Sunday, April 20, 2008

It seems we’ve been invaded by hoards of bristly orange and black caterpillars--food for the vast array of lizards who scamper in and out around the well house. The birds have arranged themselves into a praise team to sing twenty-four-seven to Almighty God from the verdant boughs. Even the ticks were out rejoicing on a day like this. I never realized just how many of the nasty hitch hikers I picked up until today, when a pair of white pants revealed tag-alongs of all shapes and sizes.

Donnie’s younger brother, Tommy, joined us for church today. When I first met him, nearly four years ago, he was one of those people I thought I could very happily live without ever seeing again. He’s grown up a bit, matured a lot and become considerably more pleasant. And met the Lord in the interim, I’d guess, from the testimony he shared at lunch.

Papa taught from First Timothy three—the requirements for elders in the assembly. He boiled it down to four basic themes: male, mature, moral and a martyr (literally, a witness of Christ). But is this standard for leaders such an unattainable goal? Hardly. There are no restrictions for personality or spiritual gift and, most fascinating, he pointed out that nearly every command for overseers is paralleled elsewhere for all believers—excluding the call to males, of course (mercifully for those of us of the “female persuasion”). If the Lord calls us all to a standard of excellence, how much less those who would shepherd His flock!

“Here,” Zach thrust his Bible in front of me as I sat at the piano. “Verse eight.” We’ll call that a PIE attack, and it means one thing: provide immediate explanation. I glanced around hurriedly for someone to bail me out before protesting. “Who do you think I am to explain this?” “Well, duh,” he shrugged. “Lane's your father.” And there we have it, in three simple words and an apostrophe: my heritage. My amazing heritage. Because my father is wise, the poor, deluded individuals who appear on our doorstep assume the same applies to me. I only wish more of his wisdom would seed and grow in my own heart. I can attempt to regurgitate his explanations. I can pretend to walk uprightly. I can stare hard at a page of scripture and scratch my head and make semi intelligent grunts, but this child—well, this child knows nothing good. Can’t they see that? The high regard my father deserves is miles above anything I might claim. And I fall so short of the perfection of Christ. Please, Yahweh, God of my father, open my eyes, too, that I may behold wonderful things from Thy Law. Zach’s question came from Hebrews five and has been spinning around in my mind all day: “Although He (Jesus) was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him, the source of eternal life.” For some odd reason, my head wasn’t screwed on tightly enough to think to take him to Philippians two, where Tabby and I are memorizing. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” To the best of my understanding, Jesus learning obedience doesn’t imply that He’d been disobedient before, but simply that He’d never been called to obey before. Once upon a time, He was equal with God, but when He emptied Himself, He chose to be obedient and He learned to be obedient through the suffering—even no longer being present with God at all times must have been difficult. Dragging around an body of dust must have been tiresome. And being forsaken by God and punished for the sins of the world was without doubt agonizing. All this He did for the glory of God. Hebrews says He was heard because of His piety. Philippians continues “Therefore God highly exalted Him, and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow…” Have this humility, I am told. Jesus was equal with the God who humbles Himself just to look at heaven and earth, yet He poured it all out on the altar of sacrifice as a pleasing aroma to God. Have this humility. Whatever I think I am. Whatever I think I have. Pour it out completely on the altar of sacrifice, knowing that I will be heard because of Jesus’ piety.

Lord, the way Thou made to heav’n
Defies our wisdom, schemes or plans
While men seek blindly to be God,
God chose to be a man.

And by Thy Son’s obedience—
And Thou rejecting Him—
Thou brought near those who disobeyed
And set them free from sin.

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