Monday, August 23, 2010

The unembellished life

embellish: 1. to make beautiful with ornamentation, decorate; 2. to heighten the attractiveness of by adding decorative or fanciful details, enhance

Example sentence: Chris knew that his grandfather may have embellished the truth about his youth, but he enjoyed hearing the stories nonetheless.

Looking at Sue, most of us would assume she has the perfect life. She is beautiful. Her family drives two newish cars and lives in a nice house in a good neighborhood. She and her husband have good jobs, one of them in a church.

As I've gotten to know Sue, her brokenness is apparent behind all the exterior embellishments. She's struggling with a pornography addiction, dealing with a rebellious teen, and her husband has a chronic illness. 

"How can she look so 'put together' with all her struggles and concerns?" I wonder.  

The trappings of a North American lifestyle can hide a heart filled with hurts. I know I'm not living without pain. Looking into my windows, people might think I "have it all together," too. It's not so. Every one of us has their own tale of ongoing grace and forgiveness. Our pasts and current realities never measure up to our aspirations or God's expectations.

One of the fantastic things about being a believer is not having to pretend. Hopefully we don't carelessly air all our dirty laundry in public. That would be pointless and self-defeating. 

However, our Redeemer invited us to cast our cares on him because he cares for us. We are not to worry, but to trust him. He designed our Family of faith to share our burdens and sins, letting us grow within its nurturing community.

What other God or gods offers a shelter in himself? Who else knows us inside and out like our God? Yet he accepts us completely - and even brags on his children to the world. Have any idols or gods of human imagination created a safe, spiritual household in which to come to maturity?

"The cross is shaped to our own back," said my mom. She's right. I wouldn't be able to carry Sue's brokenness, nor she mine. But Jesus is enough today for her... and for me. (Hallelujah, what a Savior!) And thanks be to God for the Church, where we are loved and learn to love and forgive.

Read more:
*The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. Psalm 145:17-21 NIV

*Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV

*But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christthe righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 NIV

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