Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rituals of the Heart? - 203

Lord Jesus - i have to admit i am a bit stressed. I still have quite a bit to do and not a lot of time left. Mom and Dad have graciously accepted my plea to take the kids on Tuesday of next week so that i can come back here and pack the rest of the house and then clean once it is all picked up. Lord, i am still praying, but not always believing that you will get us a contract on the house before next Friday. I think in my heart so often what good is it if i don't always believe, but as the man in Mark (chapter 6 or 9, i can't remember right off hand) said, "I do believe, but Lord, help my unbelief." That is the way i feel as we get deeper and deeper into the remaining days. Please Lord, if you so see fit, sell our house. Thank you.

This morning in Hosea, chpt. 8, a couple thoughts from verses caught my attention. In verse 5 God is explaining to them that He can not bless a nation that worships calves. And my first thought was well how stupid of them to worship a statue, something that is not even real and can not move. How weird and why... But then as i was thinking i could feel You tug on my heart and asked me to think about the things we worship as idols. Some are real and alive, but others are not. We worship cars, houses, clothes, celebrities, schools, preachers, ministers, speakers, computers, ipods, etc. Really the list can go on and on. An idol is anything that replaces God for whatever reason and keep our worship from the one true God. We allow our material things - ME INCLUDED - to try to bring us peace, bring us fame, bring us contentment, etc.

I was talking about my living here in Charlotte and having it all. It was almost like living in Charlotte was no risk. Clay's old business would most likely continue to do well and we would just keep on doing life, ministry, and having lots of things. Easy - in some sorts. But living in Norris City is going to look very different. There is some risk, not so much risk going to that place because it seems full of much safety in a worldly sense - small town, low crime, nice school, nice people, etc. - but the risk is leaving it all behind. My friend was asking me very pointedly - Why, why would you do that Leigh? It felt so good to say, "those things don't matter. I have had it all and it is nice to have it all, and it is not that i will be without in my new town, but that it won't be a necessity like it feels here. I had a choice and still have a choice to be simple here in Charlotte and go to what i think i am heading for in Illinois, but that is not the point. There is a greater purpose than just getting my life back to simple in any location. Simpler life is our next chapter in life and that sounds really exciting to me. Not boring, but simple. Casting down the idols and i would be remiss not to mention the blessings as well, in my life and laying at His feet. Will He "provide a ram" and give it all back? I don't think so and i really don't want any of it back. I want what He has prepared and that will be better and perfect and peaceful!

Then in verse 13 God is telling them their sacrifices are not acceptable because there is not heart. Oh Lord, i have seen that in my own life from time to time - not heart, just ritual. It is so ugly and so binding. There is not boundless joy and peace. There are times we must continue through the process and steps to regain that heart. We might change up how we do our quiet time or the time we attend church or a different SS class, but we continue on in the practices. We continue being faithful to our righteousness and pray for our heart to return. He will honor us not giving up and seeking Him earnestly even though we don't "feel" it. But really what God doesn't want is for me to just do something, even my quiet time, if i am just seeking to check it off my list. This is no different than anything else - it is all about the motivation. Doing something to check it off a list or to seek another's approval and doing it out of obedience and love and worship.

There is a fine line there and i am not sure when it is crossed. But i think too often people will just no go to church anymore or meet with the Lord or whatever it is because they don't "feel" it anymore. God must have left the places or the situations and so i am just going to sit out until He returns or i "feel" it again. Plus if my heart is not there then what good is it anyway. I think that is one of the most dangerous places to be. Satan loves it and will take no time like the present to bombard that person with more secret or unseen sin and temptations than ever. He has convince you to let your guard down, to hold off seeking Him, and now the real war starts. Oh it will be ugly and messy, and oh so damaging to more than just yourself.

Lord, all scenarios i have found myself in. Fun - no way, but then again, yes in the beginning. Lord, don't let me fall prey again. Keep me close and help me to hold on even when i want to let go even for a short time. Thank you for your patience and love. Thank you for your acceptance and mercy. Thank you for your grace and accepting my worship. "May my life be as worship to you"! (Meredith Andrews) I love you, Lord, increase my love and belief!

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