"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Cross My Heart ...

     ... and hope to die." Isn't that what we kids used to say when we promised something? I doubt we'd admit to meaning it literally if we were pressed on the issue, but it sure sounded good at the time.
     God proved His promises not by simply crossing His heart and hoping to die, but by allowing His heart to literally be pierced and by actually dying--in the Person of His Son Jesus. That dreadful act proved for eternity how He loves us, and was the culmination of all His scriptural promises.
     The other day my pastor's sermon cited Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. I don't know how many times I've read that verse in the past, without its meaning anything more than a thousand other Bible verses. But those other times I hadn't just had a major prayer answered.
     Driving to work, I usually pray on God's full armor. Sometimes my prayer takes a detour as I think of other things to bring up with the Lord. On that particular day I had prayed for God to make me the husband, father and friend He wanted me to be since my performance in those areas had been inadequate.
     As an answer to that prayer, God turned a light onto a sin that I didn't fully realize was a sin: maligning myself with negative self-talk when I make mistakes. He showed me that such behavior is nothing more than indulging my self-pity and self-hatred. It just creates a self-fulfilling prophesy that gives Satan even greater victory in my life. And it cheats those I love out of the person God wants me to be.
     It sounds vain to say I'm God's gift to anyone, but if I obey Him, I may very well become God's gift to someone in need--like maybe, Nancy. Pop psychology says "you can't love others unless you first love yourself." A truer statement is "you can't let God love others through you unless you first let Him love you." And if I try to hate myself through some sick, neurotic self-flagellation I'm effectively short-circuiting God's efforts at loving me--and others through me.
     Besides, I have no business whatsoever hating someone God loved enough to die for--myself included. Praise God for the flashlight of His word, and for His precious promises that took Him to the cross for my sins.

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