Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Face in the Mirror

There is a part of each of us that no one really gets. No matter how hard we attempt to explain it to another, show it to a trusted friend, or reveal it to an intimate...that place...that part of ourselves that to us is so defining, and essential to understand about us if we are to truly be known by another....remains...unknown.

Sometimes we try to re-frame the way we express  that personal uniqueness, yet we realize that others just don't get it..."just don't get me."  For everyone of us, it is crucial that someone close to you is really seeing the real you within you. Yet, personal history be told...the unique unknowable within us, still often remains misunderstood, and it may even be seen to be somewhat of a flaw within our personality, an eccentricity or quirk, or even a question mark upon our character. 

A look Behind the Mirror

Who really gets the full nature and the incredible uniqueness of anyone? We have lots of acquaintances, casual friends, close friends and even a small circle of intimate friends, and if we are fortunate, a significant intimate other that we are closest to. In that concentric circle of people that we interact with on a regular basis, we are "known" in varying levels and in a myriad of ways. 

Our Individualistic DNA

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a chemical, a nucleic acid, which is at the basis of every living thing. The DNA material is intricately contained in two large molecules or strands called helix, that intertwine into  a double helix. Our own special DNA is woven into our genetics at conception, and is a kind of God Code that makes each of us uniquely different from one another. This "Code" is thought by some geneticists to be so not of this world that it must be linked to an alien extraterrestrial origin. Not according to the Scriptures. 

Created in The Image of God

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28 

This was not a physical image that God formed, but rather man was created with our Creator's non-transferable attributes, so as to be like God as rational thinking beings, who feel profound emotions, and who posses volitionality and exercise free-will. We are also purpose oriented beings who have the need and capacity for relational sociability, intimacy and significance. God alone is Omnipotent (All powerful), Omnipresent (Everywhere present at the same time),and Omniscient(All knowing).

We are all so different from one another on so many levels. Our background, ethnicity, life experiences, cultural orientation, spiritual and moral values, temperaments, hereditary genetics, and gender are just some of the influences that set each distinctly apart from one another.

God knew you before your Birth

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame (bones) was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” Psalm 139:12-16

God Knows our Innermost Thoughts

God is the only one who really knows the real you. He "Gets You." 

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.” Psalm 139:1-4

God alone knows our Innermost Self

There are even times where we do not know ourselves. We are inconsistent, hypocritical to who we are, idiosyncratic and confusingly eccentric, and if we are completely honest, we are at times a complete and total conundrum to ourselves. If we really think it through. it is no wonder no one really "Gets us."

Deep within our innermost self, God even helps us to pray for, what we don't even know we ought to pray for.

"So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance, and He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will." Romans 8:26-27 Amplified

The Man in The Mirror

In the final analysis, when we see that face in the mirror each morning,  and watch it change over the years, we recognize but a vague resemblance to the face that we saw in the mirror as a youth. We may grieve the seasons of time and their imprint upon the tapestry of the image before us. However, we must pause and remember that life reaches beyond this moment into a vast and incomprehensible eternity. 

Only knowing God matters at the end of it all. As we gaze at the reflection in the mirror, we see that time has touched us and so has gravity. Many family and friends may have passed away, our bodies might have parts they didn't come with, and we now putter around at a micro fraction of how we raced through the years growing up. 

Only God truly "Gets You" 

Take a good look in the mirror today, and make it your quest to know God.  It is the most important discovery that you will ever make in this lifetime, and it has an irrefutable impact upon the life beyond this one. 

One day we will all come to the end of the pathway of our life. Our days here on earth will be at an end.  Each of us will meet our Creator face to face. We will be looking into the face of Jesus Christ the Lord of Glory. We will finally be in the presence of the only one in our entire lifetime, that really and truly "Got us." Oh glorious day.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

If you have questions about what happens when a person dies, and what the Bible teaches about eternity, consider reading the chapter

If you are uncertain as to your eternal destiny, perhaps you may wish to read the chapter in this blog entitled, "The Only Way to The Quiet Place."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Suffering: An Unwelcomed Pilgrimage

The pathways that we all journey in life are often strewn with the jagged edged stones of disappointment. The more worn the pathway through the years, the more evident are the memorials along the way; altars of courage and hope that have been painstakingly made by the faithful trembling hands of fellow pilgrim travelers. 

The stones along the pathway can be easily seen as obstacles to our physical and spiritual health, but God knows that the altars of deeper commitment are actually made of the heavy stones of suffering, sacrifice, and a willingness to be faithful  and obedient in the midst of difficult times of personal testing.

The Reality of Human Suffering

Woven throughout the history of mankind, is the undeniable reality of human suffering. Whether translated from cuneiform tablets of clay, deciphered from the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt or painstakingly etched upon leather parchments by a Hebrew scribe, suffering and life are seamless companions. 

 What has always inspired humanity in its search for sustainable hope and courage in the midst of tragedy and loss is not the innumerable examples of suffering found in history, but the indisputable discovery of renewed faith and the realization of the presence of God in the midst of suffering.

God's Compassion in the Midst of our Suffering

In life, we naturally long for pleasure not pain, joy not sadness and happiness not sorrow. We can become so frustrated by the disruption that an obstacle brings to our plans that we miss the precious lesson that we need to learn in the crucible of disappointment when things do not go the way that we expected. 

In the darkest hour of a painful trial we can fail to see the outstretched hand of God ready to provide peace in the midst of the storm and needed strength for the lonely journey that lies ahead.

Helen Keller, reflecting on what is essential in life said, "The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse." 

The Perception we need when we are Suffering

Sometimes it helps to change our perspective of what a valley really is:

A valley is a mountaintop tuned upside down. The thin air and incredible trial of the deepest valley, is just like the precipice  of the most magnificent mountaintop. One should take great joy and kneel in gratitude that he has conquered the place of dark sorrow, still grasping hold of his living faith. He is a victor...not a failure.

When experiencing a physical trial that robs us of health, where we doubt God's sovereignty in the midst of suffering, what we need the most is courage; the courage to lift our eyes from the bleakness of the valley to see the promise of the summit that calls out to us to press on, and not succumb to despair.

God is Near when we are Suffering

The author of The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, expresses in his book, The Problem of Pain, that "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." 

We fail to realize that God's deepest work in us, the expression of His purest compassion and the discovery of His profoundest comfort is realized not in the ecstasy of sublime pleasure but in His companionable sharing of our suffering. It is in the crucible of personal pain, and suffering, that the Quiet Place can hold precious meaning found no where else...for it is here that we discover a profound truth...When there is nowhere else to turn, nothing left to ease the suffering and no one near to understand what we are going through, He is there. In the Quiet Place we learn more and more that God is enough.
In the wilderness of suffering and loss, we can experience a significant depth in our walk with God as in no other way. 

Suffering is a Personal Pilgrimage

The 19th century writer, Havelock Ellis, penned, "The Promised Land always lies on the other side of the Wilderness."

What a joyous privilege to have found through relationship with Jesus Christ, the peace and wonder of having access to the very Heart of God.  The Promised Land springs up within, and is an oasis of spiritual sustenance and peace, amidst the arduous pilgrimage of the wilderness. 

It is not upon reaching a utopian Eden that one discovers the presence of God, but on the dusty parched trek of the journey itself. 

Drawing Near to God when we are Suffering

On the arduous pathway of suffering, the Quiet Place becomes a hushed haven where tears and childlike prayers, whispered at midnight, are made with an awareness that God will always be there at our side. He is there warming our hearts, strengthening our steps and giving us the faith to not surrender to doubt and despair, no matter  what obstacle may block our path.

The challenge of overcoming physical and spiritual obstacles is not found in a self-help book or made up of a secret formula known only to a few. 

It is in the Quiet Place, that understanding finally breaks through, like the crimson rays of a new sunrise. The Creator of the universe formed and made me, breathed the breath of life into my struggling lungs and gave my heart its first whispered beat. It should not be surprising that this same Creator knows how to lead me down the darkened pathway of suffering, to the Quiet Place of communing with Him.

"You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.”   Psalm 139:2-4

The Refining Purpose of Suffering

It is not the removal of an obstacle that blocks our way, but the discovery of our inability to see that the obstacle may be there to perhaps teach us something within ourselves that may need refining, or some new aspect of the Love of God that He wants us to experience. He knows us better that anyone ever has or ever will. As a Master Sculpture, He shapes the very image of Christ along the pathways to the Quiet Place.

The pathway in life that is free of obstacles probably doesn't lead anywhere. 

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. in the path where I walk”    Psalm 142:3-4

Please take a moment and listen to this inspirational song by Jeremy Camp entitled  "Healing hand of God"