My neighbor, who I’ve been lightly acquainted with for a couple years, has been changing. As she’s walked past my house her gait has slowed. She’s lost weight. Her skin is different – less elastic, thicker, weathered looking. I’ve watched the change happen over the last couple of months and wondered what could be causing it. When she stopped to chat a few days ago the mystery was solved. My neighbor, not yet 40 years old, single mother of 6, has stage 4 lung cancer.
Leviticus 18:5New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
5 You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord.
Not so long ago I would have read that and thought ‘what a mean, controlling, bossy thing to say. The bible is insane and so are the people who swallow that hogwash.’ I would have thought God was threatening to kill people if they didn’t do what He said.
Not so long ago I didn’t understand how much God Loves us. I hadn’t experienced God in the way that is only possible through believing Jesus is who He says He is and that He told us the truth. Not so long ago I didn’t understand that the gospel truly is ‘good news’.
Today I read that scripture and I want to fall flat on my face in gratitude for God and His ‘statutes and ordinances’. I’m beginning to understand what God is talking about when he uses words like ‘live’. Here’s a clue (I say to myself because I’m sure this is a ‘well duh’ moment for most of you) – He isn’t talking about walking around and sucking air.
When God refers to ‘living’, He is talking from a different context. He’s talking about peace, about the purest of self expression, about freedom. He’s talking about becoming ready to truly Love and be Loved. He’s talking about becoming a conduit of eternal fulfillment in a world over run by temporal pain.
God knows we cannot escape pain here. In answer to that He has given us ‘statutes and ordinances’ so that we might avoid the snares and traps of taking our suffering to the spiritual level in this corporal world. God doesn’t hand these ‘statutes and ordinances’ down as a fun excuse for punishing us. Rather, He is trying to save us from experiencing the punishment already inherent in this fallen place.
God is our protector. Not our punisher.
I love God. It’s all consuming.
The Holy Spirit is alive and at work. I have witnessed Him in the tears and words and hearts and minds and actions of the people of my community this week. I have been filled with a Love for those people (for all of you) that is beyond my words.
It is like the peaceful joy of a well tended garden (including birds and bees) plus the permeating warmth of the sun on a perfect Spring day times infinity. To watch God at work in and through, and the concurrent tumble of falling into deep and sublime Love with you people, you wonderful people, is an incredible gift.
God is growing a pastors heart within me. He has allowed me to see all of you with just the slightest hint of the way Jesus does and I am swooning. I didn’t know pursuing ministry would feel like this.
All I can say this week is that I love the Lord. I love Him. And I give Him my life. My all. My everything.
Revelation 4:8 New International Version (NIV)
8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’[a]
who was, and is, and is to come.”
I know how those winged creatures feel. Praise God.
This week, day and night, praise God.
Matthew 27:54New International Version (NIV)
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
What will it take for US to realize who He is?
For the Centurion, it took the skies blacked midday. It took the quaking of the Earth. It took the curtain torn. The rocks split. The tombs opened. And the rising of the sleeping Saints.
Do we also need such signs to fathom this truth?
If we saw the same awesome display would we finally be ready to hand our lives over to Him? To trust His Power, obey His Wisdom, and stop. being. so. afraid?
Would we finally trust His Love for us even as we begin to comprehend how vast, how mighty, how capable, how material and how prescient it actually is?
Would we finally understand that
EITHER GOD IS EVERYTHING OR HE IS NOTHING?
Would we finally choose?
Today I present this to you. No Earthquake. No darkness. And no half measures.
EITHER GOD IS EVERYTHING OR HE IS NOTHING.