Monday, January 7, 2013

Neat and Tidy

     Packing up my manger set this last week always gives me time to reflect.  My mother taught me to save all the boxes and special styrofoam containers that each porcelain piece fits into so they would be kept safe until the next year.  I had collected the set of figurines over the years one by one so they were special to me.  As I carefully placed each piece into its styrofoam cocoon, I noted how snugly they fit.  It was neat and tidy.  No mess or fuss unlike our lives at times.  I thought to myself, "Don't we all wish our lives could fit snugly into a safe place with no messiness where we could be certain to be kept safe?"  Ah, but reality is that we live in a fallen world filled with dangers, toils and snares as the old hymn writers say.  There is nothing like a perfect little cocoon into which we can crawl to be kept safe and free from temptations.  And even if there were, would we want to live in such a world?  What faith is required if our days are perfectly ordered?   Instead, God wants us to learn to trust in Him as we walk the rocky paths of life.
     Coming to Him does not mean that our lives will now be perfect without any challenges, sickness, pain, or loss.  In fact, Jesus tells us clearly that in this world we will have trouble.  John 16:33 is always a source of comfort to believers:   "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."   In Christ, we have all we need for life and godliness to make it through the hills and valleys of life.
     I will never forget the many conversations that I had with my father growing up.  I would come home all discouraged over something that didn't go my way and I would never fail to say, "It's not fair!".  My father always replied, "Who told you life was fair, Honey?"  He was right.  Our world system which is controlled by the Prince of the Power of the Air is a place of injustice, sorrow and hardship.  However, the Good News is that Jesus Christ has overcome the world, death, and Satan.  In Him, we have a hope and a future despite our current circumstances.  This is why it is so important to walk by faith each day rather than sight.  Our senses can deceive us, but our Lord is the same today, yesterday and forever.  He does not change.   He is our solid ground when all the earth is shaking beneath our feet.  He will not let us fall even when we stumble, but He will pick us up and hold us in the hollow of His hand.
     As I pondered these thoughts, I realized that in many ways, we do have a safe little cocoon of sorts not to keep us from the difficulties that everyone faces but to keep safe the most fragile, important part of our being....our souls.  When our souls are filled with Christ, He is able to save us from sin and death.  John 10:27-30 says:  "My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.  I and the Father are one."   These are, indeed, words of comfort to the believer.  Because Christ arose from the dead, we will one day do the same.  We will live forever with Him where there will be no more injustice, sorrow, pain and loss.  For now, we walk in this world that buffets us, but we can have peace knowing He is with us guiding our steps.
     God does not want to put us away in a box somewhere like I do my manger set.  He wants, instead, to display our lives that we might be the salt and light to others who also need to trust in Him.  Our Father wants us to so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify God.  As we face the messiness of life, we have a resource that the world does not have...we have Jesus Christ living in us.  While we cannot avoid the heartaches, we can move through them on the wings of God's strength daily.  Not only do we grow stronger in faith, but we also are an example to a world looking for answers to the challenges of daily living.
     No, our lives are not neat and tidy without problems.  However, our souls are kept safe in the hands of God when our lives are committed to Him.  Only in His strength can we overcome the obstacles we face each day.  He is able to keep us and I agree with two verses which Paul shares in His letters that should encourage us as we daily face our messy lives.  2 Timothy 1:12 reads:  "For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."  The other verse is found in I Corinthians 1:8:  "He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."    We must remember that He is able to keep us daily no matter what circumstances come our way.  May our lives reflect His light and bring taste as salt into our world for His glory!  Selah!                                                                                                                          

No comments: