The Grumpy Gardener

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It’s January 2ndand I’m already done with winter BUT I’m on track with reading the Bible through in a year. (Celebrate the successes, even if it’s only the second day!)

Day 2 was kind of brutal. Anytime God shows us the ugly in us it’s rough. My journal looked like this:

Read Genesis 4-7 God favored Abel over Cain and Cain killed Abel. Cain, the gardener, felt slighted, jealous(?) and perhaps not good enough. He wandered restlessly, apart from God. The familiarity is haunting. I am Cain and I don’t like it.

Things I’m thankful for 4. Revelation 5. Admission 6. Forgiveness

Anger. It can get the best of us, can’t it? Have you ever been there? I have. Dang, I hate being like Cain. But I’m grateful for this…

A Warning and a Way

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (Genesis 4:6-7NIV)

Why are you angry? Great question God!

There can be so many reasons (excuses?) to the question God asks. Some may even seem justified. I can be angry if I’m wronged or feel like I got screwed out of something that should have been mine. Anger can bubble just below the surface as a secondary emotion of hurt, confusion, rejection, insecurities, or insufficiencies.

I asked my man if maybe Cain felt the above things like hurt and rejection. His reply? He’s a dude. He’s pissed he didn’t get picked. So maybe you came out of the womb with a chip on your shoulder.

No matter the reason, when left unchecked it can cause us to do things we wouldn’t normally do; behave in ways we wouldn’t normally behave. React impulsively and lash out with no take backs available.

I know how restless I can be when all I want is to get my hands in the dirt but there’s another polar vortex in the forecast and spring seems years away. Maybe Cain was experiencing an extra long winter and he was just a grumpy gardener. Probably not.

It leaves us as a restless wanderer on the earth. (Genesis 4:12NIV)

God doesn’t tell Cain to not be angry but to check it before it gets the better of him. According to Carolyn Custis James, anger is a symptom not of how wrong God has gotten things but of our need to know him better. (When Life and Beliefs Collide pg 65)

 When we believe He is for us and not against us, when we know His character and the love He has for us then we can trust that He will work things out for our good and His glory.

The warning: check yourself before you wreck yourself. (Don’t even open the door a crack!)

The way: master your anger by getting to know Him better.

Giving In and Getting Even

Did Cain listen? Nope.

The very next verse tells us that Cain took him out to the field and attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:8NIV)

He opened the door wide and allowed the enemy to waltz right in. I would love to tell you I have nothing in common with Cain and that God got it wrong that morning he opened my eyes to being just like him. But I can’t.

No, I haven’t killed anyone in a fit of rage but boy have I let my words wound out of anger. I’ve allowed anger to rise above my covered up hurt and insecurities to treat others poorly. I choose to hold back (love, writing, kind words, sympathy, forgiveness…) out of resentment. I’ve even done a couple of I’ll-show-them things; things I cannot take back and the damage is done.

Lord help me.

Mercy’s Mark and Grace Given

Cain recognized his punishment of being banished as too hard to bear on his own and is afraid for his own life so he cries out to the Lord. God put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. (Genesis 4:15NIV)

That’s the mark of mercy. Cain did not get what he deserved. Grace was given.

There is another who, on a cross, bore mercy’s mark on His hands and feet, who keeps me from being destroyed by my enemy, who forgives my sins, who sees me, knows me and loves me in spite of myself. He provides a way so I don’t have to wander restlessly, apart from Him. Now that’s Grace.

Oh to know Him more and more so when anger rears it’s ugly head I can check to see where my theology is lacking, then thank Him for mercy’s mark and grace given.

I am Cain. I am forgiven.

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let There Be…Night

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Beautiful moon photo is courtesy of the gorgeous Dianna Dickson

Show me what I need to see today Lord.

This simple prayer is how I’ve started each morning since January 1st. It’s something I’ve never done…reading this ancient script in it’s entirety over the course of one year. Just me and Thee. Bible and heart open. Pen and journal in hand. (I say this with some sarcasm because, while this sounds uber spiritual, I’ve already thrown a couple fits, not liked what he’s shown me, and well, I’m getting ahead of myself…)

I’m 20+ days in and He has yet to disappoint. Granted I’ve not made it as far as Numbers and read those long genealogies but still. Some days there are more questions than answers but that’s okay. I’m finding the joy (?) of trusting that He will show me what I need to see today.

Take for instance the first few verses of Genesis 1….

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:1-4 NIV)

 My journal entry looked like this:

January 1, 2019

Read Genesis 1-3 God separated light from darkness right away. *Live as Light*

  1. Coffee
  2. Quiet
  3. Rose Bowl win for the Buckeyes

I closed my Bible and my journal satisfied that Day One was in the books. The message was to shine bright…after another cup of coffee of course…because he saw that the light was good. So light=good, darkness=bad. Right?

Not so much. But we often equate it that way. Maybe it’s because we can’t see as well at night. Maybe it’s because as soon as our head hits the pillow our brains have nothing else to occupy the thoughts we’ve been too busy to think about all day. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid. Maybe it’s because the moment we’re still, grief pours down over us.

He could have made the sun to always shine but instead gave us night with a dimmer light to lead the way. Often times when life is all sunshine I have a tendency to think I know where I’m going and get completely lost. My arrogance leads me down a path I wasn’t meant to take. Once again I’m reliant on the Maker of both day and night to put me back on the right road.

God shows us things at night.

Take Abram for example. He was discouraged in his inability to produce offspring and was talking to the Lord about it. So God took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:1-5NIV)

This offspring thing kept Abram up at night. God didn’t wait to address his concerns until the sun came up the next day. No. He showed Abram the stars so when the darkness of doubt set in again, Abram could simply look up and be reminded that the God who put the stars in the sky does what He says He will do. He was right there with him. And he’s right there with you and me. In the night. When the doubt creeps in like the shadow of death.

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Photo courtesy of Dianna Dickson

God likes to wrestle at night.

In Genesis 32 we see Jacob preparing to meet his brother Esau. Esau is the brother from whom Jacob stole his birthright. They haven’t seen each other in years and Jacob is a bit…nervous shall we say. Jacob sends his family on ahead and…

a man wrestled him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Then a few wrestle moves and a name change later the man…blessed him there. (Genesis 32:22-29NIV)

I’m not sure what all Jacob was wrestling with God about but I do know it was night once again. That time when you lay your head on the pillow, exhausted from a full day of running, working, kids, husband, appointments. You can’t wait to fall into the bliss of sweet dreams…

Instead you start thinking about running, working, kids, husband, appointments. Worry, doubts, wonder, fear…

But instead of grappling with God we grab our phones and Crush some Candy or scroll through social media and wonder why everyone else has it better than you do. Other people’s families don’t seem to be falling apart. What will the test come back as? The list goes on and we get angry at God but we don’t engage with him. Our noses get out of joint instead of our hips.

Could it be that we miss the blessing because we run from the wrestling?

Living a life of faith is not lived in the light but discovered in the dark. While I don’t want to live in utter darkness all the time, I also don’t want to fear it. What can light mean if we never experience dark?

I do want to live as light like I wrote in my journal. But that may mean allowing Him to show me things by way of moonlight and stars with just enough light for the step I’m on. My light may shine brighter only after I grapple with God for the blessing in the darkest of night.

There was evening and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1:5 NIV)

And what a day it was too!

To be continued…

kw

PS Disclaimer: the darkness I am talking about here is things that trouble or scare you or refers to a trial or hard time you are going through. I am NOT talking about the darkness of depression or other mental illnesses. Please seek professional counseling and take any prescribed medicine to help you. I have and there’s no shame in it.