You know what I don't love?
And unfortunately, just like Santa Claus with Christmas, and chocolate with Valentine's Day the two go hand in hand in our culture.
(This is *not* going to be rant about Easter. I'm sure I have written about that elsewhere if you're so inclined to know more about why our family does not celebrate it.)
This *is* going to be about how no matter how good our intentions are, how much we strive to rid our lives of distractions, pagan rituals, sinful habits, unhealthy behaviors, impurities and the funk and gunk that clogs our hearts and minds, we are always fighting a battle against our flesh.
The closer my relationship becomes with God, the more ways (and more creative ways) I see Satan at work in my heart. And you know what? I let Satan have a pretty easy job because my flesh is so stinkin' weak and wicked it actually sickens me.
Ever heard a well meaning testimony-giver tell you about their Life Verse? This is neat idea and I don't mean to knock it....a lot of people will share their testimony and then read a bible verse that has become their Life Verse. It is either a verse that has been a stronghold in their faith journey, something they go back to over and over again to regain focus, or it is a verse that has inspired them or taught them a Truth about life.
The Lord is my Shepherd.....he leads beside still waters.....
It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.....
For I know the plans I have for you.....
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.....
It is usually one of those feel good...ahhhh...God loves me and has me in his hands type of verse.
You know what my Life Verse would be? Romans Chapter 7 verses 14 and 15 and it basically says this.... I am of flesh and in bondage to sin. I don't even understand what I am doing and I am not practicing what I would like to do. Instead I am doing the very thing I hate.
Yup. That's me. In a nutshell. That's my life.
I know all of these truths about God and Jesus and the Cross and the Church and Forgiveness and Sin and Heaven and Hell. I so desire for my heart to be pure and kind and loving and generous and genuine. I possess all of this passion and drive and focus and have these Godly intentions about how I would like to use my gifts and bless my family. I have this Godly idea of what I want my life to look like. I can write and teach and talk about Scripture passage after Scripture passage. If you need a ladies Bible study group leader, I'm your girl. If you need an encouragement throughout the day from another mom or wife or women, I'm the person you should call. If you need someone to give a short devotional or testimony before your next church event, I'm first on your list.
I can do all those things.
What I can't seem to do??? Actually practice all of those wise words of encouragement I offer, all of the biblical principles I can teach, all of that heartfelt sold out to Jesus lifestyle I talk about.
I'm doing the very thing I hate. I am not practicing what I would like to. I don't even understand what I am doing. I am of flesh and I'm in bondage to sin.
So this time of the year is my favorite because..... Because I get a non stop pounding on my heart from sermons and services and rituals and plays and songs that remind me to refocus on the Cross. I am reminded that Easter offers no hope for me, but the Resurrection does offer me hope and life and grace.
But I still find myself focusing more energy and thought about how many of my Christian friends are celebrating Easter (what I hate about this time of year) instead of allowing my thoughts to be consumed with Christ and His Resurrection (what I love about this time of year.)
Almost every holiday that comes around becomes a struggle for me. And that's MY struggle. Holidays and separating what isn't glorifying and what is glorifying. But this Romans 7 principle applies to any area of my life (or your life) that I find myself doing this very thing I hate, not understanding why I am doing it.
I have to refocus. There will always be distractions. But the foundation of God is so 'simple.' It is so basic. And we can turn His Message into a big complicated web of distraction. Or we can look at it for what it is. A Great Love Story. A Honest Fairytale.
I had to remind myself of that tonight.
I do not imagine that what God really wants from me is to see me focus my heart on my exhaustion and annoyance with all the Easter-ness instead of focusing on Him and what He has done and what this season is actually about. I mean that's why we don't celebrate Easter, right? Because we instead want to celebrate Christ and the Resurrection? But how are we actually any better off if we still allow the distraction of Easter (and how much we don't want to partake in it) to become a stumbling block? Is that any better than just celebrating Easter along with celebrating Christ?
I had to read this passage tonight and after I did, I just thought of how meaningless everything is if it isn't about Him.
And I'm sure by tomorrow I will forget. And I will need reminded again. Who am I kidding? I'm sure by bedtime tonight I will forget. Because all I seem to be able to do is the very thing I hate. And I forget that what I want to do is bask in the glory of Christ, to boast in nothing but his Resurrection, to breathe in His grace and forgiveness and salvation.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.
In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.