Why I Didn’t Write the Bible

I’m not much a fan of Paul.

I know, I know. It’s almost heretical to confess it freely. It’s not that I don’t like him. It’s not that I don’t think he’s a great teacher of our faith. It’s not that I don’t appreciate his sensitivity to the Spirit of God. It’s just…I’m not a fan. I read his letters, and I think, “Come on, Paul. Come down to my level.”

It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that I take great comfort in reading Peter’s epistles.

Nonetheless, I had an inner-argument this morning. It was between the Me who doesn’t care much for Paul, and the Me who knows Paul is right (I suppose this could be more accurately described as the natural self and the spiritual self — which makes Paul right, all over again).

It went something like this:

the Paul-is-right Me: Sarah, just stand.
the other Me: Quiet, you.
the Paul-is-right Me: Sarah…just stand.
the other Me: If I had written that passage, I’d have written something better. Like…and having done all, Crochet.
the Paul-is-right Me: Not crochet. Stand.
the other Me: Or…work on your novel.
the Paul-is-right Me: No. Stand.
the other Me: Or play my guitar.
the Paul-is-right Me: Or stand?
the other Me: Make lasagna?
the Paul-is-right Me: Having done all, stand.
the other me: Didn’t I tell you to be quiet?
the Paul-is-right Me: Just stand, Sarah.

It’s not that I want Paul to be wrong. It’s not even that I disagree with him. It’s more that I try to distract myself from the difficulty of life by doing things. While doing things can be acts of faith, acts of worship, acts of love, they can also be distractions and acts of disbelief. And don’t get me wrong — distractions can be okay sometimes. The problem is that if you seek distractions when things are difficult, you not only shield your gaze from the struggle, but also from the Solution.

Several months ago, my mom told me something that I found very profound. She said that we tend to relearn the same lessons again and again. It’s not always that we forget the lesson; it’s not always that we have failed and need to be corrected; it’s that we need the reminder of where our Help comes from. We need the reminder that nothing and no one in this life is stable or faithful; only God Almighty is faithful. Only He can be fully trusted. Only He can provide our needs. Only He can make us whole. Only He can grant us peace.

That’s where I am this morning: Relearning the lesson. Having done all, to stand. I don’t have to figure everything out. I don’t have to make a meal and write a new song about it. I don’t have to crochet a new afghan or save the whales. I just have to stand. I just have to plant my feet firmly on the Rock that will not move.

And be thankful…that I didn’t write the Bible.

Stand firm, then.

Who is Faithful?

New Year’s Resolutions

…or…Who is Faithful?

There’s something about this time of the year that causes us to reflect. Where the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions came from, I know not. What I know is that we often set unrealistic goals, set off running, and then collapse a week or two into the new year. We may try again, but most of us (I would guess) put those resolutions aside until the Holidays wind down again and we face another new year.

I have always loathed resolutions, and I’ll tell you why: They are constant reminders of my failure, my faithlessness. In a faith that deals with convictions, promises, and covenants, I find that I am the worst of the keepers. Everything I see in this generation, in others–in broken promises, in broken relationships, in broken self-image, in broken faith, in broken everything–I see and despise all the more in myself. Why would I find any pleasure, any hope in holding resolutions upon myself that I know I cannot and will not uphold? I can’t. I don’t.

I am the most faithless person I’ve ever known.

But.

The good news is what Paul wrote to Timothy (2Tim.2:11-13, NIV).

Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him, we will also live with him;

if we endure, we will also reign with him.

If we disown him, he will also disown us;

if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

I find it fascinating that Paul adds these last words: “for he cannot disown himself.” Somehow, God’s faithfulness to me is as much (maybe more) about remaining faithful to His own character as it is about my need or my desire. It has everything to do with the Unchanging One. He remains faithful to me because it is in His character to be so–even when I am faithless.

What a relief!

So what does 2013 have in store for me? Do I not desire to change at all? Of course I do. And if I do change, let it be not because I somehow managed to become faithful after 32 years of being faithless, but rather, because He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.

Amen.