Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:18
“There’s only one thing I want for Christmas,” my fourteen year-old declared. “Snow. I want a white Christmas.”
She got her wish. We woke up Christmas morning to a beautiful, sparkling white covering, as though somebody emptied my bottles of glitter atop the landscape. I love fresh fallen snow, how it transforms the old and barren and ugly and unkempt into something wondrous and breathtaking. Snow’s winter white, when dropped by the Creator’s hand, is pristine and majestic and magical, and anything beneath is hidden under its glory. Whether a much loved Lamborghini, or a despised rusty clunker with mismatched tires, whether lawns that are green and verdant in the summertime or pitiful, weed filled yards – all look the same when snuggled beneath a snow quilt. It doesn’t take long, however, for the human touch to mingle with the divine covering and the white blanket becomes squalid and grimy. Gasoline fumes and pollution stain it gray and dingy, like spilled coffee on a new white blouse that is then washed with a load of darks. Muddy footprints give it a dirty, threadbare appearance. Bits and pieces of carelessly cast aside cigarette butts and discarded wrappers and cans are frayed edges begriming the beauty.
Humanity tends to do nothing but mar the splendor of God’s handiwork. Certainly there are times we hike or ski through a winter wonderland leaving nothing behind but our puffs of breath and childlike enamor, but most of the time we sully it; we take away from its perfect beauty.
Perhaps that is why I fear writing publicly; I fear marring the beautiful and perfect and inerrant Word of God by my humanity, adding my thoughts, my opinions. But He seems to compel me, so I continue on and pray fervently that nothing I say or write will begrime, that I will never take away from His majesty, that you will see nothing but puffs of breath left from a delighted sojourner as I search His word. Along the way, there is still much that is unclear to me; today I see through a glass darkly while I wait for the day when all will be made perfectly evident as I gaze upon Him face to face. Pray with me that He speaks to you as only He can do and you recognize I am merely writing the musings of my human heart that longs to be like my Divine Creator.
For the past couple of years, I haven’t used any kind of plan to read through the Bible in its entirety. I’ve studied various things, and read some books over and over again and to be honest, there have been days when I’ve read nothing from the Scriptures. This year I plan to once again return to a specific plan, a daily plan, a committed plan, and this time I am using a Chronological Bible. On occasion I will share with you insights and lessons that are revealed to me in hopes that they might encourage you or cause you to study some things out for yourself.
As I’ve embarked on Genesis, I am once again comforted and challenged by one of my biblical heroes: Abraham. One of my favorite Bible verses is found in Genesis 15:6. Speaking of Abraham it says and he believed in the Lord and He accounted it to Him as righteousness. Abraham’s character was this: he believed God. He messed up on occasion, thought he knew better than God at times, but overall his was a life of faith. I pray that is my legacy as well. When we believe God, when we put our faith in Him, all of our flaws and sins and shortcomings that were as gray as ash, as black as soot, become white as snow.
One of the lessons that Abram teaches me is the art of reconciliation. God’s heart is one of reconciliation; it’s the reason for the cross; the astounding and merciful reconciliation of a needy, sinful, ungrateful people with a perfect God.
In Genesis 13, before God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, this man of faith found himself in a tricky place. When by faith, he left his hometown and ended up in Canaan, he became very, very wealthy. His nephew, Lot, who traveled with him, also became very rich. Unfortunately the material blessings caused trouble, as they often can. Disputes and strife and bickering broke out among Abram’s people and Lot’s people. The land simply could not contain both of these men and all of their possessions.
Abram was the elder and he had the right to give Lot the boot; to pick the choicest land for himself and send Lot away to fend for himself.
But reconciliation is never about rights.
It’s not about self-centeredness or getting the best materially, because we think, well, we deserve it.
Reconciliation is about replacing strife and bitterness and fighting with kindness and generosity and trusting God to take care of the details. It lays aside the need to be right and the desire to get what is rightfully mine.
Instead of choosing the best for himself, Uncle Abram said, “Hey, let’s not allow all of these riches and possessions to come between us, or the people we are responsible for. Relationships are more important than money or things. Tell you what – this whole countryside is open to you. Take your pick of any of the land you want and I’ll take what’s left.”(that was a Marie paraphrase.) See, he wasn’t trusting in his possessions or his position for his identity or joy. He KNEW his God was faithful to take care of him. Lot wasn’t quite so trusting and given the opportunity, he picked the well-watered, fertile land for himself. He chose what was visually and materially the best. I am sure he thought he was set for life.
But if we fast forward, we’ll see that while Lot did indeed continue growing in material goods and recognition, it wasn’t too long before a war broke out – unexpected circumstances can and do arise in our lives- and he and all his possessions were taken captive. (The enemy’s goal is always to steal and destroy and to kill. The Lord wants to give us abundant life. See John 10:10 ) Anyway, it was all taken. Everything. He. Owned. Even his family was taken captive, and he was in bonds himself.
One of his servants escaped and ran to Uncle Abram and breathlessly reported to him what had happened. Abram certainly could have said “Hey, he chose that life for himself. I guess he got what he deserved. I’m busy taking care of my own stuff now.”
But that’s not the heart of a reconciler.
Instead, he mobilized his men and pursued the army that had ravaged Lot and his people. These men miraculously defeated the army and recovered not only Lot, but all of his possessions and woman and children and servants.
Reminds me of how God pursued me and rescued me even when I didn’t deserve it, when I was in captivity to the world and to greed and self-centeredness.
Let’s fast forward again, and see how the lives of these men continue. Lot ends up making a name for himself in Sodom while Abram also continues to prosper and goes through a name-changing, life-changing encounter with God. The Lord later reveals to Abraham that He is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because it was filled with nothing but wickedness. (Imagine a city full of theater shooters, elementary school shooters and the like. Complete depravity.) Abraham again plays reconciler, and intercedes for his nephew.
The heart of a reconciler continues to plead for those who – by our standards – don’t appear to deserve mercy.
God did indeed rescue Lot and his daughters and wife before bringing destruction…but Lot had to be forcibly moved, as he lingered behind, perhaps thinking “Do I really want to leave all of my stuff behind? Do I REALLY want to be rescued? Maybe this destruction talk isn’t real?” Kinda like some folks respond when they hear the good news of God’s divine rescue through Jesus.
It isn’t too long before Lot’s wife is dead, he is cowering in a dark, lonely cave and his daughters commit incest with him out of desperation to continue the family line.
Such a sad ending to a life with so much promise.
And I can’t help but wonder, how much of it was the rooted in that first choice to go after the biggest and best for himself? How much was a direct result of a heart trusting in possessions and position rather than seeking God?
I want to be like Abraham, who had a heart like God’s – always seeking to rescue and save, to reconcile people to Himself even when it meant humbling Himself, leaving all of the riches of heaven to come to earth and be born in a manager, in a human body, to voluntarily deny Himself. But my desire is also not to point you to MY hopes, my longings, my humanity, but rather to Jesus. The Reconciler of needy children to their loving Father. The One who can do the impossible.
Father, I lift up to you those who are searching right now, knowing there is something more but not knowing that YOU are the something more, the something most. I pray they will be reconciled to You through the cross of Christ and discover all of the riches found in You.
I pray for those you bring into my life, that I will always remember people are more important than possessions or to-do lists, and that sometimes you might want to use this cracked, flawed miniature clay pot in your reconciliation process.
I pray for those struggling in broken relationships right now: parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. I pray that you will speak a word of reconciliation and peace to them, that these strained relationships will be touched by Jesus, the Prince of Peace. I pray hearts will be softened and shaped into containers of forgiveness and mercy. I pray that stubbornness will disappear and that “rights” will be let go of. I pray that love and grace will abound. In Jesus name.
Happy 2013, friends!
Grateful for this wonderful life,
Marie with a 🙂