Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Hand in His Hand

"But what do we mean when we talk of God helping us?  We man god putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak.  He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another.  When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them.  We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it."  (C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity)

I love reading C.S. Lewis in small bites.  I have a book beside my bed with excerpts from his writings done in a daily reading style.  The pages are often strung together in themes from a certain book for several days, providing more insight on a given topic over the course of up to a week.  Other than The Chronicles and Screwtape, I've not read an entire work of Lewis and, given the depth of his thoughts, that may be a good thing right now.  I fear if I read some of these books clear through that my head would explode.  His simple portrayal of the human interaction with the Almighty as in the passage above just causes me to think so much ... and it drives my thoughts to the wonder of just how much God loves me.

The very idea that God is, even right now, holding my hand and guiding me - letting me grow in my own creativity of spirit within the enormous depth and breadth of what He has provided - is an awesome thought.  So much of what I'm learning of late makes this ring especially true.  I've seen friends suffer under teaching that would make God out to be some Cosmic Taskmaster who is just waiting to smack us down at every turn.  I've known those who think this earthly realm can be made perfect right here and now in terms of money, government, and all that goes with that.  At the same time, I've looked into the face of a widow who I didn't know that just lost a husband younger than I and I've seen the same God that Lewis talks about so often.  It absolutely amazes me over and over again that we can know this God and so many miss Him or make Him out to be something of their own design.

God wraps His hand around mine for a reason.  He does so out of His Love and His desire to reflect His glory through me and what I do.  The Crooked Path is a means to an end - an end where God stands ready to greet me with arms open wide.  Until then, I can rest in His strength and know He is happy to see me learn and grow under His direction and guidance.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Still More to Come ...

Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. (2 Timothy 4:2-7, NLT)

It's out there somewhere for each of us. I'm talking about the finish line. Paul seems to have clearly caught sight of his and he's encouraging Timothy to believe that his is still to come. And he's challenging his protege to think about what is still to come and take action. He's asking Timothy to be faithful with the Gospel, even though many people won't want to hear it the way Timothy is going to lay it out there. They're searching for something new - something now that will take their minds off what they see as drudgery. So Paul is telling his friend how to proceed, to understand that it isn't over yet for Timothy even though the Apostle is nearing death himself.

So how can we apply this ourselves, especially those who aren't "called to full-time, professional service"? Frankly, I'm challenged to see that old saw as an attempt to cloud the real issue at hand. Nobody is called into Christianity as a "vocation" ... we're drawn to it as an avocation! We don't serve out of some warped sense of duty and dread (at least we shouldn't). We embrace the fact that we are imperfect creatures who God loved so much that He provided Jesus to redeem us. Frankly, I'd like to capitalize the third word in the passage I cited so it reads, "Preach the Word of God" because that's one of the names used to describe Jesus. And in the context of what Timothy is challenged to do (as are we), I think it is most appropriate.

The finish line to the Crooked Path will come soon enough. It may be right around the corner for some. But I'd wager that, for most of us, there is significantly "more to come" and we need to embrace that. Much of it will be boring, some will be exciting, and some will be outright difficult. There are those who will experience far more than "their share" of the difficult times. To all, the exhortation from one who has neared the finish and sees the face of the One for whom he ran rings true ... "Work at it, spread the Gospel, expect difficulty and rejection. In the end, you will find it really wasn't anything at all compared to what God has in store when you cross your finish line."