Friday, January 04, 2008

"Words for Living" part 1 (published Dec. 12 in "The Community Voice.")

A while back I received a letter that started, “The Community Voice will begin publishing again…” I find restarting an irresistible idea, kind of like fudge. You know its good and you know you want too. I wish “The Community Voice” well as it takes on this challenge.

Did you know that Christmas was also a “restart?” God had promised His people that they would have a fresh start. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” [Ezekiel 36:26] The trouble is, to do a real restart, you have to do it right.

You know what I mean. How many New Year’s promises have you actually kept? You have lots of motivation, like looking in the mirror, or good intentions. You apply all your human effort into reforming lifestyle or body. It lasts. It lasts until that friend calls and invites you to your favorite buffet. It last until you are bored or angry or alone or just plain hurting. If you think about this, it’s a little like doing self-heart surgery.

We are addicted to doing self-heart surgery. After all we are the tough, the proud, the few, the Yupper! Our women can fix plumbing and our men can cook. Ok, maybe not the last one, how about “our men can find the kitchen?” Ladies stop laughing now…

Jesus suggested that if you wanted to do a restart, you had to do it right. Jesus said, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.” [Matthew 9:16] Guys, let me translate that for you… It means you can’t use duck tape on something that has an inch of dust on it.

That’s exactly the problem. We are trying to fix the old stuff, warm up the fossilized heart, scrape the mold off the bread, when the only thing that will do is something new. Some of us are old enough to remember “the war to end all wars.” That was human effort. It fell apart like the attempt at putting the League of Nations, the future United Nations, headquarters on Sugar Island.

So one frosty night, a bunch of shepherds were out just doing their job. Honest, hard working, good people probably bored to tears by the endless grind. Suddenly God did heart surgery on them. The angel announced, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” [Luke 2:11]

After all the excitement, they returned to their fields changed. Yes, they were still Yuppers of sorts. The difference was that God had broken into their lives for one of the most glorious restarts in the history of the world. Today, God still speaks with that new voice offering us a measure of grace and a new heart. Just say yes!

No comments: