Friday, November 28, 2008

The Great Invitation

You may be familiar with "the Great Commission" found at the end of the book of Matthew. But recently I was reading the last part of Matthew 11, and thought it should be titled "the Great Invitation".

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 11:28 NIV

As I contemplated these words, I was struck by the turn of the two phrases that include the word rest. First Jesus offers a straightforward invitation of rest for the weary. He knows we need refreshment in Him. Then he offers a deeper draught of rest that is accomplished through joining with him, accepting his offer to balance the load we are carrying, as that is what happens when two are yoked together. Somehow I think we are getting the better part of this arrangement, as Jesus can bear so much more than we can. And in this learning environment, Jesus promises rest for our souls. As we plod along in this life he offers rest while we labor. It is an amazing paradox, that we can be refreshed as we serve along side of our Saviour, who has set everything straight so we can find rest in our very souls- our minds, our emotions and our will, even. May we accept his invitation with gladness and renewed desire to live out the lives he has arranged so skillfully for each one of us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Delight: To Give Keen Enjoyment

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation… Isaiah 61:10a

Delight almost seems too whimsical to describe how I feel towards the Almighty One. Yet delight is kindred to joy and other words of bliss. He satisfies the deepest desires of my heart. He delights in His creation. He delights in His Servant and Son, Jesus, who He sent among us to extend His love and mercy. When I ponder the thought of delighting in the Lord, and then the reciprocal delight He sings over each of us, I am staggered by such thoughts. (See also Zephaniah 3:17). And this is the very sentiment the Father exclaims when He sends His approval on the day of His Son’s inauguration for His earthly ministry.

Take a glimpse of this scene: (Matthew 3:11-17)

Jesus comes to John at the Jordan River to be baptized. John is hesitant, and Jesus reminds him that this is to fulfill the scripted plan of God, so John acquiesces. In the hushed moment, as soon as the baptism ritual was over, Jesus wades out of the water back up onto the bank, where others are waiting for their turn to signify their desire to return to God, and little do they know that God is in their midst, preparing for His journey to become the sacrificial Lamb, who has come to take away the sins of the world. But heaven knows, and the Father orchestrates a moment in time that I imagine Jesus will replay in his heart on the hard days of the journey- the days of temptation, ridicule, scrutiny of the religious leaders and their mistreatment and misunderstanding. And ultimately the climb to His death on the cross.

But in this moment, the skies set the stage, possibly it was a cloudy day and the clouds part to allow the sun to shine through like a spotlight on Jesus, and next a supernatural being in the form of a dove, the Holiness of God, lights on Jesus, causing his countenance to glow as he delights in hearing the affirmation of God the Father in these beautiful words:

“This is my Son,” beams the Father, “whom I love” with tears in His eyes and a lump in His throat, and then His voice choked with emotion completes His sentence, “with Him I am well pleased.”

What joy to know the Savior…He has clothed us with garments of salvation… and restored our ability to delight in Him, to enjoy the life He has provided…nothing can rob us of His joy and the way He alone gladdens our hearts. Do not let anyone rob you of His joy, my friends. And do not let the trials, triumphs or tedium of this life rob you either.

Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation. My whole being will exclaim, "Who is like you, O LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them." Psalm 35:9-11

Monday, November 3, 2008

Algebra: Logic Concerned with the Properties and Relationships of Abstract Entities

Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

James 1:2-5 NLT

The partial definition of algebra in the title gives some light into my current state of mind. Not that algebra is causing my boredom, but definitely a lot of my frustration. I get the concepts to a degree. But the most annoying thing about algebra is how much time it takes away my pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. I can honestly say that concerning logic I have little interest. Where’s the romance? And “the properties and relationships of abstract entities” sounds like political jargon. The root of algebra literally means “the reduction”, which makes sense because my homework is always asking me to reduce and simplify. I wish someone would reduce the need for an English major to take any math, but then my Math major husband would ask why Math majors have to take English courses. I concede.

Now I have to admit I was surprised to come across a math concept called imaginary numbers. Ha! I knew it, there is no purpose to algebra, it’s just a very confusing fairy-tale and in the end hopefully everyone will live happily ever after; unless it is a tragedy and everyone dies. We may be getting somewhere here.

I keep trying to find meaning in this pursuit of numbers, symbols and operations of arithmetic. I like to discover spiritual metaphors in my learning adventures. With math I think the key correlation is perseverance, which leads me back to my previous discussions of how we live in the midst of the mundane. Some things just have to be worked through, and the joy may only be found in the completion of the task.

Math is not all bad, I was able to help a friend triple and then double the tripled recipe recently. And I’m pretty sure I must have used some algebraic finesse to do so. At least my friend was impressed, and the rolls she made were delicious. I told my voracious bread eating son to pace himself- only three rolls at a time.

Well, I am going to watch the best commentary I’ve found so far this year on the election campaign-SNL sketches of the candidates.