When I have not heard His voice, I lose my own.
The crumbs I have to share grow stale.
After a week of relaxing and reveling in sunshine and lovebeams I am turning over one of these ‘tidbits’ in my mind again. It seemed so out of place to contemplate in the midst of our happy holiday. I turn to it again to make sense of its ‘blessed’s and ‘woe’s. Luke 6 is the passage-- Luke’s abbreviated version of the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the poor, the hungry, the weeping.
Blessed too the hated, excluded and reviled…
And introspective me threatens my happy lot by asking, ‘Am I these? Shouldn’t I be?’
Having had the wealth to take a holiday, buffets sufficient to stave off any sign of hunger, and delight that took us far from tears and sadness, I wonder, ‘Am I these? The poor? The hungry? The bereft?’ And a niggling of guilt drags at my satisfaction.
The woes that follow feel uncomfortably applicable—
‘Woe to you who are rich’ (you’ve got all you’re getting)
‘Woe to you who are full now’ (hungry times are coming!)
‘Woe to you who laugh now’ (heartbreak ahead!)
‘Woe to you, when all people speak well of you’ (that’s how their ancestors talked about false prophets!)
And I reflect on these truths and wonder how they fit my days.
I have been banqueted and cosseted, lavishly loved and romanced, not only by my life’s true love but by the Lover of my soul. He fills my life with such tangible tokens of His love. He knows the very desires of my heart and meets me there. His words come to me in the night “I delight over you with singing”. I am finding that not only is God not opposed to pleasure but He actually delights in my delight. He fills my life with good things—not just food and frills—but His presence and His smile.
So why the twinge of guilt as if I’d opened a forbidden present, when in fact I have only enjoyed the lavish banquet He unbegrudgingly set before me?
Have I unwittingly believed that anything delicious, delightful, or in any way seductive is bound to be wrong and best avoided? Is God in fact romancing my heart while I have held tight to ‘self-denial’ in the name of holiness? Have I spurned His gifts in an effort to forge my own standards of perfection? And can I say ‘yes’ to plenty, to beauty, to pleasure… “Yes, and THANK-YOU!” without regret? I am learning, with wariness. I have been blessed. I have been made rich. I am loved beyond measure. And, I have been entrusted with good things that can turn my heart from its true home. The warnings of Deuteronomy 6 come to mind.
10 "Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of [fn4] slavery. 13 You shall [fn5] fear only the LORD your God; and you shall [fn6] worship Him and swear by His name. 14 You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, 15 for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the LORD your God will be kindled against you, and He will [fn7] wipe you off the face of the earth.
How do I avoid the blight of becoming ‘spoiled’, demanding more, or becoming enthralled with the gifts and losing sight of the Giver?
These things too I consider and I give thanks to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. I think this is the key to contentment in plenty and in want. It is the preventative for becoming a spoiled brat. It is the antidote for the shock of coming home to normalcy and responsibility. Giving thanks, in everything. This is the will of God for me. In thankfulness I can partake of plenty confidently without guilt or misgiving.
I woke one night from a ‘LOSER’ dream. In this dream I could do nothing right, could not please anyone, could only cause trouble and leave others wishing I were not there… What a welcome relief to wake and turn my thoughts to ponder instead this One who loves me as I am, wants me always with Him, lavishes His love on me and declares me perfect. He takes me, holds me, and enters my life to recreate it whole and new and beautiful. All faults I see, my sins, are all in time, but He is timeless. He sees the End from the Beginning—perfection, holiness, the finished product. He is happy, well-pleased, satisfied. And when I awake from the dream that is this lifetime, I will behold His glory and be like Him—just as He created me to be!
And as for the 'problem' of the ‘blessed’s. Matthew amplifies: Blessed are the poor in spirit…those who mourn…those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Theirs is the Kingdom of God, the comfort of God and the satisfaction of being filled with God.
God does not begrudge His children’s pleasure. There is no inherent holiness or blessing in poverty, deprivation and misery. There is holiness in yielding my days to the Lover of my soul, receiving His gifts with gratefulness and giving thanks in every circumstance that comes my way, because He is with me in it. There is blessing in loving Him with all my heart and soul and mind and strength—in presenting my body a living sacrifice for His glory.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps.16:11 ESV
Could it be that my capacity for experiencing pleasure is actually enhanced by knowing the God who designed me and following His instruction manual? That’s a thought for another day. For today, I’m full of smiles at the memories made in this season of plenty we were given, and I’m thankful ( :
“I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night”.
May I invite you to take a moment to consider this lyrical and tender rendition of a beautiful piece of music that expresses my heart today... [just click on the link below and enjoy. Note: If a "Face Off" advertisement comes up first, take heart, it's short and the song is worth the wait]
What am I Without You by Twila Paris