Monday, September 27, 2010

Cutting Off Limbs and Gouging Out Eyeballs

Autumn is here! I think that of the four seasons, autumn is my favorite. For starters, I was born during the month of October, and celebrate for the entire month. And secondly, the flavors of autumn are a treat to the senses of smell and taste. Pumpkin spiced latte, cappuccino, even lollipops from See's tell me that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin bread, pecan and fresh apple pies usher in the month of December. And December brings...

Chocolate chip, peanut butter, and sugar cookies galore! Decorated and ready to share with friends and loved ones.

I think the one holiday treat that has the most thoughtfulness is the Gingerbread Man Cookie. The one creating it starts with a blank naked expressionless wafer shaped like a human with its arms wide open. Then he takes special care to give cookie-person its own unique personality, whether smiling, embarrassed, flirty, or gushing-lovey-dovey. And the individual cookie's personality perfectly complements its intended final recipient.

What's the best thing you can do to show your appreciation of a hand-decorated Gingerbread Man Cookie made especially with you in mind? You eat it, of course! Many people start by breaking off its limbs or gouging out its icing eyballs or plucking off its gumdrop buttons. If Gingy were cognizant of what was happening, the whole concept of being decimated, unable to defend yourself, is not something he would want inflicted on any cookie. But he – and his creator – know that without such unimaginable trauma, his purpose would not be fulfilled.

In a way, we go through the same thing as Cookieman. We have times in our lives where we figuratively have our eyes gouged out or limbs cut off. It could be a business partner embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars, leaving you with lots of essplainin to do and a Mt. Everest of debt to go with it. Or being diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer or MS. Or having a love one brutally murdered. Or a natural disaster such as a wildfire or flood, where you lose everything and are forced to start over with your life. Or worse yet, several devestations happening back-to-back, breaking you to the point where it takes every ounce of your being to cry out to God, “I can't take any more!”

In the midst of our cries for mercy, it is not uncommon for others to come along side of us. Trying to comfort us. Telling us what they would do in our position. Telling us that things happen for a reason; that God doesn't give us more than we can handle; that it'll be OK, that God is in control.

“God is in control.” That means that He causes the good things to happen. He also allows hardship in our lives (read Job, chapters 1 and 2 if you don't think so). If God allowed Satan to run amok in Job's life, what makes us think God won't allow it in ours?

The whole thought of God lifting His hand of protection from my life terrifies me! But God is faithful to His promise that He is with us always. Let me give an example of what I mean.

When I was about seven or eight, my family went to Magic Mountain. There was this one ride that was kind of like a ferris wheel, but was a little different. I can't really explain the ride, but I was absolutely terrified to go on it, to the point I was hysterically screaming and crying right there in the middle of the park. Everyone else in the family wanted to go on the ride, but for them to do so would mean that I would be left alone to sit on a bench – not acceptable. I remember my dad trying to calm me, reassuring me that he would be right by my side the whole time. I finally agreed. I think I still cried the whole time, and at the end still told my parents that I never wanted to go on that ride again. Did I get mad at my parents for making me go on that ride? Yes, a little. But my dad was faithful – he was still beside me, holding my hand, keeping me safe. What loving father wouldn't do that for his child?

If you are in a place in your life where you feel as though you're being torn apart, know this:  You do not have to fear that God has so much power over your life.  Sometimes we wonder “God, what are you thinking??"  Sometimes we get downright angry with God for allowing evil in the world. And Sometimes the circumstances are a result of us making bad decisions instead of seeking His guidance and direction, with severe consequences to pay because of it. You may not sense God's presence during the worst time of your life. He is still there, with His hands graciously, mercifully extended, faithful to His promise to be with us, even if it kills Him. He will not leave you to sit alone on the bench.

In the mean time, enjoy an early Christmas treat. Have a cookie.  I made them for you!

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