25 February 2009

The Weaver's Bestowal


Treasure Box: Nehemiah 9:29-31

(Substitute "I/me" for "they/them" in your meditation upon this passage)

And [You] admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law 
         Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances,
         By which if a man observes them he shall live 
         And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen. 
    However, You bore with them for many years,
         And admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets,
         Yet they would not give ear.
         Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 
    Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them,
         For You are a gracious and compassionate God.

Graciousness...A golden thread here woven with compassion and long-suffering. And loving discipline by a forbearing Heavenly Father. All knit together like a strong spiritual umbilical cord between Parent and child, keeping a connection of closeness, feeding growth in the relationship, providing direct nourishment, removing toxins and waste, preventing disastrous wandering afar. How we are like tiny babes, so utterly dependent on our Creator for the sustenance of life itself, even though we often go about our business unaware of this...and unrepentant of our stubborn shoulders, stiff neck, and closed ears. If, at any moment, the Lord God Almighty were to withdraw any of His cords of graciousness, compassion, long-suffering, or discipline that tie we believers to Him, we would be lost, drowning in a dark, watery world...like a tiny being who never had the chance to reach its full form to be born into a her destined, new life.

And how shall these threads be woven together in my life? One thought: My personality tends to quickly jump to a sense of justice in which I pass quick judgment on others' errors or lack. Then, particularly in the case of my children, I follow through immediately with "discipline" of one type or another. Or, in the case of my husband, smug martyrdom. But what if I interrupt my usual reaction and respond in my mind first with graciousness, kindness fueled by compassion and empathy? Would this not lead to real wisdom in moving into the other person's life with a redemptive purpose? Would not any needed discipline (or thoughtful response in the case of a peer) have the purpose of ministering to the person, rather than only dealing with the offense? Don't get me wrong, we must call sin what it is, and reprove...but gently, giving care that we not bluster into sin ourselves, such as arrogance or self-pity. We can be "in the right," but oh so wrong, if we rip grace from truth.

Oh, what a longing of mine this is! And the times when I have quickly prayed for the Holy Spirit to move me in this way in a situation...what beauty unfolds between myself and the one who has need of gentle, humble reproof. What powerful things happen in both of our hearts, minds and lives. And it is so evident that it is a gift of grace from our Heavenly Father and not merely manufactured by our own efforts.

Oh, gracious and holy God, knit together these threads of graciousness, compassion, long-suffering, and truth--clothe me in them until they are the very skin I walk in every day. Forgive me for my rush to look at other's actions only through the lens of how it affects me. Forgive me for merely managing my children's behavior instead of discipling their hearts. Repair my frayed edges when I am overcome by the strains of life. Gather me in Your robe of righteousness and hold me close with Your graciousness and loving discipline, for without Your gracious correction, I am left naked in my sin, exposed in shame, wandering in wilderness.

Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
--Isaiah 30:18


Reposted from 02.May.08

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