Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Accountable to no one? everyone pays...

The proud man, yelling again -- he knows he can dominate, if not with his words then with his fists...

The desperate addict needing just one more "hit"--- wearing long sleeves, no one knows right?

The wounded wife, she's given him her heart, her body, and two children, but he still looks at naked women on his computer, and she has no courage to stand against the lie he brings to her bed...

The self-consumed lady needing to feel good about herself, hands the store clerk the credit card, needing to try and feel new by wearing something new, again and again and again  ---

The aspiring athlete ---- knowing what the steroids will do -- the temporary good, the lasting bad, swallows anyway...

The tired dreamer ---  gambling again, risking it all just a dollar at a time --- even though he promised he would stop...

None want to be exposed --- none want to be held accountable -- yet each one is trading what is "good, and true, and right" for the fleeting flirt with short satisfaction. They don't want to be vulnerable --- they don't want to face the long term damage their game of Russian Roulette inflicts on themselves and all those who love them.

The truth ---- God sees it all! And He still loves deeply ... but His love will not stay His hand of discipline. He disciplines ---- because HE LOVES.

The lie --- "if i can fake it, i can make it... just don't ask me to face it"...

Not ONE of us is immune to some type of "closet" sin. We all have something that needs to be removed. We spend our lives working to clean out "the closet" -- and be transformed by our God, right? At least that's what we are suppose to be doing. It's why we go to church, read the books, join small groups, bend our knees.
Some of us know "its" name and we call it out for what it is; others refuse to face it and prefer to try and hide, hoping it will not be exposed.

It's nothing new --- in the year A.D. 56-57 (almost 2000 years ago) Paul wrote to Christians in Rome saying, " I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15

Paul, the one who wrote 13 books in the New Testament, the one who could quote chapters from the Old Testament, the one who took at least 5 profoundly effective missions trips, and was known as a powerful teacher and encourager ---- he understood the struggles that can exist in the places where our humanness is exposed -- and our need for God is realized ..."I do not understand... what i hate ... i do."

Last week, we sat in the stands at one of Peter's Lacrosse games. Peter is our youngest son, the last player on the field for us (until those hoped for grandchildren don their cleats). Lacrosse can be a very physical game, it's one of the things Peter loves about the sport. Our family loves to watch and cheer; we're encouragers in the stands, not wanna-be-coaches. We usually even try and sit away from the "yellers" who are usually trying to tell the players what to do and disagreeing with the referees. We're more focused on cheering for, not yelling at...
There was a scuffle (almost fight) in front of the goal ---- and sure enough, our 6'2" treasured # 7 was right in the middle of it. He wasn't alone --- never has anyone ever been in a fight all by themselves. This time there were about 4 boys rolling and shoving. The referees did their job --- we are thankful for the black and white striped, whistle blowing guardians --- they are managing a lot of testosterone on those high school athletic fields. The yellow flag flies, and yep -- #7 is sent to the penalty box along with #4 from the other team. They crossed the line --- and were penalized. It was right. Not comfortable --- but right.

I think about God a lot during these games. We're all playing on our "field" of choice. God sends referees to help keep us in line, perhaps a boss, a spouse, a family member, a friend, or a police officer. God also sends coaches to help us learn more about the game on the field. Without coaches we would likely either sit on the sidelines unmotivated to even try or we'd never score, because we wouldn't really know how. We need both. We need coaches/encouragers ---- to help us get on the field and know what to do when we're out there. We also need referees that will call us down and even sit us out when we step out of line.  They will penalize us. They should, they are right. May not be comfortable --- but it's right.
Our grown up "coaches" and "referees" on the field of life have been given this directive from God---

"Preach the word; 
be prepared in season and out of season; 
correct, rebuke and encourage—
with great patience and careful instruction." 
2 Timothy 4:2 

Pride would tell us --- we need neither. But God has a clear message about pride...

"Pride goes before destruction,
   a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

Pride would tell us --- we don't need help, we don't need guidance, we don't need correction, we don't need time in the penalty box to think about what we did wrong.
Pride lies to us in many ways ------ but we can always know ---- pride is the precursor for our destruction...
That's not what God wants --- it's not what those who love us want either. But pride, it's going for our throat if we'll let it.

Peter took his 1 minute in the penalty box like a team player. No mouthing back at the referee, no ignoring his coaches directives. He knows he needs help from both. He's a good player because of it. He's teachable; he wants to learn --- ultimately, he's looking to win.

The proud man, the desperate addict, the husband to the wounded wife, the self-consumed lady, the aspiring athlete, and the tired dreamer have one thing in common ---- they've quit listening to the coaches and referees sent to them by God. And until they see the place of great need they sit in ---- those around them will suffer.

It hit me at Peter's game. So clearly.
When Peter (or any other player) sits in the penalty box, the whole team suffers, because they must play with one less player on the field. The other team begins yelling "man down, they're a man down" -- and that means, "now is our chance to take advantage of their weak side since we have one more guy on the field than they do..."
So when one player crosses the line that lands them in the penalty box ---- the whole team suffers.

Why do we forget this in our "grown up" world?

When we refuse to hear the whispers God sends us about our actions, our words, our habits, we make everyone around us pay. They end up on the field --- one man down.
And we might think, no one sees what i've done, no one notices i'm in this invisible "grown up" penalty box ---- but we're being fooled by the enemy if we believe that lie.

People notice.
They see the marks, sometimes they feel them too.

And they care. People are designed by God to care.
It's only the deeply wounded, self-consumed, broken people who don't care when others hurt.
God cares ---- and so He calls on His people to care.
Team players succeed.

And so it is --- with the Body of Christ...

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. " Ecclesiastes 4:12

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

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