Friday, March 21, 2008


At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, "Ask what I shall give you."

"And Solomon said... Give your servant therefore an understanding mind..."
I know, Solomon probably doesn't really mean understanding in the way I like to think of it, but I still love that story. I think he means the type of understanding that's more of a discernment between right and wrong - wisdom to lead. And that's not a bad thing at all. As a matter of fact, God was very pleased.

You know, it's funny, but when I was younger I prayed that God would come to me in the night and offer anything I wanted. I knew what I would take - what Solomon asked for. Maybe the riches and long life that God generously added had something to do with it, but still. ;) Wisdom to know right from wrong in a way that few do, and the strength to choose the right.... that's a beautiful thing to be desired.

In more recent years, though, understanding has taken on a different light. I began to deeply desire to be the type of person that, if someone I never met before were to come up, punch me in the face, and walk off, I could see past all that into the heart of that person. To see their pain and hurt. To see them as God sees them. Discernment, by itself, would probably say, "What a wrong thing to do." Understanding though, the type I long for, would reach past all that and see them for what they are - a greatly loved individual, one so loved by God that He would die for them just so that they could be close to Him. And die He did.

Most of all, I burn with longing to understand the Heart of God. Then, in some way, maybe I can shine that out from me the way a prism spreads light about a room, to show others how much they truly are loved.

Maybe, in a way, this understanding is the greatest kind of love. Maybe it's the truest form of wisdom.

Lord, please give your servant therefore an understanding mind.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Love and Obedience

In our last church, there was a little boy named Zacharias.

He must have been only 6 or 7 years old, to my reckoning, with brown hair and eyes. Nothing really out of the ordinary, but my heart went out to him. He was one of those boys who are full of life, the ones that can never sit still in church or keep silent when they have discovered something, and it brought much condemnation from his parents. Always telling him to be quiet, to stop squirming, to sit down, with threats of dire consequences to follow should he not. "Disobedience!" they said, but his spirit could not be stifled. The saddest thing about it - he was the son of the worship leader; the grandson of the pastor. Such children should receive more love and care from their parents, not less under the guise of "no favorites".

One day after band practice we stepped outside into the cool, spring air. I heard a sound, and looked over to see Zacharias struggling with a large garbage can. "Hey, Zach!" I called. "What are you doing?" "I'm trying to get blessings from God!" he replied. His 17 year old sister laughed, and explained. "I told him the other day that if he did his chores, God was going to bless him. Now he's going around doing anything he can." My heart wrenched. So young, and already under the impression that God's favor must be earned! They say that parents often by their actions shape in us the ideas of God that we carry with us. In this case, I am certain of it.

But from what I read, it was when we were still fighting against God that He took the first step to loving us. His love comes, not from what we've done, but because of who He is. I'm sure that many times pastors quote the verse, "If you love Me, keep my commandments", and then go on to preach a sermon about obedience, while forgeting the reason for the obedience. It should be because of our love for God. How many of us would like to be obeyed because of selfish reasons on the obeyer's part? Obeyed for what we can give instead of a loving motive to give? That is not to belittle obedience, but merely to put it in its proper place. It's love that God wants; love. We show that love through obedience, true, but if we focus on the love, obedience will follow. Then maybe we'll see less people condemed by themselves and others because of their actions, some wrong and some that they should do and don't. We serve a loving God. And as George MacDonald said, "The Master is as easy to please as He is hard to satisfy."

Many point to the message of the Prophets and see it as the anger of a judgemental God, furious because of disobedience. I don't see it that way at all.

To me, it's the heart cry of an unloved God.