Monday, July 27, 2015

Be Who You Desire

The year was 1987. The occasion was my first movie date with a handsome young man with dark curly hair. The movie was none other than The Princess Bride. Little did we know that we were making history as our movie of choice went on to become an iconic favorite with a cult following. Since that day we have watched it countless times, owned it in various forms, introduced our sons to it and practically memorized every line.


A common quote in our household is when Inigo Montoya interrupts his losing sword fight with the masked man (who is obviously much more than he appears to be) and asks in amazement, with Spanish accent, "Who ARE you?" When a member of the family isn't acting as predicted, we quote this line.

And so I ask you today, "Who are you?" How would you describe yourself? Would it sound something like my description of myself? I am a middle-aged (how did that happen?) woman of European descent, married with two young adult sons. I am a mentor and teacher of others. I am involved in missionary member care. I love gardens, puzzles and detective shows.

BUT is this truly who I am? The real part, the important part? The part that will go on forever?

The final, and probably the most important, line of our prayer is the heart cry that I am willing to be who You desire.

Who does God desire that I be?
God desires me to be who HE says I am.

Who does God say I am?
God says I am his child (I John 3:1, Romans 8:16).
More specifically, I am his adopted child (Galatians 4:5).
But most accurately, I am his son, and as I son, I am an heir (Galatians 4:6-7, Galatians 3:26).

Yes, you read that right. I am a son of God. Because I am passionate about making sure woman have a voice, are represented, empowered to use their gifts and given a chance to be ezer warriors, I tend to prefer to use the term "daughter" or "child". But if I use those terms exclusively, I miss the significance of being called a son of God because we no longer practice the laws of first-born-son-inheritance of the Biblical patriarchal society. On the surface, it seems like the Apostle Paul is excluding women, but by including women in the status of a first-born son, he was actually elevating the value of women.

This means that when I accepted Christ's death on the cross as a substitute for my sin, I was adopted into God's family and was given all the rights and promises of the firstborn son. Yes, everyone (male, female, Jew, Greek, slave, free - Galatians 3:28) gets the same inheritance that is described in the rich verses of Ephesians 2 and elsewhere.

These descriptions speaks more to a state of being than to behavior. In some cases I show who I am by my behavior, but the character, the person, the essence, has to come first. I love this quote by Evelyn Underhill (Christian philosopher and teacher of the early 20th C):
We mostly spend our lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have, and to Do. Craving, clutching, and fussing on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual - even the religious - plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest: forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance except so far as they are transcended by and included in, the fundamental verb, to Be: and that Being, not wanting, not having and not doing, is the essence of a spiritual life.
BE.
JUST BE.
BE WHO GOD SAYS YOU ARE.
BE HIS SON.

So what does a son of God look like?

A son doesn't worry about the future, where food and clothes are coming from (Matt 6:25).
A son trusts her father to take care of her (Matt 6:8)
A son knows that her father will give her good gifts (Matt 7:11).
A son knows daddy can solve any problem (2 Chron 20:17).
A son looks to her daddy for comfort when she is hurt (Ps 94:19).
A son enjoys being with her daddy, right now, this moment (Ps 16:11).
A son thinks Dad is the greatest (Ps 48:1).
A son belongs to a family (Eph 2:19).
A son is loved unconditionally and valued highly (Is 43:4a, Jer 31:3)
A son inherits the traits and blessings of the father (Gen 1:26-27).
A son looks like her father (Eph 5:1).

How do I BE that?

Jesus told us how in John 15. "Remain in Me, Abide in Me, Live in Me, Make your home in Me, Join with Me in an intimate and organic relationship, Make yourselves at home in Me" are the various ways this concept is translated.

Moses and Joshua figured out how to do this. "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, the way a person speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his servant, Joshua son of Nun, a young man, did not leave the tent (Exodus 33:11)." I think Joshua didn't want to leave because he was basking in God's presence. I want that. I want to "stay" in the tent, spending time with Jesus, fellowshipping with him and experiencing intimacy with him, not performing a set of activities. 

So, stop trying to gain God's approval by serving him and instead accept that you are already loved and saved.
Learn who God says you are and live out of that reality.
Focus more on who you are becoming and less on what you are doing.
Emphasize character rather than performance,
Being above doing.
Be comfortable, settled, relaxed, rest in God's presence.
Be still, be a child, be Christlike, be loving, grace-filled, trusting.

May I suggest that you practice sitting still for ten minutes (or longer) to just BE with God. Look around, take in the scenery, sounds, smells. Answer the question, "Who am I?"

What is keeping you from just being with Jesus?
What would need to change in order for you to Be Who He Desires?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Garden Walk

 
This morning I walked with God in a beautiful garden. But Eden it was not.
While speculator by human standards and usually quite vibrant, today this garden looked a bit tired, a bit worn down.

A few stubborn weeds could be seen among the carefully manicured beds.
Desperate plants seemed to beg for mercy from the hot Texas sun.
Blooms once full and majestic were drooping and dying.
More specimens than not seemed to be at the end of their blooming cycle.
With life comes death.

The garden mirrors my life.
Some days, I am thriving and bearing fruit.
Some days, I droop under the baking heat.
Other days, I experience death, mourning and loss.

I am in a constant battle to keep the weeds at bay, to find shade, to bring water to my thirsty soul and to just survive.
Tending my life is hard work which requires constant attention.

This morning was a drinking time, a time to walk and talk to my Heavenly Father and hear him invite me along hidden paths to enjoy his creation, to drink in his presence. This I need to not just survive, but to thrive.

But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers - Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season. Jeremiah 17:8-9 (The Message)