Saturday, May 31, 2008

Worrying and Playing God

Yesterday, my mother went in for some routine surgery. It bothered me more than I wanted to admit. First of all, it marks the fact that my mother is getting older and there is nothing I can do about it. It is a reminder to me that one day she will pass on and be with her Lord like all of the saints who have gone before her. I know I am not ready for that day yet, and so a reminder that it is approaching, fast or slow, is still very frightening to me.

But that wasn't the only reason why it bothered me. One of the things that kept playing through my mind is that I *should* be there. Despite the fact that my vocation of wife and teacher keep me from being able to pack up and go home every time there is a crisis there, I feel horribly guilty that my vocation of daughter cannot be fulfilled along side every other vocation even though there is no physical way for this to be so.

This didn't stop me from being guilty and feeling like a bad daughter. My father spent the night in the hospital by my mother's side alone and all I could think about was how I should be there to help and support him and to help take care of my mother. Then I started to think. Well, what is it that I could do if I was there? My first thought was to get Dad his coffee. Dad needs coffee like fish need water. That could be something I could do to help. But, then again, Mom's condition was not life threatening, so he probably doesn't need to spend every waking moment at her side. In fact, it probably did him some good to get his own coffee, so maybe that would be more of a hinderance than a help. I definitely wouldn't be any help to my mother in the hospital room. I am no nurse or doctor and I have only a basic understanding of pharmaceuticals. While she's in the hospital, there are people whose job it is to help her with recovery. Well, I wouldn't be much help in the way of her being at the hospital.

Maybe I could be help at home. Well, actually, not as much. My father has been blessed with two wonderful congregations who are allowing him to take as much time as he needs to help my mom recover at home. He'll be free to do the cooking, cleaning, administering of Mom's medication and the like. Besides the fact, I talked to Mom today on the phone. She had just gotten done taking a shower by herself. I think she'll recover nicely and quickly. She sounded happy and already on her way to healing.

So, if I am honest with myself, I know that there is nothing to feel guilty about. God, through His infinite wisdom and mercy, has set up people who have vocations and gifts specifically designed to help my mom through this bump in her life. All of my worries were for nothing because God indeed takes care of His children. If I were there, I am sure that God would have used me to help my mom and dad, but since I am not, He has put things into place to help where I would have. My worries are little more than a blatant sin against the First and Eighth Commandments.

The First because for some reason, I thought that I could be God and take care of my mother better than He could. I thought somehow *my* presence would make a difference when in fact it is *Christ's* presence that makes a difference.

The Eighth because I doubted God's Word that He would take care of my mom and worrying about her anyway.

Praise be to God that I am a forgiven sinner through Christ Jesus!

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Fearing God"

The First Commandment:
You shall have no other gods before Me.

What does this mean?
You should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

As a person who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I find it slightly disturbing to discover yet another thing I should be fearful of: God. Isn't it a silly phrase, anyhow? I have been taught that Jesus loves me from song and Scripture. It seems silly to fear such a good and gracious God. Isn't God just a grandfatherly figure there to make sure that I get everything out of life that I need and possibly even the things that I want?

Indeed, it is not that easy! Despite what some are led to believe, God gets angry. It's not anger without action, either. If you are not sure, look up Numbers 16:1-35. Those who did evil in God's sight were punished, along with their families and young children, by death. This was for rebelling against God's chosen leader of the Israelite people. That certainly doesn't fit the image of a nice old grandfather! That image is a frightening and fearful soldier ready to wield the sword for the offenses I have caused!

There are some who would say that this is the God of the Old Testament and not of the New. However, there is no truth in that statement as God forsook His own beloved Son on the cross, putting on Him the wrath and punishment of our sin on Him. Don't be fooled by the trick that God somehow changed His attitude toward sin in the New Testament. It is still just as deadly now as it was back in Genesis 3.

On my own, I should fear God. God literally has the power to strike me down where I stand at any moment. Without Christ's atonement for my sins on the cross, God would be well within His rights to strike me down. My only salvation is to claim Christ the crucified, and not by my own merit, either. For in my own merit, I put myself apart from Christ and try to lean on my own reason and strength. This again places me in the path of God's wrath. Instead, Christ has clothed me in His blood in the waters of Holy Baptism (which happened twenty eight years ago on June 8). When God sees me, He sees Christ, and Christ has made atonement for my sins and the sins of the world.

So why fear? Should I be afraid of God? This side of the grave all men are afraid of God. After all, God specifically states that He is angry with all those who break His commandments and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However, through faith in Christ, that fear will never be realized as God is pleased with the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, and since He sees us through Christ, He is pleased with us as well.

Martin Luther writes in his Large Catechism in Part One: The First Commandment, [32] "Learn, therefore, from these words how angry God is with those who trust in anything but Him. And again, learn how good and gracious He is to those who trust and believe in Him alone with their whole heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5)"

As we are saint and sinner at the same time, we trust and love and fear at the same time. However, when the time comes to depart from this world and we plead Christ the Crucified before the Judge of the world, there will be no need to fear, for we were made perfect in the blood of the Lamb.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Can We Go See Jesus?"

My little three year olds can really surprise me from time to time- and I am not talking about the random puke eruption that causes me to move faster than the speed of light! I mean those good surprises that you can tell other people about and they go all gushy inside. I had one of those days about a week ago. The kids were rowdy and really needed to go outside and get some energy out. I think they were too excited to notice the church sanctuary that we passed by to go play with the parachute outside. But, when we came back, it was a whole different story. My co-teacher and I were having a seriously hard time getting them to go back downstairs to the daycare center. They were looking at the church, interested in what was in there. Finally, one of my little ones asked, "Ms. Tina, can we go see Jesus?" The Martha side of my brain rushed- if we did this, we might be late getting back from lunch. The Mary side of me won. We walked very respectfully to the front of the church and sat down in the first two rows. Some of the children fidgeted, but most had their eyes focused on the cross. They asked questions about why Jesus had to die. I shared with them the Gospel. "Ms. Tina, can we say 'Our Father'?" another little one chimed. They might have stumbled over the words, but we prayed the Lord's Prayer there. Another one picked up a hymnal after that. "Can we sing?" she asked. We sang Jesus loves me. I checked my watch- we did need to go eat. I told the children it was time to go. Eagerly they asked if they could come up the next day to see Jesus. I pray that as I go through life I have the same wisdom of those children.