Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lent Day 16: Keeping up appearances

Before: Pierre
We learn a lot from God's creatures. Now, I'm not comparing people to dogs. But even on a dog, appearances matter.

We adopted Lewis (formerly Pierre) to get me out the door and walking. He loves our mornings on the road. I wasn't sure about him when I first saw him. He had a French poodle moustache and a clipped body, very un-poodle-like.

Except for shredding his crate mattress the first few nights, he has no bad habits. (He wasn't crate-trained when we got him.) He walks on a leash, loves people and other animals, and is perfectly housebroken.

I couldn't call him Pierre. I'm reading a lot of C. S. Lewis, so that influenced his name. He became Lewis.

When his coat grew out a bit, I took him to our groomer. What a transformation! With one haircut, we brought home a cute little poodle.

I've had a name change, too. I've gone from Lost to Found, from Wretched to Rescued. I don't know that my outward appearance changed as much as Lewis', but I do know my heart has been utterly transformed by God's goodness.

After: Lewis
Lewis needs regular grooming. Likewise, I must ask Jesus to forgive and clean me up every day. Without the maintaining grace of God, I can quickly become a mess, a tangle of unforgiveness and selfish motivation.

This season is full of remembrance for me. As often as I think about God's gift, I cannot grasp the depth of his love:
  • I can't imagine giving up my child to die in place of someone else. 
  • I can't imagine Jesus leaving heaven't perfection to spend 33 years on earth. He experienced human birth, the love of his mother and his friends. He grew up in a village, apprenticed for work, and preached as an itinerant rabbi. 
  • I certainly don't understand how he remained free from hatred and resentment when his friends betrayed and abandoned him. 
  • The cross? That transforming frame where God hung between heaven and earth? Unfathomable.
  • And the resurrection? I am overcome with wonder at the power of God, evident in Jesus and his followers. Against all odds, the Church endures and grows because of God's resurrection power.
Have you seen God move a person from death to life? Have you experienced it for yourself? Jesus' arms spread wide on the cross, inviting us to come and lay our burdens down. This is the perfect season to be embraced by his love.

Read more:
*Mortal, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart and hear with your ears. Ezekiel 3:10 ESV

*Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 NIV

*Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it!" Luke 11:28 ESV

*Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lead us on to the green pastures of your blessing, great Shepherd—to serenity and peace, to fulfillment and love. We, your sheep, are wont to stray into bitter fields. Guide us with your wisdom and your Word. Amen.

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