Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Asleep in the light

Today I read Luke 9:28-36, the story of Christ's transfiguration. (A quick aside -- I usually prefer using the name "Jesus" over the name "Christ." For some reason saying "Christ" sounds like I'm using His last name and is less personal! lol) Of course, being a Christian I've read/heard this story a billion times: Jesus goes up the mountain with Peter, James and John (his best mates, as it were), Jesus gets all shiny-glowy and Moses and Elijah show up. They have a chat about the fact that Jesus is going to be coming Home soon, the Best Mates suddenly realize what's going on, Peter says some lame things (as he typically does), God speaks, and the show's over.

Despite my flippant re-telling, it was a pretty amazing moment, I'm sure! You have to wonder if sometimes this didn't happen when nobody was around, when Jesus was praying. Did some of the Old Testament bigwigs typically show up to discuss how things were going with Jesus? It's an interesting thought.

So, anyway, yeah, the story is all about Jesus revealing his glory to earthly people. And it's about how they/we don't get it a lot of the time. And it's about God once again verbally letting humans know who this Jesus guy really is. And it's about how the Glory Moments in our lives are usually pretty short-lived.

So I thought it was kinda interesting that the verse that stood out to me today was verse 32: "Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory ..." That doesn't seem like it would be a "standout verse," does it?

But when I read it, I thought, yep, that's us. Or at least it's me. I spend a lot of my time being "spiritually sleepy" -- kinda sluggish, just wanting to be comfortable and left alone, really (not by Jesus, but just not having to get involved in too much). I get complacent, and I forget Who I'm traveling with. And then occasionally I wake up and when I do, boy do I see His glory and realize exactly who it is I'm traveling through this life with! On those altogether too rare occasions, Jesus radiates such glory it's enough to rock me back on my pins. Mind-blowing. Earth-shaking. And incredibly, incredibly humbling. He is the King of Glory, really. He is majestic, powerful, brilliant, scary as all get-out. And He is loving, compassionate, welcoming, all at the same time.

One of my favorite Bible verses is in Hebrews (Hebrews is another one of those totally amazing books), Chapter 2, verse 3: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word." Don't you love that? "The radiance of God's glory." Think about it for a minute.

There's a song by Tree63 that says, "He is the answer to the question, He is the cure for the infection, He is all He says He is; He is the absolute reflection of holiness and true perfection, He is all He says He is." (Awesome song, it really rocks out, and that is important to me, lol.)

So, if I could just stay awake long enough to let this incredible glory-ness of Jesus shine into my life for more than two seconds at a time, think what that would do! Just think what that constant realization of just who it is I really follow would do to my life! I can't even begin to imagine the ways it would change me.

But, alas, I'm comfortable being asleep most of the time. It's kinda cozy, kinda easy. Well, way easier than walking around in God's glory. And how totally sad is that?

Lord Jesus, please wake me up! Please keep me awake! Forgive me for being so comfortable here in my "asleep" state, forgive me for not wanting to make much of an effort to wake up. Please remind me over and over of how glorious You are, of WHO you are, and let that knowledge and that experience change me into the person you want me to be. Help me to want that above all things, Lord! In all honesty, Jesus, I think that's gonna be hard work on both our parts, but please never give up on me, never give up on making me who You want me to be. I like to be comfortable, Lord. Please help me want to be like you more than I want to be left alone to be asleep.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Being deliberate

So today I thought I would "be deliberate" in my Bible reading -- as in Phil Joel's "deliberatePeople" website/idea. It's just basically choosing a "standout verse" in your daily reading and journaling about it. He has a specific reading plan that I followed for a couple of years, but this year I'm more or less "meandering" through the Bible, mostly the New Testament. (Does it make me a bad Christian if I admit that I find most of the Old Testament depressing? It's important stuff, of course, and you can't just say, "Oh, I'm all about the New Testament, the Old is passe," or whatever. But sometimes I just can't read it day after day, especially in, like, the book of Judges or Kings. I do, however, absolutely LOVE Isaiah.)

Anyway, so I read Luke 9:1-17. In this passage Jesus empowers his disciples and sends them out to preach and heal, and also there is the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Of course, there is a ton one could write about these two stories, but what struck me today was that Jesus didn't just want the gospel preached -- he also cared about the people's physical needs.

So I have a couple of standout verses: v. 2: "... He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick." And also v. 13: "You give them something to eat."

Jesus easily could have just sent the disciples to do nothing but preach. And He could also have just sent the crowd home to eat. The Bible doesn't mention whether Jesus resumed preaching after they all ate, or whether they ate and went home. So I can't say for sure whether He wanted them fed so they could listen some more, or simply because He had too much compassion on them to let them continue to be hungry. However, based on what I've read in the Bible and what I personally know about Jesus, I imagine He just didn't want them going hungry that evening.

I love all this, and I think it says a lot about the God we serve. He definitely cares about our souls more than anything else. But He also knows we are human beings living in the here and now, and that we have physical needs in our lives that need to be met. I have often heard ministries that feed people, that go into communities and help the poor, heal the sick, etc., say that you have to meet the physical needs of the people before you can set about meeting their spiritual needs. It only makes sense -- hungry people, sick people can't concentrate much on the "esoteric" stuff until they are filled and healed (or at least in a more comfortable place physically speaking).

But I think that, even beyond the sort-of "ulterior motive" of helping people so they can enter the Kingdom (which is, of course, the most important thing), Jesus just loves to help people. He loves to reach into our worlds, into our hurt, and show us His love and compassion. He loves to wrap His arms around us and love on us! From experience I know He doesn't always choose to heal or to lift us up out of our circumstances, choosing rather to carry us through the difficult times instead of just making them go away. Personally, I would rather He always just took the tough stuff away before I had to endure much of it. It takes a lot of struggle sometimes to get to the place where, by faith, I accept that He's doing something I don't understand and then relax and let Him do His stuff. That's when He really shows that the spiritual is more important than the physical. But I'm glad there are all those times in Scripture where He shows us that He cares about the physical aspects of our lives, too. I'm glad He's a God whose love is so all-encompassing, who is all about compassion, and who never wants to just leave us where we are to get by on our own. That's when it's so obvious that God is our "Abba" (daddy), that Jesus is our brother, that the Holy Spirit is our comforter.

Yeah. I like that.

So, on another note, I have discovered the most hilarious, true, often uplifting and always interesting blog called "Stuff Christians Like." You should check it out. It is SO us!

Blessings for a beautiful day!