Living Water and Good Coffee

I woke up this morning with a pit in my stomach so big, it was hard to get out of bed. Emotionally, I feel like I’m going through the pain of cancer again. Physically, I am nauseated and lethargic.

I dragged my fatigued body down the stairs more than an hour later than I prefer to rise, and only got up at all because I prayed for help doing so. I looked through the various coffee flavors we collect and pushed one away, telling myself, “I don’t deserve that one today”.

Because all my current suffering is self-induced. Sin-induced. I deserve the bland, flavorless coffee today. The “Sinner’s” coffee. That’ll teach me.

This isn’t a post about being depressed. This isn’t a moment to share that I am in the midst of some major sin. This is just me admitting that I have a problem.

This problem is the supervillain in my story, lurking in the shadows to blast truth out of every good thing. She uses the cloak of invisibility to appear in unexpected ways when I least expect it. She has always been a part of my story, but she’s grown better at disguising herself. She is so crafty, I follow her down paths of destruction time and again. I usually don’t recognize her until true damage has been done. Worst of all, this problem is bigger than me. Stronger than me. I cannot beat her on my own.

Her name is Pride.

My attempts to overcome her result in my own backsliding into her comforting embrace. “But, He gives more grace.” He does not show up to provide back-up, the way I wish. Instead, the Holy Spirit swoops in like the true Hero He is. When I trust in Him, submit to Him, He reflects light on pride so I can see her hideous face. He helps me recognize her voice, and to follow His instead. He provides the instruction, power, and cleansing I need for a pure heart (see James 4:6-10 below). Most of all, He draws near to me so my enemy’s lure is less enticing.

I wish I could throw away the “bad girl” coffee, knowing I’ll never need it again. If His help is real and my redemption is complete, it shouldn’t be an issue, right?

Unfortunately, as long as we are in this phase of life on earth, Pride will thrive. The days are full of her, and opportunities to stray abound. But the help, guidance, and forgiveness from Abba Father will continue to be steadfast and free for those of us who trust in Him. Hallelujah for the One who gives living water and good coffee!

 

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:6-10

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding Vows

My big brother is getting married! Bennie is getting married! Eeeeeek, I’m going to have a new sister! I always wanted a sister!

Okay. Deep breath. There’s only a week left before the wedding and I’m completely thrilled in a thousand different ways, but want to take some time to focus on the important ones–that is, the Important One.

His name is Jesus. AKA, The Bridegroom.

 

John says the one who has the bride IS the bridegroom, and His friend, who stands and hears Him, rejoices greatly at His voice (3:29). How often do we hear Jesus’ voice, and instead of rejoicing, we sugarcoat, or make excuses not to obey it? How many times has my earthly groom said or done something I consider “wrong”, only to have me respond with judgment instead of prayer?

Okay, okay, so Amy is marrying Ben, not Jesus. But God created marriage, and used tons of references to help us understand the relationship we can have with Him through it. The apostle Paul cautioned followers to remain unwed if possible. But I’ve learned so much more about the Lord because of living life with this guy He gave me. We are supposed to honor and serve our spouses, to unite with them as one flesh, and to put their interests over our own. If we treated Jesus that way we might not even need to tap into all that grace He left us with.

 

Traditional wedding vows involve a man and a woman, in the presence of God, being united with verbal promises to love, keep, honor, comfort, and obey each other. We solemnly declare that no circumstances, other than death, will separate us from the love of one another.

Then the honeymoon ends.

Maybe we hit some rough patches. Life isn’t what we expected. I remember for the first year we were married, I used to attack Yaacov with insults like, “If I knew this about you before we were married…”. Charming, I know. But he put up with me. Not because he promised he would. Not because he “had” to. And honestly, not because I’m so lovable. But because of Jesus.

Marriage can be easy when both spouses are head over heels in love–with Jesus, the anchor. You really can’t be in love with Him without starting to act like Him, meaning that we imitate the true humility He exuded on earth, which in turn glorifies Him. Over the 12 years of our own marriage, it’s not the circumstances like terminal cancer that have made the vows so difficult to follow. It’s the times that we tried to walk around our true bridegroom that have been the hardest.

Whether we are married or not, wedding vows can remind us of the promises we make to the true Bridegroom. It’s not about making huge sacrifices or winning converts. It’s about rejoicing in the promises He already made us, and in freely receiving the eternal wedding gifts He lavishes us with.

In other words, whether you are getting married this summer, have been wed for several decades, or will live all future days as a single person, it’s time to renew our vows–I pray that all who read this are blessed with the deep understanding of the love of Jesus. May He show Himself to you as the perfect bridegroom, as He knows, leads, comforts, and helps you through each day. In turn, let us decrease as the awesome depth of His love is highlighted in us as we promise to honor, serve, and follow Him all of our days.