Have you ever mused over a relationship (or multiple relationships) and come to some kind of understanding of God because of it?
That's pretty much what happened to me the other night. My wife and I decided we need to take a break from the chaos that has become our life and after enjoying a pleasant viewing of a movie (Planes if you must know) we wound our way to a restaurant where we spent a while just chatting a little bit about everything. It was just a time to get away from everything and be with each other.
By the way, if you are in a relationship, days like this are essential.
Regardless, we were discussing some our frustrations with different people we knew and the more I talked with her the more I realized that the way I felt is very much how God felt when dealing with the Israelites, or more personally myself.
How many times do we take for granted what is given to us? I live in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife and sometimes I neglect to remember that God is the one who put me where I am today.
How often do I, complain about things that in the grand scheme of things mean nothing at all? How often do I completely ignore the blessings that have been bestowed upon me?
All too often.
To make a comparison: We are like a bunch of kids who are upset because we don't get everything we want, even though we get way above what we need.
For instance, I can think of many different people I've met over the years who would complain that their parents/significant other/friends don't care about them because they won't give them what they wanted.
Teenagers think their parents will never understand them and think they are horrible because they got an iPhone 3 instead of an iPhone 5. One friend might think another friend doesn't care because they don't agree on something. A woman may think a man doesn't care because he doesn't meet all the expectations (usually unspoken) she has of him or vice versa.
We are incredibly fickle people, and honestly when I encounter people like that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When I think about it I quickly find myself seeking forgiveness for doing the same with God.
Just think about it for a moment. The people of Israel are coming to the Tabernacle daily to offer this huge bloody mess that becomes a sacrifice to God who dwells in the Holy of Holies. They have been doing this so consistently that it has become a little trivial, and has lost the specialness that came with it in the beginning. People begin to offer prayers and offerings to God to get things they want. Petty things that have no significance on their lives. And God finally speaks up and essentially says, “Sacrifices aren't important to me, what is important is the heart behind them. I want you fully. I don't want just a part of you that comes to me to 'appease' me. That's not how this works. I expect complete, total, raw authenticity when you come to me.”
And then gain when speaking to the church later in the letter John wrote to the churches. “You're neither hot nor cold.” or You don't heal or refresh, you do nothing because you forgot me and why you are even where you are today. “Since you are neither hot nor cold, I will spew you (essentially vomit you) out of my mouth.”
Ever have lukewarm coffee? You know the way it tastes when you let coffee sit for more than ten minutes (unless you have one of those thermal cups)? Pretty disgusting isn't it?
Or how about a nice cold cup of chocolate milk that has sat out to long now isn't really hot either? So it's not as warm as hot chocolate or as delicious as cold chocolate milk, it's disgustingly warm (unfortunately I've had the displeasure of experiencing that one personally).
The same can be true when it comes to relationships: Parents with kids; friends; husbands and wives. There are times when someone's complaints or ungratefulness can feel a lot like a bad stench that permeates a room, or that disgusting lukewarm flavor that leaves a bad aftertaste and had nothing tasty about it in the first place.
I begin to see what God meant when he said those things. I begin to understand more his love and simultaneous frustration with people. We are so stupid sometimes and sometimes we are so brilliant.
I know we've all heard it a hundred times though.
“America is so blessed, we have so much.”
“Get your head out of your butt and look around you. You aren't suffering that much.”
“Need to get over yourself.”
While true, they are phrases that get a little stale, so it was interesting to experience it on a more personal level.
Just figured I would share my thoughts for a beautiful Friday.
Grace and Peace.