Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Growing Grayer

I like to tease my husband about his many, many, many gray hairs. At this point if the "salt" doesn't outweigh the "pepper," the race is certainly neck and neck.  As for me I am still at the age and stage that I can stay ahead of my grays with a pluck here and a pluck there.  Sometimes I tease about being able to trace back a sly new silver visitor to a specific action of one or another of my children.

But the Bible says that "gray hair is a crown of glory, obtained by living a righteous life." (Proverbs 16:31)  I often think of "gray hair" as a sign of wisdom.  Granted this is metaphorical, for there are certainly many who have many gray hairs on their head but no wisdom to show for it.  But I have been thinking a lot about "being gray" and being wise.

I have spent as many of my 42 plus years as I can remember as a completely "black and white" person, a rule follower to the core.  I have always been a firm believer in there being an absolute "right," and the "wrongs being far broader and defined by it. 

The truth is, my rule follower tendencies haven't really changed, and my belief in absolute truth remains strong, but what HAS changed in me is my certainty that I actually know what that truth is.  More importantly I have relaxed considerably in my NEED to be right-- my NEED to convince others to see things MY way, and the NEED to win the argument in order to be at peace with myself.

I've decided that "at peace with me" does not compare to what it is to be (and feel) at peace with God-- a large part of which comes from being at peace with others. What I am NOT talking about here is compromise, I am not talking about sullying biblical truth with worldly values or ways.  I'm not talking about taking a soft stand on obedience to God's word, but what I AM talking about is realizing that the only obedience I can truly concern myself with is my own.  As for those around me, I have to love them, even in their disobedience.

That doesn't mean I shy away from speaking the truth, or rather The Truth, but it means doing so with a humility that understands that I, like very other Christian on the planet will NOT get it all right.  Perhaps that's why the Bible tells us to to "work out" our salvation "with fear and trembling."

It occurs to me that the unbelievers, moreover those who are actually hostile toward the gospel like to attack the differences in Christian doctrine, (safe for example, post- or pre-trib rapture of the church in the last days). They pick at the details and debate what they interpret as our confusion-- raising hands, not raising hands, dancing or no dancing, silly little non-essentials that are an excuse to disregard the giant critical unchangeable truth we all know, salvation comes in Christ alone.

St. Francis of Assisi said "Preach the gospel at all times, when necessary use words."  I wonder if better advice wouldn't be, "If you can't speak in love, don't speak for God." (1 Corinthians 13) It's a fine line, because the message of the gospel itself IS offensive, but we need to figure out how to let the message be the only offensive thing, and as the messenger not be offensive at all.

It's all very gray, and like the fog that it feels to be, I find myself wandering a little aimlessly in it.  I want desperately to get it right, but I am realizing all the more, that I probably never will completely.  An excuse not to try? No, but a humility realizing I need God's help desperately to muddle through. 

I have regret for the many in my life I have offended or put off in the need to be SEEN or understood as right.  I am realizing that even if and when I might actually be on point, that the love for the listener has to trump their instruction or correction.  Because if I am sharing it out of that kind of love, it doesn't have any value anyway, because without the love, they'll never receive it. 

As a follower of Christ, I have this beautiful gift, the message of the gospel that I have been commanded to bring forth to a dying world, but His intention has always been that I do it wrapped up in love, kindness, humility, out of a sincerity of heart that I cannot even muster for myself, that I can only accomplish by His grace and the power of His Holy Spirit. 

I am rambling, I suppose-- but I am just realizing that what God spoke to my heart a couple of months ago indeed needs to remain my focus-- "Love and Worship." They are the marks I must bear in order to bring Christ to the world.  The Truth isn't gray, but I must be grayer-- wiser in every way, thinking not highly of myself (or my perspective) but loving people just as Christ does. By Your Spirit, Lord, by Your Spirit.

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