"God is rest, and where He dwells is stillness."
-Freda Hanbury Allen

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."  Proverbs 14:12

        Death isn't always physical, and is isn't necessarily always eternal, but it is death, none the less. We are beings created in the image of God, and so like him we have creative choice in our lives. Within the framework of God's sovereignty, we have been given an immense amount of freedom to choose, and because of his grace we are not bound by the law, but Spirit-directed and heart focused. Yet in the midst of this of freedom and grace there come those times when we approach a crossroad in our lives, and the real choice we are making, regardless of the specifics involved, is ultimately a choice of life or death.
        Like Adam and Eve, we each stand in the middle of our garden, looking around at all that we have been offered, blessings given in countless measure, and the abundance that has been bestowed on us out of God's gracious hand, even in the midst of brokenness. We gaze upon the beauty, and revel in it, until our eyes settle on that which hasn't been given, that which we don't possess. Amazingly, just like Adam and Eve, we begin to lose perspective and start to work out ways to get what has not been granted to us by the loving hand of God.
        The places that tripped up Adam and Eve, trip us up even now. We nod knowingly when we read their account because what drove them to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil drives us to those places of death in our own lives. We begin to question God and his goodness. We question his wisdom and control. We wonder at his provision and why he withholds those things we so deeply long for. We doubt his heart of love towards us and believe we know better how we are wired and what we need.  Our lack of trust and belief in God, along with our pride, so easily lead us to justify our choices and make them seem like not just the right way, but the only way. It seems right that we should have the things that aren't all necessarily bad in and of themselves, but when pursued and grasped apart from the Lord, are the way of death.
         There are the crossroads we hit in the mundane moments and sometimes they seem so small we miss what they are - moments of life or death. In our actions and reactions we offer life or cause mini-deaths to the hearts of those around us, and thus to our own hearts as well. Death leaves no one unscathed. Little justifications seemingly so insignificant, but life and death are still at the heart of every choice. We steal from the heart of another the love that we should receive from the Lord and offer in our open hands without demands. In the moments of terror when we start to believe that we don't have what we need and it is the obligation of others to give, we turn away from the endless supply of the Lord and take that which isn't ours and give death in return. There is nothing another person can give us that we don't already have in the Lord, yet we demand more of them than the Lord does of us and make them be to us what we can't ever be to to them. It seems so right in the moment - claiming what is ours (or we believe should be), but it is the path that leads to death.
        Then there are the crossroads we face in our lives that loom large which prove to be the most life-altering in the end. It is at this point that we are so vulnerable and the stakes so high: God/life, or Self/death. Sometimes we see through the lies and deception and sometimes we barrel through with our own will. It is in these moments of self-will that we go against God (whether we are conscious of it or not), who we believe to be holding out on us. This is when the devil's lies seem to hold a particular weight of truth that outweighs what our hearts at another time would never consider. It is in these moments that our heart's true condition is revealed. How hard it is to recognize the deception. It all made so much sense to Eve. Eating from the tree seemed like the right way. Of course knowledge would make her wiser, her life better. How hard it is to surrender our hearts when what we desire is so easily justified. How painful it is to lay down our arms that we have taken up against God's way. How desperate we feel when we imagine life unchanged, dreams unfulfilled, and our heart's desires never realized. How right it felt to Eve to pull the beautiful, luscious fruit from the tree. How good did that first taste seem before it's bitter aftertaste overwhelmed not just her mouth, but her heart as well? How easily we are deceived. How stealthily death takes on the appearance of life.
         The grace that gives us freedom to choose is the same grace that whispers conviction and invitation when we've taken the wrong way. Just as the prodigal son came to his senses, so God's Spirit is nudging us back to ours, beckoning us to return to the path of God. It is His kindness that leads to repentance. The gentle voice of the Spirit is inviting us to return to the Lord, to his love, and to his heart that only ever wants the best and most beautiful for us. This too is a crossroads. There is always a choice. There is always grace.