"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
January 19, 2011
I was recently reading a christian fiction book. The story line really wasn't all that deep, but there was a particular conversation between two women that caught my attention and made me think.
One of the friends liked to be in control of all situations at all times. It wasn't that she was obnoxious or overbearing, but the control issue was more in her way of thinking. She had that moment of insight when she realized the foundation for her need for control was the thought that it was up to her to make things run smoothly, or at least make them go the way she wanted them to go. She had received an abnormal biopsy and had put off the scheduling for several days. She realized that she wanted control, even if the only control she had was when the results would be presented to her. She came to understand that her hobby was having everything organized and neatly controlled. She also became aware that this thinking carried over to her trusting God. This lady was confronted with the truth that she didn't trust God as much as she had a short time ago when long life and comfort seemed to be the path stretched out before her. She had to ask herself, "Where was God in all of this?" "What was He doing in her life?"
Her friend lovingly confronted her and told her that she was afraid of too many things. She was afraid of what she didn't know and couldn't see. Then the friend challenged her to do something she'd never done before: milk a cow. Seems so simple and silly, but it was something to force the friend to step out of her controlled environment and live a little.
(From the book) "I felt as if I opened a gate inside my spirit. As long as the gate had been closed, I was the one who had control of who or what went in and out. When I opened the invisible gate, I was saying to God, 'I'm open. Open to whatever You bring in or out. I'm open to all of life.'"
As the scene progresses, the friend asked, "It's pretty cool doing things you wouldn't normally do, isn't it?"
The point wasn't about milking the cow, necessarily, but more about facing something new that perhaps she didn't want to do. The friend told her to remember the scripture, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."
This part of the conversation is what captivated me and made me think. The lady said that she had heard the scripture many times before, and probably had even memorized it at some point. But she said she wanted to hold onto it.
"I want to remember it. There's a difference for me between memorizing something and really holding on to it in my heart."
"You want to own the truth and not rent the words."
"Yes. Yes, that's it exactly. I want to own the truth of that verse. I have merely rented some of God's words for far too long. The time has come for me to own them."
She then wondered how much it would cost her to own words that God wrote in His own blood. (Book by Robin Jones Gunn - "Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes")
I suppose one of the reasons that really caught my attention was because of what Jon and I were going through at the same time I was reading this book. Ever since we got married 5 1/2 years ago, we rented the house we live in from his parents. Sure, we had our own furniture in it and was able to decorate it to our taste, but the fact remained; we were renters. Any changes we wanted made to the house or yard had to be approved by the home owners. We were not financially responsible for the home, therefore, we were not in a position to make decisions regarding changes we wanted to make. In other words, we were limited on how much freedom we had in the say-so of the home.
But we recently purchased the home and are no longer renters, but are owners. That gives us a freedom that we didn't have in the past. We can now do any remodeling or changes in the home and yard that we desire, without having to first get someone's permission. This is our own home that we can do with as we want. Ownership has given us not only a new found freedom that we didn't have as renters; but with that freedom also comes responsibility.
Often I've read the Word of God and found scriptures that sound good, but don't actually apply them to myself. When someone asks me to pray for a financial need they may have, it's so easy to quote to them, "My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory." It's so easy to encourage them with words in what they should believe and feel during that time. But then if I'm faced with a financial need myself and see no way out, it's difficult to apply those exact same words to my situation and really take them to heart and believe them. It's sometimes harder to believe God to do something for myself than it is to believe that He will do that same thing for someone else. In other words, I'm just renting His words but not truly owning them for myself.
When someone is given a health diagnosis that is unfavorable and seemingly dire, we can encourage them that we're praying for their healing and to be strong and trust God. We quote, "By His stripes we are healed". But if we or a close family member are faced with a similar diagnosis, we are gripped by fear and expect the worst. It's difficult for us to stand on God's Word and claim His promises as our own. We don't assert ownership of those exact words from the scripture that we've quoted to others.
When someone rents, they pay for the use of something that belongs to someone else. Generally when an individual rents or leases something, there is a contract and terms or conditions that need to be followed. And there is often a specified time limit to the agreement.
But ownership is permanent, unless the owner decides or chooses to give up possession. Perhaps they do so because of a change in financial status and are forced to sell. Or perhaps they decide they want to live in a different location or change the size of home they own. A car owner may decide they need something newer and better. There are various reasons why an owner sells a possession, but it's usually their choice to do so.
Our relationship with God and reading His Word is not something that's just a lease or rental situation. God isn't suddenly going to decide that He no longer wants us as a tenant. He is offering ownership with eternal benefits.
Perhaps one reason some only want to rent the scriptures and not own them is because they don't want the responsibility of obeying what they say.
It's time that we own the truth and not just rent the words to suit our own purposes and intents. Ownership will bring a freedom unlike any we've experienced. Sure there will be the responsibility of obedience involved, but claiming God's promises as our own will give us the strength to face any and all circumstances that life brings our way. Ownership is worth the risk involved!
I'm still reading Job in the mornings. That's a long book for something that can be summarized in just a few sentences. Many of the chapters are Job or his friends speaking about how God punishes the unrighteous and blesses the righteous or similar. But Job 28 is different; it's about wisdom.
Job starts by talking about mines. He gives a long list of metals and jewels people will dig for, chisel rock for, and pan for in rivers. People work so hard to find even a small bit of gold, iron, or sapphires.
But how hard do we work to search for wisdom? We can't dig up wisdom, and we can't pan for it in a river. But would we work that hard to get it? No matter how much gold or sapphires we do find, we couldn't trade them all for wisdom. But we don't have to.
Job finished by saying that God says, "The fear of the Lord--that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding."
Dark Chocolate Frosting
1 stick butter
2/3 cup Hershey's special dark cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Melt butter; stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add vanilla and mix.
Devin celebrated his 9th birthday this past Saturday. A few days later an adult asked him what he did for his birthday and his response was, "Turn 9!" They questioned him further about what he did (wanting to know if he had a party, what gifts he got, had a cake, etc.), and said, "No, I mean what did you do?" He looked at them like, "duh" and gave the same response, "I turned 9!" He's very proud of the fact that he's no longer 8, and is now a big 9 year old! He did have a 3 day celebration. He got to take cupcakes to his class at school on Friday; his bus driver gave cupcakes to everyone on his bus and gave Devin a card and stuffed animal; on Saturday he was taken out to eat by his mom, grandparents and uncle; on Sunday Janie and Jimmy had him a birthday party with his church friends at McDonalds; and he was given lots of gifts. Plus school was closed on Monday. He enjoyed all the parties, meals, day off from school and gifts and was very appreciative and had fun. But the very best thing about his birthday was turning another year older!
The children's pastor at our church was making an announcement this past Sunday morning and said that he had overheard several people asking his 4 year old what she had got for Christmas. She had received a lot of different gifts, but for some reason her response every time was, "Gum." Apparently she had got some gum in her stocking, and that was what stood out to her.
The moral is: It's not the biggest or most expensive gift a kid will remember. It may not even be a party. It may just be the simple fact that they are now one year older or have their very own pack of gum.
Other people's opinion of you does not have to become your reality. -Les Brown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon