Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You Won't Understand This

Hello, my name is Asahel and if you are thinking that I have an interesting name- you are absolutely right. My name, Asahel, is Hebrew, and it can be translated as "God Works."  I want to share with you how the meaning of my name- God works- has proven true in my life.

I am more of a college basketball fan than anything else, so I hope no one will be offended if I rag on the NBA for a minute. It's not uncommon to see in an NBA game a player who just really thinks a lot of themselves. And you know how you can tell? Every time they get called for a foul they get so bent out of shape, making all sorts of faces and gestures and yelling at the referees. Now I understand there is subjectivity in the interpretation of the rules, and refs do get the wrong call at times, but even so, the reaction of the player tells me one thing- that the player thinks he is really great. He thinks that he is above doing wrong! Or that the rules shouldn't apply! Or that that referee is such an idiot! You see, whether or not a foul was actually committed, it is a sense of superiority that guides the players poor attitude.

            Well, the truth is, so many of us, including myself, live life in such a similar way. Since the day I was born I have gone around thinking much too highly of myself, and while I claim to be humble, the truth is revealed every time I lose my patience with someone, react poorly, blame someone else, criticize others. Let me give you an example- I am an 8th grade English teacher, and as you can imagine, that takes a lot of patience. Much of my day is spent wrestling with the students for their attention rather than exploring the wonders of the English language. And you know what? Some days I really lose it, I blow up, yell and say smart things back at the kids. It's terribly wrong, and it reveals something of my heart every time. I think I deserve better! I think I am such a great teacher that my students should be wrapped in awe every time I open my mouth. No it doesn't excuse the students behavior, and neither does it make it ok when that NBA referee makes the wrong call, but I'm still responsible for my reaction, and my reaction reveals a proud heart that thinks way too much of itself.

            And isn't that the way it is through all of life. Despite the tough things that we encounter from day to day- whether it's homework, being made fun of at school, parents who won't let you go out on weeknights, kids with bad attitudes, unresponsive husbands and wives, or the stress of work- we also seem to know how to make those difficulties ten times worse with our reaction to them! We think we deserve better!

There's a verse in the Bible that says, "There is no one righteous, not one." Even though I am prone to think that I have it all together, the Bible tells me that perfect obedience is out of reach for the sinner. Fortunately, the Bible also says this, "We know God's love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It's a strange concept- someone dying for you. Despite our proud hearts, Jesus Christ gave up everything. He had to suffer and die so that we could be forgiven of our failings. In other words, grace came into the equation of life so that instead of being punished for our pride we receive blessing far greater than we can imagine.

I was blessed to have God impress this truth upon my heart at an early age in my life, but man, I feel like I am still learning what this actually means. It means recognizing that I am not deserving of anything. It means that in gratitude for what Christ has done for me, I should extend grace to others. And as I humble myself before God in the light of his amazing grace, God has indeed worked in my life and blessed me tremendously. Not in a Joel Osteen, have faith and get rich sort of way, but in ways far greater and meaningful. The least of which is that he has given me a family of believers, a church, who care and look after me, and whom I also can love and care for in return.

If this seems absolutely strange to you, you are not alone. During his earthly life Jesus Christ spent a lot of time with people who couldn't understand his message. Time after time, Jesus responded to doubters and seekers alike by trying to do one thing – to show them their hearts. From the women at the well, to the Pharisee leaders of his day, to his own disciples, Christ responded in a wide variety of ways, but each time, his purpose was to open his listeners' eyes to the hardness of their own hearts and their need for Him and his sacrifice. It's the same with you. God wants to show you your heart, and the depth of its fallen state. Until you see that truth, you'll never understand your need for a savior.

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