I guess I sing this song a lot. (10,000 Reasons) I must, because I don't remember listening to it since Trevor's choral concert. But the other day as I was preparing some Weecycled stuff for another consignor ("Busy Mom Service"), I hear the sweet little voice of my 22 month old singing "Bless the Lord, O my soul, worship His holy name."
There is truly nothing like it. I am amazed at what she picks up, and at the same time it terrifies me because without realizing it, I've shared something with her, and she's absorbed it.
I want, so badly, for her to see Christ shining in me. I want her to see a joyful countenance. A patient mother. The fruits of the Spirit. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Gentleness. Self-control. This is more important to me than ever before. It seems we're starting from "scratch", what it is God wants from us. And I'll be the first to say it's not been a piece of cake! It's hard to "un-learn" years of thinking that it was our behavior or dress that made us acceptable to God. Realizing for the first time that God doesn't "need" anything FROM us. He has everything he needs, and while he could just take whatever he wants, he just wants us to allow him to use us. To LET him shine. Not to "shine FOR Him". Not to "do the right thing". Not to "dress like a Christian" (whatever that means). The fruits of the Spirit, like I mentioned above, are no more the garments we wear than the houses we live in, or the food we eat. These are earthly things. God gave us life, that we may live it to the fullest! Drew and I were reading Romans 7 last night, and I highly recommend it. It makes it very clear that the purpose of the Law was already fulfilled, and then it was done away with, because the presence of it was causing people to desire to do evil. Living in freedom, we find it *more* fulfilling to live a life pleasing to the Lord, because He can do this in us, without our help, if we are not so focused on doing exactly the right things! We can LET him work in us if we aren't so intent on making sure we "live by the rules". Our faith gives us the power to say "yes" or "NO" to certain behaviors of which God wouldn't approve! Other "rules" and opinions of man just get in the way of our faith being built! I can say this is true of my life, from experience. I hadn't experienced growth in a very, very long time. This complacency resulted from "knowing I was doing everything ok". Well, God didn't agree. He wanted me to keep growing. And that growth was stunted...I was doing what I "had to do" to be acceptable. Not to God, mind you, but to man. He's giving us a chance to learn why He wanted us to get rid of the law, long ago. And the freedom I am beginning to experience. It is incredible. Really incredible. Personally, I have spent WAY too much time criticizing others' apparel. I want to apologize to any of those people who I'm sure knew I was doing that mentally. I truly thought your garb was a meter by which we could gauge someone's Spiritual growth! Really! As if the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 were incomplete: "Love, joy, peace, patience..............dresses, high necklines, sleeves, pleats, denim skirts....gentleness and self-control!"
I say that now in jest, but realizing that I was "adding to the scripture" by making our specific garments either right or wrong...for me, I believe it's more sinful to label a specific garment right or wrong (putting words in God's mouth)! John 13:35-"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." He didn't say "they will know you by your dresses". He said by your LOVE. Putting my opinions on someone's dress before our fellowship? That is absolutely SIN. No doubt in my mind.
I have had the blessing of enjoying fellowship with a few friends who happen to not "dress the code". Yes, I saw their light shining. Yes, I noticed the joy in their hearts! And I found out they were my sisters in Christ. I recognized it, not because they were wearing a dress, but because God's love knows how to shine without our help. I can put on a dress and go to the store and STILL hide my light under a bushel, if I'm withholding love. So what if I'm wearing a skirt? Even those who are unsaved can wear skirts. What they CAN'T do is show God's love to the world.
Again, I want to confess publicly that I have given WAY too much opinion out on the issue of clothing. I have been self-righteous (which also puts the light wayyyy under a bushel...hypocrisy and self-righteousness can hide Christ's light in a hurry!), thinking I was more Godly than the next girl who was wearing a different type of garment to cover her body! Really. I did that. And I am so ashamed and sorry to everyone who I did that to. Let me learn, let me grow. We all are. I'm as imperfect as they come, yet Christ still loves me and I am so amazed by that. And for the record, I know how all this will come across for some. I know because I've been on the other side of that same exact hurdle. "She's making excuses so she can wear what she wants." It is a big hurdle to get over, to wipe clean the slate and realize that we allowed ourselves to be tricked into thinking our garb was our method of "shining", or "preventing a stumble". Yes, out of love I can consider this, if a brother should say he is weak, I should not contribute...be a stumbling block. But even within this "code", if a brother has lust in his heart, the garment a woman wears is irrelevant. I cannot control his mind. It's hard to admit I was wrong, that I was pridefully thinking I KNEW what God's opinion was. And along with that, I thought others didn't, or just "wasn't there yet" or "needs to grow in the Lord".
Just a few thoughts on my mind lately. Being a Christian isn't something we "do". It's already been DONE. We all know that. Allowing God to use us, and to shine in us for the world? That is not something we consciously have to make ourselves do! I'm finding that by "drawing close to Him", he does his work without my "help". Trying to "do what's right", "be a good testimony","serve God" I know I can't do those things on my own, and I also know they are just by-products of giving it ALL to Christ. It's amazing what He does when we get out of his way.
I really, really hope this comes across the way I intended; comment away and share your thoughts, so I know exactly how it DID come across!