Five weeks ago, together, we started our pursuit in discovering God's relentless, amazing, and crazy love for us. It is often difficult to comprehend such an awesome love. Especially when we spend most of our lives humanizing God. This past week was full of challenges and obstacles. And I found myself doing exactly what this weeks study was directing me not to do. But I realized half way through the week that I needed to stop in my tracks, sit at His feet and get a fresh fill of His crazy love and amazing grace.
We were directed to read the Gospels through the eyes and mind of a 12 year old. I found that to be a little challenging. However, as I continued reading I began to feel God's presence. Initially I was reading the Gospels like an ordinary book or homework. Counting the chapters, dividing them by seven days and tackling the assignment. On Tuesday morning I prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide me in my daily portion of the assignment and give me the mind and heart of a child. And the word of God began to penetrate my heart in a beautiful way. God revealed to me, in multiple ways throughout the rest of the week, that He truly is a living God
I have read the parable of the sower multiple time in my life. But I have never read it in the fashion I did this week. I started off on Sunday morning asking myself. What soil, as a seed, are you landing on, Kathleen? Am I devoured by the birds of the air before I even land? Am I a seed that lands on rocky soil and never takes root? Or did I land in a patch of weed infested soil? Maybe, just maybe, could I have landed in the most well fertilized, organic and prosperous soil? What a lot to think about. I have to be honest. After a lot of soul seeking I came to the reality of what type of seed I am. I believe that I have landed in the weed infested soil. I find that I am often being choked by the things of this world. And I get so caught up that I am physically and mentally unable to produce fruit that is of substance. But on the other hand. I know that I am planted on soil that is being fertilized. And the Gardener is daily plucking the weeds around my base and pruning me. He watches me and delights in my progress. He protects me from the mouth of the beast by putting a hedge around me. Occasionally, the beast gets a nibble of the fruit. However, the Gardener prevents that critter from pulling me completely out of the soil.
It amazes me that God is so faithful and watches over me the way He does. All He wants is for me to glorify Him in all that I do. He watches me produce some of the most delicious and eye appealing fruit. He waits patiently for my fruit to ripen. And too often I allow that prize piece of fruit to be devoured by someone or something other that the One who I should have offered it to. And out of pure disrespect I give the Gardener fruit that isn't ripe enough for the salad. You might find yourself asking, "What's the big deal? What am I doing wrong? At least I produced fruit. Right?" As we read in Malachi 1: 6-14 (if you haven't read it I would encourage you to go and read it now.....I copied and pasted it below) God wants our best not our leftovers. After-all, it's only because of His relentless love and nurturing that we produced such delicious fruit. He deserves the prize tomato and not the rotten one.
It amazes me that I am so similar to the Israelites. God has brought me into the promise land and I am still not satisfied. He sent His son and fulfilled His promise. And yet I am such a brat. I pray and ask Him to give me this and give me that. And I give Him the minimum...the second best and often the rotten tomato. All that I have is from Him. And I can't even see past my own greed. My fear that I won't have enough, if I give Him my all, is crippling.
Yesterday my family and I went into the city for the day. We walked around the streets of Philadelphia and I felt my heart aching. I wanted to buy the world a cup of coffee. I looked at some of the people on the street asking for money. And on more than one occasion I opened up my purse and pulled out the cash. Only to have someone say, "put that back in your purse." or "what are you doing? You don't give them money." I felt sick to my stomach. And I heard Matthew 25:40 resounding in my head. "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do for Me." But still I listened to my family members and either put it back in my wallet or had one of them pluck it from my hand before I could pass it on to one of the least of these. I walked away feeling heartbroken.
The night ended and my son and I took the long way home by taking the train back to the suburbs. He has a tendency of being very philosophical. We talked about the events of the day. And he started asking me some pretty deep questions. He asked me a question while we were eating dinner earlier that evening. And on the train he asked me again. "Mom, how do you think we are supposed to pray? And did you know that God requires only one prayer from us?" God had directed Christian to read the book of Matthew this past week. Yes, the living, almighty and relentless God directed this 21 year old young man to read the same Gospel message that He directed me to read. As we discussed God's direction for our lives, and how He requires us to come to Him with our requests, we eventually agreed that only one thing is needed. Jesus gave us the perfect words that we need to come to our Heavenly Father. "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." God wants us to pray with an honest heart. He knows our thoughts and words before we even formulate them. Our discussion continued. And we talked about how difficult it is to live out a life of faith when you are rooted in the things of this world. He told me that every time he attempts to tell of God's love the world turns around and points out the imperfections in his life. And that due to his lukewarm lifestyle it seems meaningless to share the gospel. I encouraged him to continue to do what he is doing. Because God's word does not return void.
We arrived home around 11pm. And both headed straight to bed. I laid in bed and thought about our conversation. And the LORD put Romans 12:2 on my heart. "Do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve that God's will is His good, pleasing and perfect will." I sent a text to Christian, "Romans 12:2" And this morning I woke up to the perfect reply. He sent me Matthew 6: 7-13. God is truly faithful. And I know that we all need to honestly evaluate ourselves.
What is it going to take for us to pursue God as though nothing else matters. How can we STOP conforming to the patterns of this world? Nothing should concern us more than our relationship with God. He cannot just be tacked on to our lives. He needs to be the foundation. Jesus said, "Follow me." He faithfully points us to our Heavenly Father. Jesus gave us His all. And we, in return, should be willing to give God our very best. True faith shows the world that we no longer have a fear of holding back. We realize that it's okay to give God our everything because we have a blessed assurance in the hope of eternity. And as we continue grow bold in our faith we learn that the only cure for lukewarmness is love.
I pray that this week we faithfully seek to give God our very best. And that as we continue to learn more about His relentless, amazing, and crazy love we develop a more passionate and real love towards Him. May you feel the heat of the furnace taking that lukewarm desire to a love that is boiling over. Have a blessed week!
Malachi 1: 6-14