Missing Pieces…

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I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. I’m a product of SDA schools. Elementary, high school, and even colleges….I was raised a certain way and no other way.

I’ve struggled. I struggled with the legalism that I felt was an inherent part of our faith. I still do. It hurts my heart like I think it does God’s. The unconditional love and grace of God was missing for me. As my personal relationship with God grows and I get to know Him better, I see how legalism breaks His heart every bit as much as refusal to obey.

Legalism will leave you scratching your head thinking “well if not this, what about that?” “If this isn’t okay, why is that?” It’s a never ending cycle of hypocrisy and confusion.

Keeping the Sabbath growing up wasn’t a heart thing for me, it was required, plain and simple. We had very specific rules that we had to follow that felt like nothing short of ridiculousness to me. They literally did not make sense to me and I knew I couldn’t justify raising my kids that way…So, I don’t. But, they do know about the Sabbath. They know it matters to me. Because I do believe it matters to God. I think it’s a special day set aside by Him, for us.

Seventh-day Adventists get accused of harping on the seventh day Sabbath. In my personal journey, I’ve come to realize that what feels like harping to others, is just them not ignoring it. They recognize it, acknowledge it. Strive to honor all ten commandments, instead of just the nine. This is different from most other churches, so they find themselves having to explain it quite a bit which sounds like harping to those who don’t agree.

They REMEMBER the seventh day to keep it holy just like it says to in the 4th commandment. And, yes, this is different. But, if “Thou shalt not lie” was ignored by most and one denomination decided to take it under their wing, they’d be accused of harping on that. Those “Sabbath keepers” would turn into those “Not liars”. Doesn’t make sense.

Most people don’t argue that the other nine should be honored as the Word of God. But because they do still find it relevant and just as important as the other nine, they strive to keep it as well.

It makes sense to me and although I know I could never do it perfectly, that’s why Jesus came. It’s a heart thing, not an outward actions thing.

“Keeping it” looks different to everyone. There seems to be quite a bit of hostility over this belief because it’s different and challenges how life is set up for most people these days. I understand the challenge. But, what I don’t understand is how it can be dismissed and shrugged off as unimportant so easily and completely. It’s neatly tucked right in the middle of all the other commandments that are collectively agreed upon as important. Why is it left out? Why has it been disregarded?

Will I keep any of the commandments perfectly? No. Have I? No. That’s why Jesus sent His Son to die for us because we are UNABLE to keep God’s law perfectly. He knew we needed a sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice. This is why we don’t sacrifice animals anymore to atone for our sins. He satisfied that. The perfect Lamb fulfilled the law. He did not abolish the law. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, please keep all the commandments, except the 4th (now that Jesus has died).

What broke Jesus’s heart and caused Him anger was how the Pharisees “kept” it. Looking to accuse Jesus of anything, they got angry when He healed someone on the Sabbath day (Mark 3:1-6). Are you kidding me?? They couldn’t heal anyone on any day of the week! Their hearts were in the wrong place. Jesus lived without sin and died for ours, so that we can be found blameless in the eyes of our Father. In light of this truth, I will still attempt to obey.

If you obey my commandments, you will live in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commandments, and in that way I live in His love. I have told you this so that you will be as joyful as I am, and your joy will be complete. John 15:10-11 (GW)

True love WANTS to honor. I am fully convinced of the Seventh day Sabbath. I am not fully convinced on how to keep it. I think that’s personal between you and God. What brings you peace and alignment with Him. I do think it’s a special day and a gift, just like all of God’s commands are.

I am aware that Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” in Mark 2:27.  He said this when he was, once again, extremely irritated with the Pharisees for calling Him out for picking grain to eat on the Sabbath! Beyond frustrating because their hearts were all wrong. This is how I felt growing up, beyond frustrated. The Sabbath felt like an idol, and sometimes still does. More important than Jesus Himself. I imagined Jesus scratching His head as we followed the rules we were told we had to. Wondering why we focused so much more on that than on Him and His love and sacrifice for us.

God rested on the seventh day of creation, blessed it, and made it holy (Genesis 2:2). He asks us to rest on the seventh day and remember it (Exodus 20:8). Who doesn’t want a rest? A spiritually appointed rest? A divine excuse to stop what you’re doing, reflect on Him, spend time with your loved ones, relax, help and love on others, and trust God to provide. That sounds amazing! Not at all like a burden or an obligation. A requirement that I WANT to sign up for! Like the naps we despised as children and beg for as adults.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’ll happily go to church any day of the week. I love church. I love church service. I love praise music. I love being with other believers who love Jesus. I have no fundamental issue going to church on a Sunday, but because of my own personal conviction, I do have a fundamental reason for remembering the seventh day as special and set aside. I believe it’s mentioned over and over again for a reason. In others churches, I found the love and grace, but the 4th commandment was missing….Something was always missing.

I think God knew this commandment in particular would be forgotten or done away with. I think that’s exactly why He started this particular commandment with “Remember” as opposed to “Thou shalt not”. Do you think it would make a difference? Do you think if He had put “Thou shalt not forget the Sabbath day” like the others that more people would take note? Interesting thought.

Nonetheless, He put “Remember”. So, I will do just that. Humbly attempt to keep His Word and fully rely on His grace in my weakness is all I can do with a love like this.

Something was always missing in the puzzle to me….What’s your missing piece?

If this article leads to anything on your part, I pray it’s to study for yourself. Ask Him for yourself. Follow His leading. What does the Bible say? All of it. New and old testament. Pray about it. Ask God if it matters. In my opinion, if anything matters to God, it should matter to us. If it doesn’t, it shouldn’t.

Hashing Out the Holidays

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After living through it as a child and as an adult, I have no doubt why God hates divorce. And, it becomes all the more evident over the holidays when sentimentality and family time is planned around, planned for, and deemed most precious. That being said, I also know God hates abuse and infidelity. God hates selfishness and pride. And, because of these traits, divorce is imminent in this fallen world.

Hashing out the holidays with my ex is always painful. Who wants to share kids on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning? No one!

Being a child of divorce, I’m well aware of the scheduling that goes into seeing everyone. We have multiple homes to visit and presents to open, along with mass quantities of food to consume. All blessings! I’m the type who wants to be everywhere with everyone I love….all the time. But, the schedule can get tight at times. And, we still want to make time for the personal Christmas with our spouse and kids. That’s hard enough married, but throw my own divorce in the mix and I just can’t do it. Well I can, but not with my kids. It’s painful and, no doubt, the hardest time of the year for most divorced parents. We want to celebrate the season, but without our children, there is a fog that’s hard to lift. There is definitely something (someone) missing.

Thank God for family to celebrate with. Thank God for children to buy for. Thank God for a family who understands my situation. Thank God for places to be. Help me, Lord, with patience and the aching heart that comes along with absent children at each and every event where I crave their presence. So much more than their presents.

This year, I want to focus more on peace than fighting. I’d rather give too much than fight one more day. I’d rather know my kids are loved at both homes and give up time if necessary, than argue over going back and forth. I’d rather forego family traditions on my end than stubbornly fight to uphold them if all it causes is chaos and stress. I’ll make new ones. New ones full of peace, love, and sacrifice. And, I’ll also stand by the fact that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I will once again grieve the old and embrace the new. I will choose peace. Isn’t that why Jesus came as a baby anyway? Peace. I choose to lay it down and let it go…

If this post leaves you with anything, I hope it emphasizes the importance of presence over presents. When you are loved and not present, you are gravely missed. Once again, looking forward to the day we can all be together…..all the time. Happy, healthy, and whole.

 

A Time for Everything…

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I woke up with a beautiful breakthrough from God this morning. There is a time for everything under heaven. There is a time to struggle and a time rest. A time to share and a time to keep. A time to give and a time to receive. A time to sleep and a time to wake. There is a time for change and a time to accept our humanness. A time to teach and a time to learn. A time to seek approval and a time to act. A time to hold on and a time to let go. A time for spiritual warfare and a time to just be held in God’s arms of grace. A time for strength and a time for weakness. His grace is sufficient.

Jesus died for us because He knew we couldn’t live a perfect life like He did. He knew our limitations. He knows every struggle and temptation we face, and knew we would fall short. We all fall short. He died to cover us. His love is enough. His love allows us to admit failure, weakness, and imperfection. We are all saved by the grace of God alone. We have never been nor will ever be perfect, only perfectly loved. In our struggle to be obedient, we can lose sight of His grace and why He died for us to begin with.

When I find myself struggling with imperfection and worry, I need to remember this. I am perfectly loved by my Heavenly Father exactly as I am today, tomorrow, and I always have been. Weaknesses and all.

This morning I have a smile on my face and peace in my heart because of His sacrifice, not my own. Not because of what I’ve done or will do, but because of what He’s already done for me. Because He knows my struggles, desires, and needs even more than I do. Because I’m loved no matter what. This is not my war to win. He’s already won it.

There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance with joy. There is a time to throw weapons down and a time to pick them up. There is a time to hug someone and a time to stop holding so tightly. There is a time to look for something and a time to consider it lost. There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away. There is a time to tear cloth and a time to sew it. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. There is a time to love and a time to hate. There is a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:4-8 (ERV)

Amidst all our seasons in life, it is ALWAYS a good time to rest in God’s love and grace. We can’t earn it, only receive and be thankful for it. Thank God for such a time as this….