Friday, October 15, 2010

OH Leviticus? Oh...repetitions... Oh...Grace

I am really trying to read the Bible through...Genesis to Revelation! And I really try to apply what I am reading in the Word to my life. I am S T R U G G L I N G through Leviticus right now. And when I say S T R U G G L I N G I do mean struggling. Yesterday and today, I was reading about the sexual restrictions and the punishments that accompany those acts. There are 30 verses on "forbidden sexual practices" and 27 verses for "punishment for disobedience." I thought...God, you couldn't just say....don't do anything but...if you do you are going to get punished? 1 maybe 2 verses and it would be taken care of.
Then, I smiled! You see, I thought of this sweet little girl when she was 2 and 3. Jane LOVED to write. She wrote and wrote....the problem, she didn't use paper! So, she began her writing career on a quilt that I made for her bed. I put the brand-new-just-sewed quilt on her bed and went out to the kitchen for a MINUTE; when came back into her bedroom...she had written on the quilt with a magic marker. I said (rather loudly and firmly) "you don't write on the bed, you only write on paper!" DONE. She was a smart little girl and she knew I meant it.
Then days or weeks later, she wrote on the wall in the kitchen. Crayons this time. AHHHHH...I knew that this was a teachable moment...SHE had to scrub the wall with a toothbrush and toothpaste....and the same admonition: you don't write on the walls, you only write on paper. DONE! She would remember THIS lesson because the wall was bathed with salt water tears, too!
Several weeks later, the kitchen floor needed to be scrubbed with a toothbrush and toothpaste by the same, smart little girl with the same admonition....
And then the straw that broke the camel's back or maybe it was a particularly tough day...I don't remember...but I came into the kitchen and right on the sweet and smart little girl had written on the dishwasher. (These were just the large art pieces that she did, we had to have many talks about the books that she destroyed with her "writing," much to the disgust and shock of her older sister, Betsy who NEVER wrote on anything but paper. See note below)
I took that sweet, smart, little girl's hand and we went around the house. I pointed to EVERYTHING and said: you don't write on the walls, you don't write on the floors, you don't write on the carpet, you don't write on the furniture, [downstairs we went...still hand in hand] you don't write on the dryer, you don't write on the washer...we covered the house with EVERY possible place I could see on which she would want to write. Her little feet were flying to keep up with me. When Steve came home, I told him that Jane understood about the proper place to write NOW! Paper ONLY!
A couple of days later, it was Sunday and Steve and I were in the living room. Jane came in to announce...Daddy, I made you a picture! Both Steve and I looked at each other...I said...don't worry it's on a paper... To Jane we said, show us your picture. There in the kitchen (it really is the room where she did her best work) Jane had taken a pen and drawn a picture for her dad inside his sports coat. (She did a great job, she had covered one side with scribbling.)
What did I do? Laughed. I looked at Steve and's my fault. His look was anything but understanding at my was HIS coat... I explained that it was my fault because...I didn't tell her not to draw on his sports coat. That really was the last thing that she wrote on other than paper after that.
I realized when reading Leviticus that the reason those 50 some verses exist is because the Israelites had DONE all of those things and God was taking them around the house and giving them instruction. We really aren't much different now. There is always a loophole. There will always be the shade of gray. We will always look for a way to change it up and do things that we are not supposed to do. And what happens when we realize what we have done (or gotten caught doing something wrong, what do we receive from our heavenly Father? Grace. Amazing grace. I am so thankful today for a Heavenly Father who gives us the rules and forgives us when we break them. And then covers us with His Grace.
[NOTE: After reading this, I know my girls. Betsy will again think and declare that she was the perfect child. I only need to remind her of my first "quilting" project. I quilted a phone book cover. I had just put it on, and Betsy doodled 2 eyes, a nose and a mouth in ink while she was talking on the phone. And she wasn't 2. And mama wasn't happy."]
And without my children, I would have wondered why God needed 50 some verses to deal with forbidden sexual practices.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Realization...confession...Grace...Amazing Grace

Sunday morning: When I was getting ready for the usher/greeter team that I co-lead, I realized that for the last several weeks, I was choosing the opening scripture on Sunday morning instead of taking it from a scripture that had encouraged me during my quiet time...I didn't have to wonder why...I knew...I had not had a quiet time for a long time.
I then realized that throughout this past week, God had whispered to me to come His Word. He created a longing to draw me near to Him. I knew that He was calling but I did NOT respond to His gentle nudge. I ignored the Creator of the Universe.
Instead of responding, what did I fill my time with? Oh very important things! Let's see... I read 2 other books. I sewed. I went to the gym a few times. I sat. Yep, I just sat. I directed my thoughts to my life. Centered directly on ME!

As I was sitting there yesterday the realization washed over me of what I had done and how I had treated my Savior, I humbly bowed and asked Him to forgive me. Forgive me for being so self-directed. Forgive me for wasting the time He had given me. But most of all, forgive me for not responding to Him.
God reminded me of a man that He called "a man after God's own heart." A man who had succumbed to temptation, committed adultery, and instigated the death of this married woman's husband; yet he was called "a man after God's own heart." God reminded me of David. I went to Psalm 51 which was written as a confession when David recognized his need for God's grace. It begins:
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me from my guilt. Purify me from my sin....Against you and you alone have I sinned...


Grace...that is what I received. If someone had ignored me and refused to respond to my calls, I have to say that I would have been really ticked. I would have complained. What I received from God for ignoring Him was forgiveness and grace.

But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. Purify me from my sins and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow...Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me...

Amazing Grace:
I think that is what I find so attractive about the God that I love. He can take what is unlovely and unworthy and clean it up and declare that person: A man after God's own heart. David was a man after God's own heart...Perfection? No, that wasn't David. Honest? Yep! David was honest with God.

Last night I prayed as I closed my eyes...Father wake me so we can have time together. Today, at 5:30 am He gently moved me from my bed to come before Him. I had no lightening bolts or great insights. I didn't have a vision or hear Him speak audibly. I really didn't read anything that was earth shattering in His Word (I am in Leviticus trying to read through the Bible...something I have never done). What I felt was a peace and a joy of being obedient. Oh, how I wish that this would be the turning point for me. That I would never again push Him away or disappoint Him. I will. I know it and so does He. But what I also know...when I come to him with a broken and contrite spirit, He will give me GRACE. Amazing Grace!