Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fill Me Up

"Dad and I had a talk tonight."
They talked earlier in the afternoon. I had been on the phone with a friend, but their disappearance caught my attention. Snippets of their conversation had floated into the kitchen. Now it seemed the conversation was on her mind again.
"Really? What about?"
"Um. Well, I don't think I should talk to you about it."
"Ok... why not?"
"Well, we just got it all figured out and I don't think I need to bring it up again."
A couple hours later I sat on the couch, knowing what I wanted to write, but not sure how to get it out.
Then my husband told me. Our sweet daughter with the big heart acted out of character. Mean.
And my heart breaks because all she wanted to do was fit in. For once. Been there.
My daughter is weird, and she's just about the most refreshing weirdo you could meet. She really truly loves Jesus and lives like it. She loves everyone because that's what Jesus does.
So it broke my heart to hear her struggle because there are times when her specialness isn't enough for her. When she would trade the very thing that sets her apart, that makes her look like Jesus, just so she could look like everyone else.
My heart breaks for other daughters. Sons too. People like me. People who sometimes would rather just fit in. Who would trade our love for our neighbor just so we could join in the gossip, or not look odd for keeping company with the less desirable crowd. Who would forfeit the new creation for the old Adam.
Let's be honest- doesn't it just seem easier? Easier to make decisions based on what we want? Easier to keep "our" money and buy nicer things? Easier to spout our opinions- giving no regard for speaking the truth in love. Easier to have a conversation completely ignoring whether or not that person has saving faith or anyone serving them in Jesus' name?
Maybe I'm the only one, but I've read enough of the Psalms and Ecclesiastes to figure this mindset isn't anything new under the sun. And I'm pretty sure the Israelites didn't scurry after foreign gods because they didn't know it was wrong. Being chosen by God wasn't quite enough- they wanted to be chosen by their neighbors too. They wanted to fit in. So on the off-chance you ever find yourself camping out with me, my eldest, and the Israelites yearning for the easy road, maybe my girl, myself, and you, my dear friends, can learn a lesson from a maple I once knew:

It was a sad moment in an otherwise raucous celebration over FaceTime. Unable to join the rest of the family for Thanksgiving, they feasted a couple weekends early and we joined in later over the iPad to see all the darling faces. That's when my father-in-law broke the news. He had some trees taken down. 

I had no particular attachment to any of them, except one. The attachment is shared by many others, and for that reason my father-in-law was hoping the tree could get by with just a trim.
See, it holds the tire swing.

The tree service man inspected the tree, and there was no question about it. The tree had to go.
There was one crucial fact that my father in law could not see from where he stood.
The tree was hollow. The fact that none of the limbs had crashed into the house can be received as nothing short of a true blessing.
It's hard to believe it. To look at a tree so strong, so loved, and discover it's hollow.
It's not so different with the people around us. Looking strong. Standing tall.
But from where we stand, we don't see the whole picture.
Only One is privy to that information.
One strong gale and it all comes crashing down.
There's one truth that the Liar wants us to forget: being hollow, taking the easy road, doesn't make anything easier.
If you are tempted to believe your unbelieving neighbors might have it better than you in at least some areas of life, just talk to them. Really talk.
* Hollow is an eye for an eye. Being filled with the spirit is freedom to love. (Who wants to keep track of all those eyes anyway?)
* Hollow is "I make my own way." Being filled with the spirit is freedom to be made into our true selves by the Master Craftsman.
* Hollow is uncertainty about God. About the future, and who will care when I'm gone. Being filled with the spirit is certain hope, an imperishable soul waiting for a glorious reunion.
* Hollow is an incomplete definition of love, a sickly shadow of it. Being filled with the spirit is knowing a completely sufficient and unconditional love that we don't even have to earn.
* Hollow is... empty.
* Being filled with the spirit is being full:
of light (Luke 11:34)
of grace (John 1:16)
of joy (John 15:11)
of goodness (Romans 15:14)
of the love of God (Ephesians 3:19)
of courage (Philippians 1:20)
of knowledge (Philemon 1:6)
of assurance (Hebrews 6:11)
of mercy and good fruits (James 3:17)
of God (Ephesians 3:19)
Because even if you think you have nothing else going for you, Jesus + nothing still equals Jesus.
And Jesus is all that matters.
Praying that we all praise the Lord today for filling us up. May the forest of believers stand strong, pointing the way to our Creator.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

Today I am linking up with Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday and Michell for Doing You Well Wednesday! Click on the button, join in the reading, writing, and fun!