For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Romans 1:21-25
I went to bed with a headache last night, didn’t sleep all that well, and awoke with a real heavy heartedness this morning. My thoughts had become consumed, once again, with my desire to settle in a permanent home. On top of that, my attention had been grabbed by a terrorist attack in Kampala, Uganda yesterday, the place where our next child is likely living in a baby’s home and where our good friends know their son is waiting for them. In addition, I had become perplexed, yet another day, with the complexities of motherhood and my inevitable disappointment with myself in that job. From there, just about every relationship and situation carried with it a feeling of discouragement and defeat.
I have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and begun to worship and serve created things rather than the Creator, who is forever praiseworthy and to be praised. Was I on my knees bowing to our new home? Have I created a physical alter upon which I have placed my children’s images to worship? In each of these things, the subtlety and deception of sin is far more crafty and sensible than that. It convinces me that: I will be content when… I will be freed up to really live fully when… Life will begin as I think it is meant to be when… I will fully be the person God has made me to be when…
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
This is the day He has made. This is the place to which He has called me. This is the moment, circumstance, task, relationship, activity and engagement to which He has called me. Today I am free to be content and at peace in the exact day and circumstance that He has made. Therefore, I can be glad and rejoice in it. I have His fullness, the perfections and overflowing life of Jesus, lived for me so that I may live fully today, where I am, as I am.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:26-28
I can be thankful because I am part of and made for a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. God’s consuming fire isn’t a threat but a promise…nothing can hold it back or stop it. (Not an address, a relational conflict, an internal affliction, etc.) He will consume the whole creation with His glory, His goodness, His redemption and His life. He is making all things new. What a gift, then, to have removed from my grip all those shakable things (perfect parenting, an ideal home, trust in agencies or governments or man made timelines, positions and titles, projects and missions, etc.) while being given security in and more of the Unshakable.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:27-31
It is not in my surroundings, my title, my wisdom, my utilitarian contribution to the community or the church, my hospitality or my anything that God’s name is made great to the world or to my heart. As a matter of fact, more often than not, these only make my heart grow hard and proud as I use them to demand attention for myself even as they fool me into independent efforts at imaging God’s glory. Instead, it is in the ambiguity, the weaker places and the unknown that He becomes known more clearly and nearly. Even as I am shaken by fixing my gaze and my heart on the created things rather than on the Creator, I find His righteousness, holiness and redemption at work in me and for me, for His glory, because even my Gospel amnesia is promised to be fully consumed and one day totally obliterated by my Redeemer.
Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! 2 Cor. 3:4-11