Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Somebody Bigger... by Jemima

My sister, Jemima, shared this as a devotion at a baby shower awhile ago. I asked her if she would be willing to edit it for the my blog in written format. She has graciously agreed. I hope that her thoughts bless you as much as they have blessed me. :)
- Mary

I am a fix everything kind of a person. I want everything to be comfortable—not necessarily luxurious and it does not have to be the best. But I can’t tolerate anything “really bad”... and even if its not my business, I try to “fix” it.

At times when I see people suffering, it makes me think of the horror of eternal suffering in hell. That is “really bad” and I start to feel a feverish panic to immediately reach every lost soul with the gospel myself.

And then sometimes - horror of horrors - the thought crosses my mind, “What if the soul of one of MY siblings is lost to Satan?” I want to think, “No, not one in MY family—I’ll do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen.” But God has not put on Christian homes some kind of guarantee that makes them immune to the possibility of one of their children rejecting Christ, and I know that. The thought puts terror in my heart.

Sometimes I’ve even thought to myself, Maybe I don’t want to have children of my own if it’s a possibility that any of them may not spend eternity in heaven. The thought brings with it more pain than I can bear to think about.

Other things frighten me...

In a day when 80 or 90 percent of evangelical college age Americans leave church never to return…

When there is so much international instability, and so much power in the hands of people who are evil…

When 40% of “Christian” men admit to having a problem with pornography, and 20% of women do (and I know these stats are accurate because so many of my own friends weep as the reality of this demon threatens their own marriages and engagements)…

When it’s not just the neighbors who are getting divorced, but the people who were my role models for family life doing it, too…

What makes me think I can have a good marriage or raise children who will turn out right?

Mothers send ahead to a time they will never see.
Their children will face battles they have never fought.
If death ended all, that would be one thing.

But sometimes I think about how long eternity is—eternity past, as well as the forever that is still ahead of all eternal souls. The mental picture of being suspended in such an incomprehensively huge expanse of time…is scary.
Sometimes even facts like the limitless size of outer space—the idea that
if you were somehow propelled out of the reach of gravity, you would go on and
on forever into nothingness…sometimes the size of the universe makes me feel insecure.

And when I think of all these things, I cry out, “God, it’s too BIG! Eternity is too long! Hell is too bad! Why did You make souls capable of destroying themselves, of turning away from You? Why did you make human souls eternal? Why does life have to matter so much? I can’t even begin to fix the really bad physical problems in this world, much less the Spiritual ones in a scheme this big. I can’t keep everything okay!”

And then it’s like He says to me, “So you’re scared, Jemima? So you think I’ve made everything too big for you to control—beyond your ability to maintain at some mediocre level? You’re exactly right. I didn’t put YOU in charge of the universe.”

Somebody a little bigger than me is in charge. Just the infinite God who designed the billions of galaxies and placed them billions of light years apart—just Him.

And He reminds me again and again that ending human misery is not to be my chief objective—His glory must come first. He is weaving everything into a reality filled with great joy and also deep pain—pain that’s deeper than I would have it be, and joy beyond my wildest thoughts.

He doesn’t go for my flat, mediocre plans.

Here are a few verses that try to explain to our little minds what a huge God and what a good God we have:

“…I am He; I am the first, and I am the last. My right hand also hath laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens…”
Isaiah 48:12, 13

“And I say unto you my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: fear him which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell: yea I say unto you, fear him.” Luke 12:4, 5

“Yes, Lord, I’m scared of You…Scared enough to accuse You of injustice when it comes to putting souls in hell. But not enough to honour You above people when You want me to do the right thing when it’s socially unacceptable.”

“All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way…”
Isaiah 53:6

“I care about people, God…I don’t like to see them suffer! But I don’t care enough to do anything that actually makes ME suffer very much. Don’t ask me to give up something I like doing for the sake of someone else! Don’t ask me to do something I don’t like!”

“…But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed…He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter…He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was their any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.”
Isaiah 53:5-11

“God…hath in these last times spoken unto us by his son, whom he appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right of the majesty on high." Hebrews 1:1, 2

“I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain. I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations… Who hath declared this from ancient time? Have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God, and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ends the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow… Surely, shall one say, In the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed* against him shall be ashamed.”
Isaiah 45:19--24

*in·cense tr.v. in·censed, in·cens·ing, in·cens·es: To cause to be extremely angry; infuriate.

* * * *

God’s glory must be my goal. Then I can live joyfully. I can bear children for His glory if He calls me to it someday — not because I know they will never feel pain and because I can control all the circumstances of my childrens' lives. Not because I can make sure each dear baby will grow up to choose Christ.

No, but rather, because a constantly just, and incredibly merciful God will always be in charge of their eternal souls.

Here is my version of something CS Lewis wrote:
“Is He quite safe?” she asked.
“Safe?!” they replied. “Who ever heard of safe? He is King of kings and Lord of lords! Safe? No, He is not safe, but His is God, and He is good.”

1 comment:

Laurel said...

Thank you, Jemima!