Complacent… but uncomfortable

If I will be so bold as to call myself a friend of God, then surely, what matters to God matters to me, right? That’s what friends are for… when one smiles, the other smiles, and when one cries, the other cries… see, a friend feels what the other feels. It’s as if they share one heart. Or at least it should be that way. Because if you have a friend whose heart is breaking, and you’re not moved by that… well, then you’re not really a friend at all, are you?

And so, to be called a friend of God, one must know what He cares about, right? One must know what lies on His heart. And it’s through the pages of Scripture that we find His heart’s message. Deuteronomy 10:17-19 says, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” So it’s clear, God cares about the fatherless and the widow… He loves the stranger. Further into the pages of God’s word, we find a sterner message, but essentially saying the same, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:26-27.

You know… in past days, I would have described myself as a religious person. And because of that fact alone I would have given myself the title, “friend of God.” Because I’m religious and hold fast to a set of external ceremonies with regard to worship of God. It’s a religious discipline that I cling to. So yes, this makes me a religious person; however, I find that this is not at all what makes me friend to God.

A true friend of God would listen to Him. A true friend of God would care for what He cares for. And now I’m seeing the truth… the closer I get to Him and His ways, the more I see that my heart and my ways are not exactly meshing. Because I find that my heart is not in sync with Him with regard to what matters the most. And what I’m seeing is that my outward worship is simply that. Outward. But today is the day, He’s calling me to something deeper. Something real. He’s calling me to what He considers pure and undefiled religion. And not just me… He’s callling us all to something more.

You know, I’ve been so uncomfortable lately. And the truth is, I believe I’m going to feel this discomfort until I move off my duff and do something… I think this unsettled feeling will follow me around until I really step up and follow the footsteps of Jesus like He told me to do. The truth? Three years of seeking God and trying to escape the rut of darkness, and forty-some blogs later have all led to this. I know in my heart of hearts that God is moving me beyond my complacency. And what that will look like, I really don’t know. All I do know is what Jesus did… and I know that I am to follow His footsteps. We all are.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3

I can’t say it any better than the following video. This video is a picture of God’s heart. It should be our heart. May we all be so moved beyond our complacent… but uncomfortable… walls.

Who I Am

I’m a people-watcher. When we go out, I love to observe people… how they act, what they say and the expressions that play across their faces. And to be truthful, I sometimes eavesdrop. I can’t help it… If I’m in the grocery store and someone is talking on their cell phone within my vicinity, I’m going to listen. Because that’s what my ears are made for… hearing what people say. It was Thursday, though, that I felt pretty upset by my people observation skills. Because within the span of a couple of hours, I received more ugly looks than I can count. Oh, for various reasons, which lead me to believe that I must be the worst driver in history. One man looked at me so angrily, he even shook his head in a curt way, as if I were going to plow right over top of him and his two daughters. This happened as I was pulling away from a drive-through window and I can assure you I was not going to run him over. I stopped as soon as I saw him, which was at least 10 or 15 feet away. At any rate, my feelings were hurt. And the look I received didn’t produce any loving vibes toward the man. In fact, I felt quite the opposite… I felt attacked and that the situation (or the ugly look) was uncalled for. At any rate, I’m getting off track here.

The point is, I love to watch people. Especially teenage girls. I think this is probably because I was uncomfortable in my own skin growing up. When I was young, I always wanted to be somebody else because I was not happy with who I was. And I wonder about the young girls I see today. I wonder if they’re comfortable in their own skin, or if they want to be somebody else, too. I would venture to say, it’s the latter. Because what I notice about packs of young girls, is that they look the same. They wear their hair in a similar fashion, their clothing could be interchangeable, and they talk alike. They usually prefer the same music and have the same affectations. Basically, they prove the saying, “You are who your friends are.” And I believe that saying to be very true. I think you do become like who you spend the most time with. Because I lived it out for most of my formative years. When I was in my early twenties, a person pointed out to me that I was like a chameleon, changing my personality to fit who I was with. At the time, I felt anger at the observation, but now that I’m older I see that it’s true. And even now, I find a residual trace of longing within me. See, I want to be liked. By everyone. And so, I may feel out the crowd, and may or may not say something, depending on who I’m with. And so this behavior begs the question, “Am I still uncomfortable in my own skin?”

You know, the Bible is filled with conversations between God and His people. I can scan the pages of Scripture and eavesdrop on conversations that took place long ago, and not even feel bad for doing it (unlike recently, when my ears perked up at a restaurant as I listened to the four women behind me). And I think that in doing this… searching God’s word, that is… I will come to feel comfortable in my own skin. I think the more I listen in on conversations of old, the more I will find out about who I am today. Because what God had to say to His people, and what He felt for them so long ago, hasn’t changed… because He is the same. And so, through a conversation that took place between God and Moses, I learn a lot about God… and a lot about me. It’s through their banter that I find out just who I am to God. This is what I overheard:

The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. And Moses pleaded with God, “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.” God answered, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. For you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” Moses went a step further… he asked that God please show him His glory. And God allowed it. God said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock and so it shall be that while My glory passes by that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand…” And so, Moses rose early in the morning to meet with God on Mount Sinai. God descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and He proclaimed to Moses His very nature. (Exodus 33)

God spoke to Moses. He stood with Moses and revealed things about His nature to him. Because they were friends. God said, “I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the LORD.” Numbers 12:8. See, Moses spent time with God. He had a real relationship with Him, and took the the time to know God and what He cared about. And what was important to God became important to Moses. And isn’t that how it is for us today… with those that we have intimate relationships with? Don’t we spend time with our friends, talking to them and listening to what they have to say? Don’t we care about what they do? And so, from this conversation between two friends, God and Moses, I see this is exactly what He wants from us today… our friendship. In addition to everything else that He is to us, He wants to be our friend. And it’s here in this truth that I can become comfortable in my own skin. It’s here that I can find my identity.

You know, I feel for the young girls I see today. Because I remember. I know how hard it is growing up, and wanting to be liked by everyone. I know what it’s like to run after everything or everyone searching for an identity. Because that’s what I did for so very long. I just didn’t like who I was. Even today, there are things I wish I could change. But you know, I have a good Friend and He has my back… He has me covered. He loves me and cares about what I do, and He knows me by name. It’s in God that I find my true identity. And if I ever forget… if I begin to feel insecure and that I don’t measure up, He will comfort me. He will remind me of just who I am… in Him.