Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sandals


“...Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so...”


It is a wonderful thing to be so loved. For those who know Him it is... well... wonderful.

I’m a bit of a softy, I guess. And foolish.

I have other faults. I am self-centered, self-important, a know-it-all, an attention-seeking man who doesn’t see the beauty in others that I am commanded to see. And I am far too casual about my Lord.

---------

“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.

“Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why don’t you know? He’s the King... he’ll settle the White Queen all right...”

“She won’t turn him into stone too?” said Edmund.

“Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!” answered Mr. Beaver with a great laugh. “Turn him into stone? If she can stand on her two feet and look him in the face it’ll be the most she can do and more than I expect of her...”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver... "Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.”

--
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

---------


There is a weakness to my faith. Our faith. We make God safe. He isn't.

The Jews understood that. When one lives under The Law it is a terrifying thing to know you will be judged against a supernatural code of conduct.

Christians have the luxury of being less worried. You see, we are not being held accountable for all we do. We are adopted into a relationship with our creator under the covering, the cloak of Jesus. Regardless of our sins He will welcome us home, as long as we claim that covering. The thing I should remember is that to cling to His cloak with filthy unrepentant hands and not try to honor His sacrifice with changes in my life is an embarrassment to my big brother. He is placed in the position of presenting me to the Father and saying, "Yes Father, this one too."

You see, God, the triune God encompassing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, welcomes us into a relationship under the grace of Jesus' sacrifice, His love.

I don't think He has a choice. He is by nature love. He may be displeased with us, He may be disappointed, saddened, and hurt (even physically hurt, 2,000 years ago), but He loves us because that is who He is.

We are adopted into His family. In Roman times a man could disown his child, unless that child was adopted. It was reasoned that adoption was an intentional act. An adopted child was a member of the family, forever.

Jesus understood adoption. He was adopted.

Joseph showed his adopted son how to hold a saw, how to swing a hammer. Mary's husband showed his adopted son how to hold a piece of wood so it wouldn't slip, so the blade wouldn't jump onto an unprotected thumb. He showed Him what it meant for a man of integrity to take a child that wasn't of his blood, his flesh, and love him, raise him.

That is what Jesus has done for all of us, and that love makes us all feel very warm. So warm and comfortable that we might sometimes forget that to love God is also to fear Him.

There are types of fear. I'm not talking about the fear of earthquakes or lions (and neither was Mr. Beaver). I'm talking about the numinous feeling of recognizing that the Lord God almighty is a being of infinite power and glory and that I am a mortal.

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
And Moses said, "Here I am."
"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
--Genesis 3:4-6

Do you ever feel like you should hide your face? I do. Sometimes, when I worship. Sometimes when I worship I do hide my face.

When I really turn my thoughts to who the Lord God is, I tremble. At this moment, as I type, my heart is starting to beat faster.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
--Genesis 3:7,8

I don't think they were hiding just out of a sense of modesty. I think Adam knew he had become something different. He knew he was no longer a creature who could walk with the Lord, who could talk to the Lord God Almighty. He knew that to look upon God in his fallen state was to be destroyed.

Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."
And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.
--Exodus 33:17-20

But because we know that Jesus loves us, we feel we can walk right up to God and have a casual conversation. And it is true, we can. Because the Lord God Almighty, the Living Word, ...Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Phillipians 2:5-8)

And so I swagger where I should fall on my face, I strut when I should kneel. Because I have been adopted into a sacred family and I can claim entry through the name of my big brother, Jesus Christ, messiah, savior, friend, I sometimes forget that the universe is held together by a being of infinite love, and power, and grace.

I am an intensely curious person and I love to learn things (I am a resource of vast amounts of useless information). And the weakness that brings out in me is the foolish view that I know more than I do. But the fact that I am constantly learning new details about things I already know proves my knowledge is, and always will be, incomplete.

And that is just in the arena of information. What do I know about things that matter? What do I know about the heart? Even my own heart is a fickle thing that cannot love as steadily as my Lord's. What do I know of compassion? Even my own giving does not include all that I know that I can do, for I know that even on the nearby isle of my children's birth, there are children starving, children going blind for lack of nutrition (I confess Lord, I sometimes love a Starbuck's mocha more than a suffering child). What do I know of grace? Even when I forgive someone a wrong they have done me, even though I keep that forgiveness a secret, in my own heart I puff myself up, thinking that I am noble, good.

Have you seen a styrofoam cup that has been put in a net outside a submarine and taken to 5,000 feet below the ocean's surface? Under pressure it shrinks as much as 1/20th its usual size. My heart, as big and puffed up as I pretend it to be, is little more than a shriveled organ faintly echoing the heart my Lord wants me to have.

Where is my fear, my numinous awe? What would I do if I were transported back to ancient Israel and dared to enter the Holy of Holies? What would I do if I laid my eyes on the Ark of the Covenant, the spot upon which God's presence rested?

God is not safe. He loves me, and He is not safe. I know it for a truth.

Walk somewhere grand, where the work of God's creation is evident, and open your heart to it. Stand on the moss-carpeted floor of the Redwood Forest, gaze across the dizzying void of the Grand Canyon, find a quiet place in Yosemite to watch a rainbow dance above a waterfall as you look through the mist at the half dome and tremble at what your heart is whispering.

The Lord God Almighty isn't safe. But He is good.

I look into my heart, and I can feel Him.

Lord, I repent; I remove my sandals.


37 comments:

Jim said...

Thanks for your newest writing.

My mom taught a kindergarten Sunday school class for over 50 years. Cliff Morrow was in her class.
At my mom's funeral in 1999 we sang the 'Jesus Loves Me' song in honor of her life's Christian work with children.

From time to time I have wondered if Job's dogs loved him. They may have been destroyed with his sheep. Otherwise don't you think they might have stayed around in their love for Job? This isn't a major problem, but I do wonder.
..

Pia said...

CS, thank you for all the prayers. i really appreciate it.

sometimes, i do want to hide my face because of who i am and who He is. sometimes i feel like i am not worthy. but i know God loves me for who i am and for that, i am truly grateful.

God bless!

Cinder said...

I love your posts...they challenge me and cause me to truly think about where I am in my walk!

It's so true that a lot of times we are coming into God's presence differently than we should be. I find though on those times when I've truly surrendered everything and am meeting with him how I know he wants...I know in an instant that I'm in a very special place...a sacred place, on sacred ground!

Thanks for your comments on my blog...I started out to just use it for a means to carve out writing time for me, but didn't have any idea what I would write. I'm finding that I have lots to write about and am enjoying surfing through the blogs, reading and commenting with fellow bloggers!

Blessings!

Lillee said...

I really love this post.

Lillee said...

I really love this post.

Lillee said...

I really love this post.

Beckie said...

Beautiful, thank you. I too have removed my sandals.

FTS said...

It's my understanding that the Jewish have a word for God that is so scared they can't -- or won't -- utter it. That is reverance and awe. It's a unique sensation to be be loved so much that we can converse with Him, yet stand in so much awe and fear that we tremble before Him.

Excellent post.

Seeker said...

Awesome God.
Awesome.

Me said...

Your posts help in bringing me closer to God. What a wonderful Sunday school lesson today.

Fred said...

Awesome post. I usually have to read them a few times to get all of the detail.

David said...

Aren't we lucky to have someone stand between us and GOD?

MrJ said...

I remember when I was first saved. I loved to wake up every morning feeling God was my best friend. I was boastful about it. One of my friends, my first Pastor, suggested that I look at our relationship differently.

Years later...I feel I figured out that we may be "friends", but we are never equal. Hehe. Once in awhile I have to remind my children...that I am their Father, not their friend.

I love the Father and adopted son analogy you make. (Joseph and Jesus) Makes me feel proud of my relationship with my son Nicholas.

Peace Bro,

deni said...

I stand before Him cleansed of sin, and yet I tremble. I think that He will hold me accountable for things I haven't done, like loving my neighbor, helping those who need it, etc.

I am confused by this issue though, becuase it's not by acts but by faith that we are saved.

curious servant said...

As I suggested, this isn't about salvation. It is about obedience. We are going to go before the Father under the grace of Jesus' sacrifice.

One might look at it as we simply don't want to embarrass our big brother by being disobedient to his two main commandments, loving God, and loving each other.

Another way to see it is that this isn't about trying to do good, but simply being good. As we draw closer to Him, we reflect His light more fully.

We are the hands and feet of our Lord. It is our privilege to serve since he has asked us to do so. If the Living Word, the incarnation of the triune God, can kneel on the floor and wash the dust off of others' feet, dust made up of manure and filth, then I can also.

There is no task beneath me since He was willing to do anything to help those in need, including being spat upon, cursed, beaten, tortured, nailed and murdered.

I am His Curious Servant.

deni said...

I think I understand, that those things, loving each other, being obedient, etc, are the result of His grace reflected through us, the closer we get to Him, the more we long to do those things. The more we long to please Him, even if we have to get down in the mud to do so.

Vicki said...

I read your words, and immediately sense what you're saying. At one moment I'm irritated that others don't take God seriously or reverently, yet my own flesh fails every single day--there is much I don't do, that I should. Our life in Him is ALL grace, isn't it? He is not safe, but He is merciful and good.

Thank you for opening our eyes and leading us to worship and thank Him today. He is our beautiful Redeemer and soon-coming King!

I've missed coming here! Thanks for lifting my heart up tonight.

Blessings, my friend~
V.

Sharon said...

Thank you for visiting my blog! I'm honored! I'm still searching for the origin of the quote I used...maybe I should 'google' it?

Coco said...

To tremble in HIS presence...
yet He loves us unconditionally.

Blessings.

Lucy Stern said...

WE are mear mortals, he is God. WE are not perfect, he is perfect. We have a lot to learn and he knows it. He is patient with us as long as we are moving forward. Keep moving and don't worry about how unworthy you are. Satan is the one who puts that into your mind. He does not want us to feel worthy in the sight of God. Keep moving, leaning slightly forward.

curious servant said...

Good points Lucy. He is purity... holiness.

Though I recognize a few of my short-comings, I am not dwelling on them... This isn't a spiritual attack of some kind. More of an honest appraisal.

The whisperer in the dark has nothing to do with a follower seeking to be more like Jesus.

I am so glad that He, as you say, is patient.

hanni said...

For some reason, it is easier for me to relate to God as loving, forgiving, full of grace and mercy. Most of the time my heart approaches as a child...I'm climbing up on His lap for a hug, for a listening ear, for wisdom and guidance, or just simply to 'be'...to worship and tell Him I love Him. It is really hard for me to wrap my head around 'being in Godly fear'. I am in awe when I look at all He has created and done. I am able to revere Him as I gaze at the night sky. But coming before Him with Godly fear...I think it makes me feel He is unapproachable...I'm not sure where the balance is. Anyway, you gave me lots to reflect on today. So thanks and God bless.

Paula said...

Yes, yes, yes! God is merciful but He is also just. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The other day I lost my breath at the site of a rainbow. I called my Hubby and two children outside to take a view while we stood in awe and spoke about what the rainbow was, a sign from God. Our God is an awesome God. A true image of what our God looks like can be found in Revelation. Good post brother.

Bruce said...

Thanks Curious...this was a well needed blog.

B~

JeffGeorgia said...

CS, I have been thinking about the word "safe" all day after reading your blog. First of all, good blog and insight. I think the Bible tells us about G-d being safe as a verb "security" comes to my mind or "assurance". I believe their are times when G-d calls us to unsafe places or people to minister His Shalom (wholeness) to the dark, even it being the end of our safety. I will go to G-d this week to learn more about what you have taught. I cherish your thoughts and knowledge.

Peace with you always.

curious servant said...

Jeff... great comment. I like the idea that sometimes we are called upon to sacrifice. I am reminded of the missionaries who died fifty years ago this month... and Paul... there are times when our individual welfare may be set aside for a greater glory.

It brings new meaning to Mr. Beaver's comments.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver... "Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.”


He is the King. That is enough to exact my obedience.

Judas Hate said...

Thanks brother:-)

I really like this post.

Such clear, honest, humble recognition of what really is.

What a beautiful gift of expression you have my friend.

Be well.

G~ said...

Super post, CS!

God bless you all over the place, my friend!

Lucy Stern said...

The whisperer in the dark (Satan), as you put it, is always trying to take us away from Jesus. He does not want us to return to our Heavenly Father.

Live, Love, Laugh said...

WOW! that was sooooo Good!!!

sands of time said...

That was an excellent well written piece.

Internet Street Philosopher said...

Yeah. God is nothing to play with, but he cares immensly about us little specks of matter.

puritan said...

That was a nice post and I enjoyed it. But I do have a problem with one of your points though.

You said

"Jesus understood adoption. He was adopted."

Where in the scriptures does it say that Joseph adopted Jesus? Wouldn't that have to mean that Jesus' real father has died?

I know that this analogy helped some of your readers and I am not trying to take the warmth of their joy in their adopted children or in their eyes, but I think that we should be accurate when writing or speaking about the Word and our Lord.

May Christ work through you as you give yourself to him. We are all unworthy of Him and His love.

curious servant said...

Thank you for your comment, and thank you for feeling free to check me on this.

Joseph raised Jesus. Jesus was his son as demonstrated by Joseph's following the role of a father both in terms of caring for him and in taking Him to the temple and performing the laws in regarding the raising of a child (Luke 2:21). Joseph was Jesus’ earthly father which is emphasized when Jesus makes references to His Heavenly Father.

This isn’t an analogy. Jesus was not the biological child of Joseph, yet Joseph raised him as his son. Part of your comment mentioned that Jesus’ adoption would imply that His Father was dead. I think that is where we would truly differ. Whether or not a child’s parent is dead does not have any implicationon whether or not the child can be adopted. I have adopted three children myself. The first child, Willy, still has a living mother. The next two children I adopted came from a war-torn nation and there is absolutely no information on their whereabouts or health.. Their biological parents may be dead, or they may have been separated from my kids, or they may have abandoned these children. It does not impact the adoption in any way.

There are legal issues involved in adoption, especially today (and some even in ancient times), but most of what the adoption process is about does not concern legalities at all. Some of it involves cultural issues (which I will address in a moment in the case of Jesus), but most of it is about how the adopting parents relate to the child. Do they parent the child? Do they care for the child? Do they raise the child as their own, teaching them the ways of the world and more importantly the ways of faith?

So, to that last point first. Mary and joseph raised Jesus according to their faith:

“Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.” --Luke 2:41-42

Both Joseph and Mary are referred to as Jesus parents, and they were involved in insuring that Jesus was raised according to their faith.

There is the culutual issue. Did Mary and Joseph’s community see Jesus as their child?

“Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi...” --Luke 3:23-24

Jesus was adopted in the eyes of the community. Friends and neighbors saw Jesus as the child of Joseph.

Adoption was not uncommon, and it gave Jesus the fuller human experience.

Joseph performed other parental roles, he named Jesus.

“...But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins." --Mathew 1:20-21.

The Bible refers to Mary and Joseph as “the child’s father and mother””

“...Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’

The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him....” --Luke 2:28-33.

Jesus was born of a mortal woman, and raised by mortal parents. Jesus experienced life as we do, showing us a perfect life. Joseph took that child as his own. Jesus was adopted.

Julana said...

I've been reading Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. You get more of a feel for an awesome God, in the Old Testament.

see-through faith said...

wonderful post. I wrote about God being made too safe back before Christmas.If you can get the book by Buchanen is your God too safe. it's wonderful

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