Thursday, September 18, 2014

Go and Learn

The day I came to this passage of scripture I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Look at me, getting my bible study on. God is probably proud as he sticks a star on my chart. I know...super Pharisee loser. I might as well have stood out on the street corner praying aloud about how great I was and how lucky God was to call me his child. Pretty sure God laughed as he knew what he was about to say to my heart. He should have anyways.

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means; I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." -Matthew 9:10-13

So first off let me say this:  you know it's a bad thing when you feel like you have more in common with the Pharisees. I just want to be clear--that is not a positive thing.

I love to read scripture and be like, "Yeah, that's right tell those Pharisees idiots what's up." But this time, I felt God pricking my heart and asking me to examine my own heart because it favored the attitude of the Pharisees.

Here's why.

I am often surrounded by the healthy and I do not look for the sick. I care tremendously for those in my life that I'm comfortable with, family and friends. But what about those I don't know? What about the ones drowning in pain? What about the people who just need a friend, and more importantly need Jesus. And just who are the sick?

I kept seeing the verse, "Go and learn what this means," over and over. Go and learn, go and learn.

I sat still, prideful wind knocked completely out of me. I hear you God, please forgive me because I don't even know what this means or looks like in my own life.

I prayed, "Please God open my eyes. I have had them shut. I've been keeping to myself, trying desperately to keep my world comfortable. I do not look for opportunities surrounding me to serve others that I do not know, or am not comfortable around."

A few days later I was at the lake and some ladies were there that sadly I would normally judge and write off because of their words, attitudes, and actions. I hate admitting this, because I honestly don't like this about me. It's ugly; I make a wonderful Pharisee, and I don't want to make a wonderful Pharisee. Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?  Anyhow, I remembered "go and learn." I could feel God showing me his love for them instead. I didn't focus on all that could make me uncomfortable about these women, I instead felt inclined and burdened to pray for them. I asked God to help me see them they way Jesus would.

I feel him changing my attitude. It begins with seeing people the way Jesus does. Serving people the way Jesus would. Loving people the way Jesus would. For far too long I haven't been doing that. That's not okay anymore. Brick by brick this safe wall of comfort I have built is being torn down.

Go and learn, go and learn. I'm praying for God to move my feet and teach me along the way.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Panic or Trust

At our church, The Crossing, my husband Kerry has been preaching through the book of Matthew. This has been my favorite thing he has taught on in our entire 10 years of being in ministry. We've been in Matthew for weeks now as he has been walking us through the book a few verses at a time. (Side note: If you don't have a church home and you live in the Gore area, we would love to have you sometime!)

When Kerry started preaching through Matthew I decided to also study the book along side. I love the gospels, and to study Matthew individually and as a church has been awesome to see the many different things God is pointing out to me.

This particular day I was in Chapter 8.

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat, but Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The men were amazed and asked, "what kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" -Matthew 8:23-27

So Jesus and his disciples take off in a boat. These guys aren't just newbies who Jesus just met and decided to get on a boat together. They've been with Jesus for some time now. They've seen him do some pretty amazing things. Healing people of various sicknesses by either speaking, "You're healed," or by touching them and making them well. They were there as he gave the Sermon on the Mount. They also knew who he claimed to be; he wasn't hiding that from them. Yet, they still didn't quite believe...

As they were in the boat, a furious storm hits, and the panic sets in. The disciples are freaking out, and although Jesus was on the boat with them all they can see or focus on is the huge waves, the pounding storm, the imminent danger. Who cares if Jesus is on the boat?! He obviously doesn't know what's going on anyways because he's sleeping!! This storm is going to end us! 

They knew Jesus was on the boat because they ran to him pleading for him to wake up and save them or they would drown. So they knew he was there, but they were afraid he wasn't aware of the dire situation. Jesus, we know you claim to be God and all, but I don't think you are aware of what exactly is going on here.

In the moment of fear and panic they doubted him.

They doubted his knowledge and awareness

They doubted his power

They doubted his love

They doubted his provision

It all went out the window. They had been there and witnessed his power many times before, yet in their time of trouble they trusted in what they were currently experiencing...a horrendous storm.

After waking Jesus, he replies, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?"

I imagine they were like, "Um, really? Can you not see the giant waves pouring over the boat?"

He then gets up and rebukes the wind and the waves, and all is calm. I've read this passage many times before, but for the first time I really noticed something. After confronting the disciples with their lack of faith he performs an act of grace by calming the storm. He revealed his almighty power by speaking the weather and sea into submission. So you see his almighty authority, but also his grace. He calmed the sea, and in that moment calmed the panic and fear by reminding them who he was, and that He was with them. They had no reason to panic, God was right there with them in the boat.

I imagine their draws dropping. We know they were amazed because of their statement: "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him?"

I wonder if they felt embarrassed by their lack of faith? I always do...

I cannot tell you how many times I've panicked. When a storm comes out of no where and I had no time to prepare my first inclination is to freak out. "God, I do not think you see the magnitude of this storm. You couldn't possibly or you would do something! Where are you?"

And he's right there. Every single time. He knows I want to panic, be dramatic, and play worst case scenario before I really stop and trust him. I know he must sit and wait saying "I'm right here, I already have all the information, When you're ready to stop and trust me I'm here."

He's right there waiting for me to see him, to run to him, to trust him. The storm might be overwhelming and terrifying, but I don't have to go through it alone, I have the maker of the universe to lean on through it all.

I wrote this a few weeks ago. Last night one of life's unexpected storms hit. Guess what? Right away I panicked. I panicked for a good hour before I stopped. I only stopped because I felt God gently reminding me of this passage. I knew I had a choice, continue to panic and trust only in the circumstances or go to God, trust him, and know that he is bigger than the storm.

It's not easy, and it never feels natural. I've already caught myself many times trying to run back to the fear and panic. As soon as I catch myself trying to go there I have to run to God. When I do he reminds me of this passage. He's also reminding me of everything else he has brought me through. It's so easy to forget all that when times are tough, but it's important that we not forget.