Photo Source: Official Website Of Lannie Spann McBride
I woke up this morning singing, “I am a promise. I am a possibility. I am a promise with a capital ‘P’. I am a great big bundle of Po-ten-ti-ality…” It was a song taught to me by my G.N. Smith Elementary music teacher, Lannie Spann McBride. As I hummed the tune, an involuntary smile stretched across my face. I can still see Mrs. McBride in music class. She would often snatch her hands away from the piano between chords and motion with both hands, drawing a big smile across her face, instructing the class to smile as we sung -all without missing a beat. She told us that smiling affected the music. But in truth, as I’m sure she knew, it affected us more. It was her influence that led to my playing piano in elementary, violin in middle school and competing in classical voice as a junior and senior. Though my path would not ultimately lead to music, she forever changed the trajectory of my life. Because, she made me believe that song.
I felt the memory warranted taking a moment to pay tribute and thank God for teachers like Lannie Spann McBride.
Among Satan’s most powerful deceptions is fake “good”. I suspect it’s why we do mission trips to Africa instead of San Francisco. The poor think anything’s better than what they have and the rich think they’re good and have need of nothing. But both are deceived (Revelation 3:17). Good is not attaining affluence or material possessions (Mark 10:21, Mark 10:25). Good is right relationships -having a right relationship with God which causes us to have a right relationship with everything else (Mark 12:29-31).
And, a right relationship with God is made possible exclusively through Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:27, 1 John 2:23) . Without Christ, any idea or understanding that we have of God is askew which causes us to relate improperly to everything else (family, money, ourselves, etc). So, let us pursue real good which begins with feasting on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (John 6:53-58). Start here.
Has someone ever offended you and it seemed that the relationship was “on hold” until they apologized? Yep, me too. It naturally makes sense to think that the one who broke it should fix it. But, Jesus teaches something very different in Matthew 18:15. There, we’re told when someone hurts us, that we are to take initiative to restore the relationship and go to the offender. You’ll also find in Matthew 5:23-24, that Jesus commands those who realize they’ve hurt someone to take immediate action to restore the relationship. What does this mean? Regardless of who is in the wrong, I am responsible for doing all I can to pursue a healthy relationship.
I think this speaks to the heart of what it means to be Christian, a follower of Christ. Jesus’s entire purpose was to reconcile creation to God (Colossians 1:20). And to be Christian, is to be Christ-like. Therefore, we also have this ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). What this means to me is that our default disposition should be one of restoral. We should be driven, looking, to restore people to fellowship with God and then with us.
This helps me, especially in marriage. When my wife and I are at odds, I must take responsibility for restoring that fellowship -regardless of whether I hurt her or if she hurt me. Practically speaking, if I truly desire to maintain the relationship, I would remove any obstacles that prevent us from getting there. And among the first obstacles to remove is the idea that because I offended her or I was offended by her, I’ve taken a position that is against her. Instead, I must communicate, even over-communicate, that I am for her, I am not her enemy, and desire to be in fellowship with her again.
I’ve tried to implement this by establishing ongoing gestures that communicate my openness and good-will toward her. One of these gestures is simply to kiss her on the cheek or on her forehead every night before we retire to sleep (Ephesians 4:26). Whether she’s angry or whether I’m angry, I try to do this to communicate there’s hope and I’m open to restoring fellowship.
How is God doing that for you? How has He communicated His openness to you and the hope of fellowship with Him? First, have you received His gesture of goodwill? And secondly, how can you do more of that for others?
I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted waiting to develop the perfect, fail proof plan. I have to constantly remind myself that if God wanted to make me a robot that operates on strict step-by-step instructions, He would have. Instead, He made me creative, resourceful, able to navigate obstacles and has given me discretion over how I represent His interests. So, I must simply be led by a desire to please God, put my hand to the task before me with what I have and work to grow my stewardship. There is no need to agonize over my next move. If I first aim to have His heart and relate to the world as He does, my steps will be guided in the process.
So, listening to 90’s R&B yesterday evening has got me in my feelings and thinking about the blissful allure of an intense, all-consuming, never-ending love that characterized our music. And, sometimes I think I want that, but I’ve learned to ask, “Is that really good?” Is the way I want to be loved healthy?
If I can be real for just a second, I will admit that I sometimes struggle with wanting to be the center of my wife’s universe. But I know that isn’t good because I lack the “weight” or kabad to hold everything in her universe together. Being the center of her universe puts me in a position to do something I’m not built for -to sustain someone else’s existence forever. Conversely, it puts my wife in a position to be sustained by something that will surely fail (even if I were perfect, I have to die at some point). Apply even a little Bible and you’ll quickly find that my looking to be central to another: to be exalted and worshiped, isn’t love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…”
To be blunt the love trumpeted by most music is promoting idolatry -a diversion of attention to someone or something else for what we should be getting from God.
So, what SHOULD we want? Answer: an intense, all-consuming, never-ending love with the only one who can deliver it -God. I believe the first step in really enjoying love is to be completely satisfied with Him -alone. Only then, can we really love or be loved by others, because if God is love (1 John 4:8), to share love is to share God. And, for that He has to be central.
It strikes me how sternly and often Jesus spoke about hypocrisy (Matt 16:6, 23:28, Luke 12:1, etc). If the Teacher sees fit to warn about something and call attention to it repeatedly, it’s important and something I need to press into.
So, I’ve been praying for some time, “Lord, what is hypocrisy? What is the corruption in us that you are speaking to when you say ‘hypocrisy’? How do I identify it in me?” I believe this answer came to me during my study time today,
“Hypocrisy is to elevate oneself and condemn fault in others that we overlook in ourselves.”
This is informed by passages such as Romans 2:1, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” In short, we are all corrupt and corruption causes harm. Period. So, we’re all guilty and in need of mercy. If we have received such great mercy as that made available in Jesus Christ, we know it was not because we were worthy but because He is merciful, else mercy is not mercy. This should produce in us humility and compassion, definitely not superiority.
If I be surrounded by darkness,
And there is but one light faint in the distance,
Let me not focus on the darkness,
But on that light,
And move towards it until light is all I see.
I think it’s easier to be happy when you know there’s a part of you that will never be satisfied.
I believe there are ideas in the world that, when accepted, become part of us, such as the spirit that seeks fulfillment through indulgence, apart from God. This is biblically referred to as our “flesh” (not to be confused with our biology). We all wrestle with it and it can never be satisfied, not with any achievement, any possession, any experience, any relationship -anything. It robs us of joy and peace because it’s restless, discontent, constantly grasping but never laying hold of.
When my flesh is aroused and I find myself dissatisfied with my life, the temptation is to feed this hunger, to do something that gets me more of something: more enjoyment, more recognition, more money, more power. But this focus on “getting” runs counter to the purposes the Bible says we are created for: to be fruitful, to create, to produce -to give. So, I find the key to my peace is not feeding this fleshly hunger but to starve it, to redirect my focus and energy from what I want to get out of the world to what I want to put out into it that yields life. That’s where I find fulfillment.
Jesus put it this way, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” [Matt 16:25] What is His sake? That we may have life. [John 10:10]
My marriage, like anything God creates, is not just for me. It’s for the benefit of those around me: for my children, my nieces & nephews, for my community -for the world. Marriage is the gold standard of relationships and if I cannot maintain the relationship that claims to be based on love, it sets a really low bar for the others.
So, I must fight for love, the hope of marriage. I must fight towards my wife. I must work through our differences. I must bless her and not hurt her. I must help bring to bear her God-given gifts to the world. I must do this, even in seasons of unhappiness, especially in seasons of unhappiness. I have a pursuit greater than happiness.
First posted on Facebook October 15, 2016 11:44:41 AM