My salvation is an issue between me and my Maker and your salvation is an issue between you and Yours.
My job, as one seeking to live a Christian life, is to be a good advertisement for the way to God demonstrated in the life of Christ.
For me, that’s an in-body experience.
If we don’t take to our knees, we will be forced to our knees. Sooner or later.
- After the scrumptious meal
- After the company leaves
- After the last note sounds
- After the riveting movie
- After the compelling book
- After the lights go down
Our hearts and senses are left to fend for themselves. To remember, but not with our minds exactly, more with our spirits. We no longer have the crutch of words or explanations or analysis. We can no longer touch or taste or see or hear. But we still feel. Something remains.
What is that?
It’s real because it returns. When circumstances bring it back to mind. It is like the last time – like before, like the other. We compare it to something we know but could never display. A thought, a memory, a sensation, a feeling. These have not gone; they are still with us. Undeniably present and called upon by the moment’s experience.
My pastor speaks of the blessings of God for which we tremble. I repeat the word over and over as I was taught to sing it, in a choir loft long ago. Rolling the last consonants, as if they were bumping together, quaking, quivering, rattling, rumbling, settling. The dictionary is far, far away. I stand two rows up, eyes fixed on a makeshift manger to which we sing. I have imagined the baby Jesus. We…tremble…
Why would Jesus come as a helpless baby? Crying, cooing, needing, cold, trembling…
I glimpse a young woman from a wasteland who is isolated, devastated, alone, being held by the man who has stood by her. He can comfort and support but not rescue her. This is a present day and not just long ago story. It still resonates. Perhaps because it speaks to a place deeper than words. Where, trembling against all odds, we discover that what is in us can save us.
Doesn’t Play-Doh feel great?!
I had forgotten until I got out some containers for my Wednesday “Pal’s.” They are 4th graders at a local elementary school that have been “assigned” to me as part of a mentoring program. I am pretty sure they were assigned to mentor me rather than the other way around, but anyway… We had bright blue, green, purple and orange play-doh so they decided to make a nature scene. Pond surrounded by trees. What to do with the orange? Fish in the pond of course.
Our play time is always short, though, so we had barely completed our creation when it was time to clean up. The tree tops were easy to separate from their trunks, but it’s darn difficult to get those orange fish out of the blue pond to put each color neatly back into its container. One must try, though, so colors are pristine for the next creation.
We fished them out best we could, but as we rolled up the pond I could still see a seam of orange where the fish had been. A narrow streak down the center of the blue. Don’t worry. I resisted the urge to pick out every orange particle. But this morning when I read Oswald Chambers I thought about that doh and that seam:
God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves. We must “work out” our “own salvation” which God has worked in us (Philippians 2:12).
That orange seam was like what God has worked in me. Clearly distinct from the rest of who I am.
When we pull out that blue Play-Doh again, we’ll mash and twist and shape it into something new. The orange will be worked into the blue. It won’t take long before we don’t see it at all. Oh, it may have imperceptibly changed the color of that blue doh, but no one will know but me. It will be worked in.
I don’t think Paul had play-doh in mind when he wrote his letter to the Philippians, but perhaps this is what he meant. Working out our salvation is really about working in the salvation of God. That streak of color, mashed and twisted, is just the shade we need to shapes our lives into the creation He has in mind.
Who would have thought that God would use fish in a lake and some children to show me that?