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Friday, December 4, 2015

Stop complicating things!

There are times when we just get our priorities mixed up - when we want something so badly and then forget about all the rest which really matters more than that one thing we are focusing on so intently.  If you have ever been a caregiver of an elderly parent or the parent of small children, you know what I am about to say next is true.  There are times when you just want the simplicity of your "old life" back - when you could come and go as you want, eat cereal for dinner, and not worry if the house was too cold for their thin blood or the objects in their world could topple over and hurt them.  The times were "simpler", but were they really any "better"?  The other day I saw a comedian describe what it is like trying to get out of the house with two small children.  I went through that phase - finding jackets, struggling to get shoes on feet (if we could even find that one which had somehow disappeared since the last time it was worn a few hours ago), and then the dreaded "I have to go potty" cry as we were just about to skedaddle for the car.  Yep, life was a little less complicated, but the thing missing was the "multiplied love" we recognize when life get a little "complicated" by the addition of those "extra bodies" in our lives!  Those we welcome into our lives are held in a pretty special regard, are they not?  Ever stop to consider the high regard God has for those who are welcomed into his life - those for whom he has prepared a special place in his presence?

You’re not a God who smiles at sin; You cannot abide with evil.  The proud wither in Your presence; You hate all who pervert and destroy what is good.   You destroy those with lying lips; the Eternal detests those who murder and deceive. Yet I, by Your loving grace, am welcomed into Your house; I will turn my face toward Your holy place and fall on my knees in reverence before You.   O Eternal One, lead me in the path of Your righteousness amidst those who wish me harm; make Your way clear to me.  (Psalm 5:4-8 VOICE)

We find ourselves in a mix of "welcome" and "unwelcome" guests at times in the circumstances of life we either create for ourselves, or have created by the developments around us.  There are those times when we embrace quickly everything and everyone who is in our lives at the moment; but there are probably more memorable moments when we wanted to turn tail and run away from who or what was coming into our lives.  This is just part of life - learning to "deal" with the unpleasant and appreciate the pleasant is just how it is.  God doesn't create chaos in our lives, but he isn't removed from us when it exists.  

He doesn't bring evil people into our lives to cause us grief, but he doesn't leave our side when they amble in with their evil intent.  His "carefulness" over our lives is evident all around us, just as the parent of the small child, or the caregiver of an elderly parent takes such care to protect and surround them with love.  God in our lives doesn't mean we are immune from the presence of evil - it just means we have a means by which we are protected from the destructiveness of evil and can walk strong in the midst of it.  

God doesn't smile at sin, nor allow evil to abide in his presence.  Maybe this is why he is quick to bring conviction into our lives - so we won't be inclined to make an "unwelcome" guest a permanent resident in our lives!  Sin doesn't make us evil, but it creates an atmosphere where God's presence has a hard time dwelling.  It doesn't keep us from being loved by him, but it is met with grace and mercy.  God's way for us isn't always clear, but he is quick to set us upon that path whenever we seek to know what it is he holds for us!

Sometimes we "look back" at life the way it used to be - thinking it was a little simpler because we didn't have to deal with the "conviction" of our present lives.  If you were truthful here, you might just say there have even been those times when you longed for the "simpler life" of just being your own "master" and not having to give an account to anyone other than yourself for your actions, attitudes, or accomplishments.  I have to challenge us to recall how messed up our lives became when we were the ones in charge!  Evil cannot beget good, and sin cannot beget righteousness.

There is something we don't always appreciate about our life - the "complexity" of being loved - of seeing "multiplied love" at work in our lives repeatedly.  God's love toward us isn't ever content to grow stagnant.  It grows and is revealed in new ways each day.  As he leads us down the path away from those things which have brought us harm, or intend to do so in our lives, he isn't doing it with judgment, but with mercy and love.  He is tenderly guiding us away from harm and into grace.  

As we stop to consider how much life is "complicated" by saying "yes" to Jesus, we might just want to reconsider that one - for life without Jesus was much more complicated than you might imagine!  Just sayin!