embracing Arms

32-36 "So, my dear friends, listen carefully;
   those who embrace these my ways are most blessed.
Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
   don't squander your precious life.
Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
   awake and ready for me each morning,
   alert and responsive as I start my day's work.
When you find me, you find life, real life,
   to say nothing of God's good pleasure.
But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul;
   when you reject me, you're flirting with death."
(Proverbs 8:32-36)

Wisdom, in the book of Proverbs, represents not only a characteristic we develop, but a person - the person of Jesus Christ.  The very life of Christ was a display of wisdom by which we can pattern our daily walk.  Our writer spent the first eight chapters of this book reminding us of the importance of choosing wisdom over any other action.  If something is repeated that many times in Scripture, it is pretty important that we put on our spiritual "ears" to hear what is being said.

When you find me, you find life, real life - these words point us directly to Jesus.  In him, we find all the things in life we label as "good" and "real".  There is nothing as fulfilling as coming into relationship with Jesus.  Yet, so many of us live far below what we would call a "fulfilled" life - we just don't "feel" fulfilled.  Why is that?  Well, we can turn to the passage today to find some advice with this question.  Those who embrace my ways - this is key to experiencing God's fullness every day of our lives.  

The concept of embracing is involves the idea that we take something with eagerness, excitement, and anticipation.  There is a gladness in accepting what is offered and a willingness to allow ourselves to come close to what we are embracing - almost like taking it to ourselves in such a way that we become one with it.  God's promise to us is that if we embrace him, he embraces us back - and his embrace carries with it more than just physical comfort.  God's embrace carries with it "blessing" - the sense of knowing that we are safe, secure, and sheltered.

When we understand that God values a daily "embrace" as much as we do, we find ourselves eager to run to him.  Our writer indicates that when we come to him with listening ears, awake and ready for him each morning, we find real life and his good pleasure.  There is nothing more that God desires of us than to be alert and responsive.  

Alertness involves being ready and prepared for action.  Responsiveness involves responding readily to what God shows us.  Think about an embrace.  When we reach out to another human being in embrace, aren't we hoping to find that person as responsive to our embrace - ready, prepared for the embrace?  God is no different - he is waiting each morning - arms outstretched.  His hope:  That we will respond readily to him - prepared for the action he will call us to be involved in that day.

Today, the willingness to embrace God in a responsive and alert way may not come as easily as it will two or three week's down the road - but do it anyway.  Yield some of yourself to him today and ask him to show you how to live a life of discipline and learning.  Then faithfully return each day - reaching out with an "embracing" heart - open to what God has for you each new day.  In turn, God's embrace begins to become a thing we cannot live without.  It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but a thing of blessing as we practice his embrace more and more.

We can squander away our time on all the "agenda items" we have lined up for our day - things we have labeled as "important", "urgent", or "requires attention".  God is not an agenda item - he is a relationship.  At first, you may have to "pencil him in" - but, in time, he will become your first priority even before you step out to "check off" the things of your day.  

I have a friend who reminded me this week of how much God loves her.  You see, she loves to cuddle - as a single woman, she doesn't have the privilege of another human being to share that with at this time.  So, God in his faithfulness, gave her a pet that enjoys "cuddling" each morning.  She gets to enjoy a few minutes just "cuddling" with her furry friend, enjoying the display of pleasure that her pet experiences in the tender pats, the scratch behind the ear, or the stroking of its fur.  God knows that we have a need to experience affection - even when we find it in a furry friend, it is a very good thing!

Think of how much more God wants to fill us up with the good things we can enjoy as a matter of being embraced by him!  His arms are waiting - are you ready to be embraced today?