Sweet sweet friends and family. I am blessed by the messages and posts I received in response to my last entry. In addition to all those comments, suggestions, opinions, etc. sent to me, I also have continued to pray about clarity, peace, and comfort on some of the issues I struggle with. While God has yet to mega-phone down to me direct answers to some of the complex stories penned in the Bible…he has highlighted other key factors that help to secure me further in His embrace.
Like I said last time, I did not and do not expect anyone to have all the answers to some of the questions I ponder…and I know even though I feel better about some of them, others will continue to erk me from time-to-time. However, it is reassuring just knowing I am not the only one who sometimes feels overwhelmed by the craziness and greatness that is our God as described in the Bible. So often I see, listen to, and hear about other people who seem to have everything so together, or at least so determined and set in their faith…and I think maybe I am missing something. Maybe I have overlooked some key ingredient that if I could just grasp/discover/whatever I would be like them.
While that is not exactly true (there is not some “magic” piece of information or whatever I was expecting that just makes the Bible and God easy to understand)…I am somewhat correct in that assumption. The key ingredient I believe is Focus. Everyone is given the same information the same situations and yet where you place your focus can turn everything completely around. Sometimes in my attempt to understand EVERYTHING I end up discounting the huge truths I DO understand and therefore get carried away in the minuet details. While these details are vital for adding context, rich-ness, and depth…they are NOT the main point!! The Focus and essential element to draw from the Bible truly is that Jesus Christ came to Earth and gave his life to save mine, and everyone who believes in him. This the IT of the Bible. Jesus changed everything! He put the focus on new things and rocked the world of the Old Tesitment…and as I was reminded by a Christian I admire for her faith…the story of the Bible is to give us background, knowledge, instruction…all as it is related to JESUS!!
Now, I would love to share with you all some of my favorites from the quotes and comments I received after my last note. I found these passages quite enlightening and whether you struggle with some of the questions I raised or not…I think everyone could benefit from considering these thoughts and hearing these encouraging words:
Gen 4:3-In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.
Gen 4:4-But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
“Cain brought fruit to the Lord,but it wasn’t the best he had or anything special. Abel brought “fat portions” to the Lord implying it was the best he had. All throughout the old testament the Lord demands the “first-fruits” from His people.” – EP (This was something I had also noticed…but it was reaffirming to hear it from another friend)
“I don’t know if you have ever read the Chronicles of Narnia series, but my favorite book was the 3rd one: The Horse and His Boy. The main character is not Narnian and has no knowledge of Aslan, yet throughout the book there are interactions with lions. Lions chase them across the desert and almost eat them; they prowl outside their camp and terrify them at night; they seriously maul a companion and almost kill her. At the end of the book you discover that it had been Aslan all along. He chased them across the desert so that they would outrun the men bent on their destruction. He prowled outside their camp to keep real marauders at bay, and he injured the girl because she had maliciously beaten a Beast of Narnia at the beginning of the book. You learn in that book, more so than in all the others, that Aslan is not a tame or safe lion, but he IS good. Our God is not tame or safe. But He is good.” -MT (I love the last two sentences and it is SOOO good to remember. Our God is NOT just mushy and soft and while he does want everyone to be saved and to accept his love…he gave us free will. And while he is for grace and mercy, he is very much AGAINST SIN and as individuals of free will we are obviously capable of sin. Sometimes I forget this and just see him as happy-go-lucky all the time. I think it is key to recognize he is so much more complex)
“I think the point though is not so much questions/answers, as much as the point that you are seeking to know God more. He sees this, and hears all of your prayers. Of these things I am sure.” -SC
“I feel like, yes, we need to pay attention to the Old T because it’s full of amazing insight and lessons, but it was written in an ancient time before Christ, and I can’t imagine a time more dark than one without the Son of God…….I think it’s ok not to be able to answer all those questions, and if a non believer asked me about the contradictions, Id suggest to them ‘put away the OT for a bit and read the New because that’s where Christianity is born’…I feel like everything changed when Jesus was sent to us.” -AH
“When you said that Hagar did nothing wrong, you missed the point. Of course she did. Whether Sarah gave permission doesn’t matter. Who is Sarah to give permission?? Not God.” -TD (This is SUCH a good point and I had never really thought about it that way. In this instance I still feel like Hagar got the short end of the stick, either she followed Sarah’s orders and got in trouble or she disobeyed her Mistress and would have probably gotten in trouble, but it is true this is my decision of right and wrong and God is the ultimate judge.)
“I think the first thing you need to do is ask ‘What am I sure about? Really, really, really sure about.’ Start from there…After you’ve got down what you truly believe, read the Bible as a story of those beliefs playing out. Don’t get too bogged down in the details. See it for what it is, a story…and it’s a big story…it’s a story of redemption, of God turning dust into man and man into saint.” -CC
“We do live in a unique time, though, where God’s grace is being extended in a way that is not fair… ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.'(2 Pet. 3:9)… it’s not fair that we get grace extended to us when we deserve wrath as much or more than those we read about in the OT.” -SH
These were just snippets of some of the amazing and supportive letters I received. In no way are these yes or no, or hard facts to my questions…but they were exactly what I needed. The Lord encouraged me to step out and take a chance with telling people “hey sometimes I just don’t get God” and while God is probably up in Heaven chuckling and saying “Yes, that is exactly the point” he still rewarded my efforts to grow closer to Him. Not only did Jesus highlighted the beautiful network of believers I have in my life but he used them to increase my desire and assurance in Him. And that is just perfect.
I hope to blog more about my experience this year as I read through my Bible. Therefore, if you, as a reader of this blog, would like to hear about a specific story or topic from the Bible, or just in Christianity in general…I’d love for you to write me about it and I can see how I can incorporate it into my blogging. I’m refreshed from this experience because it reminded me of all the wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ I have around me to challenge me, pull me up, and support me…and it also showed me how I can be a light to my brothers and sisters as well…and both of those things are very good.
Well, this has been another long post. Thanks for sticking with me. Look for a new post here in a few days detailing my whirl-wind week out in California!! Yes, it was my first “business trip” [I know I’m becoming all grown up :)] and I attended a TechKnowledge conference in San Jose…but I lucked out and managed to have time for sight-seeing including a day trip to San Fran and visiting friends as well…so it should be a light-hearted, fun little post. I even have pictures 🙂
Thanks again to everyone who wrote me. Please feel free to continue to post me things if anything comes to mind. I wish you all a lovely night and look forward to writing again soon. xoxo