Friday, November 30, 2012

Not Seeking Soma, but accepting God-Given Relief

(This is Part 5 in a series. Read Part 1 part 2, part 3, and part 4)

There’s a difference between seeking soma and accepting relief.

By seeking soma, I mean seeking to fill oneself with the good things in this life.  
Pleasure gluttony, in all its various forms.

When I seek soma, when I approach my life intent on bouncing from one pleasure to the next, I find myself irritable when any of those things are taken away. I think I have a right to naptime, to a night’s sleep, to an uninterrupted cup of coffee. I feel injured when those things are stolen from me.  I consume all that I can out of the pleasures around me, and I still find myself unsatisfied, wanting more, not numb enough, not happy enough.  I am inconvenienced, interrupted, and put out all day long.

And the law shows me my sin, and reveals my heart for the selfishness that is in it. And still I whine that I deserve a break, I deserve a little comfort cheese, I deserve a day off. And yet, even as I whine I know I do not deserve, not from my God whom I have ignored while seeking my own happiness in other places.

Before God, I have no rights at all.
I have no right to have an easy day today.
I cannot whine if He asks me to suffer, to sacrifice, to deny myself.
I do not have a right to wake up healthy today.
I cannot demand another day with my family.
I have no right to any pleasures, any joys, in light of my sin.

The wages of sin is death- that really means, for our sins, we deserve to die.  This minute of life is pure gift. We are not entitled to it, or to the next one.

And then we see Jesus—Jesus who gave up his legitimate rights and became man; Jesus who emptied Himself, for us, to pay the wages that are too much for us to pay.  Jesus who did the thing we struggle to understand- who chose suffering.

It’s simply not natural, not for us.  And yet, for us, it has already been done.

And we, His children, get to rest in His love for us, His strange love that is so unlike what we find in our own hearts. 

Sitting there with him, His love rubs off on us.
Our hearts grow, and ache, and suffer as His does.  This is the life of the Christian, called to be God’s hands and feet to serve others, called to be God’s grace with skin on for the sake of others.

He does not give us soma, he does not give us numbness, or heartless happiness as we follow Him.
And when we see ourselves for who we are, and Him for who He is, we know we cannot demand it. 

How can we insist on being free from suffering, when God himself suffered for us?

And yet, he has mercy on us.
He does not give us soma, but He does give us relief.


Not by right, but by gift, the sun shone on me today.
I was not entitled to it, but even so, He gave me a moment of laughter.
And a healthy body. And the energy to mop the floors.

All good things from above, they are also gifts of grace from our Father who did not even withhold His Son.

How then shall we live?
Not vainly clinging to imagined “rights,” gorging ourselves on the good things in this life.
But seeking our contentment in Him, learning to suffer and to love and rejoice, learning as He teaches.
And keeping our eyes open, intentionally noticing the manifold gifts of grace that He sends from heaven.

Sometimes, I can really see it, His hand in the gifts all around me.

Lord, open my eyes, and open my hands.

By grace, God gave me Jesus.
AND, by grace, he gave me coffee.
And He gave me television, to help us through sick days.
And He gave me the blessing of a hot, quiet shower.
And He gave me the kind words of a friend.

And He gave me daily bread, and it was sticky and sweet, and it made my children smile while we ate it together in this place where we live by grace.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. 
His mercy endures forever.


What kind of relief did God send you today?


Messy Monday link-up returns again this Monday!
As you pull out the holiday boxes, take pictures of the chaos!
Send them to me this weekend, or prepare a post to link-up!

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