"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD...He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." Micah 4:2

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A sole lesson...

Favored Sandals
I slipped on my favorite sandals, and once again, smiled at the comfort and ease of the beautiful upper leather snuggling my feet. I loved their soft color for summer, and their loose swede insole cooled my feet, while the buckled tightness kept my feet from slipping. Another warm season happily brought out my stored sandals and I looked forward to their comfort for yet, another summer. These trusted sandals had cushioned my feet while trekking the paths of a tropical island, endured hard concrete of sidewalks and malls in several countries, and even walked on carpeted rugs of church and home. They had served me well, and so, this morning, I hurriedly buckled them on and took off.
My first errand took me to a large warehouse for garden equipment. I had not walked far when I noticed my left foot was becoming more loose. I bent to tighten the buckle, and continued walking down an aisle. I stumbled. Mental disgust scolded my feet to walk right, and I entered another aisle. As I turned a corner, I tripped, looked down, and finally, my sandals had my full attention. I picked up my foot, looked at the underside, and found the sole completely split from side to side!
I needed a fast escape route to my car!
I hobbled out of the store,  slowly and methodically placing my foot, hoping I wouldn't totally lose my balance, trip completely, or drag the sole along the concrete with a bare foot. Calculating the number of steps to the safety of my car, my heart raced, hoping my crumbled sandal would carry me.
As I neared the car, I felt the right sole unprotected on the hard pavement, and the left held on with a few loose threads! Regrets and wishes forced each step as I reprimanded my carelessness for not checking the condition of my soles before I had ventured out into the market place!

Slumping into my seat, I mumbled, "Wow, one sole broken and another barely hanging on!" Unfinished errands, and a wasted drive home emphasized my carelessness and I pondered this "sole lesson".

My soles take me every place, yet I gave very little thought to the damage of useful wear and tear, years of abusive walking, and even storage left behind.
It's the same for my inner soul. How often do I examine the condition of my soul before venturing into the marketplace? Am I worn out by the useful wear and tear of daily errands and demands? What about where I walk, and even storage time my soul has endured? I considered other souls that cross my path. Were some of them cracked, tired with use and dry from the lack of moisture? Maybe others around me felt completely broken, in need of deep repair, or barren, hanging on with just a few threads.

My favorite sandals are ruined, but this doesn't have to be the case with our spiritual inner souls. We've been given God's Word to check daily the condition of the inner soul before we take a step into the day.

We face many situations in a day and these can break our souls, wear our souls out, and even detach it from the very source and fiber of the inner life. We're foolish to think we can just buckle on the old without checking the conditions and think our souls are good for the miles of the day.
Our souls need renewal. The Bible teaches the source of renewal, restoration, and repair is all found by time spent in Scriptures. Our souls find refreshment at the feet of Jesus as He only can repair our souls with His Word.

Finding daily repair in nourishment, direction, and fulfillment for the inner man, the old prophet exclaimed, "Thy WORDS were found and I did eat them. They were the joy and rejoicing of my soul for I am called by thy name, O Lord of Host". Jeremiah 15:16
And the psalmist recognized Scripture for his path in his conclusion, "I will walk in freedom for I have devoted myself to your commandments." and also, "Your WORD is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:45, 105 NLT 

Knowing joy, rejoicing, guidance and direction are found in the Presence of the Almighty giving your soul freedom to walk today's path unhindered.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A Peaceful Challenge of Heart...

This morning, I enjoyed the leisure of no calls, no house chores, and no projects demanding completion.  I'm finding it daunting to be away from home on holiday, yet, I'm so enjoying being with family! With no demands, I wandered into the backyard and found an enticing hammock calling my name. Swinging gently in the breeze, gazing toward the tops of the trees, and watching the dancing clouds lulled me into a much-needed nap. What a wonderful luxury I enjoyed as I relaxed my weary spirit!
It was just a swift 15 minutes, but it was enough to revive me.

The rest of the hour lingered, so I opened my Bible to 1 Peter 4.  An enjoyable letter because we know so much about the author's encounter with Jesus and his progress in accepting Truth. Peter was a strong-willed disciple, always jumping into the forefront with opinion and self-protection. Through the years of ministry, he must have learned much in allowing the Spirit of truth to penetrate his actions. He definitely had the experience to describe his precious love for his friend and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As I continued to read, his desire to pass on his knowledge leaped off the page and challenged my own participation in the Savior's physical suffering.
Remaining peaceful, I began to meditate on the passage, and several thoughts became evidently applied in my own heart's desire.

First of all, in verse 1-2, I found that biblical truth burrowed into our spirit causes deep change when we actually grasp the physical suffering of Christ on our behalf. The painful truth that another suffered innocently for our own horrible sin of self righteousness takes root and forces perspective and actions to follow in strength. A consuming desire to have the same attitude becomes a must, a driving force, a decision maker, and causes absolute evaluation of changes that must take place in order to attain this desire.

Peter writes that following this understanding, there must be an attitude adjustment. Realizing that Christ's physical suffering was brought on because he purposed to bring us to God, makes one consider that to have the same purpose may cause personal suffering. Although, we are commanded to participate in bringing others to know God, Peter writes to consider the cost this attitude may bring and understand it will be a cross of suffering. If we step out into the world, carrying the same purpose of bringing others to the Savior, we must be prepared for connected suffering. Trying to accept this theory, we hesitate the desire to grasp Christ's attitude, considering the real worth in the weight of His purpose.

A side benefit comes when we accept the willingness to suffer for Christ's cause.  We start to grasp how separated man is from God, that sin keeps man from God, and quickly shy away from any pull sin might have on our lives.
Gratitude shows us that his purpose is a high calling, and we desire to claim Christ's attitude as our own, but slowly recognize that every high calling has a cross of suffering. The weight of this cross takes many forms of hurt as it challenges our physical, emotional, spiritual or mental comfort.

Peter warns that one of the most frequent sufferings attacks many in their new found love in Christ. They run to old friends, thinking they, too, will be glad to be brought to God, but confront disappointing responses in a pulling away and even rejection. Their change in desires, the aspiration to be like the Christ, the  rejection of old ways and habits, and even the loss of defensiveness is not understood.
Old friends reject these changes in the new lifestyle for two reasons.
           First, because this new attitude is seen as religious fanaticism. It does not fit their religious belief system, so they reject it as abnormal behavior, call it 'extremes', and consequently, reject truth.
           Second, because their conscience sides with the truth shared and is against their own lifestyles, making them uneasy. Time spent together is uncomfortable, then, unbearable; so avoidance becomes more frequent, finally ending friendship. Invitations and phone calls cease. Rejection from friends show their real rejection is toward the God who calls through the cross. With a broken heart, we mourn the consequence of their choice.
We realize Christ's purpose to bring others to God is a heavy cross.

As the peaceful time of meditation ended, I was left with the challenging question.
               Is your choice to be like Him worth the weight of this cross?
                                          Peter says, "Absolutely."