Sunday, April 10, 2011

Clinging to Inadequacy

Commentary on Sabbath School lesson for 4.16.11

“Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something
I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need”[1]
These are some of the words for Rich Mullins’ song “Hold Me Jesus”.  Mullins has really caught the essence of our constant struggle with God:  He wants to give us eternity and we want the here and now.  I have to mention the show Hoarders: Buried Alive again.  Somehow their experience seems to parallel, on an individual scale, how all of humanity has been acting since Adam and Eve took a bite of whatever fruit that was.

So, here’s this person who has “collected” so much stuff that he (or she) cannot walk through his own house without stepping on things.  There are whole rooms that are completely unusable.  It seems like most of the time, there is very little of value in the house, just tons of things the person is afraid to get rid of, for whatever reason. The person has usually come to the point where he is either going to lose his home or his family because of the mess.

Enter the psychologist and the professional organizer, both of whom specialize in hoarders and they start trying to help the hoarder.  The organizer will pick up some random thing off of the top of a pile (maybe a plastic hanger that’s broken or a stray glove) and ask the hoarder if he can get rid of it.  Amazingly the hoarder, who knows that losing his family and/or house is imminent, will hold this bit of garbage and really struggle with being able to let it go. One man was on the verge of losing contact with his wife and little boy because of his hoarding.  They had already moved out of the house.  The father had one whole room filled with nothing but toys that he had bought for his son…but he had never given any of them to his son…the son he was going to lose all contact with.

Aren’t we just a whole lot like that?  Our lives are filled to overflowing with trivia that is separating us from God.  We invite Him in to help us de-clutter, but everything He asks us to get rid of, we want to hang onto.  Meanwhile, He’s waiting to give us eternal life.
“[In an article for Decision magazine], Samuel Kamaleson illustrates [the difficulty of submission] through a Christian folk story from South India. … it opens with a young boy who loved to play marbles. He regularly walked through his neighborhood with a pocketful of his best marbles, hoping to find opponents to play against. One marble in particular, his special blue marble, had won him many matches.
During one walk he encountered a young girl who was eating a bag of chocolate candy. … he had a weakness for chocolates. As he stood there interacting with the young girl, his salivary glands and the rumbling in his stomach became uncontrollable, and he thought to himself, I have got to get my hands on those chocolates.
“…he asked the girl, ‘How about I give you all these marbles for those chocolates?’ She replied, ‘Sounds fair to me.’
He put his hand in his pocket, searching for the distinguishing cracks on the surface of the blue marble. Once he identified the blue marble with his finger tip, … and pulled out all the other marbles.
“As he handed the marbles to the girl in exchange for the chocolate, the boy thought his plan was a success and turned to walk away. As he began to eat the candy, he suddenly turned to the girl and asked, ‘Hey, did you give me all the chocolates?’
“Our fallen nature persuades us to posture ourselves in the same deceptive and defiant attitude as the boy in this story. We want everything the kingdom of God has to offer. … we want all our prayers to be answered, we want to ‘feel close’ to Jesus, …—we want it all. But we are unwilling to give up everything for it. Many times there is a ‘blue marble’ in our lives that we seem unwilling to offer to the control of Christ. …”[2]
Adam and Eve had been wearing garments of light and they gave them up for fig leaves.  They traded everyday face-to-face communion with God for a piece of fruit…hm. When the One who could save them came looking for them, they hid.

It wasn’t until Adam and Eve spoke to God and confessed what had happened that they found out that God already had a plan to rescue them from their sin.  Adam and Eve had tried to fix things by sewing fig leaves together, but they didn’t realize the full cost of what they had done.  What they had done could not be fixed without the shedding of blood  --  fig leaves just were not going to cut it.
“He who would become a child of God must receive the truth that repentance and forgiveness are to be obtained through nothing less than the atonement of Christ. Assured of this the sinner must put forth an effort in harmony with the work done for him, and with unwearied entreaty he must supplicate the throne of grace, that the renovating power of God may come into his soul. Christ pardons none but the penitent, but whom He pardons He first makes penitent. The provision made is complete, and the eternal righteousness of Christ is placed to the account of every believing soul. The costly, spotless robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has been provided for the repenting, believing sinner, and he may say: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).”[3]
Are you ready to give up your fig leaves for a perfect robe of righteousness?  I am.

[1] Rich Mullins, “Hold Me Jesus”, A Liturgy, a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band (1993)
[2] Christopher L. Heuertz, Simple Spirituality (IVP, 2008), pp. 116-117; Samuel T. Kamaleson, "Mangoes and Marbles," Decision magazine (January 1978)
[3] E.G. White, A New Life, p. 23

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