Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Sentiments: Dependence

Sunday Sentiments is an attempt to record what God has been teaching me and the way in which He does it.

The Greatness of Our God- Fellowship Worship Team
"No sky contains
No doubt restains
All You are
The greatness of our God
I spend my life to know
And I'm far from close
To all you are
The greatness of our God"

It Is Well With My Soul- Horatio G. Spafford 
 "My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"

It seems strange to discuss dependence on Independence Day.  Perhaps because we so often view dependence as a bad thing.  The truth is dependence is the very reason I moved to Nashville in the first place. Crazy Love was an incredibly convicting book to read.  As I've stepped out in faith, God has blessed me in ways both big (a house 5 blocks from my best friend, my dream job) and small (being invited to join a Book Club, someone who walked me to the right building for orientation day 1.)  I continue to marvel about the way God lined up everything for this move and since I've been here.  And yet, I was convicted all over again this morning.  I haven't fully processed this yet so forgive my clumsy words.

While I hoped that God would line everything up for this move, I didn't expect it to work out the way that it did.  I have indeed sung God's praises for lining things up.  However, I realized that when people have asked me why I moved to Nashville, I tend to give a short answer because the real answer is too lengthy for most conversations.  Especially when you're meeting with a million people during orientation.  So while I might say, "it was a step of faith" or "God lined everything up," I also talk about visiting Tracy and Joel the last 6 years and being ready for change.  Or not being able to stomach one more Chicago winter.  Could I be bold enough to say "I read a book that challenged me to be more dependent on God and this is the direction it took me in" or is that not an accurate response for the workplace?  I'm not hiding my faith at work but perhaps I'm missing out on opportunities to speak up.  That's one thing I took away from this morning.

The other thing I took away was a recognition of my sin and how I do not deserve for God to have been as gracious as He has been in getting me here.  The sermon centered on how Noah's first, immediate action after getting off the ark was to build an altar so he could worship God.  There's much to discuss within Noah's actions but the "So What?!?!?" portion of the message really hit home.  Bill asked, "to what extent does God let sin go so that man is allowed to worship Him?" In the context of Noah, God wiped out mankind and then invited man, through Noah, back in to relationship with Him.  From judgment (flood) to grace (choosing Noah to build the ark).  Bill then asked, "to what extent will God go for my sin, for me to worship Him?"  God sacrificed His only son so that I could be reconciled in relationship with Him.  From judgment to grace. And at the heart of all this is so we can do what we were meant to do: worship God.  It's easy in Christian circles to become complacent or to become less aware of your sin.  We all know we're sinners but we're not always aware of our sinfulness. 

I guess I just realized that I don't deserve, in and of myself, all that God lined up for me here.  This job, this house, these new friends...all gifts from God.  I don't deserve any of it but I am grateful.  And my response is to worship God.  Not just in church but in my day to day life.  Giving Him credit for anything good that might come out of my life.  Allowing others to see Him in me. 

Most of the "song-singing" portion of worship came after the message which was so necessary.  The bolded lyrics above stuck out to me the most.  My mission is to keep seeking knowledge of the greatness of our God.  I will never fully grasp it this side of eternity but I hope to know Him more and more fully each passing year.  The lyrics in "It Is Well With My Soul" seemed tailor made for this sermon.  Noah sacrificed animals that could have fed his family but he didn't hold back.  The animals and birds on the altar were totally consumed by the fire, nothing was left.  Noah was once again in a place of dependence on God to meet his needs.  As Noah did not offer part of a sacrifice but the whole, God has forgiven my sins, not in part but the whole.  As if forgiving my sins was not enough, I am in relationship with Him who forgave my sins.  It's easy to lose sight of this precious fact. 

Another song had lyrics along the lines of being "needy, broken, and desperate."  It pierced my heart.  That is how I need to be before God each day.  When we depend on God, our needs are met.  Not always in the way we envisioned.  Not always on our timeline.  But that is the beauty of God.  Being in limbo means I am more open to what God would have me do but also I am positioned to receive ever more blessing.  Not in the prosperity gospel sense. In the sense that I am not holding anything back so I am more aware of the God who is behind the blessing.  This morning was a good reminder of why I'm here and what I hope God will accomplish through me as I remain dependent on Him.

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