Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Bad, The Ugly, and The Very, Very Good

Yesterday was a rough day. The boys were horribly behaved, and my reaction to their behavior wasn't much better. Around noon, I called David to vent and turned into a sobbing mess on the phone. I really just felt like running away....from the fighting and tattling and disobeying and also from my own feelings of being completely out of control for the day. At one point, Yikealo told me that Sintayehu had done something which resulted in punishment for Mr. S, after which Yikealo admitted that he had been lying. I sat down with a sobbing Sintay in the rocking chair to apologize and ask for forgiveness, admitting that "Mommy did a bad job." (We believe in freely admitting to our kiddos when we're in the wrong, so that they can see repentance and confession modeled out for them.) I asked what we should do with Mommy: should she have to stand in the corner? Should she sit in the chair? Sintayehu shook his head solemnly at all of my suggestions, and then, borrowing his little head into my neck, gave his own solution, "Kiss Mommy." I dissolved into tears for about the 15th time that day.

There might be some who would say, "Oh, give yourself a break! So you had a bad day as a Mom. We all do's no big deal!" While it's undoubtedly true that we all have bad days, I also think that it is utterly false to give place to the idea that it's not a big thing. It is so hard to be confronted with your own sin, but it is so necessary to make it right, because sin has a way of snowballing. Things that we like to call "mistakes" or "faults" to make ourselves feel better about them can ruin our relationships and wreak havoc in our spirit if they are not rooted out.

See, here's the thing....the Bible says it this way: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

The truth is that there was quite a bit of bitterness (acridity, poison), and wrath (fierceness or indignation, breathing hard), and anger (implying vengeance and punishment) and most certainly clamour (an outcry in notification, tumult or grief) going on in our house yesterday. I wasn't edifying or ministering grace to my boys when I was infuriated over yet one more bout of disobedience. I was matter what had provoked me in the first place....and I needed to repent. To my sons, to myself, and mostly to my God.

Look at the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar for a moment. In Chapter 12 of Genesis, God speaks directly to Abram, telling him to leave the land of his fathers and go into a new land, where God promises to bless him and make a great nation from him. Abram obeys, steps out in faith and begins his journey toward greater communion with God. God appears to him in Canaan and makes greater promises. Imagine that for a second! God appeared to him, and Abram, recognizing the occasion as one of great honor, marked the place with an altar. Immediately after, though....literally 3 verses later....there is a famine in the land, and Abram forgets to trust the God who has already promised provision. Instead he takes matters into his own hands and goes to Egypt, where he is obliged to make a deal with Pharoah, which includes lying about his relationship with his wife and handing her over to the harem. In fact, Abram temporarily traded Sarai for all sorts of worldly goods, including "maidservants" (verse 16.) The Bible doesn't say for sure, but this is more than likely when Hagar entered the picture. When Pharoah rushed them all out of Egypt a short time later, hoping to undo the plagues that had come on his household, Abram took all of the riches with him, probably including future temptation in the form of Hagar.

Abram and Sarai made the same mistake later when they again forgot to trust God for His provision and plan. They weren't having children, despite the Lord's promise, so they decided to take matters into their own hands again by using Hagar as a surrogate mother. Now, this was a perfectly normal, accepted practice of the day, but it wasn't God's way. Anytime we step outside of God's will, we are opening the door to all sorts of potential evil. The world is STILL paying the price for that bit of disobedience, as the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac hate each other to this day.

Abraham and Sarah sinned again and again. They forgot to trust God, they were willfully disobedient, they lied, they committed adultery, they were unloving and harsh to those whom they were to care for. The book of Genesis makes that pretty clear. Yet here's the wonderful part: that's not the end of Abraham and Sarah's story! There is the most amazing statement in the 4th chapter of the book of Romans: "(Abraham) being not weak in faith....he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore, it was imputed to him for righteousness." Now wait a minute! Abraham absolutely DID waver. He chose the completely wrong direction at times, and yet because he did the right thing in the end, because he finished well, his obvious sin does not even enter the picture in Romans. Instead, the faith that he ultimately had in God's promises becomes his defining characteristic.

Here's the other awesome part: Romans 4 fnishes with this statement, "Now it was not written for his (Abraham's) sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification." When we fall to our knees in repentance over our actions, when we ask for forgiveness and grace to move forward, we won't be remembered for our sin either. Rather, the righteousness of Christ is given to us....because we have faith in Him and His atoning sacrifice.

I am so thankful....for forgiveness, for redemption, for mercy, for the righteousness of Jesus that has been credited to my account over yesterday. I am grateful for the chance to start new and fresh every morning. I am awe-struck at the 2nd, and 3rd, and 917th chances that I've been given. I'm glad for growth....even when it hurts a bit. The sun shining outside on the fresh snow is an excellent reminder of King David's words in Psalm 51, when he came to the Lord in repentance, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow....Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities." 

Today, by the way, has been an incredible, beautiful day with my boys...

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