Friday, July 4, 2014

Hay and Stubble, Gold and Jewels

"God's goal for our lives is that we would live in complete and utter surrender and dependence on him. It is always his mercy to show us that need, whatever the cost."
Jennie Allen

It has been so long since I have touched this blog. Partly because I have been lazy, partly because I have hardly touched the computer since the beginning of June, and partly because I have been so busy.
So much has happened since I posted last: was it really February?
Lately I have been really wrestling. Mostly with my media intake. God has been convicting me of the ways in which I spend my time, and what I do with my time. I know I harp a lot on the subject of time and our lives on earth, so no pressure to read this: but please. Let me rant a little.

Is watching TV wrong? Is it sinful? Is it worldly? Does God want me to watch TV? Should I listen to the latest music? Is it wrong to listen to love songs when I'm not in a relationship/may never be? Is it bad for my heart to peruse Pinterest where all things are perfect, while I am not and never will be? Is there a limit to too far in my media intake?

Sometimes I feel like pulling out my hair and screaming when all these questions stampede through my head for the umpteenth time. Why oh why isn't there a specific verse in the Bible that says, "You aren't supposed to be listening to ____. You aren't supposed to be watching _____. You aren't supposed to be reading _____. You aren't supposed to be looking at/thinking about _____" 

A cluster of friends have been going through a study of Psalm 119 with me. It has been deeply humbling and convicting to see how far I fall short in my love and desire for God's word and how little I take time to praise him. As I read through Psalm 119 in its entirety for the first time at the beginning of the study, one small verse, crunched in the middle, stared up at me and smiled. No, really it screamed. Here it is:

"Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways." Psalm 119:37

I remember staring at that verse for a few minutes. This is what makes me dizzy with questions, with struggling in my heart. This is it. I wrote in my study book:

"The psalmist cannot bear to look upon anything that does not have eternal impact for His God, that does not help him align his life with God and His Word. Turning my eyes from vanity [or worthless things] would give me better focus in a lot of aspects. Phil. 4:8 : Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

I stand back and look at what I wrote, even now, and it lies right there--the 'anything that does not have eternal impact for my God' part.
Can Pinterest have an eternal impact on my life for God's glory? Perhaps. If I use it in the right way.
Can TV have an eternal impact on my life for God's glory? Maybe. It depends on the content and the message of what I am watching.
Can music have an eternal impact on my life for God's glory? Definitely. I know that what I listen to and get into my thoughts can have a huge impact on my attitude and thought process.
But then: what? I can't do ___ or watch ____ or listen to ____?!

That's the part of me that screams and kicks. That show's harmless. Perusing Pinterest for the fun of it is satisfying. I shouldn't deny myself any happiness or comfort, right?

"But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galations 6:14

"And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." " Luke 9:23

It is this truth I know in my heart and in my brain that won't register into action. I honestly want to sit down with the family and tune out of all my struggles and problems. I want to sit in mindlessness, absorbed in someone else's problems.
And please don't think I'm saying it is wrong to watch TV or listen to popular music or browse Pinterest or watch YouTube videos...I'm asking you to ask yourself why you are doing these things. Is it so that you can have an eternal impact for Christ? So you can grow in Him? So you can serve others? Or is it so you can satisfy your flesh? Make yourself comfortable?

I absolutely love these verses in 1 Corinthians 3. These were the verses that God used in Amy Carmichael's life to turn her around and draw her closer to himself and his will for her life. They have shown me my motives and have shown me the value (or, usually, worthlessness) in what I am doing.

"For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw--each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will recieve a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Paul is saying that we can choose to 'build on the foundation (Jesus) by doing things for God. Obeying him. Following hard after him and his word, totally surrendered. These things that we've done, spent our time on, are going to be shown to us in heaven for what they really are: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw. Then we'll see what survives the fire. That's the test. If it survives, there is a reward. If it is burned up, Paul says "he will suffer loss". Wow. Even though we'll be in heaven, we're still saved, we will suffer loss.

I read a biography of Amy Carmichael's life when I was younger, and the way the authors expressed her interpretation and application hit me hard: even when I was little. Here it is:

"The words were from 1 Corinthians, chapter three, verses twelve through fourteen. Amy read them again. What was their meaning to her? Amy had known for as long as she could remember that God loved her, but she began to wonder about how knowing He loved her changed the way she acted each day.
"After several hours of praying and thinking, Amy finally decided she knew what the words from the verse meant to her. For one thing, she would no longer waste time on things that weren't important in God's eyes. When all the things she'd done in her life were finally judged by God, she wanted them to be found worthwhile. She wanted them to be seen as gold and silver, not hay and stubble. For another thing, she would never again worry about what people thought of her. If what she was doing was pleasing to God, that would be enough for her. If other people, even other Christians, didn't want her to walk with beggars, that was their business, but Amy would walk with them, and she would walk proudly."
Janet and Geoff Benge

I'm still wrestling with specifics of how all this applies to my own life. I'm still tempted to look at things and read things and do things that don't matter in God's sight, in light of eternity. Yet,

"I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge--even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you--so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
1 Corinthians 1:4-9


Country Mouse said...

I think you've got a point. Are we living for God or ourselves? That is a big question! So often I live for myself...

Anonymous said...

Beautifully put, Keely. Something we all struggle with. (well, I hope we do!) Love you