Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 49: Love Outside The Box

Isaiah 8:11-15

New Living Translation (NLT)

A Call to Trust the Lord

11 The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said,
By DPic (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0-us  
12 “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do,
    and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.
13 Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life.
    He is the one you should fear.
He is the one who should make you tremble.
14     He will keep you safe.
But to Israel and Judah
    he will be a stone that makes people stumble,
    a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem
    he will be a trap and a snare.
15 Many will stumble and fall,
    never to rise again.
    They will be snared and captured.”


I have always wondered why the Bible has referred to Jesus as not only the cornerstone of a strong foundation, but as a rock that would cause even His own to stumble. Israel and Judah, although they were stubborn and rebellious (just like we are) were God's chosen people. They were God's children, just as anyone who accepts Christ as Savior becomes grafted in and adopted into His own family. So why would God want to trip His own kids?

He doesn't! That's not what this is about, and I'm finally starting to make sense of the words. I'm sure if God had inspired holy men to take dictation for Him in this day and age, it would have been worded much differently so people like me wouldn't have such a hard time grasping the context.

This passage isn't about God causing us to stumble. Instead, it is a clear call for us to quit thinking the way the secular world thinks and experience the kind of devine love that only He can provide. 

Or put another way, we need to think outside the box, because God loves outside the box.

Consider this. We all know that rules made to be followed, right? But I remember back when I was young and rebellious, my friends and I adopted this motto that we thought we cleverly thought up; Rules are made to be bent... or broken, depending. As I've grown older and wiser, I've heard my children say the same thing. I'm sure my grandchildren will be saying it by the time they're old enough to read this. And I'd be willing to bet that my parents, my grandparents, and every other generation before me all thought that they invented the phrase. So, what's my point?

This is my point. When people are doing what they know is right, they generally understand that the rules are for our own good. A law that restricts us from breaking into someone's house in the middle of the night is going to save us from getting our brains blown out. A law that prohibits us from driving under the influence of some intoxicating substance is going to reduce the risk of plowing our car headlong into a telephone pole. But when people are doing right and don't want to be corrected, the very rules that are there to protect us are going to be in their way. And since they're walking around in spiritual darkness, they're going to stub their toe, and it's going to hurt.

Trust me, God doesn't want us tripping and stumbling through life. He doesn't want us to screw up and get hurt. But when we rebel against Him, He's going to make sure we feel the sting of our own stupidity. That's what discipline is about! Loving parents discipline their children, don't they? If He were to let us continue in our rebellion, our lives would only get worse. That isn't love. It's better to be allowed to experience the consequences of our actions before our actions become so out of control that the consequences consume us.

We all know people who have spent years in prison because they refuse to straighten up. Or people who feel like the whole world is against them, so they destroy their lives with drugs and alcohol. Maybe they're rich, maybe they're poor, it doesn't matter. Rebellion is an equal opportunity offender. 

What does it take for someone to clean up their act and start living with standards that help us succeed in love and life? Ask anybody you know, and you'll likely hear the oft-repeated phrase "they have to hit rock bottom." Why? What happens when they hit the bottom? Well, if it doesn't kill them (and it often does),  they figure out that there is only one way to go... Up. And that's where God's tender mercy comes into focus.

God's discipline may be harsh, His punishment is often painful. But without it, we just keep spiraling out of control. He wants us to come to a point where we will recognize that He is our only hope, our only way out of troubled waters... our only salvation! And He wants us to cling to the life-line that he is throwing out there for us.

If you're in the middle of your rebellious era right now, let this be your bottom. Seriously. Our box is only as deep as we draw it. You don't have to hit a brick wall doing 90 miles per hour to hit bottom. You don't have to be sentenced to life in prison to hit bottom. You don't have to lose your home and your family to hit bottom. You can set the boundaries wherever you want. You can draw the bottom of the box right where you stand, and step out into a love that will always welcome you into it.

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