Faith

The Grace in Who We Are

Psalm 139 is precious to me. If you’ve read it, you may have found a deep personal connection to it as well. Recently I’ve been turning something over in my mind when it comes to my identity, and that brought me back to this psalm.

Most of the time it’s not difficult to imagine the All-knowing God having knowledge and awareness of people and events. Omniscience seems easy to attribute to the One who made all things and rose from the dead, frankly. I’ve spent decades studying the Bible, and His power is written all over every page. The last twenty years have been full of gratefulness because I’ve grasped more of the incredible love Jesus offered to everyone at the cross.

But there’s a precious distinction between “knowing all things” and “knowing everything about me.” This is where it gets personal. In nineteen years of marriage, I see my husband has intimate knowledge of much of me. Compared to his knowledge, my Abba’s is overwhelmingly more detailed and deep!

1 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways…
 My husband is aware of my obvious movements in the house (when he’s in the same room) and he knows the events of my day (when I tell him the story). But God is perfectly aware of every detail in my day. Waking, breakfast, chauffeur trips, errands, lunch, online classes, writing projects, doctor appointments, and dinner. When I pull the sheets to my chin late at night, He knows that, too. What He sees is more than observing me as an actor on His stage, though. (I imagine this as the “with me” in Immanuel.)Ps. 139:1-3; 15-18
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you…

Long before I had conscious thought or memory—when cells were dividing at near instant speed—His eyes were watching. But He wasn’t a casual observer. My Abba Father was intimately involved in the process, creating and remembering every precious detail of His creation: my fuzzy black-brown hair, blue-green eyes, the birthmark on my right arm, and my ten fingers and toes. At the same time my whole lifespan lay before Him. He saw the cells dividing and new heart beating while intimately knowing the emotional highs and lows my brain would try to grasp, which toes would be broken, and the very last breath my lungs would draw. (Can you wrap your head around that? I sure struggle to!)

He knew I would live so many days trying to figure out who I was, who I was created to be, and why I existed. He waited, patient and excited, for the day I would pick up the colored pencils and discover what He’d always known—that, with Him, I can draw beautiful things. He knew I would be the thinker who wrestles with heady concepts in a “hack” sort of way, hopes to grasp who He is deeply, and lives in her head. Yeah, all that and the stuff I haven’t begun to discover about me.

He holds the key to my identity, and I get more clues to who I am every time I focus on who He is (revealing all the similarities and differences) or when I partner with Him in any of the amazing things He wants to accomplish in and through me. (Have you thought of how you partner with Him, too?)

So where do I land with Psalm 139?

With my Abba’s intimate knowledge of me, it only makes sense that I ask Him to show me who I am and how He’s wired the inner workings of my soul. Pairing that knowledge with His infinite wisdom is my only choice. He knows me, the entire timeline of my life, and the potential and purpose threaded through all of it.

Life with purpose. I want that, and He promised I could have it. But how do I “do” that kind of life?

I think David says it perfectly!

 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The psalm wraps up with godly wisdom. I’ll ask God to examine my heart and mind, to lead me in choices that are good, true, noble, and excellent—the most excellent! (Philippians 4:8)

So that’s me, but it’s you, too! Think about it. He was intimately involved in who you are and your life, as well. What do you think about that?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below, at the Facebook page, or on Twitter.

~Jennifer

The Round Table Discussion: The Whys Behind Advocacy (Faith)

I’m continuing in the Round Table series today. We’ve looked at the two opposing views, Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, and the foundation of worldview which establishes the scope and drives the passion behind them. (See Life and the Verbal Volley if you missed it.) I’m writing about all of this in light of the hideous Planned Parenthood “business practices” that hit the media spotlight, but this actually translates to nearly any topic simply because our worldview affects everything we process to understand.

Today I’d like to discuss some of the advocate voices seated at the Round Table. If you’re following along, you know there are two groups in the realm of abortion advocacy: those who have been directly affected by the decision to abort a pre-born life, and those who have not. The haves deserve special attention, so I’m going to focus on the have nots for now. The passion is equally extreme, regardless. Did you ever wonder why? (I did, so I started asking questions and having conversations.)

Four Whys That Motivate
Not an exhaustive list by any means, my conversations proved a few general, deeply-held beliefs and core values galvanized an advocate’s position. What do you think of these four?

Faith

Family

Freedom

Financial

The whys are rooted in answers to key questions advocates answer for themselves: What is good? What is right? How does this impact the ability to make decisions freely? What’s in it for me…or others? Each of us answers all these questions for ourselves and others, really. (Selfish or selfless motives are always up for debate.) Depending on how our worldview was formed and informed, the four whys above play out differently. I plan to tackle one of these at a time.

Faith
Each of us has a faith of some kind. We place trust in something or various things. The seen and unseen, the known and unknown, are constructed and ordered in our worldview based on where we place trust. How we make sense of the things we cannot see or don’t know is rooted in faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

Each of us attempts to make sense of the invisible or the unknown; we are generally wired that way internally. Faith includes God, the universe, and everything; and how our faith is informed matters. Believe it or not, it’s possible to find people advocating both positions (Pro-life and Pro-choice) out of their faith. (Believing in the one God, many gods, or no God at all is huge.)

The 1973 Supreme Court decision Doe v. Bolton states that “the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.” 1 Whether it is stress, pressure from family, or a simple case of morning sickness, all of these are considered legitimate grounds for an abortion under current U.S. law. Essentially, a woman can have an abortion at any time, for any stated reason, and somehow it can be related to “health.” Studentsforlife.org

The Pro-choice advocate, admittedly, holds a difficult position. Close analysis of the argument leans toward an exchange: a tiny unseen life is sacrificed for short-term emotional comfort or convenience. How do we not land in the realm of life vs. lifestyle under these circumstances? I don’t think we can ignore this reality anymore. While the argument for abortion under the circumstances regarding “health of the mother” and “rape or incest” has been part of the laws for quite some time, that is such a small percentage of scenarios, we can’t ignore the overwhelming majority of “lifestyle” choices being made. I won’t minimize the need for procedures related to life endangerment and honest healthcare situations; they exist. But let’s confuse the two starkly contrasting cases. The have nots go on the offensive on behalf of the haves in hopes of defending abortion under these types of situations. Can we rightly discern what’s happening here? It’s definitely something to think about.

Christians, I’m talking to you now. How is it possible to assume a Pro-choice or neutral position on abortion as it relates to the predominantly lifestyle-based choice? Our worldview is to be informed by the Scriptures, period. I have no evidence supporting a choice to kill children, or worse, a “non-position” when it comes to this. God permitted the choice between life and death, but he gave his people very specific commands (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19). How we work out our faith and salvation isn’t a small thing here. Perhaps your worldview is informed otherwise? Does something else trump your faith in this area? Is there a need to examine and reform your worldview? A little introspection may not be a bad thing here.

How we communicate with others—that’s also a big deal! Can we do it with truth and in love, with gentleness and respect? If we hope to sit at the Round Table for more than a nanosecond before everyone walks away hurt or angry, we’ve got to consider the conversation very carefully. Jesus would have this conversation, and it would be unique to the audience in the moment, but his character is described in “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3). Jesus was gentle. There are precious conversations that are had quietly and gently. This is one, depending on who your audience is. Planned Parenthood “business practice” folks and politically motivated advocates will never be the same as a have (I’ll get to that later). Think about this.

I hope to take this part of the discussion in smaller bites. The reason for that is simple: there is nothing more precious to me than the discussion we could have surrounding this topic. Are you willing to jump in and wrestle with it together? Let’s try interacting in comments here or at the Fragrant Grace Facebook page. What do you think about the topic of abortion and Faith? (I’ll get into the other three Whys as we go.)

What do you think?

Thanks for reading along. You bless me when you do.

~Jennifer

Questions to Think About

Have you noticed deeply held beliefs coloring this area of debate?

What do you think about the Four Whys listed above? Do any of those motivate you or other people you know? Are there whys you think are missing?

How do you see Faith motivating people? How does it influence the culture? A friend? How does it influence you?

Are there any key points you would add to the Faith discussion?


Scripture sourced from biblestudytools.com.
Other sources:
http://studentsforlife.org
Cross and Mother images sourced from morguefile.com.
Punishment meme graphic sourced from Abortionquotes.com.

 

Time Marches…Even in the Waiting

A speaker once suggested a lovely, brain-teasing thought:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. ~ Heracletus

An unknown author posits, “Time does not pass, it continues.” Is it that simple? Short of think tank theorists, I don’t suppose any of us debate time’s monotonous march or swift stride forward. We measure progress by change and evaluate quality by experience (positive or negative). Tension, when it exists, is often sparked by expectations and limitations. Notice the common denominator is personal: the “self.” No, the progression of time isn’t questioned; the experience of it becomes the thing.

Disappointment.
Isn’t that when we struggle?

“I had three days. Three days!”  The treatment worked surprisingly well, but the results are intermittent.

“I know there must be a child out there for us! How will I know where?”  Heartbreaking news wreaked havoc in the adoption plans that seemed straight forward.

“I’m in transition.”  The belongings that crowded the desk were packed up in boxes. Three months ago.

What we know…
Time is the one-way path disappearing into the expanse beyond. We like to think we can see so many steps ahead, but if we’re honest, the path is obscured just in front of the footprints we fill. We’d prefer to know every twist, turn, and “happily ever after” that simply has to trail behind each circumstance, wouldn’t we? But we don’t. And we can’t.

7 Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?
Ecclesiastes 8:7 NIV 

It’s impossible to know what’s next. Reading the present is hard enough (and that has real potential to be misread). What can we do to infuse time’s progress with biblical truth or find the grace, regardless of how we experience its speed?

…always fear the Lord. 18 For then you will have a future, and your hope will never fade. 19 Listen, my son, and be wise; keep your mind on the right course. Proverbs 23:17b-19 CSB

There is a future here and hereafter. We have no idea what it is. Hope for what we have yet to experience takes root in reverence and trust in the One who does.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29 NIV

5 Lord, You are my portion and my cup [of blessing]; You hold my future. Psalm 16 CSB

 Something for me to think about when I’m challenged to remain in the present while my eyes range the horizon searching for clues to my future…

Do you find yourself struggling with this, too?

~Jennifer


Heracletus quote: www.brainy quote.com
Scripture sourced from www.biblestudytools.com
Bible translations referenced: New International Version (NIV), Holman Christian Standard Bible (CSB), and the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB).