Friday, January 21, 2011

Strength Speaks to a Broken Mind

Let Eagles bid the Tortoise sunward soar --
As vainly Strength speaks to a broken mind.
                            Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This fragment of Coleridge is perhaps an allusion to Aesop's fable of the Tortoise and the Eagle.

A TORTOISE, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. "I will give you," she said, "all the riches of the Red Sea." "I will teach you to fly then," said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: "I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?'

Moral: If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.

I have spent many a day wishing I was something or someone else. Dissatisfied with my lot and discouraged with myself I longed to be something more or at least something else.  To be sure Coleridge did as well. He suffered from divorce, depression and drug addiction.

His epitaph reads:

"Beneath this sod
A Poet lies; or that which once was he.
O lift one thought in prayer for S.T.C.
That he, who many a year with toil of breath,
Found Death in Life, may here find Life in Death."

Let Eagles bid the Tortoise sunward soar... Have you ever heard them bidding? Calling you up? Wooing you to a place you wish you could go. I believe this is a common human experience. No matter who or what we are we all have at times wished we were someone or something else. 

As vainly... Coleridge seems to believe that it is an impossible thing for people to change. Not an uncommon belief when trapped in drug addiction or some form of mental affliction.

Strength speaks to a broken mind. If the mind is broken how then can Strength supply any help or remedy?

There is a part of every human that is broken. The Bible calls it the "inner man" or "inner being". It is that part of us that resonates with justice, love, truth, and beauty. Eternal qualities that we admire but are just out of our grasp. And like Coleridge we despair of ever soaring higher. But the truth and strength of the Bible don't just speak to the mind. The mind is where we think we should start. The apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that we need to start deeper. No one can understand with the mind the love of Jesus unless God has strengthened their inner being by the Holy Spirit. Pray this prayer with Paul.

Eph 3:16-21; that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

The truth of the gospel is not a creed or doctrine to be only apprehended with the mind. It is a person with whom we will become utterly captivated; Jesus Christ, God's son. The strength of our relationship is not and never will be dependent on my ability to understand, reason, think, or comprehend. My transformational life in Christ takes place because of what Jesus did and does. It's as if I am looking at snap shots of my life, baby pictures, toddler-hood, school days, teenager, adult. What did I do to get from one stage to the next? Nothing much, just eat, sleep and live. So it is in Christ, I simply follow Him. No incantations, no magic formula. Just a love that bids me to love Him in return.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Lessons from the Book of Job


Job 1:1
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job;

The meaning of his name is “hated” this could be because of Satan who came before God wanting to do Job harm. The children of God are hated by Satan and his followers. Jesus tells us that we too will be hated by all because of His name. Mark 13:13.

and that man was blameless,

Job was one who was complete, morally innocent, and having integrity. So he was considered blameless, Christians are blameless before God. God does not see our sin since we are “in Christ” He sees instead the blamelessness of Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:8.

upright,

Job was righteous, so too is the Christian in Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30 &31 say, But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."

fearing God

Not the kind of fear that makes one afraid but the type that fills one with reverence and awe. As Jesus tells us in Luke 12:32 “Do no be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” This was surely a true sign that Job was grateful to God and full of appreciation for all that he had.

and turning away from evil.

Job moved away from evil and moved towards God. The book of Hebrews encourages us to “draw near” to God through Jesus (Heb 7:25) and James 4:8 promises us that if we “draw near to God He will draw near to us” It is a hard thing to fight against sin. We try to resist our bad habits and sins only to discover we are powerless to overcome them. Turning away from evil is not the same as fighting sin. When we turn away from anything we are turning towards something else. That something else that has power over sin and evil is Jesus Christ. We must not get caught in Satan's trap of trying to purge ourselves of our sin. We can only repent, turn away, turn toward the One who has the power to forgive and to cleanse and take them away from us. Jesus gives us victory over evil.

These four characteristics are traits that God will boast of in His servants...

Job 1:8

The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

God boasts in his servant Job. One who is “hated” as his name means. As a servant of God I am blessed to hear God boast in this way since I too am His servant. To see God's love for Job as He brags about him to Satan encourages me because if He boasts of Job He will also boast of me. Jesus is not ashamed to call me His “brother” and God is not ashamed to be called my God. (Heb 2:11 & 11:16) Oh the comfort and joy of my soul to know that my God delights in me because of my glorious savior Jesus Christ.

For there is no one like him on the earth,

These words hold more meaning than just a story of Job. For the prophet Isaiah foretold of another who was also hated, and to be sure “there was no one on earth like Him”. Isa 52:3&4, “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.”

Jesus the Messiah is unique. There is no one exactly like Him on earth. He was born of a virgin. Lived a life without committing a sin against man or God. Allowed Himself to become the focus of God's “hatred” for sin on the cross. In Matthew 26:39, He prays, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." The cup of God's anger against sin was what Jesus drank on the cross. God “hates” sin. So Job (hated) is a picture of the One who was to come later to take away sin. To make a way for everyone who comes to Him to become “like”Him, blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. Giving to all who would believe in Him, His nature so that we may become the children of God. 2 Peter 1:4, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”