Bible Readings for Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 – The 3rd Week of Easter
*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.1. [A Song of Ascents.] Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
2. Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the LORD.
3. May the LORD, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.Proverbs 8
32. And now, my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways.
33. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.
34. Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.
35. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD;
36. but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate me love death.”
1. Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars.
2. She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table.
3. She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls from the highest places in the town,
4. “You that are simple, turn in here!” To those without sense she says,
5. “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”1. Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander.
2. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation–
3. if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
- Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD! – Psalm 134:1
- “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” – Proverbs 8:5-6
- Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. – 1 peter 2:1
…Who Will Stand By Night…
Who will stand by night in the house of the Lord? In other words, who will do the right things when no one is around nor expecting you to do so?
I was walking into the child care at the gym last night to pick up my kiddos after working out, and I found them playing together. Suddenly, Trystan lost his balance on this rubberized tree stump they were paying on, and stood up quickly with arms flailing out for balance. Unfortunately, one of his flailing fingers poked his sister, Ella, right in the eye. He immediately began to apologize profusely because he could see her anger rising. Without a moment’s hesitation she lashed out and shoved her younger brother off the stump backwards and he toppled down onto the floor.
She figured no one was watching, she would never get caught.
But I was watching. And I was saddened.
God is no different when God is watching me “try to get away with things”. You do it, too. Don’t lie to yourself: it does no good and serves no purpose to deny what is nearly universal. We sometimes act differently when we think no one is watching. From the way we speak to our spouses or our children, to the way we talk about a friend to others when they’re not about, to how we treat other people’s stuff, to acts of violence, to acts of perversion, to acts of jealousy, to even the truly evil… we all have our shadow sides that we think we can let out if “no one is watching”.
But someone is watching, all the time.
God is watching.
No, God isn’t watching like a spirit floating in the corner of the room, and invisible little cherub wagging his finger and saying, “tsk, tsk”. God is that internal lament, that pang of conscience whenever your choices cross into the shadow of yourself. God is not apart, separate from you and passing judgement. God is with you, in you, and through you, experiencing all the great things and the bad things with you.
When we betray our divine, loving nature for the sake of our base animal instincts and lusts, God laments with us. And don’t deny it, you lament, too. Even the most ardent “sinners” among us still secretly die a little inside every time they speak an evil word against someone, or sleep around, or drink too much, or lie, or take narcotics, or abuse a child… no matter how much you may deny your evil nature on the surface, no matter how much you may defend your choices or right to do so, it still rips your heart up every time.
Still think you’re one of the only pure people out there? Still think you don’t have a shadow side? How are you doing on judgement of others, then? How are you doing when it comes to the sin of pride? Probably not very well, because we all have our shadow-selves.
Why God Won’t Stop Us
I often ask why God would curse me with my shadow-self: my anger. Why would a loving God create something like violence inside the heart of a man who only wants to love?
God didn’t create it. My own choices did. God created my free will, my mind, and soul. In the course of my life, the world around me and my own choices planted the seeds of anger and violence and since then my further decisions have strengthened it and helped it to grow.
But why did God allow it to happen?
Like it or not, a weaver cannot create a beautiful tapestry with only threads of pure white. A weaver must use dark threads, too. Beauty is found in purity, but contrast can be profound. God understands we cannot know the fullest joy without the contrast of the deepest sorrows. God knows we cannot appreciate what it is to be loved without being unloved.
God knows all of this, but can you accept it?
God does not step in and stop the growth of our shadow-selves because then we wouldn’t have free will. However, should we decide to change our ways and change our choices in life, then God steps in with a full arsenal at our disposal. But we still must make the decisions, God does not take control and facilitate the healing. We must still do all of it.
We got ourselves into this mess, we have to get ourselves out.
I did that, or rather, I am doing that. I made the choice years ago that anger and violence would not longer have any role in my life, and I have been calling on the Grace of God for strength in the process. I have been completely responsible for my own choices and words like, “God, if you love me please don’t let me be violent again…” never crossed my lips. If they had, then my failures might be misconstrued as somehow God’s fault, not my own.
Have faith in God, put trust in God, find strength in God… but never forget the power and responsibility of free will is yours alone.
And so is the strength and wisdom that comes from overcoming the shadow-self. It is your victory, aided and enabled by a loving and compassionate God, but it is yours to draw insight from.
God wants us to grow and prosper in love, but God won’t stop us from failing.