Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Hope of a Peculiar People

Good Evening sweet, dear friends.  Such a busy life I have (all of us have).  I'm sure most of us have heard of the PBS Masterpiece series, "Downton Abbey," and its inexplicably immense popularity throughout the United States and Europe.  There has been much conversation about why it is so successful.

For me, it is a slower paced, genteel world with defined boundaries that people understand and respect. There is a calmness to the environment created by individuals who exhibit depth of character in their actions and attitudes.

That doesn't really have anything to do with my thoughts this evening, except to explain that we might all crave a little less busyness in our lives. We might also appreciate a slower paced environment with defined boundaries that gives us time to really live and appreciate life and all of its beauty - while being rested enough to handle the "ugly" when it comes along.  Now that is some real wisdom right there.

Having said all of that, I want to share with you what the Lord is teaching me about what it really means to be a "peculiar" (belonging to the Lord, chosen) people.  I Peter 2:9: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 

When I was growing up, I got the impression that "peculiar" meant different and set apart in the way Christians looked, acted, and the places we went.  I realize there is a modicum of truth in that perception, just enough to create an attitude of legalism and cause me to miss the point of being "holy" and really set apart "because" of the Lord Jesus and what He has done for me and not because of what someone else might think of me.

I wondered why when I went to a Christian University they wouldn't allow us to wear maxi dresses when they were so popular and very modest.  The reason given: "we are a peculiar people, and we don't want to look or act like the 'world'."  The same reason was given when we couldn't go to movies, wear pants, listen to certain music, and on and on.

My rebellious thought was, "Yep, we're peculiar alright, and who would want to be around us and would anyone be drawn to us?"

I thought we wanted others to be drawn to "Christ in us, the hope of glory,"not repelled by us because we were too peculiar and a bit self-righteous because we were just a tad proud of how peculiar we were.  And my self-righteousness for all of its reasons was/is a stench in the nostrils of my Heavenly Daddy.  Yikes.  No self-righteousness, none - not if we want an open, sweet relationship with the only righteous One.

OK - that was just an aside - but an important one for me.

As I have continued to grow and mature in the Lord, I have realized what a shallow and erroneous view that was of being "peculiar."  My position in Christ as "chosen in Him before the foundation of the world" begs me to remember I am peculiar because I belong to the Lord Jesus and for no other reason.

However, when I walk with the Lord Jesus, hand in hand, learn His Heart, know His mind, seek to honor Him in all that I do, that will surely make me stand out as "peculiar" in a world filled with stress, chaos, discouragement, loss, disillusionment, and hopelessness. (And by the way, that kind of peculiarity will also take care of the way I act, look and the places I choose to go.)

I have always loved Proverbs 13:12 - "hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life."  Here's why I love this verse.  It represents the opposite of hopelessness to me.  I realize that hope deferred means a delay or even cancellation of something I have passionately desired.

This is how I avoid hopelessness, being heart sick and disappointed; I place my hope and all of my desires in the Lord Jesus (my "tree of life") who never fails or disappoints, who has plans for me, plans for good and not for evil, plans to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

All of those promises in God's Word only work when we claim them and act on them.  Now, here is my confession.  I failed this week to place my hope in the Lord. Instead, I tried to handle things and circumstances in the flesh.  Boy, did I ever experience disappointment, disillusionment and a feeling of hopelessness.

That mere description of this past week tells me where my hope was.  I have had to ask for forgiveness, once again.  My prayer included this admission, "Lord, I can't do this."  To which He replied, "now, sweet Mec, my daughter, we start at the beginning because My strength is made perfect in your weakness."  To which I humbly replied, "Thank you, Heavenly Daddy, for meeting me where I am, lifting me with Your strong right hand, restoring my hope and making me acceptable in Your sight, Oh Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer," (Romans 12:1, Ps. 19:14).

That doesn't mean the results of my self-righteousness automatically go away.  I have created stumbling blocks instead of stepping stones.  But my God, my Heavenly Daddy, will remind me before I stumble over the very traps I created, when my hope is in Him.

Are you ever disappointed in people and circumstances as I was this week because of misplaced hope?  Or is your hope in the Risen One, Who gives you resurrection power to be peculiar and walk in peace, hope and confidence in a world of chaos and hopelessness?

I choose hope in the Risen One, the reason I can always approach the day with joy. What do you choose?  Love to all, Mecca

PS.  Just found two more feathers today.  They cling to the broom, my hand or just fly away.  Those durn words.  They do come back to haunt me.