Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Skiing the Mount - Micah 6:8

Sometimes I wish there was a "red phone" like I remember in old cartoons and movies, where if it rang, it meant it was "THE" call you had been waiting for, the answer you needed. But there is no red phone on the path of this walk of faith, because by definition faith has an element of the unknown. Believing in what we SEE isn't faith at all. It's the confidence in the unseen that is what our faith is made of.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

My journals are full of questions, me asking the Lord for answers and direction. Last year I found myself asking the Lord over and over what He wanted from me, what He required of me, and over and over again, the same scripture would come into my mind. It's probably written in last year's journals at least two dozen times:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

So simple and yet so challenging. They're all twisted together. And though simply stated, they are not the easiest commands to walk out.

Doing justly is perhaps, in a way, the step I struggle the least with. I see the world in a very black and white way, right is right and wrong is wrong. I think "shades of gray" are over stated. But there in my "doing justly" I have already begun to stumble in both "loving mercy" and "walking humbly." Because when you are "doing right," or perhaps I should say when I am "doing right," I look around and think to myself how that ought to be the case for everyone else as well. And I even begin to look highly on myself for my doing, and the walking with humility has gone completely by the way side. I've slipped down the slope already.

I was reading Romans 14 the other day, and I had an a-ha moment:

So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. Do not tear down God’s work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong for a man to cause stumbling by what he eats. It is a noble thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother stumble. Do you have a conviction? Keep it to yourself before God. The man who does not condemn himself by what he approves is blessed. But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from a conviction,and everything that is not from a conviction is sin.
Romans 14:19-23

There's a truth here about doing justly. I can only define with certainty what "doing justly" means for myself, I cannot not be certain of what it means for another. But if God places a conviction in my heart, then I must be obedient to it, if I do not, then I am guilty of sin.

Now mind you, I am NOT expanding shades of gray. Much of life is STILL very black and white. Sin IS sin, even if not all conviction is conviction. For example, my husband and I don't drink alcohol, at all, ever. It's our conviction that drinking alcohol is wrong. For us it is. But we know many other Christians who do not hold our conviction. They like a bottle of wine with dinner, or a beer after work, not drinking is not their conviction. It doesn't make us better Christians (which is actually impossible to be.) Drinking may be defined by conviction, but getting drunk on the other hand is not. The Bible states VERY clearly, DO NOT GET DRUNK. So getting drunk is a sin for all.

I also find myself often struggling with mercy. I like to see people get what they deserve. Yes, I said it. I am a "justice minded" person, and when I see someone continuing in sin. If I found out (hypothetically) that someone who was getting drunk regularly was going to jail for drunk and disorderly or for a DUI, mercy would not be my first inclination, my thought would be "Well, GOOD. Now perhaps they will wake up/ wise up/ sober up and make better choices." That isn't merciful. And I would struggle with the situation if someone got off with a slap on the hand or a warning, I would not find myself loving mercy. But God says I should. And again, when I don't, I am NOT walking humbly with my God.

I am a work in process (as we all are,) and I am trying so hard to find the manner in which to walk this Truth out. Recently the Lord reminded me that if there is mercy for me, there must be mercy for all. When I demand justice, I make myself subject to it as well. If I want others to get "exactly what they deserve" when they wrong me, or someone I love, I have to ask myself, "am I willing to get exactly what I deserve?" Or would I prefer to live under the grace and mercy that I've personally traded for justice. If it's good for me, it has to be good for others as well.

This scripture, like so many is simply stated. It's beautiful and clear and its purpose is evident. It's like strapping on a set of skis. I look at them, I know how they work, I have seen others ski and I mentally "get" what I need to do, but when I put the, on for myself I stumble, struggle, fall down and fail. It is awkward and difficult. There is nothing "natural" about it. So what do you do? You keep getting up, and doing it over again and again and again, until what you mentally understand that you need to do becomes natural to do. It won't be perfect, there will always be falls, and you have to watch out for the obstacles and terrain that make it more difficult, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

That's where I am, trying to learn how to ski this simple mountain, that really isn't so simple at all. Mount Micah - here I come... again. Maybe I won't fall down so many times today.

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