Monday, December 24, 2007

Send me?!?

So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. - Exodus 3:10
One of my favorite movies is The Prince of Egypt, one of the early animation movies enhanced by computer graphics. Though I loved the CGI effects, the main draw for me was how they portrayed God in this re-telling of the story of Moses and the Exodus. One of my favorite lines from the movie is a paraphrase of the above verse: "And so, unto Pharaoh, I shall send... you."

To give it my own paraphrase: "Okay, here's the situation. My people, thousands of them, have been oppressed, and it's time for some action. So, it's time to put the most powerful nation in its place and make them free their slave labor force. And My plan... well, it's you, Moses." No wonder Moses thinks God's a little off his rocker.

Of course, we all know the end of the story. God uses Moses to bring plagues, part the Red Sea, and receive the Ten Commandments, all while doing his best Charlton Heston impersonation. Fine and dandy for a movie, and for ancient history. Then it hits me that God has another huge goal in mind, and his plan is, well, me. Just plain old me.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. - Matthew 28:19-20a

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. - John 14:12
Sometimes I catch myself taking for granted the awesome sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross, chalking it up to God's great love rather than receiving it in humble gratitude. But as long as my faults and selfishness are evident, I can't dismiss the love and grace He showers on me by actually wanting to use me to accomplish great things for Him.
Jesus, I know you are omnipotent and could accomplish anything you wished with just a word or thought. How both humbling and exalting it is to know you'd rather choose to use me in and my faulty soul. Give me the desire to seek your will out, the courage to step out to achieve it, and the humility to know that you are the one who brings the wonders through me.

Jesus Claus is Coming to Town

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. - John 15:7
This time of year, we start hearing in Christian circles phrases like "Remember the reason for the season." It's designed to dislodge our minds from the holiday routine of buying presents, decorating houses, and seeing St. Nick at the mall. As a new dad, I'm wrestling with whether to introduce Santa to my daughter -- is it simply fun or something that distracts from Christ's birth? But, the real question I've realized is how much I've confused Jesus with Santa in my own heart. At times, it feels like I pray this way:

Dear Jesus Claus,

You know I've been very good this year. So, I would like the following from you:
  • My daughter to grow up strong and healthy.
  • Patience at my job.
  • Healing for a family member.
  • More energy to get things done around the house.
I look forward to waking up tomorrow morning to see what you've brought me while I was asleep.

Love, Mike

PS: I wouldn't turn down a flat-screen TV, either. :)
Okay, it's not that obvious, but isn't it just as plain? I try to obey his laws, so I expect him to answer my prayers. And by answer, I mean just do something in the background without actually interrupting my life. Just down the chimney and back up again before I wake.

And yet, in this passage, he opens with "If you remain in me". Though I know it in my head, I forget in my actions that I should be much more focused on God's presence than on His presents.
Lord God, please help me to see you as you really are, not as some sort of spiritual Santa. Create in my heart a desire to pursue you and not your blessings. And when you do bless me, may my gratitude draw me even closer to you.