Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Own Brain

My kids are hitting the age where they say amazingly funny and insightful things. This morning we had a great example of that. Here's the situation: Veronica was chewing with her mouth open and making loud smacking noises. This bothered Quinlan who was sitting opposite of her. First, he told me she was doing that. I told him to stop tattling and to talk to his sister about doing the right thing before he tells me about it. Here's what he said to her, "Veronica, you should obey Mama instead of your own brain." 

Wow... how many times in my life do I follow my own brain? My own wishes and thoughts and desires. God has a good and perfect plan for my life. Sometimes it's exactly what my heart desires, and sometimes my heart has to trust and obey anyways and sometimes I plug my ears and try to ignore Him. This reminds me of a passage in Romans 7. It's hard to follow Paul's reasoning. Today, I looked it up in "The Message" and was floored by this passage. I just want to soak it up and get this into my life. If I can understand this passage and live it out in my life- wow, I would be a radically different person than I am today!

14-16I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.
 17-20But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
 21-23It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

Sin is a struggle for Paul, too! It's not just me! Sin has a way of entangling itself into my life and drawing me within it's web. There's nothing I desire more than to do good- to keep a welcoming home, to train my children well. And yet, what all too often comes out in my life is the struggle to stay on top of daily chores, yelling at my children, and arguing with my husband. That's not what I want to do! Yet I do it anyways. Regularly. Predictably. And I am disgusted by it.

24I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

YES! This is me! I've read book after book about home maintenance and child-rearing. I've asked other mothers what they do. I've prayed and cried and lamented the state of my home, my children, my self. I'm at the end of my rope. What should I do? There HAS to be an answer. And right here in this passage, Paul gives one.

 25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

The answer is found in Christ. He has set things right. I do not need to live a life given over to sin and temptation. Chapter eight continues on in this way. We read about what His death and resurrection truly mean for those who accept Him. I think the title of this section says it all: "Life on God's Terms."

1-2With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

There is something new! I don't have to live my life under a black cloud. He has cleared the air and freed me from a life of sin and death. Life with Him does not bring anxiety, fear, or depression. Life with Him means there's a way out of those ways of thinking and acting.

 3-4God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
   The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

What God did by sending Christ was absolutely amazing! All of creation is changed for good. We can rip that band-aid right off, because there is true healing in Christ. It is done, it is finished. My sin has been taken care of.

 5-8Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.

God isn't pleased at being ignored. He created us to be in relationship with Him. He has been saddened since that first sin tore us away from His presence. His whole mission since has been to restore that. But it's up to me. I can choose to live my own life on my own terms. But, oh, how much better it is to live with He who created me! His Spirit is living inside of me

 9-11But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!

Sin is still here. It still calls out to me. But there is something different, now- the Spirit lives inside of me! God's power (the same power that raised Jesus from the dead) is in my life! there is nothing that I can't do, so long as I call upon that power. To have patience with my children seems a trifling compared to the amazing well of power I have to draw upon. I am delivered from the pain and death and have a new life. And it is alive and life-giving.

 12-14So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

Oh the places you'll go! There's no need to look back upon and dwell upon where I've been. I can set it aside and turn away from it. I owe it nothing. God is calling to me. Passionately. Tenderly. He is right there, with His hands held out. He is waiting for me to place my hand in His. He will take me on an incredible journey!

 15-17This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!

A life of following after Christ is not easy. He suffered many things! But if I'm willing to go through the hard times with Him, there is a hope and a blessing- getting to share in His eternal rewards. So, I simply say, "What's next, Papa?"

1 comment:

Mindy said...

Wow, thanks for putting that down & sharing it! I've been at the end of a rope recently, too--feeling like all my attempts to manage life well have utterly bombed. I have no kids. I have no real job. And yet I am consistently unprepared, late, and unproductive with many worthwhile opportunities. I'm slow to accept that Christianity really isn't a self-improvement course; my head and my culture are so geared that way. The point isn't a new and improved Mindy but Christ in me, the hope of glory. Thanks for your thoughts and for sharing that section from the Message. I identify with it strongly right now.