Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Contemplative poem

Imagine, if you will
A scenario quite strange
If Christians were like Christ
Then how would the world change?
Would they give to those who needed
Instead of taking for their gain?
Would they try to heal the wounded
Or still try to inflict pain?
Would they have humble hearts of servants
Instead of proud hearts of kings?
Would they take up their cross daily
Or still take up the pleasures the world brings?
Would they love despite shortcomings
Knowing they have some as well?
Or would their love be conditional
Forgetting that they, too, deserve hell?

Imagine, if you will
A more peculiar scene
If Christ were like the Christians
What difference that would mean!
Would He have ignored the sick
Instead of healing the leper’s skin?
Would He have cast the first stone
Instead of forgiving every sin?
Would He have come to be served
Or still meet the needs of others?
Would He call us His slaves
Instead of friends and brothers?
Would He have ran from His captors
Rather than stumble to the Cross?
Would He still be our God
Or would all gain become loss?

The Christ left His throne
He gave up His crown
He humbled Himself
And, to earth, descended down
He molded us each
With some dirt and His breath
He purchased us each
With His death-defeating death
Yet we are not thankful
For the life He gave up
For the blood that He shed
For Him drinking that cup
He emptied Himself
So our God we can see
He made Himself nothing
And we seem to agree

Monday, July 7, 2008

Is His grace really sufficient for me?

So, my favorite verse in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Basically, Paul had a thorn in his flesh, that he prayed to Jesus three times to remove. Three times Jesus said no. I really like the ambiguity of this section of Scripture, because we're not quite sure what the "thorn" is, whether it is some sin that he continues to fall into, a physical ailment, or possibly even an actual thorn. The ambiguity makes it very easy to apply to whatever thorn we have.

Since I got back from California, my thorn has been joblessness. I'd been looking for a job for about four weeks now, and today I got 2: one with Harkins and one with TEAM Security. I was very happy after both interviews today.

But I couldn't stay happy about this thorn leaving my flesh. When Paul was in distress with this thorn, which he called a messenger from Satan, Jesus told him that His grace was enough. Paul responded by saying that he would live with the thorn, because he knew that that was when Christ was making him strong. When I was patiently, and then anxiously, waiting for Him to provide me with a job, my response was not like Paul's. My response was more like, "God, I've been praying for a job, I've filled out so many applications that I've memorized my previous employers' numbers, I've even been reading my Bible some, and I still don't have a job. What's up with that?" And I started questioning whether or not God was going to provide. I started losing faith in Him; not to the point where I was ready to say, "Screw Christianity," but I'd forgotten the words that Jesus said to Paul, that His grace should be enough for me, not to mention the countless times He's provided for me in the past. It's amazing how our times of trouble can make us forget our times of joy, and how the two are usually not the same, despite what James 1:2 says.

I love the words of the hymn, "It is Well," because the first verse says (in the J-Ra paraphrase), "When times are good and when times suck, God, you have taught me to be content with my situation." That is how I should respond to God.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.