Made and Loved by God

Tonight’s passage is wonderful (and easy to understand):

For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for you would not fashion what you hate.  How could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?  But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Ruler and Lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!

Wisdom 11:24-12:1

God loves us.  He made us.  He created us.  By His will, we exist.  We are His. It is just that simple.

As I read this scripture over, it almost makes me say “well, duh — of course He loves us.”  I can feel my soul breathe a deep sigh of relief, because this passage makes it so simple and clear.  We all have a tag on our soul that says Made by God.  (Who needs a Made in the USA tag — we all bear the Made in Heaven stamp!)

And just when I think it cannot get any better, the very last clause blows me away: “for your imperishable spirit is in all things.”

I watch my son, the one little part of God’s creation that I had a hand in making and I can see part of me in him (some good and some not so good).  God made us.  And just like part of me is in my son, part of God is in each of us.  And that is all good!  God’s imperishable spirit is in all of us!  We need to let that part shine!

God,

I love you!  I am not worthy of your love, but I am so grateful to have it.  Let your Spirit  fill me and shine through me!

 

Fear God — Fear Life Without Him

Today’s passage is a short one:

Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:7

I generally do not like the passages in the Bible that advise us to fear God.  I think this is because I want to think of God as just the loving God.  The Father in the Prodigal Son story who welcomes us back with open arms.  When I read passages about fearing God, I think about God smiting and sending fire and brimstone.  And I don’t want to think about that (probably because I might deserve it sometimes).  Or maybe I don’t want to think about it because I don’t like the idea of being powerless to anyone else.  (and yet, of course, I am powerless, I am weak).  It bothers me that God seems to want us to fear Him.  I struggle with this.

So today’s passage has had me thinking all day.  “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”  We would be foolish not to want this.  But I am struggling because I don’t generally like things that I am afraid of.  And in general I fear evil or things that want to do me harm.

I spent a little time googling and found that some suggest that “fear” as used in the Bible includes awe, reverence, adoration, honor, worship, love and fear.  This makes me feel better.  This makes me think of the fear because we are in the presence of such an amazing, AWESOME power — not because we are afraid He will hurt us.  God doesn’t want to hurt us.  We hurt Him.  He doesn’t hurt us.

When I think of  fear in terms of someone we love, the fear is of losing that person.  Losing my spouse or my son is my greatest fear.  Perhaps this is the fear we need.  Fear of losing God.  Fear of being without Him.  Fear of disappointing or hurting Him.

Lord,

I love you.  I am in awe of you and afraid of what I do not know.  Help me to grow in your love.  I don’t want to be without you.

 

 

No false gods

I will have no false gods.  As long as I can remember, I have known that this was one of God’s commandments.  It was an easy one, I believed.  There is only one God.  I don’t believe in any other gods.  I don’t believe any other gods exist.  Check.  One commandment followed.  I thought…

Foolish by nature were all who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing the one who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan; Instead either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water, or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.  Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them.  Or if they were struck by their might and energy, let them realize from these things how much more powerful is the one who made them.  For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.  But yet, for these the blame is less; For they have gone astray perhaps, though they seek God and wish to find him.  For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.  But again, not even these are pardonable. For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its Lord?

Wisdom 13:1-9

I do not call them gods, but I have put things before God.  The so called good things in life: food, money, power, jobs, family, friends.  Is it wrong to enjoy life?  “Foolish by nature were all who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing the one who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan.”  The failing in enjoying the good things is not recognizing God in all of them.  The joy that we feel in beautiful things — incomparable to the beauty of their creator and the joy He can bring.  Humans are better than anything we can create.  Similarly, God, our creator, is far greater than what He has created.  Every powerful force that we see on earth, whether natural or man made, is nothing when compared to God who created and fashioned all power.  Because I cannot fathom this beauty and strength, this power and joy, I sometimes let it fall to the back of my mind and instead focus on the lesser things in front of me.

I don’t think of it as worshipping a false god — because I still allow myself to think of this as I did as a child — worshipping is something you do in church,  and I only worship God in church.  And therein lies my problem.  I limit my worshipping to church.  I only worship God in church.  But my focus and energies on these lesser things outside of church is putting these things in front of God.  God gives us so much evidence of his goodness, his power, his strength, his majesty, his beauty and the joy that only He can provide us.  How do we not more quickly find the Lord?

Lord, forgive me.   Sometimes I need the smack in the face to see what is right in front of me. You have made so many wondrous things.  I am distracted by the beauty that surrounds me.  I am mystified by your strength and power.  I am in awe.  My mind wants to know and see what it cannot even begin to understand.  Forgive me, God.  I am lazy.  I settle for what I can see rather than searching for what I do not understand.  Help me.  I want to keep your commandments.  I want to put You above all things.  Help me to keep that focus so that I might do your will.

 

God’s Child

Yesterday God reminded us that He calls us by name.  Today he reminds us that we are His — even when we go wrong.

But you, our God, are good and true, slow to anger, and governing all with mercy.  For even if we sin, we are yours, and know your might; but we will not sin, knowing that we belong to you.  For to know you well is complete righteousness, and to know your might is the root of immortality.

Wisdom 15:1-3

I am God’s child.  He calls me by my name and I am His, I am His child, God’s child.  If He had a last name we would all share it.  We are His children, even when we sin, even when we go in the wrong direction.

When we finally truly know this, and accept this, when we finally truly know God, we will sin no more.

That goal of truly knowing Him seems so far off.  I want the crash course!  But like a child, I must take baby steps.  One step at a time.  Like Dory said in the Finding Nemo movie: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”  I just need to try to keep swimming in the right direction.

God,

I want to know you.  I want to know and accept without a doubt or worry that I am yours.  That I am safe.  My fear and inability to fully trust leads me to sin.  Help me to stop being weak.  I know that you can do all things.  I know that you are showing me the steps to take.  Open my eyes and my mind and my heart to accept and know what you are showing me.

Palm Sunday Wisdom

It’s Palm Sunday!  Which means today’s Gospel at church was the long gospel where we hear about the last days and hours of Jesus’ human life.  Where we shout out “crucify him” in imitation of the crowd — and in recognition of our own sin for which He died.

This afternoon, the Bible opened to the book of Wisdom.  It is a long section, so I will break it up a bit:

For, not thinking rightly, they said among themselves:

“Brief and troubled is our lifetime; there is no remedy for our dying, nor is anyone known to have come back from Hades.  For by mere chance were we born, and hereafter we shall be as though we had not been; Because the breath in our nostrils is smoke, and reason a spark from the beating of our hearts, And when this is quenched, our body will be ashes and our spirit will be poured abroad like empty air.  Even our name will be forgotten in time, and no one will recall our deeds.  So our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud, and will be dispersed like a mist Pursued by the sun’s rays and overpowered by its heat.  For our lifetime is the passing of a shadow; and our dying cannot be deferred because it is fixed with a seal; and no one returns.

What a very sad way to think of life.  How very sad and desolate must it feel to not believe in God.  To not know that there is so much more to life than what we experience here on earth.

Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are here, and make use of creation with youthful zest.  Let us have our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no springtime blossom pass us by; let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.  Let no meadow be free from our wantonness; everywhere let us leave tokens of our merriment, for this is our portion, and this our lot.  Let us oppress the righteous poor; let us neither spare the widow nor revere the aged for hair grown white with time.  But let our strength be our norm of righteousness; for weakness proves itself useless.

When it is put this way, it is easy to see why some who do not know God, have no care for those around them.  Why not enjoy life and center on me — if this is all there is…

But then what is my excuse when I fall into similar behavior?  Is this what is meant when they say that sin pulls us away from God?  Because if I believe, as I do, that God is present, and that there is life after death, then when I act out of selfishness or out of me-centeredness, I am surely acting as though I believe this is it — I am acting as though I do not believe that there is much more waiting for me.  I am not trusting God, not trusting that following Him is better than doing something for me or doing something for immediate gratification.

Let us lie in wait for the righteous one, because he is annoying to us; he opposes our actions, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.  He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD.  To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways.  He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.  He calls blest the destiny of the righteous and boasts that God is his Father.  Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him in the end.  For if the righteous one is the son of God, God will help him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.  With violence and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.  These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them,

This sounds very much like the crowd taunting Jesus at His death.

And they did not know the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense for holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.  For God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it.

Wisdom 2:1-24

Lord,

Thank you for this beautiful day!  I am not worthy of it.  Thank you for sending us your only Son, to show us what true love, true selflessness, true faith and trust in you is.  Help me to remember that this is not my home.  This life is only temporary and is just a small part of your plan.  My home is with you!  Guide me with wisdom that can only come from you!  Help me to reject the devil.  Bring me close to you always.