Today's church service was about 'trinitarian love' (related to the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), and while I think I may have missed the pastor's major point, ie: how we are shown love by the Holy Trinity, he did cause me to think about a lot of things. The three main things are as follows:
1. God is too big to understand in full with our tiny little human brains.
2. Love keeps no record of wrongs.
3. There's no reason to struggle through life on my own when God is offering me His abundance.
Basic Christianity, right? Yeah, well no matter how many times I read/hear these truths, it only goes as far as my mind and doesn't make it down to my heart. ("I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Ps 119:11) You see, I know these facts -- I've spouted them numerous times -- but somehow they never clicked in the way they were buzzing through me during church. The pastor had many analogies to go with #1 and #3, but instead I chose to come up with my own way to connect to these points.
Let me elaborate:
1. I get discouraged when I think about how little I know about the English language. I'm a native speaker after all, so I shouldn't have any trouble dissecting a sentence and teaching the different parts of speech to non-native speakers. But no -- I am constantly looking up grammar rules in the resource books and stumbling over my words while trying to teach. I kinda feel sorry for my little Asian 8th graders who probably are so confused with how grammar works (since there's always an exception) that they're going to fail miserably at 9th grade English. The problem gets even more confusing when I realized that the English language is constantly evolving -- what would have been proper English 50 years ago is outdated, and subsequently updated to fit our current generation's needs/wants. (I'm going to bypass the subject of proper citations completely since they get updated about as often as iTunes). And then I think about the different parts of English -- writing, reading, speaking, presenting, journalism, the historical background of the English language....the list goes on and on -- and I'm almost ready to quit teaching altogether and admit defeat.
But then I think about what I do know about English: I can speak with relative confidence, I know how to write in a grammatically correct fashion, and I can comprehend what I read. Then I think about what I love about English (and why I teach it in the first place): I can create anything with my basic knowledge of the English language and can communicate with others this way. I love writing fiction; therefore, creating worlds out of nothing but a blank computer screen or notebook fascinates me. And what little I know and love, I can share with others, and learn what I don't know along the way.
And so I applied the same idea to Christ -- I can not understand Him fully. No matter how long I try, my mind is incapable of total comprehension of the One who breathed the world into existence. If I could, then would God really be God? Could He really be Incomprehensible, All-Mighty and All-Knowing if I know Him fully? The answer is no. That is why, with tremendous relief, (accompanied by tears), I am able to accept the fact that God is God and I am not. I do not know more than Him. I do not even know a fraction of Him. That's why He will forever remain All-Mighty and All-Knowing. BUT, I will take what I do know about him -- that He is Savior to all who will accept Him unconditionally as such -- and share this awesome fact with others, all the while learning what I don't know along the way.
2. My pride has taken a beating with this truth. Commonly, this little phrase is repeated with the rest of the passage in the 1 Corinthians love chapter where it states that love is patient, kind, non-envious, non-boastful, not proud (oops!), not rude, not self-seeking, doesn't demand its own way, slow to anger, keeps no record of wrongs, rejoices in truth, always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, and never fails. (Paraphrased from the NIV passage.)
This whole summer has been spent talking about "Biblical love" at church, and we covered 1 Cor 13 a lot. But then I thought about a past sermon a few weeks back when they talked about if we truly loved one another (friends and non-friends alike), than we wouldn't remember every time someone wronged us, but instead constantly forgive them regardless of whether or not they asked for forgiveness or even knew they wronged you to begin with. My mind started mulling over this idea when I first heard it, but then I was reminded of this passage today and it finally hit home with no small amount of shame and embarrassment.
My name is Lissa Scott, and I have been keeping record of wrongs done to me.
Of all the ridiculous things -- becoming bitter, hurting myself, and becoming so enveloped in me, and how people are inconsiderate toward me. I, who claim to be a child of God, have failed in the one thing He admonished us to do: love. I have even claimed to be a mature Christian of 20 years, and yet one of the most simple of commandments has been the hardest for me to adhere to. I have been self-righteous; I have demanded justice; I have been more sullen this past year than I have in my entire life. My sin caused me to withdraw from others, and I let my sin get in the way of being a witness to others. And I am ashamed.
This feeds into the 3rd and final truth -- my sin has, as stated above, caused me to struggle more than I've ever struggled. Not gonna lie, my life is fairly easy in Thailand (or at least it could have been if I let it). I don't have to worry about my finances, I have a steady job, and I have a huge opportunity to work in the mission field. Sure, I don't speak the language, making new friends is a challenge, and sometimes I get fed up with the city -- but these are opportunities God has given me to grow as a person. He's promised to never give me more than I can handle, but I must admit that I've handled His challenges poorly. So instead of turning to Him FULLY and letting Him handle what my shortcomings cannot; I fought. I struggled so hard to find some semblance of control in my new life in Bangkok.
My personality is such that I like control of my life. I need control over at least a part of what is going on around me. I need to know what's ahead, what the game plan is, what's going to happen next. Spontaneity only works if it's my choice. And for some reason, God created me with these innate tendencies. I still don't know why since it's the proverbial thorn in my side, and God and I fight over control constantly, but He put this strong stubborn streak right through the heart of my being. Instead of fighting against this tendency, however, I want to learn to use it to God's advantage (and therefore my advantage) in life. So after recognizing some of my more obvious shortcomings, I'd like to stop struggling against the sin (and against the despondency the knowledge of my sins creates), and find peace and rest in the knowledge that God can handle my life splendidly if I only let Him. There's the rub isn't it? I have to make the conscious choice to allow Him full reign of my life -- including the bumps in the road that I never foresaw. That is what He asks for from all who claim to follow Him. If we are followers, shouldn't we let Christ be our leader?
Lord, I pray this is just my first step towards allowing you to truly and unconditionally guide my steps -- not only in darkness, but in the light as well.