“Oh my God”, “For God’s Sake”, “Swear to God” are phrases used by Christians and non-Christians alike. They flow off the tongue without hesitation, but should they? The Ten Commandments are the most fundamental of laws, ranging from don’t steal to don’t murder. In this cluster of valuable commandments “Thou shalt not use God’s name in vain” is listed third. Yet, it has been tossed to the side over the years. It may seem trivial to some, but in essence, it’s lowering the name of God to a filler word. Eeks!
Love is the greatest commandment, the core and force of the Christian faith. In a world filled with pain and hurt we lose sight of this beautiful gift. We not only fail to receive, but we also fail to give. Then, just when we feel overwhelmed, we are reminded of Gods love through the joy of our children, the friendship of our spouse, the caring ways of a friend, or just a random act of kindness from a stranger. I step back and pause as I am humbled. These outward expressions remind me that I am not alone, that I am loved.
Who knew humility would be served to me by a three foot tall toddler. My first child, Timothy, bright eyed lover of life, has stolen my heart, but has also caused me to eat some extra chocolate (for medicinal purposes). I am the mother who strolled into the grocery store, only to stroll right out, because their child was screaming bloody murder while trying to leap from the cart. I am the mother who had to straight arm my child to try to get him into his car seat long enough to buckle him in. I am the mother who tried to get two kids in the house, while one is screaming “help” loud enough for neighbors 5 blocks away to hear. I am “that” mother.
Today’s the day. We lay our prayer before God, the same prayer we’ve prayed for months, possibly years. Waiting for a miracle. Waiting for a loving God to bestow mercy on our particular request. What is the delay?
Love is the catalyst of the Christian faith, no longer tied to condemnation; we are freed to love God without guilt or shame. “Though our sins are as scarlet they shall be as white as snow. (Is. 1:18)” This agape love is sealed by the blood of Christ on the cross, as He points to you and me, and says you are worth it. God has given you a free pass to love and be loved. Your past does not define your future. There is forgiveness. So lets live as though we are free.
We wake up, and our feet hit the floor running. Our agenda is filled to capacity, and we can’t imagine rationally adding anything else to our plate. What can shift our focus from our daily agenda to God’s daily agenda? How can we find time, and what is the importance of reading God’s word?
In our self gratification society, the idea of making the right choice out of pure obedience kind of blows our minds. Shouldn’t we be able to pick and choose what seems right to us? Where does faith and trust fall into this limited world view of obedience? Why is the difference between obeying God out of choice versus emotion so important?
My mind drifts as I think of everything I need to do. Is their time to pause? Is their time to pray? Maybe I could multitask? Watch the kids, clean the dishes, plan my day’s agenda all while giving a shout out for uncle Jim’s stubbed toe. Sure, God hears us anywhere we pray, but are we praying in a reverent way? In a way that we expect mountains to move? In a way that we are bowing to a risen King? I have tried both types of prayer, and from personal experience, pausing, and taking my time to focus and humble my spirit to Christ is the way to go.
Sometimes we need to look at the heart of a child to remind us of the timeless truths God has tried to impress upon our hearts for years. We look at what we have or don’t have and feel limited. How could God find favor in me, or use me, when all I have doesn’t look good in comparison to what we see others offer. This is not how God weighs our offerings. God looks at the heart, and values the unseen things above all else.
Resentment, gossip, pain, and anger, these are some of the effects of unresolved conflict. Hurt by those we love, whether it be intentionally or unintentionally, our emotions stew up inside us. Instead of confronting our accuser we either talk to everyone but the one who hurt us, or bottle up the hurt convincing ourselves we should not have been hurt in the first place. Where does this get us? No where.