Friday, March 07, 2008

gratitude and transformation

I am going to bed "early" tonight. It's midnight. Last time I said that on this blog I actually ended up in bed at 2am. So much for early. However tomorrow I have a 9:30am coffee date with a friend who is in town, so I have to be somewhat presentable. Normally when I get up at 7am to take the kids to school I wear my pajamas, and am all disheveled which doesn't matter because I just climb back in bed as soon as I get home. I am NOT a morning person. Repeat: I hate mornings! bleh! However I can stay up 'til 4am without any trouble like I did last night.

I have been scrambling like mad to get travel itineraries confirmed, and all the little annoying details so that I feel nominally in control of my life for the travel craziness to ensue. Cars to rent, plane tickets to buy, lodging and skiiing to arrange, scheduling people I'm going to meet with, and all that jazz, and for 2 big trips not just one. Oh and did I mention that I have 2 deadlines plus I'm teaching 2 writing classes right now? And holy crapola also income taxes are due before I leave, which for the self employed entails 9 gajillion forms?! Aye yi yi (how the heck do you spell that anyway?!)

On another note, every morning I read this devotion "Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only" by Beth Moore (who is awesome by the way) and today the lesson was on the parable of the ten lepers who Jesus healed together, but only 1 came back and thanked Jesus. It's all about gratitude, peeps.

"Jesus said, 'Were not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine? Didn't any return to give glory to God except this foreigner'" (Luke 17:17-18)

I find it interesting for 2 reasons. Not only was it the non-religious person ("foreigner") who came back thankful (similar to how the Good Samaritan was considered a "foreigner"), it's also so true that so many remain ungrateful for the blessings and answered prayers and healings in their lives. Or they fail to give the glory to God. I'm trying to teach my kids about being thankful, because it also relates to complaining, which Jesus also talked about and my kids do quite a bit of!! This is a pretty tough statement but it's what the good book says:

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..."Philippians 2:14-16a

That is a beautiful passage. The lesson today speaks about being changed from the inside out. How the presence of the Holy Spirit of God changes a person physically and spiritually to the point where others can tell a difference. I know without a doubt I have been. And I hope to continue to be changed from the inside out, being transformed daily to be more and more like Jesus. Because He is radically awesome! And I am still sometimes pretty pitiful and whiny and insecure and bitchy and all kinds of unpretty things. But my general lifestyle has changed from darkness to light in so many ways.

Related to this though is another lesson a few weeks back that really spoke to me. It was on the woman who poured perfume on Jesus' feet and how the Pharisee, the teacher of religion, thought "if Jesus only knew what kind of woman this was" he would never let her pour perfume on his feet. Course Jesus read his mind and said, "Simon I have somewhat to say unto thee" which sounds kinda funny because that is the King James Version but I think it's funny and cool. Mista I got somewhat to say to you!

And what Jesus had to say was, lookee here mister, and then he told a parable about two men with cancelled debts. Who was more grateful? It was the one who had the larger debt cancelled. The woman who had sinned more and lived a more depraved life was truly grateful and loved Jesus (and hence God) deeply, whereas the righteous religious teacher had externally lived properly but inside his heart was cold and judgmental. Beth says something that I have long believed to be true, "I am learning that my heart and mind are of greater importance to Him than my words and deeds."

Two people can do the same behaviors, but the heart can be in totally different places. And those who have lived lives of "depravity" and who have turned their lives around, transformed from the inside out by God's love - even if they don't recognize it as such - can end up so eternally grateful. (but maybe only 1 in 10?) Sometimes the transformation is not yet complete and others are out there still pointing fingers and judging. I also have some friends, or family of friends, who are still on the path of pain and sin and hurting themselves and others, which is so destructive and painful to watch. And I sometimes see judgmental self-righteous people, who are also killing themselves from within (I think Jesus calls them full of dead bones!). The path is narrow that leads to life! But it's not the path of self-righteousness or perfection or sinlessness, but the path of love, grace, and truth. Amen!

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