Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Lesson from Freddie the Bird

This morning, as I was preparing to go to work, I happened to look out the window and into our backyard.  On the side of our deck, I saw a number of young birds perched.  The birds had obviously just recently learned to fly, and they still had some of their early, soft feathers.  Some of the young birds were fluttering to and fro, down to the ground, and then back up onto the deck.

However, there was one bird who didn't seem to want to move all that much.  Freddie, as I called him, just sat as low as he possibly could on the edge of the siding, occasionally getting a bit frightened if one of his fellow fledglings flew too close.  Come on, Freddie! I thought. Why don't you fly like all the rest of your little bird buddies?

As I watched the fledglings, I realized that we, too, can be a lot like Freddie.  God has so much planned for us, but we too often don't experience the amazing things that God has in store.  So how do we tap into God's incredible life plot?  Just like Freddie, there are a few things we have to do.

1. We need to get our adult feathers.  In order to fly, birds can't keep the same soft feathers they used to have.  They need feathers fit for flying, and so do we.  Our "feathers" are our understanding of the deep truths of the Word of God.  Paul explains this as moving from the "milk" to the "meat" of the Word (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Hebrews 5:12-14).  We can't expect the fruit of a godly life without first basking in the light of the Word of God.

2.  We need to drop our baby feathers.  While this may seem to be equivalent to the first point, there's another aspect to losing our old feathers.  As Christians, we tend to carry around lingering attitudes and beliefs, which we had before we were saved.  It's critical that we leave these behind!  Any behavior that does not match that of Christ must be removed from our lives, for it will destroy us (see Romans 6).  This requires that we allow God to examine our hearts and show us what we need to change (Psalm 139:23-24).

3.  We need to jump.  We've all heard the cliche: "Take a leap of faith!"  To some, this phrase means practically nothing, but it's imperative to learn to jump out of our own comfort zones and into God's will, for the two are seldom the same.  The Bible says that we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  We may not understand what our Father is doing or why He wants us to do this or that, but He has called us to follow Him regardless.

Sometimes, even birds are afraid to fly.  But how sad would it be, though, if they never tried, and completely missed out on God's wonderful gift of soaring through the skies!  Our Savior has an impeccable plan for each of our lives (so much better than the ability to fly!), but we are too complacent in our own lives to experience it.

I find comfort in the fact that the Maker of the universe knows when a single bird falls from the sky (Matthew 10:29-31).  We are so much more loved that birds.  How much more will our Abba Father guide and protect us as move past our Freddie-like fear and leap into His glorious will!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Only Way

Beaten with rods.  Whipped relentlessly.  Pierced by thorns around His head.  The Holy One of God - the King, the Son of the Most High, the Almighty - was tortured beyond comprehension.  The All-powerful Messiah's body was unable to bear the weight of the cross on which He was to die.  Eventually He was hung on it, amidst ridicule and mockery.  He died one of the most shameful, painful deaths that anyone could ever die.  But it was the only way to save humanity from their sins.

Or was it?

Sin came into the world so easily; through one man (see Romans 5).  Was all hope lost after the first sin, though?  Was God powerless against the sin that entered the earth through Adam?  Of course not!  He made a promise, even then, that He would send a Savior to the world (Genesis 3:15).

But He didn't have to make that promise.  He could have just obliterated Satan the moment Satan turned against Him, and purged the earth of sin on the spot.  He could have purified the earth with a gush of Heavenly fury.  But why didn't He?

He did it for us.  But most of all, He did it for His own glory.

God could have put everything back to the way it was.  But He's so much greater than that.  His plan of salvation is one of tragedy, but of hope; of defeat, but of victory; of agony, but of joy.  It's difficult for us, on earth, to understand God's beauty, holiness, and magnificence without first knowing the ugliness, imperfection, and woefulness of sin.  That's why Jesus died: so we could know Him, and know His incomparable, incredible beauty.

But more than this, Jesus died so that He could be glorified.  "Father, the hour has come," He prayed.  "Glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you" (John 17:1b).  God is glorified in our lives when we choose Him over everything else and worship Him for who He is.  Knowing that we would better savor Him and His majesty after first knowing the worthlessness of sin, He chose to write the best, most heroic story imaginable, so that we could experience His joy to the utmost (See John 15:11, 16:20-22).

Jesus didn't have to die.  But He did.  He could have wiped out sin completely.  But He didn't.  Instead, He chose to lay His own life down (John 10:18).  He chose to endure the cross, to endure the beatings, to endure the whippings, to endure the mockery, to endure the blood, to endure the aching, and to endure the shame.  And He did it all for His glory.  He did it all for us.