If life is painful and God is loving…

… why would LovingGod let us have PainfulLife, knowing we would screw up and let the world run amok with sinfulness?

Children. That’s the thought of the day.

It came from somewhat unrelated reading on Augustine’s Confessions, quoted below for your perusal, if you’re interested in the thought process. The Confessions are basically Augustine’s prayers of confession to God that he recorded.

In those years I lived with a woman who was not bound to me by lawful marriage; she was one who had come my way because of my wandering desires and my lack of considered judgment; nevertheless, I had only this one woman and I was faithful to her. And with her I learned by my own experience how great a difference there is between the self-restraint of the marriage covenant which is entered into for the sake of having children, and the mere pact made between two people whose love is lustful and who do not want to have children – even though, if children are born, they compel us to love them…

I say this reading is unrelated because the main thing I wanted to draw from it was the idea of people wanting to have children and bring them up. The average person knows their share of pain in life, though some people lead more painful lives than others. Still, no one will really stop a decent kid-loving person wanting to have children with an accusatory, “Now why would you subject kiddie-winkies to the pains of living?”

In fact, we do realise that loving parents want us to be with them,
want to provide for us,
want to always be there for us,
want us to be responsible,
want us to obey them for our good,
want us to face challenges and grow stronger,
want us to enjoy the gifts they make available to us,
want us to trust them,
want to trust us,
want to deal justly with us when we do wrong and to forgive us when we are willing to change,
are pleased to have us reflect their good attributes,
and much more.

A person with parents who really care and love them is not known to let the harshness of life be an issue in determining their estimation of their mother and father’s love. I think a similar principle applies to God although a Heavenly Father is different from a father.

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You couldn’t have planned it better

I recently spent some time talking with friends about the withered fig tree in Mark 11. We were a little stumped by the placement of this section and the meaning it was supposed to convey. I’m still unsure about this whole tree/fruit thing, but as for one verse in the section, I have seen some illumination from scripture-lived-out.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)

I was unsure about how the logic of ‘believe that you have received, and it will be yours” would work, but it is becoming clear as I attempt to ask for specific things in prayer (and have other people pray for me), attempt to believe that God has answered my (our) requests, and then see that… whoa… God was working that out and doing stuff about that specific area before I even realised I should pray for it. It might not even be ask for A and get A, but the unexpected (perhaps even unrelated) B that happens is interconnected. I think such things (chain answers to prayer) happen in conjunction with a chain of obedience linked by a great dollop of faith. Not everything is pleasant, but it’s all working for good.

Sometimes God answers so suddenly and clearly — but you know, in a casual “I’ve always been working” God way.

Now you don’t see it… and now you do :)

Feedback for Chambers

Here is July 13th from My Utmost for His Highest. Is it a little harsh? Or dead on? Your feedback is appreciated. (Feedback does not necessarily have to be a comment on here.)

“In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord.” Isaiah 6:1

Our soul’s history with God is frequently the history of the “passing of the hero.” Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died — I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? or — I saw the Lord?

[…]

It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever. “In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee.”

Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.

This was entitled, “The Price of Vision.”

Pity Parties

It is a dangerous thing to feel sorry for yourself.

It’s one thing to be David escaping from his enemies or fighting wars, and another thing to think the world is against you. David literally had people pursuing him to take his life, but thinking that no one cares about you is almost always a state of your own mind. It is a misplaced expectation of the world to think that the world should care about your feelings at every turn.

This internal focus in thinking that ‘what I feel is true’ is very in vogue. It’s the fast food of truth: what you feel can give a good sense of direction, but it is not what you should base every meal on.

Getting caught up in a pity party is one way you don’t want to be partying.

It makes you worry.
It denies that God is good to you.

It sort of relates to a verse I’ve been trying to memorize from a wallpaper:

2 Peter 1

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

To Do Lists vs. To Do à la carte

While to do lists are extremely useful for recording the entire volume of tasks you must get through – in the day, week, or foreseeable future – mammoth lists are also discouraging to look at. Then you might not do anything, but procrastinate instead. (That’s how I feel anyway.)

That’s why it’s helpful to also have a to do item – à la carte. Select one thing from your list, and make that your ‘list’. “Right now I will… [action verb + task noun].” One thing.

As much as checking off an item on your list feels great, you will look and see that you still have the entire list! auugghh. On the other hand, when you finish an item à la carte, you can erase it from your ‘list’ entirely, then start anew, by picking something else from your list.

At least during this reading week that has been working better for me than just having a list.

[not sure if I used “à la carte” suitably here]

This must be it: Psalm 37:3-6

“Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

Like every other person existing, I have problems trusting God to be letting what’s ‘best’ for me happen to me. How about let’s just have everything happen the way I want it! kthnxbye.

But on a serious note, I think the last two lines there, when they talk of your righteousness and justice, don’t mean that you are inherently so. Rather, it is by delighting yourself God’s plans, whatever they be, and committing your way to coincide with his (and he is inherently righteous and just), that you act righteously and that your causes are justified.

This passage sounds really positive and rainbow/flower/sunshiney, but I think the implication of non-committal would be making yourself unrighteous.

It’s very difficult to be happy about this. But I think having it out there that this is what I’ve got to do is helping make me less of a peevish child.