Monday, April 29, 2013

Broken Legs

Last weekend, I took my nephew to Noccalula Falls and we visited the petting zoo.  Now, I am not an animal person but the one animal that caught my attention was the little sheep.  It was the cutest little black sheep.  I was reminded of the stories in the Bible where Jesus tells us that he is our shepherd.  So I watched the sheep and the worker there.  That little sheep followed the worker everywhere...I mean everywhere. When anyone else tried to touch it, it would cringe and run back to the worker.  He would bury his head in her legs.  He never left her side.  

After about 20 minutes of watching this, I said to the worker "that little sheep sure does love you."  Her response is something that I feel like sparked a different dimension to my relationship with God.  She said "it is because I feed him."  Simple words.  But it has stirred something in my heart to make me want to study this and to know the Good Shepherd even more.  

I came across a story about the wayward sheep.  The one that kept running away from the fold.  The rebellious one, if you will.  The story goes that the shepherd will go to the sheep, break its legs, and hoist it upon his shoulders until the legs heal.  That way, the sheep cannot keep straying away from him or the flock.  The shepherd knows that others will eventually follow the rebellious sheep and could cause him some troubling problems. This disciplining process shows that even though the sheep needed discipline from the shepherd, the shepherd still loved the sheep deeply. Being carried on the back of the shepherd, the sheep developed a more trusting and caring relationship with the shepherd and wouldn't wander off again. 

'What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? - Matthew 18:12'

This blows my mind.  He goes to that sheep.  He is committed to his flock in a way that makes me want to stay by his side forever.  

And maybe that is because my legs have been broken.  

 I see the discipline of God in my life that has also been the kindness that led me to repentance.  During my addiction to drugs and alcohol, I kept wandering away.  I would even bring some of his flock with me.  He would try to bring me back, but I wanted to serve the god of this world rather than stay close to my Father's heart.  So God did what any good shepherd would do, he pursued me, broke my legs and carried me.   I was carried for a while.  It was painful, and still is at times.  It was a severe mercy.  But still mercy. My legs have been broken, and now as the healing process continues, he is allowing me to walk again. I do not want to leave the Good Shepherd's side, ever again.  There is nothing good away from him.  I have tried it all. 

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." - John 10:27

I am so thankful that he pursued me.  And broke my legs. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Freedom From The Chains...Of Myself

Years ago, I tried to find a theology that would fit the lifestyle that I was living.  So I searched.  And I manipulated.  And I clung to quotes like this: 

“You are really and truly and completely free. There is no kicker. There is no if, and, or but. You are free. You can do it right or wrong. You can obey or disobey. You can run from Christ or run to Christ. You can choose to become a faithful Christian or an unfaithful Christian. You can cry, cuss, and spit, or laugh, sing, and dance. You can read a novel or the Bible. You can watch television or pray. You're free...really free.” -Steve Brown

And yes, that quote does have some truth in it.  I really am free.  
But my freedom does not, in any way, give me a license to sin. 
(Romans 6)
But that is what I did.  Because that is how I could twist that verse to make it fit my lifestyle. But I was oh-so-wrong. My life is meant to be adjusted to what scripture teaches, not the other way around.

I am truly free, but genuinely being IN CHRIST, I don't want to do anything that doesn't please my Father.  
Being free means being free to serve, obey, and love him. 
Being free means being free to NOT live for this world and all of its demands.  

Being free means being set free from myself.  

And that is something to rejoice in.  I am not far removed from the lifestyle of drugs and alcohol.  I am not far removed from being on the throne of my own life.   I am learning to live in this world and not OF this world.  

And this is brand new to me.  Just to be real is, more often than not, about me in my little world.

I need instruction. I need discipleship.  And by the grace of God, I am surrounded by people that count it a privilege to help others know The Lord. People whose life is about God's glory and about others knowing him. People who have experienced this freedom, and make it their life's aim to share it with others.  

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery"

Galatians 5:1