Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Knowledge of Good and Evil

photo credit: Emma Smart

One of my first memories of struggling with right and wrong was when I was very young... probably not more than three years of age.
I remember having a crayon in my hand and kneeling in front a white chair colouring on a piece of paper.
The thought entered my head that it might feel nice to colour the chair instead. I had a vague feeling that it would be wrong to do it but the urge to do it was stronger. I remember the first stroke. It gave me pleasure. I enjoyed the feeling of the crayon against the smooth white paint and I loved seeing the coloured lines appear.
Part of me recognized a sense of guilt that I knew not quite what to do with and I tried to remember if I had ever seen someone else colour on chairs.
I wondered if my mother would be angry with me, but I couldn't rationalize why it would be wrong if it felt so good to do it - so I carried on.
I did, of course, get into trouble ... and I never coloured on chairs again.
All of us are born with some innate sense of there being a standard of right and wrong.
What that standard is or who has the authority to set the rules that govern it is something that we must at some point determine.
From an early age we are quick to find a way to justify the terms of that standard according to our own reason and/or emotional needs.
It matters not how we twist or redefine to our own advantage - the standard of right and wrong / good and evil is set by God.
It is unchangeable, non-negotiable - it is fixed in His character and eternity.
We have our first example of rebellion against this rigid standard in Lucifer. He was lifted up with pride and saw no reason why he should have to live by God's standards. Why could he not set up his own system of right and wrong and live by his own rules? A tempting heady thought! He tried ... but God's reaction was swift - he was banished from his former estate and condemned for eternity with the angels that fell with him.

When Satan entered the garden of Eden, he understood exactly how to move Adam and Eve out of fellowship with God. All he had to do was tempt them to question God's standard and establish their own.
Satan already understood why they were not allowed to touch the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
He knew that God would never allow any deviation from right and wrong as He defined it. The knowledge of how that standard was set up belonged to God and God alone. If man reached out his hand to touch it in any way ... he would suffer what lay outside of God's 'good'.
Living by any standard or commandment other than the ones God sets will lead to sorrow, pain, hardship, suffering, evil, and physical death in this life. Ultimately, it also leads to spiritual death in eternity.
Stop and think... look around you.
We live in a world today that is infested with wickedness - of man inflicting and suffering pain and hardship. If we examine the root cause -- is it not because someone has 'touched' or disobeyed' a commandment of God ? Attempted to redefine what He has declared to be right and good?
How quick we are to question (at best) or accuse (at worst) God for the difficulties that afflict all of us. But did God not warn us from the very beginning ? Violate my rules/my standard for good and evil or suffer the results? Is man himself -- either directly or indirectly - not responsible for all the suffering man experiences ?
We see every day the resulting evidence of people trying to live by their own code of what is right and wrong. On a personaly level, one's life soone takes a downward turn, affecting those around him in a widening arc.
And when a nation turns away from the 'law' God set forth -- the ten commandments -- that nation moves itself out of God's blessing.
Our society is fast paced, ever changing and the natural response is to adjust our world view accordingly and compromise previously held standards of God's right and wrong.
But we are not allowed to do it. God has warned us and we cannot escape the resulting pain of the consequences of disobedience.
God did not set His standard to make life difficult for us; He set forth His commandments so we would know how to live happy and fulfilling lives that allow His blessings to be poured out upon us.
I have been convicted of late to what extend we, even as believers, have 'touched' the tree of Good and Evil and have adjusted or even rewritten God's standard of good and evil / right and wrong.
What God says and what Jesus taught... were not just valid for the day in which they were spoken .. The same Word speaks today and is just as true as it ever was.
What God says is right and good .. is forever right!
What He says is wrong... is forever wrong.
His commandments are still valid today with no less authority.
God's law IS law and the only law that counts!
"Therefore I love Your commandments , more than gold, yes, more than fine gold. Therefore all Your precepts (standards) concerning ALL things , I consider to be right. I hate every false way." Psalm 119:127,128

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wait .. Waited.... Waiting

Bald Eagle waiting/looking for food

Waiting just seems to be a part of life, for both man and beast.
I have just had an exercise in waiting.
An accidental observation in a lung x-ray revealed to my rheumatologist a widening of my mediastinum.
That began a long series of blood tests, scans, biopsies.... all of them in the plural and all of them followed by waiting periods often extended by doctors going 'out of town' or tests lost or needing to be redone.
Waiting, waiting, waiting -- that extended into weeks, then several months.
Finally, this week I got that call I had been waiting for that gave me some definitive 'answers' or at least an indicated direction of resolve.
The suspicious nodule in my substernal goiter is impossible to biopsy for cancer. The only way is be sure is to biospy it after removing my thyroid gland. But, my oncologist/surgeon explained, in my case that is not a simple surgery since it will take two surgeons and my breastbone needing to be broken to help get the thyroid gland out.
So I am scheduled for more appointments and waiting for the inevitable surgery.
In thinking about my situation ....I have realized some things about waiting.
1> The feeling of being alone. Perhaps the common childish fear of being abondoned by parents is a fear that never really leaves and we feel remnants of it throughout our lives. When we are standing outside a building waiting for someone to come pick us up or waiting in a coffeeshop for a friend who is late. we feel suddenly alone and the fear of abandonment threatens to surface even though reason tells us the wait is only temporary.
2> Waiting involves dependancy on someone else.
There is only one reason to 'wait'. Someone/something is needed in our life that we have no control over. Someone else has the power or authority to make it happen but for some reason their action is delayed.
3> Waiting is emotionally demanding.
Waiting draws an intensely emotional focus on the thing we are waiting for, causing the other things in our life to pale in importance. When we are waiting for something, it is difficult to impossible to prioritize any other way than to keep that waited-for-thing at the top of our 'focus on' list.
Waiting - how happily we would banish it from our lives.
And then - when we turn for comfort to the scriptures we are simply told ... "Wait on the Lord!"
How can that be comfort?
We wait feeling so alone struggling to trust/believe that He will come through, somehow, sometime.
But will He? Perhaps His will is not what we are hoping for...perhaps His timing is not our timing...perhaps we are undeserving of His attention.... are we abandoned?
Fear arises in our hearts minimizing our faith.
We wait... watching, hoping, longing for that one thing that will make our life better .. if only the Lord would act on our behalf.
But wait .... we have it all wrong ... there is something beautiful we have missed !
Psa 27:14 "Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!"
The way we read the verse we subconsciously read into it all of the emotion of what the word 'wait' brings to mind and heart.
But there is something VERY different when God calls us to 'wait' for Him - something I only learned recently.
The Hebrew word for 'wait' is a word that means 'to bind or entwine'. That word meaning suddenly changes the whole situation.
What God is inviting us to do .. rather than sit alone and afraid... is to come and wait 'entwined' with Him.
We are not asked to wait alone.
He Himself will wait with us, His arm protectively around us as we wait together.
We wait, not dependent on the frailty of man or the unpredictability of circumstances.
We wait knowing that God has all things under His control. We need not fear.
God asks us, rather than struggling to keep our emotions from frustrating or terrifying us, to bind ourselves to His word, to His promises as we wait together with Him.
Then, instead of being focused on the 'thing' we are waiting for we are focused on Him... our hearts entwined with His... our thoughts following His thoughts, our mind grasping hold of His promises , our emotions 'resting' in the security of His peace, our hearts rejoicing in praise and thanksgiving.
THAT is what 'waiting' on the Lord is !