Yes, folks. That was a long winded title. I just read my friend Terri's blog. It was so hilarious and inspiring. It made me take a more light-hearted approach to my fallen humanity. I just reread my last blog post and it was very depressing. However, even in the melancholy, (which I have discovered to be my temperament.....I know that will come as a shock to the general public), there is hope. And somehow it is the melancholy that becomes the road to recovery. It is painful. I am finding, (well for today that is, wait til tomorrow rolls around and Tammy 2 takes over and I want to jump off the Chattanooga bridge), that Jesus came for the sick folks. Not the well ones. So, that, I am qualified for.
I have been reading my bible again......which is a switch from being angry at God because of the circumstances that I have faced recently. I love the way the Message Bible describes Jesus in Isaiah 53. "He embraced the company of the lowest,. He took on His own shoulders the sin of the many. He took up the cause of all the black sheep." I also love the way the Message bible interprets Matthew 9 starting at verse 11 or so, "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?" Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor; the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means, "I'm after mercy, not religion." In other words, I think what Jesus is really saying here is, "I would rather you repent (truly be sorry for your sin) than do the right thing, just because you know that is what you "ought" to do.
I think what those scriptures mean is, that the road to redemption is paved with suffering. It just is. And the suffering is looking our sickness in the face. Jesus did not come to create another bunch of religious garb. The Pharisees had already cornered the market on that. He came to make us Real. And part of that becoming real is facing who we really are and asking God to remove the cancer. Jesus compares Himself to a doctor and a doctor cannot cure anything until he first diagnoses the problem. I think about the scriptures where David cried out in Psalm 51, that if it were sacrifice (or one might say religious piety or knowing the right thing to do) that You desired, then I would offer it. However, David concluded that sacrifice was not God's aim. His aim was repentance......a broken and contrite spirit.....David cries, "that oh, Lord, You will not despise."
I carry this huge weight on my shoulders when I begin to see the depths of the depravity and the sins that I have absolutely no remorse for in my life. It is a fearful thing. But, somehow, this is the answer I have been searching for. The answer is learning to hold that sense of depravity and fallen humanity up to God as my sacrifice to Him and plead for mercy. Part of true Christianity is embracing the cross and part of that embracing, is trusting God to save what is completely unsalvageable without His grace--namely us. My prayer then, has to become, "Lord save me. I trust You to do what I could never do. That is why you came. You came to love the black sheep like me, until I break." Lately, my prayer has been that God would do whatever it takes to break my stubborn will.
A friend of mine made a comment that I found to be very interesting. The other day, I was trying to explain the gift of the holy spirit to a friend of mine who did not fully understand what was taking place in a church service that I had invited her to. This woman is desperate for more of God. I said to my friend, "just keep an open mind about this. Even though you don't fully understand something because of things you have been taught, just keep an open mind and pray." I used an example from my own life, I said, "For example, all my life I thought God to be this mean, wrathful, judgmental God. And if you read the old testament, there are scriptures that will make you think God is really that way." And she answered me this way, "But, Tammy, doesn't anybody ever look at how evil the people God was dealing with were." That was profound to me. I thought out loud, "No. I guess I have never looked at it that way before. I have always looked at those things as God being mean." I realize that there is a lot of controversy over old v/s new testament God.
At the risk of not entering into a theological debate, I want to keep this simple. My friend's answer was simple and childlike. "But look how evil the people were." I am finding out that I never really want to take a hard, cold look at myself. I begin to sulk, complain, whine and/or become frightened when God wants to whisper to me that I am wrong about this or that. There is a stubborn and proud part of me that shuts down when I misbehave and act out. Lately, I am finding that I hate what the bible says about loving your enemies. No. No. I would much rather, (like James and John), call fire down from heaven. Or, like Elisha, when people made fun of him for being bald, he just whipped up a lion or some wild animal to devour them. Was that even in the bible? I don't know. You better check. Okay, I checked. It is in the bible- 2 kings 2:23. Elisha got mad at some kids for calling him bald and put a curse on them in the name of the Lord and a couple of bears came out of the woods and devoured them. Bam! Problem solved!
I mean, come on. How cool would that be? My next really bad PMS day, when someone smarts off, I just whip up a bear to eat them. That would be the coolest thing ever. People piss me off already! I get angry when people talk down to me, and ironically, that same thing has happened to me, over and over lately, from different sources. Each time I did not respond in christian character, let me tell you. No. Once, I got into a verbal brawl on the phone with someone who totally pissed me off. All I needed to do was remove that WWJD bracelet around my wrist and start cussing. I fumed the rest of the day and contemplated reporting the person for discrimination. Oh. My. So, you see? It takes grace to not just profess Christianity, but live it out. But, I believe that the power to live like Jesus begins with: "God help me. I am wrong." I am saying it takes GRACE when you are afflicted, and feel justified in your wrath, to practice christian character. But, I am trying to, (one moment at a time), to ask God to help me put on the humility of Christ in these circumstances where Tammy wants to cuss their ass out because they deserve it!
Lets face reality, sometimes people deserve a real good cussing, from a professing Christian, just to have someone to hurl "You hypocrite," accusations toward. I am being sarcastic. I should not be cussing out anybody. But, I say to myself, "Self, you only live once, so, go on, and make a total ass of yourself. Everybody will notice, including Jesus, the angels in heaven, and the hall of faith in Hebrews, and that is always a real encouragement." BTW I don't wear one of those WWJD bracelets because lets face facts. Some days, that would be such a downer, when I act like a devil. Perhaps I need to wear one. Not around my wrist, but around my heart.
Did anybody get anything out of this? Hopefully, it was not a real downer. But, if it was, chalk it up to my melancholy temperament and forgive me.