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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Joy & Woe

Often, I think about the reason for our existence. Why are we in a world that is physically separate from God? Why can't we just be with Him in Heaven from the beginning? I believe that this world is a preparation for the face-to-face relationship we will share with Him in Heaven. In this world, He allows circumstances to test and try us to prove that we are His true friends and loves. He teaches us through the things that happen in life. When we know Him, He takes the ordinary and turns it into something extraordinary in our lives. When pain seems overwhelming to dear ones and I know that He can heal them, when I struggle emotionally with raising two little ones, when too many people hurt across the world and I know He sees and cares about every person's sorrow (Matthew 10:29-31), when I'm tired, or afraid... I come to the conclusion that He allows the pain on this earth for the joy of the real relationship that develops through the pain. Sometimes it seems like all of life is a pain when you try to live it in a way that is pleasing to God... but I think I've figured out why.

Living life for Christ is painful because we are used to living for ourselves and when we give up our own desires and right to pleasure and satisfaction for the sake of making the life of others better... it hurts. But what joy waits for us as a reward!!! Every day that I learn to give away my time and energy and love to my children at the cost of my own life is worth it! My beautiful children gain from the time and energy and love... and in addition, I am storing up riches in Heaven. We love Jesus by loving those around us with selfless, unconditional love. At times, the sorrow of giving up myself and my desires seems like it is all consuming. Knowing that my life should be full of joy, it seems confusing... but I have come to a more full realization... joy and sorrow go hand in hand. You can have both at the same time! The sorrow and woe of letting go will never disappear... that's why, in this life, we are constantly sober minded. Yet we also laugh and rejoice at the joy we have in the presence of God. When Heaven comes, all of the selfishness that we have will disappear (that causes the sorrow) and we will only have JOY! What a wonderful day! But the sorrow must be endured for a short time in order to earn all the joy!

Proverbs 13:7
There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
— Mother Teresa

With this in mind, it's easy to become people that are obsessed with our failure to give for others... just remember that we can't change ourselves by dragging up our past. God is the one that does the changing work in us. No need to beat yourself up for not being perfect... just trust that He will finish the work that He started in you (Philippians 1:6). He said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). If we rest in the joy of His presence while we live this life, that becomes true for us.

For those of you that have pain... emotional, physical, etc., find HOPE in Jesus!

I would like to post a few stanzas from a poem by William Blake. A dear friend read this years ago and it struck me so deeply that I still remember...

It is right it should be so:
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

Here is a link to the entire poem: http://www.online-literature.com/blake/612/

Another thing I have been thinking about... a lot of Christians seem to believe that when you come to know Christ that you have to completely change who you are and that if you do anything good that you can't take credit for it... I think I have a little bit of a different perspective on this. The Bible says that people were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)... I think that He put a little bit of who He is into each of us. He gives one person a bit of His creativity and another an understanding of His scientific mind. Some are natural leaders and others are facilitators. Whatever part of the image of God is on you, you are beautiful and wonderful! ...I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14). This should NOT be erased or changed. God wants us to carry out the desires, skills, and talents He has placed in us. The problem that needs to be corrected is the sin that came in after God created something perfect. To me, I see God's perfect creation polluted by sin... kind of like cancer. You may have a perfectly functioning liver, pancreas, and kidneys, but when cancer comes, it not only perverts the function of a single body part, but it spreads to the entire body if it is not treated. Jesus Christ is the treatment that removes the cancer from our lives. He doesn't kill us and start over, instead, He heals us and makes us what He meant for us to be in the first place. Because of this, we should be thankful and praise Him for the amazing person He made each of us to be! We can be proud of who we are. Realizing that He created us gives the ultimate humility. (Romans 9:19-21 & pretty much all of Job) We may be happy in this life for our accomplishments and for building on the talents that He gave us in the first place knowing in our heart of hearts that everything we have and everything we are is due in full to our creator! Remember the servant that hid the money that was entrusted to him in the ground. His master was so displeased that he took the little money that had been hiding in the ground and gave it to the servant that had invested and increased the money that was entrusted to him. (Matthew 25:14-28)

We have a lot to be thankful for. In light of that, let's press on (Philippians 3:13-14)!

Pressing on, pressing on
All my distress is going, going, gone
-Relient K

And check out the lyrics to "Less is More" by Relient K:

"Less Is More"

Jesus, I pray
Take all my mistakes
Throw them away
Destroy them for my sake

Jesus, I call out 'cause I'm sorry
Because I fall so short of your glory
To the best of my ability
I'm practicing humility
And I lay myself before
'Cause less is more

All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
Cause to you less is more
All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
Cause to you less is more

I pour out myself
All that I am
You love me so much
That you fill me again
And may these words on my heart, on my lips
Somehow mean so much more than this

Jesus, I pray
Know what I'm trying to say

All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
'Cause to you less is more
All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
Cause to you less is more

I pour out myself, before you were Lord
I hold nothing back, 'cause to you less is more
And may these words on my heart on my lips,
Somehow mean so much more than this

Jesus, I pray
Just know what I'm tryin' to say

Jesus, I plead
Please purify me
Make my heart clean
Drench me with your mercy
Jesus, I pray
I love you, I need you
For the rest of my days
I swear I will seek you
To the best of my ability
I'm practicing humility
And I lay myself before
'Cause less is more.

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