Monday, March 31, 2014

"You've got to trust Me on this one."

I have pet birds. Cockatiels, to be precise. And if you happen to have any sort of pet, bird or otherwise, you know it can be a love-hate relationship at times.

Don't be fooled, he's not as innocent as he looks.
Birds are flighty. The smallest little thing (such as leaning back in a creaky chair) can send them swirling around the room. Birds are noisy. They'll chatter and shriek and squawk no matter how you plead, beg, threaten (just kidding, or am I?) or otherwise talk to or not talk to them. Birds need constant care and attention. They squawk and shriek for you to notice them, feed them, talk to them, just to be in the same room as them. Birds aren't very smart. Mine flew away from me once just because I was wearing nail polish (ahhhhh! attack of the killer colored finger nails!!!). Time and time again, when I have them out of their cages to play, I have to bring them back to their play-stand after a frightened flight around the room, repeatedly having to say "You're all right. It's okay. You've got to trust me on this one" (and yes, I do talk to my birds like that, don't judge).

But you know, we're not much different from them. The smallest thing goes wrong, we're prepping for the end of the world. We cry, gripe, groan, moan, complain, fret, fume (I personally have enough experience to have a degree in each), no matter how many times God has promised He'll never leave us, He'll always take care of us, He's watching out for us. We need constant reminders that God is with us, constant reminders He's not going to kick us to the curb, that He loves us with an everlasting love. And how many times have we made the same stupid mistakes over and over? How many times have we gone "swirling" about frantic because of a little "creak" that upset our lives, let alone when the big things happen? How many times has God had to bring us back to the center of His will?

Neither is she.
And you see, the beautiful thing about our relationship with God is that it's not a love-hate relationship. It's only love on His side. Through our groans, moans, and pity parties, He loves us, and seeks our best. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV). God's not sitting up in Heaven rubbing His hands together and thinking about what problem we're going to have next. That's not our God. He allows bad things to happen, but only because it works out for our best and His glory. He says to each and every one of us, "You're all right. It's okay. You've got to trust Me on this one."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

He remembers

Let me tell you about the day, a couple of weeks ago, when I failed. Miserably failed. Failed so greatly, so completely, that if they gave out awards for failing, I'd have won grand grand grand ultra-grand prize hands down. If failing was a martial art, I'd be the master sensei of failure, on the level of failing Ooguay from Kung Fu Panda was with kung fu. I wrote the book The Zen of Failing.*

I submitted a form wrong for my internship.

Yeah, I'm being ridiculous (I get like that a lot). But I know I can't be the only one who does this. We beat ourselves up over the smallest thing, over and over and over. We make a tiny, teeny, ant-sized mistake (like forgetting someone's name), and we act like it's the apocalypse of failure, and we can never come back from it. And while I'm not saying we shouldn't be sorry, that mistakes are cool, we often lose sight of the fact that it's not the end of the world.

And that's the case even for sins. Even if we sin, we can still recover. No matter what you've done, whether it's a huge failure or a "huge" failure like mine, there's always a coming back. God forgives. He loves you no matter what. He gives us second chances. He gives us third chances. He gives us fourth chances. He gives us chances until we don't need anymore (which won't be until Heaven, by the way, so don't worry, you've got plenty more).

Don't believe me? Take a look at Psalm 103. David goes on and on about God's mercies (because God knew we'd need someone to drill it into our thick skulls). God "forgives all your iniquities" (Psalm 103:3a, NKJV). He "heals all your diseases" (Psalm 103:3b). He "redeems your life from destruction" (Psalm 103:4a). He "crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psalm 103:4b).

God knows our sinful nature. He knows we're prone to sinning. He knows our pride, which makes it feel like we can't come back from them (for some sick reason, we seem to have this complex where, if we're gonna fail, it has to be such a whopper of a failure that it's "unforgivable." We have to be the best even at failing). It doesn't fool Him in the least. He knows we're weak, we're foolish, we're clumsy little lumps of clay. And yet He loves us. Instead of ignoring us, or letting us go nilly-willy wandering in our own self-pity and vanity, he pities us. Instead, as David tells us, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy" (Psalm 103:8). Instead of giving us what we deserve, "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). He gives us another chance, removing our sins "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12a).

David tells us that God pities us like a father does his children (Psalm 103:13). Being the single girl that I am, I don't have kids. But I have parents. And they don't laugh at me when I'm being ridiculous (well, not this type of ridiculous, anyway). They don't tell me to knock it off when I'm having a bad day, or to get over it, to "suck it up and deal with it" (well, not most of the time, anyway). They comfort me. They help me. They bring me back to sanity. 

And they're just fallible humans like me. If our sinful human parents do so much for us, imagine what an infallible, gracious God does for us. "He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14).

Note, this is not a get-out-of-obeying-free card. Sin is serious. It's not to be taken lightly. I am in no way saying you can run around being a horrible sinner because God will forgive you. Chances are, though, that we will mess up and sin. But God is greater than our sin. He is more than capable of forgiving us, and more than willing. We've only ask for it and accept that He has.  

Father, thank You for forgiving me when I sin against You. Please help me to overcome  my sins through Your strength. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

*No, not really, but if you look, I bet someone has (if not, let me know, so I can get on it).