February 8, 2007

A worthy goal . . .

After talking to a few people about my goal ‘to become a sweet little old lady’ I realize this means different things to different people. Besides the teasing of my brother, who said after a long pause, “You better get on that” then laughed loudly as only he can, each response made me realize that my goal needs clarification.

My ‘sweet little old lady’ models are few. None were blue-haired, sitting-in-the-corner-knitting types. They didn’t gossip. They were not meddlers, nor were they oblivious to the ways of their current culture. These were wise women who each had a spark, a quality of life obviously unrelated to their age or temperament.

The first is my original mentor who was so filled with the Holy Spirit that when her husband died, she comforted everyone else, and shared that her grief was mostly “just feeling sorry for myself.” She walked with Jesus and everyone knew it.

The second is a missionary who had nine children. Despite her busy and challenging life, she was always joyful and continually thankful, a delight to be around. Her attitude to life could be explained only by her relationship with the Lord.

The third was the wife of our pastor in another city. She was a wise and mostly serious person, dignified, always calm, and yet quick to see the funny side of things. She was my ‘even keel’ example of how to live when life became chaotic, an example of someone who deeply trusts the Lord no matter what.

While these three had little in common otherwise, their sweet personalities flowed from the same source and their lives stood on the same foundation. They walked with God. I was reminded of all three when I read these verses in Hebrews 9:

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

This is about the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ compared to the temporary sacrifices made in the Old Testament before He came to earth. It explains that those sacrifices, made in faith, had to be repeated, but His sacrifice is good for eternity. Not only that, instead of merely making a sinner clean until the next sin, His shed blood secures a greater cleansing than the blood from animals, a cleansing that lasts for eternity.

It is the last phrase that turned my mind to goals. For me, being a sweet little old lady means being a person who abandons “dead works to serve the living God.” Dead works might look good to others, but if they come from the flesh and are produced without the power of the Holy Spirit, they are worthless in the sight of God and have no eternal value.

In contrast, serving God means giving all that I am to Him, just as Jesus did, and allowing Him to work in my life and through my life to serve God. I have been set free from sin for that purpose, and this is what shapes my goal.

My mentors had different ways of doing things, but the Holy Spirit constantly motivated each of them. Nothing they did could be described as “dead works.” The Holy Spirit’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control was obvious in their lives. In that, they were sweet (like candy), easy to enjoy and universally appealing.

Being like that is a worthy goal, but my brother is right; I’m not there yet, and better get on it!

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