Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hemmed In

Oh, it feels so good to be back "home!" We finally had our new computer hooked to the Internet...and then I waited a bit to start blogging again...trying to adjust to the Summer routine and plant the garden, things like that. But it does feel great to be back!

I wasn't sure what direction the blog would take this Summer, and my sister asked me, "So, are you just going to keep the blog more of a family blog when you go back to blogging?"
I paused...and then gave her a truthful answer:
"No...I don't like to be hemmed in. I'm going to write whatever the mood suits..."

And I thought a lot about that phrase the last two days..." Not wanting to be hemmed in." I don't want to unravel, either. Metaphorically speaking, I don't want to fall apart at the seams. Now I am no longer talking about blogging. I am speaking of life.

Many bad decisions in life are made out of not wanting to be "hemmed" in: extramarital affairs, drugs, alcohol abuse, etc.. But where do the big mistakes begin? A person doesn't go to bed sober and wake up drunk. At some point a decision is made to step out of those safe boundaries God has provided for us: the fences sheltering the vulnerable sheep, Christ our shepherd protecting us. Why would we ever want to leave the safety and security of his verdant pastures?

 I woke up this morning with a Bible verse in my heart:

"Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshipped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever." (Romans 1:24-25)

God "handed them over" sounds to me like resignation. God doesn't give us to sin, but because of the freedom he has entrusted to us, he will not keep us from choosing to "break fence." 
But here's the crux of the problem:
Why were they given over to the lusts of their hearts in the first place?
Because..."they exchanged the truth of God for a lie."
And why did they begin to believe lies instead of the truth? Because "they worshipped the creature rather than the creator."

I can't pretend to be a Bible scholar, and there is certain danger in interpreting passages of scripture on our own; however, these passages speak so clearly that interpretation is not even necessary! Paul states it plainly in this letter to the Romans that sin begins with a lie, a distortion of who God is, and the root of that distortion has to do with loving that which is created rather than the creator.

So how does this teaching apply to my life? When I make decisions based on what I want, what I feel, what I am desiring or even lusting after rather than what God wants, I am worshipping the creature (me) rather than the creator. When I make decisions based on my desires, I am stepping out of that safe pasture, prey for the hungry wolves (sin).

And then what happens? Once I have made myself the center of my life, made my desires my God, what next? I take the very attributes of a holy God and distort them for my own purposes: His loving kindness becomes a perverted mercy (I can do whatever I want and God will always love me), His forbearance becomes presumption (just this one last indulgence, and then I won't commit this sin again), his patience is taken advantage of. In short, I have exchanged the truth of who God is for a lie.

And God  has all these wonderful attributes...He is " gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." (Psalm 145:8)  But the very attributes of God that we use to tolerate sin are meant to exhort us and lead us away from sin! :

"Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4)

Let us, then, pick up the threads of our unravelling and allow God to stitch us back together, hemmed in by his loving kindness and fathomless mercy!