Thursday, November 6, 2008

Where's the Easy Button?


When I hear that word, it kind of grosses me out. I think of rotting deer carcasses. I don't know why, I just do. If I think too long, I start feeling a little wobbly in the knees and the blood drains from my head and I get a little dizzy.... My husband makes fun of me for things like this. If people near me are talking about anything remotely gross or gory, I have to leave the premises or politely remind them that they will soon need to find the smelling salts. And when they ignore me and keep talking about whatever was leaking from Aunt June's cyst, I implore, "Please! I am not joking! Can we change the subject?" At this point they notice I am a nice shade of grey green and they listen. Usually. Now give me a real life drama filled with blood or vomit or other bodily nasties, and I'm better at handling it. I may yell, "Ack! Bleh, bleh, BLEHHHHHH!" the whole time, but chances are I'll get through it with flying colors.

So when the Bible talks about being in the flesh, I am physically repulsed. My pastor (Shout out to Eric! Woot!) uses this term a lot, so I hope he knows that when I make squinchy faces while he's talking, it's directly proportional to the number of times he uses the word "flesh" while teaching. Because of my aversion to "flesh," I try not to think about it too much. But today Romans chapter 8 felt like it was leaping from the screen this morning ( when I read it, so I am forced deal with the icky-ness.

"So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."
-Romans 8:12-17 English Standard Version

Wow. There's just so much here. Have you ever read the Bible time and time again, but it's just words? And then BOOM! You read the same thing later and it feels like every single word was meant just for you. It's so ironic, because when that happens I understand why it's called the LIVING Word. Living things change and grow. Spiritually, I must grow and change or I become...dead. I must constantly be fed by the living Word and the Holy Spirit or I spiritually starve and die. When I start living under my own power and living just for me, me, me, I am living according to the flesh, and being in the flesh equals DEATH. I wasn't too far off about the rotting deer...

Notice God doesn't promise us that living by the Spirit leads to easy circumstances, though. It may include times that we will suffer and need to cry, "Abba! Father!" Paul knew this first hand. No one else had been a missionary before for Christ. No one around him got thrown out of cities, beaten, and put in prison more than he did. He had companions on his journeys, but no one who went on every single journey with him. And he certainly didn't die old, warm and comfy in his bed.

What God does promise is peace. "For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:6) So many times we Christians think that God provides this big red Easy Button or a get-out-of-jail free card. Go to God, and instantly everything will be flowers and rainbows and care bears! Not always so. When I think about it, the common denominator among those I've met who are Christ-like is peace. Peace when they are healthy. Peace when they are sick. Peace when they are rich. Peace when they are poor. Peace when they are surrounded by those who love them. Peace when they are alone.

So here I am, many times filled instead with fear or pride. Sometimes I'm full of both! I'm terrified of the things I think I might called to because I know I don't have the ability to accomplish them under my own power. Yet at the same time, I pretend that I can handle everything! When people compliment me on a song, a good deed or whatever, I still think, "Yeah....look how cool I am," instead of giving God credit. Then I worry that the next time I won't measure up and I'll fail. So today I pray God breaks the cycle of fear and pride I am prone to. I pray that I learn to submit to his Word and His Spirit and live within his will for my life. I pray that peace will be the norm instead of the exception. When I lose peace, it is a red flag signaling that I again need to turn to God and seek his will for me. When I follow that will, I will not say, "That was easy." Nope. I will say, "That was God."


Pam said...

This post is awesome....I know exactly what you mean about reading a Bible verse one time and it's just words but then the next time it's BAM! It is absolutely the living word and it's just as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago and that's so awesome! And having true peace and sometimes letting pride ride in the front seat when actually he shouldn't even be in the car-yeah, that's me too.... the only thing I can't agree with you on is the grossing out part-lol- none of that stuff bothers me...and that's good since I get to see a lot of it, read about it, and talk about it... and guess what, another nurse at work told me a couple of days ago that she can't stand the sight of blood...I just had to laugh[whoever heard of a nurse that can't stand blood?]... but she's still a great nurse and very good with the patients, just don't expect her to draw blood, which is okay... it takes all kinds, right? Thanks again for such an insightful post~ you rocked it today!

katdish said...

JAMES! I can't tell how many times I've read James and thought, "That just contradicted what I read in the gospels."

But last summer I read it and for the first time, I think I finally understood what God was trying to get through my thick head: we don't get to heaven by works. We serve because of our overwhelming gratitude for the price that was paid at Calvary, and so that others might experience that gratitude and joy. Great post.

Speaking of flesh, yesterday in carpool, my neighbor's daughter gave me a complete blow by blow of "the puss-filled abcess on her cat's back"'re welcome.

Beth said...

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! Gross. I'm feeling woozy... If my husband comes home to find me on the floor and the kids hanging from the ceiling fan because all they could find for dinner was candy, I am totally blaming you.

Max02 said...

I really liked your post. And, for the record, we have an Easy button in our office; it doesn't make things any easier, but it sure is fun to press.

Peace is often a good indication of whether or not someone is living by their power or God's. It's a hard thing to get to at first or when something is even harder than the last difficult situation. Peace always requires surrender. "Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will."