Sunday, March 18, 2012

Question Marks, Weeds and Bait

Singing a powerful song today in church, I was struck by these words:

"I have found the world to be
Not enough for me."

It is so telling about how miserable we become when we put our hope and faith in this world. You need only to browse the headlines to see how unnatural and devastating mankind can become. Just this week, an "American Hero" is accused of killing 16 men, women and children in Afghanistan...these people he was charged with protecting...he himself likely a victim, at least in some ways, of war. And a young South Carolina mother pleading guilty to strangling and killing her 2 young toddlers just years after another young South Carolina mother strapped her 2 young sons in car seats and pushed them into a river to certain death.

When I try to make sense of this, something a new friend said really rang true. In reference to her being new to Christianity, she said "I'm just a teeny tiny baby Christian." And I think, Aren't we all? Don't we all have so far to go?

I am also reminded of my best friend, Steph, saying that God is so much bigger than any of us could ever fathom. And it starts to make sense...teeny tiny baby me and God of wonders too big for me to see. He's bigger than denomination, gossip, race, sexual orientation, doubt, ethnicity. All of that stuff.

When I think of it that way, how wondrous, magnificent, powerful, almighty, HUGE God is, I get lost thinking of how far I have to go. We're all a work in progress, but boy, surely he is getting frustrated with teaching me the same lessons over and over again?

It's like the weeds I pull in the garden. Surely I was born for this work. I love to be outside in the garden. I could pull weeds all day. Some weeds are so easy and satisfying, not yet having taken deep root in the ground. They pull up so easily and are tossed aside, never to be heard from again. Some go a little deeper. Maybe the ground more dense but you pull and dig and unearth and pull and that little stinker is up. You see the root and throw it aside, never to be heard from again. Finally, you have big, bad weeds. These are so invested in your earth that their roots have gone deep and taken hold and will not let go. These jokers, you battle them and follow that root and you unearth so much surrounding grass that you look around and wonder who's winning. Finally, you have 3 feet of weed stem with no root in sight and you cut your losses and grab the shears and snip what you have. Throw it aside and hope you never hear from it again. And you may not. For a while anyway. Then slowly and deliberately, that weed creeps back to the surface and is stronger and laughs in your face. You go at it again but pulling weeds, friends, is not for the fainthearted.

My sins are just like these weeds. Just in the past year, I've battled lots of spiritual weeds. Insecurity, worldliness, selfishness, unthankfulness, unbelief, self-preoccupation. Some of them were little baby weeds and some have deep roots that I am still working on. Some are thankfully quiet for now but I know they will be back. I have some pretty serious ammunition, but do I really believe it will work?

In church, I sing this:

The same power that conquered the grave lives in me!
The love that rescued the world lives in me!

but on Monday, it sounds more like this:

The same power that conquered the grave lives in me?
The love that rescued the world lives in me?

Sure, I believe IN Jesus. And the miracles. And his birth and death and resurrection. But

Today's message at Lowcountry Community Church was surely written just for me...thoughts on temptation. On first thought, I was like, "I don't suffer much from that. I'm not cheating on my husband or stealing cable." Then it hit me: This fog and haze and constant feeling of having to defend my joy, impatience, self-pity, self-preoccupation, materialism...aren't these just faces of temptation?

Satan learned a lot about us with that first temptation in the garden. The fruit on that tree was the perfect bait. With Satan's prompting, Eve thought,
This looks good.
This will taste good.
This will make me feel good.
And that bait worked so well that ole' fisherman Satan just keeps throwing the same thing out to us time and time again. Somehow, he knows just how to push my insecurity button and my impatience button and my unbelief button. Maybe he knows he can't make us not believe in Jesus but he can go a long way in making us weaker and farther away from God.

But we have hope. First Corinthians 10:13 tells us that temptations in our lives are no different that what others experience. But God is faithful and will provide a way to overcome this temptation.

What is Satan baiting up with in your life? The world offers physical lust, that feel-good-fast enticement, whether that takes the shape of impatience with your children (because snapping at them when they're obnoxious and disrespectful feels right at the moment...) or falling into the trap of self-pity (because surely you're the only one who has ever gone through this experience in the whole world...) or pride (because why can't I do this all by myself? Look at all of these other wonderful things that worked out just fine). The message at LCC this morning tell us to be on the lookout for temptation as it arises in our lives. If we can spot it, we can flee from it. And we can use our trusty B-I-B-L-E, the sword of the spirit, as an offensive weapon.

Here's maybe the hardest part for me, but its the work I know I have to do. From James 4:7, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, resist the Devil, and he will flee from you."

I pray this week that Jesus will have more and more of me and you. In the meantime, I'll still be pulling weeds :)

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