Friday, May 17, 2013
I love pictures that capture beautiful moments in time. The cozy warmth of lights pouring forth from a home surrounded by snow draws my heart inside it. The sweetness of babies sleeping whispers reminders of trust and contentment. Elderly couples portrayed in quiet communion, rocking on the porch or helping one another walk slowly along, declares commitment. Lovely as they are, those pictures are not the whole reality. They transport us in spirit to a place that fills the longing of our hearts. Partial realities in pictures bring some joy; partial realities in daily life are deceptions that destroy hope. Considering the deeper truths of pictures helps inspire us to live with whole-ness that will not disappoint ourselves--or others. If you have ever been discouraged by life's deceptions, come, walk with me.
The occupants of snow-covered havens braved the brutal elements before resting inside. The parents of the sweetly sleeping babies sacrificed their own sleep to meet the infants’ needs. The ravages of aging powered the necessity of rest and assisting one another. Sweet moments in time develop from investing ourselves. Our comfortable, 21st century culture tempts us to think that all of life should be the ‘good stuff.’ We mistakenly believe that the mountain top beauties of life are where we are to live. Casual Christianity is one of the deadliest imitations. Social, situational Christianity intent on seeking the blessings of Christ without the reality of Christ is hypocrisy. It does not deliver what it promises; it disillusions those who practice it and those who observe it. Surface Christianity kills.
That is not the example Jesus set. The sweet moments are to be treasured but they are not to be our vision. Christ alone effectively powers lives of purpose and beauty. The One who left the glories of heaven to love rebellious, murderous sinners must be the vision we pursue. There is no disillusionment when looking to Him, and His glory is the light this world so desperately needs. Unlike photos that depict only one dimension of life, Christ reveals deeper and deeper depths of beauty. Allowing His light to penetrate into the depths of our being gives us an integrity that captivates those around us.
The Light of Christ pierces dark realities. He chose to leave the glories of heaven. He chose to endure rejection and suffering ‘for the joy set before Him.’ Because of His choice, we can choose to live lives that bring eternal joy to others. Just as Christ came to serve this world, we are in the world to serve others--not ourselves, not temporary delights that satisfy ourselves. Gazing at Christ teaches us to choose wise goals for our lives--to endure difficulties with confidence in the One we follow. Truly, what we do with the gift of life in this world becomes the gift we return to the Father. My prayer is for hearts that rejoice in the ‘picture-perfect’ moments because they are gifts of our good and glorious God…and allow the harsher realities to sweetly strengthen their love for the One who braved the path of darkness for us.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Hello, friends. It has been some time since a post. I am having a wonderful time writing but for others and do not have the option of posting those pieces--or the time to write more. I will be considering what to do with my blogs but wanted to share this with Easter Greetings. May you have a wonderful time rejoicing in the Victory of Easter. with love, Billie Jo
The human body sometimes reacts to great stress with a defensive redirecting of the blood that is known as vasospasm. In these times, blood vessels in the extremities shut down stopping the flow of blood to those areas. Blood-less, life-less cold spreads quickly into the areas affected.
Spiritually we sometimes see a similar phenomenon. Hurts in life cause us to withdraw from the pain. We turn inward and restrict the flow of the Spirit from the outward stresses. Both are human reactions. Both withdraw life. Christ shows us another way.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ faced horrendous distress. He understood the darkness of sin and separation from the Father that was soon to weigh upon Him. Yet in that garden—before any physically struck Him, Christ’s blood flowed out to a dying world. God’s Word tells us great drops of blood dripped as He prayed. Christ sacrificially lived before He died as the Sacrificial Lamb. He looked outward and upward, not inward. His life followed His gaze.
We, as Christians, live because He loved enough to refuse self-focused living. Forsaken by his closest friends, sold-out by a close associate, hated by His Father’s chosen people, Christ had every reason to ‘self-protect.’ Yet He pursued the Father’s purpose and brought life to all who would believe. We can choose to let that same life flow in us and by-pass ‘human reactions.’ Although Christ became human, He did not allow humanity to dictate His life. We must not either.
When a vasospasm incident passes, blood flows back into the afflicted regions with stinging pain. That pain brings life. In our spiritual lives, the pain of conviction brings healing through repentance. Restored to Life, we become vessels of life for others. Let us follow the example of our Savior who, though God, learned obedience through suffering. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly—let us embrace His purposes!