Creeping Power

By now you’ve probably realized that I’m a bit fired up. BB says that it’s not my emotions that are the problem, it’s my behavior in reaction to my emotions. Whatever. I blame my parents.

Thinking a lot about the creeping power of sin. I’m really, really mad at someone (no, not BB). I’m fly off the handle enraged. I’m praying for justice (and maybe a little vengeance) angry. I’m mad for myself. I’m mad for the other people hurt by this person. I’m mad that this person is (seemingly) getting away with it.

But then my God reminds me that I too have the capacity for great evil. He reminds me that if it wasn’t for his death on the cross, and only for that, than I would deserve the full brunt of his wrath.

Dang. Why do you have to go and ruin a perfectly good rage?

Most people don’t set out to ruin the lives of others, and yet many people have their lives ruined by others. Most men believe their wedding vows, and yet a large number cheat (women too, of course). Most parents smile at their babies when they are born, and many of them raise their hand to that same child just a few years later. Most business people just want to work an honest job, and then some of them find themselves stealing before they realize that they’ve lost their way.

What happened? How does a person change?

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

The Enemy picks at our weaknesses. It starts with a small lie, a smile at the woman behind the counter, a little fudge of the books.

Then the Enemy begins the deception. You deserve it. No one will ever know. It’s not hurting anyone.

Before you know it, the Enemy doesn’t even have to work anymore. You’ve gone so far down the path that you believe there’s no turning back.

Ah, but there’s the grace. There’s time to turn back up until the moment we take our last breath. There’s always time to make things right. Yes, it can be hard, embarrassing, humiliating, painful. But the truth will come to light either way.

So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (Matthew 10:26)

I believe in a God of justice, one will right all wrongs. I thank God that the justice for me was meted out on the cross. I thank God that he shows me the reality of this Enemy, who’s couching, creeping, waiting to pounce. I am not far from falling. I am a weak vessel, easily deceived.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

 

Leora

The last of the painting projects for 2012 is completed.  The lime green dresser plus the bright orange walls in the baby’s room will most certainly instill in the child a love of all things neon and all things 80s.

Am I the only person who’s over the moon with excitement about Les Mis the movie? I’ve been listening to the soundtrack all day today and trying not to cry.  I’m sure the neighbors have been enjoying my singing as well (windows are open due to painting).  That’s one of the benefits about living in a neighborhood full of crime, homelessness and people with mental illnesses.  You are never the weirdest person on the block.  We’ve pushed this theory pretty far and have yet to be proven wrong.

There’s so much swirling in my brain today, but I want to tell you about Leora.   Two months ago, I let the dog out before we went to bed, and she was sitting on our porch.  Hard to tell, but she appears to be about 55 years old, very sick, clearly homeless.  We spoke for a while.  I gave her a blanket, dinner and some juice and said goodnight.  I couldn’t sleep all night.  It felt so ugly and so wrong.  I have three empty beds in my apartment, and yet she was sleeping outside.  Why couldn’t I get the courage to invite her in?

This morning, she was back.  She looked slightly better but still struggling.  We spoke again for a while.  She was very excited about the pregnancy and offered lots of advice about how to stay healthy.  This time, I invited her in for breakfast.  She declined, and I was admittedly relieved.  We spoke some more.  She told be about her daughters.  She has MRSA, which has rendered her left arm immobile and makes it virtually impossible for her to be admitted into any shelter.   Then she asked if she could come in and use the bathroom.

My earlier courage had dwindled, but I couldn’t say no now!  I led her inside.  The Spirit was so loud in my mind, but the battle was raging.  Scripture poured into my mind – love others as you love yourself, whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me, and of course, Isaiah 58:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

At the same time, my mind was going over all the reasons why this was a terrible idea.  Contagious, flesh-eating bacteria aside, I immediately panicked wondering if she might try to kill me once we got inside.  [I know, I’m insane.]  Considering she couldn’t use her left arm and could barely walk, I decided that even 8 months pregnant, I could take her.

Obviously, there were no incidents.  Everyone survived the trip to the bathroom.  [She did offer to clean my apartment.  She was concerned the dust might harm the baby.  Ok, ok!  I’ll clean.  Jeez.]

Ugh.  I am so broken by this.  Why is loving another human being so hard?  I literally had to repeat to myself over and over – this is a child of God, a human being, someone’s daughter, someone’s mother.  It’s quite disgusting the thoughts I was having and the concerns that kept popping into my head.

I always like to think that if we were missionaries living in Africa, we would have needy people parading through our home.  Ha!  That’s quite an elaborate fantasy.  Will I be getting a brian transplant before we leave?  Am I going to be a different person in that scenario?

I don’t have any answers.  I do know that God is sending Leora to me to challenge me.  I actually laughed with joy when I saw her this morning.  So happy to have another opportunity to try again.  I was honored that she felt safe enough to come back and remembered our last visit.  Not for my own glory but because she must have felt loved in some small way.  And she is!  God loves her so much.

I feel a little like the Grinch when his small shriveled heart grew three sizes in one day.  God blessed my small, insignificant, pathetic attempt at being a decent human being.  God is molding me.  It hurts, but it’s working.

Ok, Jean Valjean is singing “Who Am I,” and I’m seriously going to start weeping.  Too much love in my heart!

Advent

For Advent this year, I want to reflect on the Old Testament verses that prophesied the coming of Jesus.  

Today, we’ll start in the beginning – Genesis 3:15.  This is God’s proclamation to the serpent after Adam and Eve sinned.  It’s the very first reference to Jesus.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

I never really thought much about this verse before, but when since we learned it’s significance when we studied Genesis, I feel like it comes up all the time.  Not only does it prophesy that Jesus will come as a man, but it addresses Jesus’ ultimate defeat of Satan.  It also references the fact that Satan will get a good shot in and bruise Jesus (Jesus will suffer and die), but of course, Satan will be crushed.