Monday, October 22, 2007

Martha Not Mary Again

Company came for the weekend and I morphed into a likeness of Lazarus’s sister Martha, complete with a pretty severe case of resentment toward all of the Marys in my life, including my mother who sat placidly in her overstuffed recliner, eyes closed against the chaos around her.

After the storm of the weekend’s activity was over I sought the Lord with shame over my dark feelings during a time that should have been joyful. I prayed for the skill I thought I needed in order to be able to turn my thoughts toward Him even in the midst of frantic activity. Some truths came to my mind as follows:

There is no skill involved in turning one’s thoughts and heart toward the Lord, though there is an act of will involved in the choice to turn away from a temporal Band-Aid and toward the healing balm of Gilead. This weekend I fed my weariness with too much sugar and caffeine, but I could have chosen to refresh my spirit with Scripture instead. I could have prayed for strength.

It’s just that in the moment of turning away from the world’s comfort one feels that the aching need and burdensome weariness must be borne rather than salved. It is like choosing to go without an inferior medicine for a time so that the system may be purged before ingesting the perfect medicine. This is not skill so much as it is faith. It is not obedience so much as it is trust; trust based on the belief that to deny myself in order to follow Him will result in a more complete satisfaction of my heart’s needs than any indulgence of the flesh can bring.

The blood of Jesus Christ affords us access to God at all times. However, the world’s “satisfactions” dull the spirit and blind the heart to what is real. When we are suffering from the dulling influence of any satisfaction the world offers as a substitute for God’s comfort, we cannot trust our own perceptions; that which seems good may actually be poison. Our only hope of escape from the magnetic attraction of the world’s pleasures is faith in Christ Jesus.

As long as we wear the cloak of flesh the world’s distractions and worries will cause our hearts to be pulled first one direction and then another. But if our hearts are set on Christ, we will always come back to center.

In between times of strength there will be times of wavering and error and even sin. Praise God for the blood of Jesus Christ which has cleansed us from all that causes us to waver and draws our hearts back to center in Him.

Scripture: Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5-7 NIV

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