In Which I Have A Colossally Bad Day

I hesitate to say it was the worst day of my life, because that seems overdramatic, and probably isn’t even all that true. (To do that I’d have to go through all the worst days of my life I’ve ever had, and I just don’t feel like doing that.) But it was definitely the worst day of 2012. Yes, including the days I spent canvassing.

I don’t even want to talk about it, and I REALLY don’t want to talk about what I did afterwards as a way to “relieve the tension.” (There’s a reason I put that in quotes, let she who reads understand.)

That extended into this morning, actually, but I consider it to have been “last night” still because I had not (At 5am) passed through a sleep/wake period of more than 2 or 3 hours.

I still felt awful this morning. And sleep deprived.

I’m spending the night at a friend’s house. Otherwise I wouldn’t even be at church. I’d stay at home and participate in unhealthful activities.

As I was packing my stuff to go to my friend’s house this weekend, I pulled all of the gems out of their various bags and pockets. The rule is that I have to carry at least 2 with me at all (most) all times.

For those who don’t know, these gems are basically pretty stones from a Christian bookstore that say, “trust,” “joy,” “grace,” “be still and know that I am God,” “Lo, I am with you always,” and “friends forever.”

They were a gift from a friend. They are, in a sense, Ebenezers. (For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, and if you are interested, ask me and I’ll tell you and or post about it. I just don’ want to post about it here if there’s no interest.) Though I use the term loosely here, because they might not fit the definition… whatever. Anyway.

Which ones do I want to carry with me today? I thought as I gathered them together on the table. I pulled two stones out of my jacket pocket. Not these, I thought, and went to toss them on the dresser. Not table. There is no table. I pulled out, “grace.” Ok, yes this one. Definitely. I feel like I am in need of God’s grace today.

But I definitely don’t want THIS one, I thought as I pulled out a big burgundy stone labeled, “joy.” I don’t even know why she gave it to me. I’m never joyful. I almost tossed it in with the others, but then I remembered my friend saying, “no, not when you feel joyful, when you feel you need joy.”

I tossed the cards on which my friend wrote what the stones were for into the letter box at my parents’ house, so I pulled out last year’s journal.

“….keep this one with you when you when you want to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good.'”

 

After reading that, I almost put it down. Nope, don’t feel like tasting the Lord… Quite the opposite, in fact. I’d rather like to leave him for good.

I take Grace and Joy in my hands and sit on the bed as East to West by Casting Crowns plays in the background and cry.

Grace? I know I need that.

Joy? I need that too.

Grace and Joy.

Help Me

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I’m inright outright upright downright guilty all the time

I’m inright outright upright downright guilty all the time

Since Jesus Christ came in

Condemned me of my sin

I’m inright outright upright downright guilty all the time

(sung to the tune of guess which song, folks.)

In Which I Realize Something

Something is different this year. The people I felt I could talk to last year aren’t necessarily the same people as I could this year. And then I realized something, the one thing these people all have in common: they went canvassing with me. Those people I can talk to. James, Wyson, Kiana (to an extent), Miriam. (This is excluding people who are not able to be physically present with me, like Callie).

These people were with me through what I consider a “traumatic event.” I think that that is what sealed a kind of bond.

I’ve never felt particularly comfortable with Miriam before. Not because I dislike her or have anything against her, it’s just, I didn’t know her, and so there was an element of distrust there. I still don’t know her very well, and while I don’t feel at this time like I could open up to her, I feel comfortable in her presence.

The reverse is also true. People who I was comfortable with before I’m not so comfortable with now. I decline to mention names lest anyone get offended. These people only have one thing in common: they didn’t canvass with me.

The “with me” part is important. Because these people have canvassed before. It’s just… they never canvassed with me. In my mind they can’t know what I went through because they weren’t there when I was. Which makes no sense.

But it does make sense for me to feel more comfort around Kiana, James, and Wyson. Before canvassing these were not people who I would seek out. These people were there during one of the hardest times of my life. And they were there for me. They were there with me. These people saw me at my worst and they still love me.

Wyson sweeping broken glass off the bathroom floor. Crying together with Kiana at night. James helping me make that phone call, and then being there when hope was dashed. Even Marenda, to an extent. Sitting in the car with her, wanting to cry but wanting to wait, then looking over at her and knowing I was not alone. We both flooded. Even Daniel, knocking on all the doors I missed because I couldn’t stop crying. James dancing on July 31st, opening up to the team, and rejoicing together in victory.

Maybe there’s one exception to this, but for the most part, I’m closer to those I canvassed with. I don’t even need to tell them anything, I can just be around them and not say anything. These people saw me at my worst, and I know they’ll accept me.

It’s the others I worry about. The others who will be put off by my intense irrational anger.

But that’s another post.

This one’s already too long. And too pointless. I think more people read when this was about canvassing stories. I think I’ve lost half my readership now. *sigh* well, I never was very popular.

Help Me

I kinda lost my train of thought, cause I was texting James.

In Which I Doubt

 

So, I’m sitting here in the dark ground floor lounge trying to believe in God’s grace.

You see, today, I did a lot of things. I thought I could keep it under control by turning to Fred. And that did help. It helped me not to cry in front of Marenda and Grace, and also to not lash out at Marenda.

But then I couldn’t keep it inside anymore. I’m actually terribly upset that things aren’t the way they were last year. I don’t believe the changes are good, in fact, they’re rather upsetting. I really really REALLY miss being able to go into Callie’s room and lock the door if I needed to. And because I needed to do that and couldn’t, I lashed out at everybody.

Part of me is sorry that I didn’t just take it out on Fred instead, and part of me is feeling guilty that I ever talked to him at all.

I acted like a small child.

And then, I come back to the dorm, earlier than normal for a saturday night (or at least, it would’ve been earlier than normal if things were the way they were last year. Unfortunately this is probably going to become a new norm.) and I fall in another way. (Not #2, #3, or any issue that has a number….yet.)

And I want to do a bible study and I ask God to be with me? Yeah right.

I did the study anyway.

It was about grace. God’s grace.

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught[b] in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded[c] us that such should be stoned.[d] But what do You say?”[e] This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.[f]

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up[g] and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience,[h] went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,[i] “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?[j] Has no one condemned you?”

11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and[k] sin no more.”

Neither do I condemn you. (why does that word have a silent n? whose dumb idea was THAT?! It’s so hard to type.) (Oh and hey, can anyone tell me how to quote properly? all I can get it to do is italicize. TIA)

The woman caught in adultery didn’t even ASK for forgiveness. She didn’t even confess (1 John 1:9, confession is the grounds for forgiveness.) Jesus just… gave it to her.

That’s…. interesting. Moving on.

The pharisees who humiliated and shamed her were exploiting her for their own selfish cause. Their actions were inexcusable, but they weren’t really going after her, they were going after Jesus. See, this was their trap to put Jesus to death. If he didn’t stone the woman, they could claim he didn’t care about the law. But if he DID stone the woman, they could say that he was just as legalistic as they were, and that God had no grace. By doing what he did, Jesus showed that Grace and Justice CAN be mingled.

They didn’t care about the woman. The point was not to shame and humiliate her. They just wanted to entrap Jesus. Nevertheless, they didn’t care if the woman got in the way. To them, she was like the cheese in the mousetrap. The mouse eats the cheese, and falls into the trap. It sucks for poor little mousey, but the innocent cheese also gets eaten.

And this is what Satan does too. He attacks us not so much to hurt us, but to hurt Jesus. Because hurting us is pretty much the only way he has left of doing that.

That was my observation, not really one the study went into.

Satan wants to use me to hurt Jesus, and I let him do it almost every single day. Every time I fail, every time I let anger get ahold of me… I know what I need to do, why can’t I just do it? Why can’t I just reach for help? Not just the help of a savior, but the help of a professional?

Does Jesus still love me? Can he love me? Sebastien and Candis don’t think I’m a scar person. They said that today (though I think their daughter might feel differently.) If they knew what I’ve done, would they still think like this? Or would they snatch their baby from my arms as you would from the lion’s jaws?

Can Jesus love me? Can He ever forget? I know somewhere in the bible it says that he “remembers our sin no more” and “puts our sins upon the ocean floor.” Do you know how deep that is? Neither do scientists.

I know Jesus loves me. But I can’t make myself believe it. I can’t make myself believe that he would just give ME grace after what I’ve done.

I’m tring to become free of something (#2), and all the muck is rising to the surface. That’s why I’m so angry all the time. That’s why I keep sinning over and over again.

God gives grace freely. I need to accept that. I need to just get over this and accept that God can love me and forgive me, and that maybe, just maybe, he could make me into….well, something I’ve decided I really don’t want to be anymore, so nevermind. But, it would be nice to know that I could, if I wanted to.

It wasn’t so much the sermon that sank in today. To be honest, I’m not even sure what Sebastien’s point was. It didn’t even occur to me to go ask him. MaybeI’ll shoot him an email, if he has time for it. Something about the holy spirit, and a bunh of greek words.

I had to leave the sermon at one point because of hyperhidrosis: the rags that I wear under my arms got soaked and needed to be changed. And then I got distracted by the baby.

Back to my post, um, what was my point again?So, the things taht impacted me toay:

Christ’s Object Lessons (you all must read this): Parable of the mustard seed. The seed represents the kingdom of God, and the work he does in our hearts. Mustard seed is SMALL. I remember looking at my mom’s mustard seed as a small child and thinking, “wow, that’s tiny!” (I didn’t know at the time that it was GROUND mustard seed, which might’ve compounded the problem. Also, I kept asking to see the ketchup seed. Heh. Kids those days.)

Anyway, the point is that the least of all seeds grows up to become the greatest of all herbs.

The first time I read that chapter I remember thinking, “gosh I wish I had the internet so I could google mustard plants.”

Now I thought, “hey, I have internet, I should google mustard plants.”

Go google it. I’ll wait.

Back yet? Some of the pictures weren’t much, were they? But some of them were like, “whoa!” weren’t they? Yeah. Just one drop of God’s Grace can do THAT. Wow. Amazing.

If I could just surrender to God and love him….he could do dthat for ME.

Why can’t I?

Book I’m rreading:
Today instead of going in to hear more pointless testimonies, I read from a book. I’ll review it later. I was basically really blessed by what I read today.

You know what, I should be grading my spanish essay. Well lla la la I don’t care. I’ll do it int he morning after field school. YEs I’m still going to field school even though it’s effort.

 

um, yeah. Sorry. I’ll over the place now. No condition to write anything.

But, why do I harden my heart? Why do I push away God’s Grace? If I told someone, anyone, what I was going through, would they still love me? Would they help me as best they could?

The lines from a son by CAsting Crowns keeps playing hrough my head:

would it set me free

if I dared to let you see

the truth behind the person

that you imagine me to be?

 

and would your arms be open

would you walk away

would the love of Jesus

be enough to make you stay?

STained Glass MAsquerade –casting Crowns.

 

I do not feel like it would be a good idea to tell my testimony in front of teh whole church at this time. But waht if I could be more open about my struggle? Would I find love and acceptance? I feel like I don’t find that now. But is that because I’m angry all the time because I am dealing wtih this? IF I were to open up, jut a crack, would IF ind love, acceptance?

More importantly, if I opened up to God, would I find HIM open? Would I find acceptance from him, or more condemnation?

I’ve rambeld enough. So sorry. It’s because I sinned.

Help Me

 

 

In Which I Reflect

October 16, 2012

I just need to get a new journal for this bible study I’m doing. But…. that would require money, which I haven’t checked, but I’m not sure I really have right now. And I still need to make monthly payments.

0 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow brings repentance, but worldly sorrow brings about death. The biblical definition of repentance (1 Peter 3:10-11) is to turn from sin, and start doing good. True repentance as defined in the bible is doing a 180. It’s a Bad Abby(c) becoming a Good Abby(c).

I suffer under such a weight of guilt. Almost every thing I do I find something to feel guilty about. Quite often, I will feel guilty no matter WHAT I do, and so I pick the thing that I would lIKE to do because if I’m going to feel guilty about it anyway, why not do what I want?

And then I feel guilty about THAT.

I’ve thought about leaving religion altogether because I can’t stand the weight of the guilt. I can’t stand the thought of a heavenly sky daddy looking down at me and shaking his head, because I didn’t pick The Right Option(tm).

All this guilt has, I think, been a huge part of the recent depression I’m experiencing. (But not all of it. There’s at least one other factor I just realized is involved, but that’s another post.)

This guilt I’m experiencing… what if it’s not coming from God? What if the guilt I’m feeling is stemming out of sorrow for sin, but not genuine repentance?

If I could genuinely repent, if I could truly love God enough to be sorry for my sins for the right reasons, would I be able to pull myself out? Would I be able to be happy? would the depression go away?

Or would it be the same?

Help Me

In Which I Give A Bible Study (and boy is it LONG!)

Caution: read only when you have a good amount of time on your hands. Yes, I’m aware that that means some of you just won’t read it: so be it.

When I was in 5th grade, 10 or 11 years old, I remember doing our bible workbooks in Mr. S’s class at REDACTED. This incident stuck out to me because it was weird. I can’t remember if this was a question in our bible workbook, or just something Mr. S was doing. I think it was a question in the workbook… I’d like to get ahold of an old one and see, now.

Anyway, the question was something like, “if you were to go on a long car ride, and had to pick one of the 12 disciples to take with you, which one would you pick?”

I remember thinking that the question was insanely weird. At this point, I might or might not have finished reading all 4 gospels. I know I was working my way through them at that time, but don’t think I’d finished. I remember thinking, “how would I know? I don’t know the disciples well enough to know.” In reading the bible directly, one sorta has to be able to read between the lines to get a picture of what the disciples’ personalities were like. Unless one reads The Desire of Ages, one wouldn’t really know much about the disciples, and what 10/11 year old reads Desire of Ages? (Well, I had tried, but was literally unable to understand it, so I gave up.)

Mr. S said that he would pick Peter, because Peter was such a talker, and they’d always have something to talk about.

I think, officially, on the worksheet/workbook/whatever it was we were doing, I copied my teacher’s answer, because the question was, to me, stupidly weird, and I couldn’t think of a better answer.

Or maybe I was just too afraid to put down my real answer. There was no question in the workbook that asked WHY you picked the particular disciple. Actually, I remember that. I remember coming up with a real answer but being too scared to write it down.

I’d pick Judas.

Judas Iscariot, to go on a road trip with. So I could lecture him about what he did to Jesus. I figured maybe he’d repent, come back to Jesus, and go to heaven. (Before I read Desire of Ages I was under the illusion that perhaps Judas had repented and we just didn’t know it. After all, the bible doesn’t really say whether he did or not, and just because he hanged[1] himself doesn’t automatically grant him a one way ticket to hell. Sure my teachers told me he hadn’t repented, but if the bible didn’t say, how would they know?)

I’m 23 now. I’ve read Messiah (contemporary adaptation of Desire of Ages) twice, and am working my way through it a 3rd time. And the chapter on Judas was insightful before, but it never fully hit me like it did this time.

Because Judas is just like me. Or, since he came first, I am just like Judas.

Judas always had a strong love for money. I have a strong love for money. Judas was greedy. I am greedy. Judas loved money more than Jesus. –I- love money more than Jesus.

When Judas first joined Jesus, it was because he wanted to be a better person, and he hoped that this would happen when he joined Jesus. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this. Our initial reasons for coming to Jesus aren’t always perfect. However, Judas seems to have expected to become a better person without any effort on his part.  He seems to have thought that just being around Jesus was enough. That Jesus’ character would rub off on him.

How many of us today join up with Jesus because we want to be a better person, yet don’t make the effort to get to know Him and become like Him? How many of us make Christian friends, go to church, prayer meeting, bible study, and expect the character of our Christian friends, or the atmosphere of religious meetings, to somehow rub off on us and make us a better person?

Guilty.

Judas sought Jesus halfheartedly. He didn’t surrender his entire self to Jesus, nor did he cultivate a love Him. Judas thought he could be changed just by being around Jesus. But just because we are around Christlike love doesn’t mean we will automatically respond to it. Judas didn’t. He is an example of that.

Being around Christian people is often a good start, but ultimately my friendship with Christians will not cause me to become like Jesus, though it may produce an outward change. Outwardly, Judas was a model citizen. But inside, his heart was unchanged. He still stole from the money bag, he still tried to push Jesus onto a throne, and he still cherished his love of money and greed. Judas thought he could seek God halfway, and that is ultimately why his story has such a sad ending.

The bible talks quite a bit about seeking God with the whole heart.

Hebrews 11:6

…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Emphasis mine.)

Jeremiah 29:13

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.(Emphasis mine.)

The Rich Young Ruler (I hate it when the bible doesn’t name people, it’s so impersonal. We’ll call him “Bob.”) Also sought God halfheartedly.

Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”[a]

And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.

Luke 18:18-23.

Bob was A Godly Man™. Outwardly he appeared to be righteous. Ever since he was a child, he avoided murder, theft, and lying. He always obeyed his parents whenever the asked him to do anything, and, when he got to adolescence, he made the decision to avoid adultery.

Everybody around him thought Bob was seeking God with his whole heart. After all, why else would he be such a goody two shoes? Everyone else disobeyed their parents on occasion, but not Bob. Bob told the truth, even when it could’ve gotten him into trouble.

But Bob lacked one thing: surrender. Bob was willing to give Jesus “everything,” but he wasn’t willing to give Jesus his money. Therefore, Bob was unwilling to give everything to Jesus.

“One thing you lack.” Has Jesus said the same thing to us? Are we willing to surrender all, and give Him “the one thing” that we lack? Or will we walk away, sad, because we have many…. Well, fill in the blank, I guess. It could be money, could be drugs, sex, partying, etc.

So we see that poor Bob lost Everything, because he wasn’t willing to give everything. Someone else wasn’t willing to give Jesus everything either, and at least this person has a name.

Pontius Pilate.

Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”

Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”

Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.”

John 18:33-38.

 

Jesus has been arrested, and has been questioned by the Jews all night. But the Jews can’t condemn someone to death on their own, because they’re still under the power of the Romans. They need a Roman official to send Jesus to his death. This is why they went to Pilate. The bible says they brought Jesus to Pilate in the early morning, as soon as the light dawned. Spirit of Prophecy says that Pilate was still sleeping. I don’t know about you, but I’m woken up at Stupid O’clock in the morning, I’m grumpy. I don’t imagine that spoiled rich Pilate would be any different. SoP also tells us that Pilate had condemned many innocent men before and thought nothing of it. So the fact that Pilate here is taking the time to even question Jesus, when he’s been roused from his nice warm bed, shows that he is seeking. It shows that there was something about Jesus that made Pilate stop in his tracks and actually think before condemning.

We know this also because of the questions Pilate is asking. Pilate does not ask, “do you claim to be a king” or, “are you trying to become a king?” Pilate was clearly listening to Jesus with at least some degree of certainty that he was telling the truth.

“What is truth?” Pilate asked, and then he left the room. Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?” But did not stick around to hear the answer.  See, as all this is going on, there’s a mob outside. A big angry mob that wants to kill Jesus. Pilate is under a huge amount of pressure from this mob to sentence this man to death.

Pilate had the Son of God right there in his courtroom! He could have learned anything he wanted. He could have set Jesus free right then and there and invited him to stay a while and teach him.

But Pilate trashed his chance. You see, he was afraid that if he didn’t condemn Jesus to death, the Jews would tell Caesar, and then Pilate would lose his high position. Pilate wanted to seek the truth about Jesus, but he let the pressure of the mob sway him into throwing away the opportunity. How many of us today do not seek the Lord wholeheartedly because to do so would go against pressures of the world?

Yeah, I know I should get up and have devotions, but I just want to sleep. Or, I want to read my bible to seek the Lord, but I have so much homework? I’ll sleep and or do homework now, and seek the Lord later. But later never comes.

Now I want to compare two men. One who did seek Jesus wholeheartedly, and one who did not.

9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

 

Which one of these two men really sough God wholeheartedly? If we didn’t see them here in this temple scene, we might think the Pharisee. You see, the Pharisees in Jesus’ day were very legalistic. They were fond of rules and rituals, and required very strict obedience. In fact, this particular Pharisee does more than many other Pharisees of his time: He fasts twice a week instead of one, and gives tithe of all that he possesses. In bible times, this did not mean money: if you had a harvest of grain, you’d put 10% of your grain in the offering plate, and this would go to feed the priests. I’m not sure what assets this particular Pharisee had, but it is clear that he does not just mean money.

But if you look on the inside, as does God, and as the bible is telling us here, the sinner is the true seeker. This man went to his house justified, not just because he was humble, but because he was sincere. In that day, the phrase “tax collector” was basically synonymous with the word, “thief.” This man likely robbed and cheated his own people, but he repented sincerely. Sincere repentance is all it takes for God to justify us, and sincerely seeking God is all it takes for us to find Him.

So which one are we? Are we like the Pharisees? Are we seeking the Lord on the outside, but in our hearts, we think our own righteousness is enough? Even those of us who do ministry, are we doing it like the Pharisee, to glorify ourselves, or are we like the tax collector, broken and ashamed, not seeking our own glory, but the glory of God?

Now we’re going back to Luke 18 (Have you noticed that I’m mostly using chapter 18s? Yeah, neither did I.)

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’

 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?”

Luke 18:1-7

This parable illustrates persistence in prayer. If we ask something, sometimes we need to ask more than once. It is not always known right away (or ever) why God does this. Sometimes it is to test our faith, or to see how badly we want it.

The Lord is not like the unjust judge. This judge only listened to the widow’s cries because he was tired of her. But God never gets tired of us. Ever. Jesus’ point here, rather, was that if even a wicked judge will eventually give in to persistent pleading, how much more will a good judge (God) listen to us if we are persistent?

When we pray, are we persistent? Or do we bring our requests before God and get discouraged when they’re not answered? I know personally that this is incredibly hard, but Part of seeking God wholeheartedly is getting over that discouragement.

Luke chapter 10 (finally, a non 18 chapter!) verses 38-42 talks about another woman who sought God wholeheartedly (and, by contrast, one who did not.)

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Now, I actually don’t like to criticize Martha too much, because in her mind she was doing a good work for the Lord. She was hospitable, and she welcomed Jesus into her home. It was not wrong for Martha to work, but Jesus said Martha was troubled about many things. (I actually like the way the King James puts it better: Martha was concerned with “much serving.”)

Martha wasn’t just setting the table and preparing food on the stove, oh no. This is Jesus, the king of the universe! She’s going to get out the fine china, polish it, make eggplant parmesan, pull out the fancy table clothes from storage (which probably needed a good dusting), etc.

In other words, Martha was overdoing it just a bit.

Jesus said one thing is needful: spending time in The Word. Jesus is basically saying that he would’ve been fine with no table clothes, regular dishes, and haystacks instead of eggplant parmesan (whatever that is.) He would rather have simpler circumstances if it meant that Mary and Martha could take the time to listen.

We might not have Jesus in our living room, but we have His Word. Are we spending time in it like we need to, or are we busy with “much serving?” Seeking God with the whole heart involves spending time with Jesus. Not just privately, but it also includes spending time where Jesus is spoken of, like church and bible study.

Are we diligently going to where people are seeking Jesus? Or do we skip church sometimes because life happens? I’m so tired, I just want to sleep in on Sabbath. I have a lot of midterms to study for, so I’ll just skip church.

It is of vital importance, if we want to truly seek God with our whole heart, to spend time in His Word.

Mary was so concerned with seeking Jesus, that to her, cares of this life did not exist. We should be so concerned with seeking Jesus that, while we have to do other things, we don’t get overwhelmed by them.

One last example before I close.

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”  Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.  Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Luke 10:36-50

 

This woman, who we know was Mary Magdalene, was seeking Jesus with her whole heart by ministering to him.

See, in bible times, it was normal for friends to greet each other with a kiss. Also, when going to one’s house, especially the house of someone who was rich, the host would have a servant come and wash the guest’s feet. I’m not sure about the oil, but I do know that, in these two areas, at least, Jesus has been slighted. Mary sees this, and she decides that, because of her love for Jesus, she will minister to him.

The bible says in Matthew 25:40 That whatever you do to others, you do to Jesus also. We may not have Jesus in our dining hall to minister to, but we have others. We have the homeless people right here in Ypsilanti. We have the broken, shattered hearts of our fellow students who just need someone to listen to and care about them.

Part of seeking Jesus with the whole heart is ministering unto his people.

The woman in this story sought after God with her whole heart by ministering to Jesus. But she was only following the example set by God: God sought after us by ministering to us through his son Jesus.

When Adam and Eve sinned, God didn’t wait for them to come to him, He came to them. Also, if you read the chapter, you’ll see that Adam and Eve didn’t even ask for Jesus to die for them, Jesus just offered. Because he loved them. Because he loved us. Loves, present tense.

If you read the old testament, you will see that Israel was constantly caught in a cycle: Israel would fall away, God would send them a prophet, Israel would repent, then the next generation grew up, Israel backslid, God sent a prophet…. And that’s pretty much the entire old testament. There, now you don’t have to read it: I just summarized it all for you. Anyway, my point is that, a lot of times, when Israel would fall away, God would send a prophet to remind them to repent. He was constantly calling them back to Him. And I do mean pretty much constantly.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15:4-7

John chapter 10:11 says that Jesus is the good shepherd. Now, in bible times, when one lost a sheep, he panicked. He counted and recounted the others just to be sure, and then he set out. In those days, wandering around looking for a lost sheep could be dangerous: the woods/mountains/wilderness contained lions and tigers (and bears, oh my!). Often the shepherd would have to climb steep, rocky cliffs to get to the sheep.

This is not just a sort of halfhearted glancing around the sheep hill. This is actively searching and seeking with the whole heart.

Luke  15:11-32 tells us the story of the prodigal son. I’m going to call him “Larry.” Larry left his father’s house to go waste his money on drugs, sex, and alcohol. When he did finally come crawling back, he didn’t find his father just sitting around in his home office waiting for Larry; his father was out in the road looking for him. Both the father and the son in this story wanted a relationship. Jesus Christ wants a relationship with you. He seeks you with the whole heart. When two parties are both seeking a relationship, it is a guarantee that that relationship will happen.

God sent his son Jesus into the world in order to save us. This is not half hearted seeking, that is literally giving of himself. Jesus sought after us with such enthusiasm that he was beaten, whipped, and mistreated in almost every horrible way imaginable for us. He died for us.He seeks after us with his whole heart, with his whole being. Do we?

If God loved us enough to give himself for us, should we not then seek after him the same way? Should we not surrender ourselves to God, and do whatever it takes to secure a relationship with Him? Are we, then, willing to seek God wholeheartedly, as he seeks after us? Are we willing to crucify the parts of ourselves that are not in harmony with this purpose? Are we willing to become diligent seekers, diligent bible readers, diligent pray-ers?


[1] Note to my editor: yes this is proper grammar: hanged= a person, hung= an object. Look it up, I’m right.

In Which I Am Alone At The Campus House (Just the way I like it!)

So, James has my life all planned out for me. At the end of this year, I will be rebaptized. (I don’t know why he thinks I need it… I know why *I* think I need it, but James doesn’t know about that.) Then this summer I’m going to go canvassing. After that, I will be a missionary.

James: who would have thought that Abby Snow, would be a missionary!

Ok, aside from the wild inaccuracy of this statement (well, the entire paragraph, actually) this statement actually made me want to cry.
Am I really that bad? Am I really that bad a person that it would be a shock to people? I mean, really?

I do not want to be that type of person. I want to be the kind of person who, if I ever did decide to be a missionary (which I just recently decided I don’t want to, ever) people would say, “Yup. I knew it. That’s Abby.”

Once that could’ve been said of me. Not anymore. And I’ve tried to change, but apparently it hasn’t worked. If I were to tell James about Candyland, he’d either say, “yeah, I wondered.” or, “that explains SO MUCH.” Or some equally depressing thing that would leave me in tears.

Then later Bamji said the most encouraging thing anyone’s said to me all week (even though The Government has been trying). I’m not sure why… I think I said something like, “James, I’m going to murder you in the worst way possible.”

Bamji: Abby, you do not seem like you could murder someone.

I had a hard time convincing the people in the car I meant it when I said that that is the most encouraging thing… anyone from campus, actually, has said to me… ever.

I might not be able to be a missionary, but at least I’m not able to be a murderer.

Help Me