Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
We were poor when I was a kid, and I don’t mean the kind of poor where you don’t get all that you want for Christmas, but the kind that our pastor would refer to as “po”…we couldn’t even afford the “or.”
Back then, soda came in bottles and, you were able to turn in the glass bottles at the grocery store for a refund. My brothers and I would take our little red wagon and comb the streets looking for old bottles that we would turn in to the Weingarten’s. If we were lucky, we had enough to purchase a little candy or treat and maybe even something extra for our mom.
I remember the first time we made the long trek to turn in our green, amber, and clear glass treasures. I had searched so hard all day to make sure that I found only those bottles that were not broken. After hours of carefully pouring through trash cans looking for the treasure of a bottle that had not met it’s demise, emptying out the sticky, stale liquid, and carefully pulling the wagon as not to allow one of the bottles to break, I was heartbroken when the man at the recycle booth carelessly tossed each bottle in to the basket in such a way that I could hear the clanking of the breaking glass, almost mocking me and all of the care and concern I had taken to protect them.
“Why are you breaking them?” I cried out, “ I thought you were buying them so that you could use them again.”
“We use the glass little lady, not the bottles,” came a gruff reply.
I remember the disappointment I felt as I realized the implications of what my misunderstanding had meant. I had spent all day sifting through broken glass that was just as valuable to my cause as the unbroken bottles had been. I had missed my opportunity to truly cash in.
The memory of that experience resurfaced when I recently came across a bottle that my daughter bought at a thrift store a while back. She had bought this fancy bottle made of blue-green glass with a cork stopper at the top. She said that she wanted it so that we could leave love notes to each other in it; messages in a bottle.
As I look at the blue-green glass bottle now and contemplate how to begin writing this article about aborting God, I must admit…I am tempted to change the name to “Blue Like Glass”, which sounds a little more interesting than the topic I am writing about. It also bears a close resemblance to the title of one of my favorite books, a book that sold a lot of copies.
As I look at the bottle now, it’s smooth, blue-green, rounded curves, escalating into smaller circle patterns until they reach the top where the cork meets the glass. Anyone would be happy to receive a message in this bottle. The presentation of the bottle itself speaking volumes about the treasure of the message that waits inside.
Sometimes I wonder if people are like these bottles, all with messages inside. Clear, blue-green glass; fragile enough to easily break, yet transparent enough to see that there is something of great value inside.
The beautiful, unbroken ones stand out among us, their glass smooth and beautiful, leaving us with the nagging realization that such perfection does exist. We place those unbroken ones on the pedestals of Life and tend to measure our worth by how closely we can conform our outer nature to theirs.
We forget that one-day every glass bottle will be broken, leaving only be the “love notes” left inside to remain.
What does God see when He looks at us? Is He impressed with those of us who can make it out of this world without being broken? Or, at least with some semblance of our original form left intact?
Psalm 51:17 reads,“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Could it be that our whole purpose in being here on earth is not to maintain our form, but to lose it, and in so doing, allow the Love note of who Christ is to be read by everyone we meet? Sometimes I wonder if we even know why we came to Christ in the first place. We followed some people in because we saw that their glass was not broken, and thought that, if we can only go where they go, and do what they do, maybe we can preserve our glass too.
Why is it then that so often, while I am in church, I feel like I must act like a beautiful, blue green glass bottle with no chips, or cracks, to be accepted? How can I so easily confuse man’s acceptance of me with God’s?
How come I so easily forget that it is not the bottle that Christ wants, it’s the glass.
It is not my perception of who I am that He wants, it is the truth of who I am that He came for. When approached by the religious elite in Matthew 9:12-13 and confronted with questions about why he spent time with sinners, Christ replied, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go learn what it means, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
When I was first beginning to know Christ, I had a picture in my mind of what I thought He would do with my life. Ironically, I pictured myself like a vase that had been broken into many pieces and scattered all over in so many directions that I could not even begin to know where all of the pieces were anymore.
As I began to experience Him and to allow Him to heal me, it felt like He was walking with me to each piece, acknowledging the pain behind each experience that led to my brokenness, and then putting me back together again. In a sense, I had an expectation of where my destination with Him was headed. One day, I would walk with Him to that last piece, and He and I would celebrate as He finally put the finishing touches on the masterpiece of who He created me to be. Then I would be whole and I could go in to church and stand right there next to the most beautiful glass vase and not feel ashamed. Then I could pour life into my husband and children without leaking all over the place and I could know that my kids were safe now from all of my old pieces of broken glass that use to cut me so deeply.
In a sense, I felt as if God would re-make me into my image of who I thought He wanted me to be. Now, as I seek to truly acknowledge Christ and who He came to be in my Life, I am beginning to see that my perceptions have no place in Him. Like the dove that was sent out of Noah’s ark and could find no place to land, so it returned back to the ark, so do my perceptions of who God is and who I am in Him return back to me. There is no place for them to land in the reality of Him. No flesh may glory in His presence. He will not dwell in temples made with human hands.
No pieces of who I am can remain, and in trying to hold on…I abort God through aborting the exchange of His Life for mine.
Two of the more underestimated definitions of abortion are: the arrest of development of an organ, and a failure to develop to completion or maturity.
What if in trying to maintain some semblance to our old form or our own perceptions of who we are and how our lives should be, we are actually aborting God? What if we are actually valuing what we create over the very One who is meant to create us?
Could we be guilty of handing God a paint by number canvas for our lives instead of handing Him a blank canvas?
To render Him less God in one aspect of Life renders Him not God at all. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to see this. Can you imagine the implications of what this means?
“God, you can have my childhood scars, my failed marriage, and my parenting frustrations, but not my education, my career or my dreams and aspirations…and especially not my television programs!”
The Greek word for truth is ALETHES and it means; unconcealed, manifest, conforming to reality. The negative of this word is: to forget, to escape notice. The picture in my mind that I get when I think about what it means to truly allow God to be manifest in our lives closely resembles what it must have looked like for Lazarus to come out of the grave. We leave a place of death and darkness with our whole body and we walk into a place of Light and Life. It involves a literal moving out of the tomb with no intentions of returning. It involves coming out of everything about you and walking towards Christ (even while still being wrapped up in the grave-clothes).
We fool ourselves when we believe that we can come to Christ and yet, at the same time reject what He offers us in allowing us to become a “whole NEW creation.” Remember that one rendering of the definition for truth is “unconcealed.” We can’t walk out of the grave while still concealing parts of who we are. God is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). To believe this is even possible is to believe a lie.
Just as a woman cannot separate the private choices she makes regarding the value of life itself when she chooses to abort the life within her, from the way we all view life. So we, as a church, cannot separate our own views of Who God is when we choose to abort the Life He offers us, from the way we all view Who He is. What we do in the dark affects what the whole world does in the light. When you choose to abort God in your life, we all feel it.
My prayer is that these words may hit you like the words that I heard so long ago when I realized the implications of the opportunity I had missed out on in seeking what I had thought was valuable over what actually was valuable. One day we will all fall broken at the feet of Christ, and how I hope with all my heart that on that day, the love note that Christ has written inside of you and me has been read by many.