After one of the hardest, yet most amazing summers of my life, I am finally ready to sit down and write again. I've got some reflections, mostly rooted in Scripture, and a little Ted Dekker to boot.
From my daily reading yesterday:
Psalm 1 - "Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, of join in with scoffers. But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.
But this is not true of the wicked. They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction."
In Ted Dekker's book, Three, he points out through his captivating story-telling, that each of us have these three parts to us: the good, the bad, and that which mediates between the two of them, deciding which choice to ultimately make in the end. I've heard it described many ways, most recently as a dog fight between a black and a white dog. So which side has the likelier chance of winning? Obviously whichever dog you feed more. And the dog that is starved is more likely to lose.
I recently heard one child ask another, "Do you have God in your heart?" The answer was a thoughtful, though slightly hesitant yes. It was then followed up with what I found to be a brilliant and concrete explanation of the human dillema: "But there's also a bad man in my heart." Could we as adults have said it any better, or been any more in tune? I explained that the good news is, because we also have God in our hearts, when the "bad man" tells us to do the wrong thing, we can ask God for help to do the right thing.
Lord, may I feed the white dog, and starve the black. May I call on You for help when the bad man would like to have his way.
Isaiah 26:2 - "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!"
I have also heard this phenomenon described as a scale with two balances. The flesh reigns over one side, and the Spirit over the other. Whichever side we choose to give our mind to is the side that will be tipped in the balances.
Romans 8:6 - "If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace."
So if there is one in Christ who is not experiencing life and peace, all one needs to do is turn from the flesh and turn to the Spirit, and it is sure to come. And likewise, if there is one outside of Christ who is not experiencing life and peace, all one needs to do is the same. It is simply called repentance. Turning from sin and turning to God, surrendering to the Lordship of Christ, and receiving his forgiveness and cleansing.
2 Corinthians 3:17 - "... wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
As self-willed human beings, we do not want to be lorded over by anyone, but the truth is, we are either slaves to sin, or slaves to God.
Romans 6:16 - "Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval."
Mark 10:45 - "For even the Son of Man came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Jesus Christ is the only Lord who is also a servant. Sin certainly will not offer us this advantage.
And the other thing I've found is that every freedom also has a corresponding bondage. I can be free from the burden of brushing my teeth, but then I will be in bondage to dental bills and all kinds of oral nastiness. Or, I can subject myself to the wisdom of brushing my teeth, and have the corresponding freedom of good teeth. In the same way, I can submit myself to the will and way of God and Jesus Christ, and I can experience life and peace. Or I can separate myself from his commands, and experience the natural consequences in life... not to mention a long term judgment, which really is only the continuation of the natural consequences of my choices on earth.
But this is not the heart of God. This is not his desire for you or me.
2 Peter 3:9 - "The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent."
My peace is found in repentance, and humbling myself before the Lord, and walking in relationship with Him, but also as need be, before my fellow man.
Romans 12:18 - "Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as is possible."
This is what I strive for, though as indicated in the passage, it may not always be possible.
Come, Lord Jesus! Fill us with the Holy Spirit. And may the white dog win in all of our hearts!