Advent: Be Honest

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Day Seven: Have Do More Than Look the Part

The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it (Mark 11:12-14, NLT).

I remember as a child how difficult it was to get to church without an argument about something. No matter how loud the conversation was, or what we had said to each other, as soon as we were out of the car the bickering stopped, and we looked the part of well-behaved children of perfect parents. 

Appearance trumped reality.

That message was drilled into me. So much so, that before I knew it I was practicing the same thing with my own children. 

Then one morning in my quiet time, I reflected deeply on today’s text. The conviction went just as deep and changed me forever. I also found a book that cemented the need for change. It’s title alone has become a mantra for being real: “No More Faking Fine” (Esther Fleece). 

TO PONDER: How different would life be if we owned where we really are instead pretending to be okay? What would it take to live honestly instead of wearing a mask of “okay-ness”? 

TO DISCUSS: This need for perfection, for looking like we should have fruit, but not doing it, was the reason Jesus cursed the fig tree. Jesus response to the fig tree “pretending” to be a fruit-bearer brought strong words from Jesus. Wearing a mask, pretending to be fine, getting stuck in appearances and expectations, are not what Jesus wants from us. Who can you be really you with—no pretending, no faking fine? Where do you feel that safe? 

PRAYER: God, your word tells me, “you want complete honesty, so teach me true wisdom (Psalm 51:6, CEV).” I confess sometimes I wear a mask, and hide my true feelings from others—and even try to do it with you. Help me to come clean with you…and with others. I want my appearance—the way I live—to reflect you. Help me to live that way today, and every day. Amen

Thinking Devotionally

(In an attempt to increase my online presence and my writing in general, I have assigned a writing topic to each day of the workweek. On Thursdays I will share a thought that has beeen meaningful or challenging from my devotional reading. I pray it will bless you as much as it does me.)

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A friend loaned me this book for my devotions this year. She felt it had enriched her life. So far, I’m agreeing with her. From the back of the book:

Take My Heart, Oh God will do more than motivate you to make intimacy with him a part of your daily discipline. Its rich reminders will help you offer yourself to the one who understands you best and loves you most.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that phrase, but with a slight twist. God has always been the one “who knows me best and loves me most.” A God wink? It was for me.

Yesterday I read: Our soul thirsts; he alone can satisfy. We hunger to know the depths of God’s love; he fills us to overflowing with nourishment from his Word.

And I wondered, “How hungry am I, how thirsty?”

Then last evening I was reading a book recommended by a blogger/writer I follow, No More Faking Fine. In the introduction she describes her desperate hunger for God. She wrote about how she would go to sleep on the Bible in hopes of absorbing truth for her aching heart.

Odd? Perhaps. But being desperately hungry can bring us to unnatural places and actions.

A dear friend of mine, many years ago, was going through emotional warfare that rocked her soul, threatened the foundations of her faith. She kept a small Bible in her car, and would read it at stop lights: gulping down the promises and soaking up the grace.

It would have been easier to sit at the light and ruminate on her crumbling marriage and the potential disasters waiting around the corner. She could have focused on the problems and pain, and easily shut God out. Where was he when all this started falling apart?

But instead, she chose to fill her mind and her heart with his promises: to never leave her, to make all things work for good, to do exceedingly above and beyond all she could ask or imagine.

One Sunday, right in the middle of all this chaos, she was scheduled to bring the special music during worship. I still don’t know how she did it. She stood in front of the congregation and sang, “And whatever it takes to draw closer to you Lord, that’s what I’ll be willing to do.” 

We can’t get to that place running on empty.

How hungry, how thirsty, are you?

I invite you like the Psalmist, “Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).”

Fill up on him and his Word.

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