Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy NEW life!

2013: A year of decisions. Actually, determination. A year of letting go of old habits of thinking, of old behaviors. A year of emptying my little self of everything old, and being filled with the new. Something new is coming. Not a rehash of the old statement, not a remake of the same movie.

A brand new page of a brand new book. As radical a change as being born again, as I did many years ago when, alone in my bed, terrified by the dread of death and, potentially, hell, I begged Christ to have fellowship with me. I asked Him to spiritually abide with me, to be my Eucharist. I craved communion with Him. He gave me a new heart. He gave me peace that He was in my heart.

Now, I'm a child again. And I say, I don't want to die without KNOWING you, REALLY knowing you. 

 I've stepped out of my comfort zone, left the boat and am currently walking on water. And, surprise, surprise, it doesn't seem as if I'm sinking. Actually, I seem to be floating or soaring... Sustained by His Word, receiving more revelation and more PERSONAL direction than ever before. Learning to lean on Him who loves me. Learning to trust, in humble dependence, in Him who takes sweet care of me. Step by step, I'm walking. Step by step, I'm drawing near. Giant step by giant step, HE's drawing near. Sweet. Beautiful. Loving. Glorious. Beckoning me. Drawing me. Caressing me with His eyes, full of Heavenly fire. With His voice, as roaring thunder, as the sound of many waters. Gently inviting me to surrender all. Gently. Sweetly. Still looking at me. And as I look at those sweet, loving, consuming, fiery eyes, I can't help saying, YES! I surrender all!
 Not by might. Not by power. Not by force or obligation. But by My Spirit, says the Lord.

 Isaiah 41:15
“Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, And make the hills like chaff.

Isaiah 42:9
Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.

Isaiah 42:10
[ Praise to the Lord ] Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise from the ends of the earth, You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, You coastlands and you inhabitants of them!

Isaiah 43:19
Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 48:6
“You have heard; See all this. And will you not declare it? I have made you hear new things from this time, Even hidden things, and you did not know them.

Isaiah 62:2
The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the Lord will name.

Isaiah 65:8
Thus says the Lord:“As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it,’ So will I do for My servants’ sake, That I may not destroy them all.

Isaiah 65:17
[ The Glorious New Creation ] “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.

Isaiah 66:22
“For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain.

Jeremiah 31:31
[ A New Covenant ] “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah

Ezekiel 11:19
Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 18:31
Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?

Ezekiel 36:26
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Hosea 2:22
The earth shall answer With grain, With new wine, And with oil; They shall answer Jezreel.

Joel 2:19
The Lord will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, And you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.

Joel 2:24
The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.

Joel 3:18
[ God Blesses His People ] And it will come to pass in that day That the mountains shall drip with new wine, The hills shall flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water; A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord And water the Valley of Acacias.

Zechariah 9:17
For how great is its goodness And how great its beauty! Grain shall make the young men thrive, And new wine the young women.
If you hold on to the old, you can't receive the new. 

Business as usual will leave you walking in circles around the wilderness of your backsliding heart.
Can you see the awesome promise in the passages I've quoted? This is GOD speaking to YOU. 

Who has an ear to hear the message?

Who has a craving, a need for renewal? 

Do you need an "extreme makeover"?

Can you see the fountain of eternal waters springing open, right in the midst of you? Beckoning YOU to drink freely and abundantly from it? Will you?

Can I get an AMEN?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Life is not a snapshot

And hold on cause there’s good for those who love God
Life is not a snapshot
It might take a little time but you’ll see the bigger picture.
Josh Wilson, Before the morning

A brief explanation to why I posted the lines in the lyrics of 
this song I love.
Life is not a snapshot. There are moments in life when you feel, if anyone took a snapshot of what I'm going through right now, it would look really awful! Really.
I can't really complain. What I "suffered" today was not
persecution, torture, famine, a terminal disease or any of the serious afflictions a Christian may face. My tribulation was more annoying than anything else. But it was a real test (and stretch) on my patience muscles. 
And only God knows how to stretch those, to the point where we're just ABOUT TO suffer a mental breakdown including a serious fit of rage in public... God took me to the very limit of that... and then let go before I really made a fool of myself.
We're halfway through our dream vacation in Uruguay, a really amazing country not far from Argentina. We were invited by my mum and dad-in law, who rented a house for the summer. On the day we were leaving, my son had diarrhea. We got some meds to stop it (our trip was more than one day long, so we basically had no choice) and gave them 
to him. Too effective: three days later, no poop.

First night at a hotel on the way, uneventful. Second day, we arrive at our destination, son with very high fever. We call travel assistance, they give us an address. We had to wait quite a bit, but everything basically ran smoothly.
Thing is, four days and Ibuprofen-three-times-a-day later, our son still had fever, had cold symptoms, and his eyes looked irritated. Another travel assistance call. Hospital crammed with people (11 children before mine) and only two pediatricians available. Two hours later, a doctor sees little Samuel. That part was really wonderful. A great professional. She ordered a couple of tests, we went to the nurse room
and then to the lab, and at the lab we were told we needed an
authorization for the tests.

Back to reception. Many people waiting. Receptionist calls travel assistance and gets the "Why-are-they-ordering-this- throat-test-if-the-patient-came-to-the-hospital-with-diarrhea?" response... Doctor had to be called and write a complete report on what she saw at her office. Then that report had to be faxed to travel assistance so they would fax the authorization (unbelievable, in times of scanners and email, some businesses in the Third World still use faxes. I thought they were totally obsolete!). The receptionist says, Please sit down and wait. Ok. Carina waits for at least forty minutes and then stands up and asks, What about my authorization? And gets the "Sorry-I-faxed-it-but-then-the-faxing-failed-so-I-had-to- fax-it-again-I'm-waiting-for-their-answer-now -so-you'll-need-to-wait-some-more" response.
Imagine being told to wait after waiting four full hours. Spending four hours of your precious and SHORT vacation in a hospital waiting room, knowing full well your child has NOTHING serious and you could just as easily have waited it out having fun somewhere. If my inlaws hadn't insisted and my husband hadn't agreed (he's much more obsessive about Sami's health than me; I take a more relaxed and wait and see approach), there's no way we would have wasted an entire afternoon there.
Believe me, it's an absolute miracle I didn't lash out at the unfortunate lady right then. And to me it's an almost sure proof that I've really been born again because, believe me, the OLD Carina would have screamed her guts out...
And again, going back to the snapshot metaphor... This is the kind of thing I would have hated to experience before. I still hate it... But my reactions have changed. I've been changed. Self-control was not in my vocabulary before. It is now. And in spite of being internally upset and wanting to relieve my annoyance by screaming, I didn't. I didn't insult the receptionist (or anyone else for that matter). I didn't insult my husband. Ok, I confess I used a couple of expletives regarding the situation. But knowing my fleshly self, it could have been so much worse.
And all along I remembered the “All things work together for
good to those who love God” verse, which greatly encouraged me. Because I thought, Hey this little annoyance is conforming me to the image of Christ, and thus increasing the weight of glory in me. How awesome is that? So should I complain about losing one day of vacation when 
lots of Christians are losing their lives over their faith? 
No way! But oh, it’s annoying… Yep, but we need to see the 
bigger picture. Or if we can’t, trust that this awfully 
nerve-wracking experience we’re going through somehow 
fits into the Plan.

I need more patience, so God gives me those patience-stretching experiences. I hope I’ll get some time to rest those
muscles a bit after today!

Friday, January 18, 2013

I'm baaaaaaaack!!!!

Long time, no see. It seems I have to find a way to keep this going. 

I was in a cocoon for a while. At first, it was busyness. But then, discouragement set in. Routine reared its ugly head and time was scarcer and scarcer. So I start this blog by apologizing to any of you who may have been expecting new postings, and didn't get any from me. But most of all, I want to apologize to God for hiding this, my talent. For losing sight of this specific calling He has given me.

To cut a long story short, I didn't feel worthy enough. More than anyone else, I know what the mirror shows. And I let the enemy feed me with lots of lies about myself. And the thing is, the worse you feel about yourself, the more you tend to drift away from Him. The more accused and condemned you feel, and the less you want to come back and the more you turn to the little comforts the world has to offer. Something as silly as a game on Facebook. A movie. A TV show, the news or a blog which is interesting but perhaps not THAT edifying. And you run away from the source of all true comfort. Because you expect Daddy will be so angry and will say, Oh, dear, you messed up again. And yes, I did. I basically wasted I don't know how much time which I could have used so much better, time I'll never get back. 

Friends from everywhere offered a word here and there... But when you're in that state, you hear, say, Thank you and think, That's wonderful, but not for me. Not anymore. It's too late. I've wasted my chance. Can't turn back. Not because I'm not expected, but I just don't want to turn back anymore. I'm numb. I have no feelings. I'm trapped inside nothingness. All is vanity now.

And then there are moments... Moments that for a tiny sec you feel you just might once again feel alive... Fleeting moments that pass and then you're emptier and sadder, and more hopeless than before.

There's a passage in Revelation that defines what I felt for years:

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

Can anyone relate? That was me. I heard the voice and felt remorse, but not true repentance. Instead of running towards God, I kept running away.

But God is merciful. I dragged myself to church for two years, feeling nothing. Then, I left the congregation I'd attended for 5 years because our pastor was in a crisis and many people left like us. And sought another church, and found very little good food in the places I visited. Finally came back to my original place. The Lord was restoring the pastor and many of the remnant who had stayed, and was bringing some others who, like us, had left and came back. 
But nothing. Just silence.

I found some interesting and eye-opening websites and read a lot about the powers behind the media, the government and many of the institutions we revere. And was sick of it all. I began to understand just how lost this world is. And I hated the world. I began to see so much suffering all around me because some very powerful people are just too wicked and sadistic. And many people who are not so powerful are wicked and sadistic, too. There's just too much evil all around us. And the whisper inside asked, What are you doing about this? And I said, Nothing. I felt I probably should pray, but felt too weak. I offered the Lord my heart's intentions, and hoped that would do.

Well, during my holidays something started happening. And couple of weeks ago, I had a sleepless night (I've had many lately). 


So that was it. Next day, I was posting little things on Facebook. Sharing blog entries I liked, links to videos. And sure enough, the restoration came. I was alive. My dreams and hopes were alive. I have a writing dream which for me seems a total impossibility (something I've really longed to do since I was a little girl, but failed at every time since my teenage years). God knows. I cannot say it will happen. Because I don't know. But He does. And if He wants it to be... nothing can stop it. Delay it? Maybe. Delays in my ministry seem to be the rule rather than the exception. :( 

But one day, when the Lord says NOW... I'll find myself right there... Exactly where God wants me to be. Perhaps I already am. I believe this little step I'm taking today in writing this is exactly what God wanted me to share today, and this baby step takes me one step closer, just one step closer to that calling...

Knowing Jesus and making Him known.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christ and the Bible (great reading)

It's been a long time since my last post. 
Last couple of years... crazy beyond craziness. Lots of struggle, but praise the Lord, I'm still around and I can say I have been blessed.

Today I opened the STEP Reader that comes with eSword free software (which I heartily recommend) and found this 1940 sermon. I paste some extracts for I am sure the words will bless many. The author is Dr. J. B. Chapman, and the subject is "Christ and the Bible."

... The chief unity of the Bible grows out of the fact that it has but one hero -- the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible mentions many men. But the men of the Bible are important only in their relationship to Jesus. A long roster of names makes interesting reading because all the men in that list were progenitors of Jesus on the human side. Good men, great men, and wise men all become types of Jesus and hence occupy a relative importance. Even bad men are known because they contrast with the One who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. And if you find a good man in the Bible and cannot make out just why his story is told, you will usually find the key by bringing the story to bear upon the Ideal Man who is the hero of the whole Book.

    The Bible contains many descriptions of places and things. But places and things are important only as they touch the life of Jesus. Bethlehem is the best known city in the world, because Jesus was born there. Jerusalem can never be forgotten, because Jesus died there. The tabernacle and the temple are interesting to the minutest detail, because they speak of Jesus and His work for the salvation of men. The Bible is simply a book about Jesus. Jesus is the subject of its history and its prophecy. He is the antitype of its types. If you find something in the Bible that seems to be a very good thing and you do not know what it means, just guess that it in some way represents Christ and you will not miss it one time in a hundred.

    And what is said of the Bible in general can be said of every book in the Bible in particular. In Genesis Jesus is the "seed of the woman" that bruises the serpent's head. In Exodus He is the Paschal Lamb whose blood upon the lintels and the doorposts caused the destroying angel to "Passover." In Leviticus He is the great High Priest whose intercessions are accepted for all who believe. In Numbers He is the guiding pillar of cloud and fire on the way to our promised land. In Deuteronomy He is the "prophet like unto Moses" who shall teach His people and guide them unerringly. In Joshua He is "the man with the drawn sword" come to command the hosts of the Lord and to lead them on to victory. He is the Judge just and supreme in the Book of Judges. He is the model husband (the Ishi of the Church) in the Book of Ruth. He is the unerring Seer in the Books of Samuel, the faultless King in the Books of Kings, the unfailing Sovereign in the Books of Chronicles, the pattern preacher in Ezra, the Restorer of the waste places in Nehemiah, and the Deliverer of the nation in the Book of Esther. In Job He is the Lord of the Resurrection and the Daysman or Umpire who will give us consideration in the game of life. In the Psalms He is the Good Shepherd, the Shield and Buckler, the fortress and Strong Tower. He is the personification of wisdom in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, and the Ideal Lover in the Song of Solomon. In Isaiah He is the child born, the Son given, the prince of peace, the wonderful Counselor, and the Suffering Savior. He is the Balm of Gilead and the Great Physician of Jeremiah, the Only Hope of Lamentations, the Reviver of the dry bones in the valley in Ezekiel, and the Stone cut out of the mountain without hands which shall destroy all kingdoms of the earth and itself fill all the earth in the Book of Daniel.

    Then we come to the Minor Prophets where we find that Jesus is the Redeemer of the unworthy in Hosea, the Outpourer of the full measure of the Spirit in Joel, and the Giver of abundant harvests in Amos. In Obadiah He is the Enlarger of Israel's inheritance. In Jonah He is the Merciful Ruler. In Micah He is the Gatherer of the nations to Zion. In Nahum He is the Healer of Bruises. In Habakkuk H
e is the inheritance that remains when the fig tree fails to blossom, neither is there fruit in the vines; when the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stall. He is the Author of Israel's song in Zephaniah, the Beautifier of the New Temple in Haggai, the Opener of the cleansing fountain in Zechariah, and the Purifier of the sons of Levi in Malachi.

    In the New Testament Jesus breaks forth as the Messiah of the Jews in Matthew, the peerless World Worker in Mark, the Son of Man in Luke, and the Son of God in John. He is the Outpourer of the Holy Ghost in the Acts, the Author of the Law of Life in Romans, the Head of the Church in Corinthians, the Giver of free salvation in Galatians, the Eternal Author of Holiness in Ephesians, and the highest goal of life and eternity in Philippians. He is the Indwelling Christ in Colossians, the Lord of the Second Advent in First and Second Thessalonians, the Ideal Pastor in Timothy and Titus, and the Friend of the Friendless in Philemon. In Hebrews Jesus is the antitype of all types; the head of all creation, higher than angels, and yet lower than angels in that He tasted death for every man. His blood takes the place of all the blood of beasts and birds that ever died on Jewish altars, and through the rent veil of His smitten body He makes a way for us to enter into the inner sanctum sanctorum where God himself sits upon the throne of His glory. In James Jesus is the pattern for practical living. In Peter Christ's is the voice of thunder. In John Jesus is the personification of love. In Jude He is the God of lightning. In Revelation Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega.

    Christ is the Second Adam as the head of the new creation. He is a Prophet whose words never fail. He is a Priest after the order of Melchisedec whose everlasting priesthood enables Him to save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him. He is a King who shall sit upon the throne of His father David and rule from the rivers unto the ends of the earth. He is the Companion of the Everlasting Father and the ever blessed Spirit, and is Himself the Second Person in the adorable Trinity.

    In the imagery of this blessed Bible Jesus Christ is the answer to every need. To the hungry He is bread. To the thirsty He is water. To the sick He is physician and healing balm. To the accused He is Advocate at court. To the condemned He brings pardon. He opens the prison to those already incarcerated. To those whose lives are wasted He gives beauty for ashes. He is the Rose of Sharon for beauty, the Lily of the Valley for purity, the Morning Star for Hope, the Lamb of God for atonement, and a Great Rock in a weary land and "a shelter in the time of storm." He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah for power, and in this function He breaks every chain and gives us the victory again and again. He is money to the poor, wisdom to the ignorant, and holiness to the defiled. And if there be a prayer for which no fitting word can be found, then he is the answer to that too, for He is "the desire of all nations."

    When Jesus was here in the flesh He never met His match, although He was challenged at every step. Denied a place in the palace, He was born a King in a stable. Refused the adoration of sages, He was worshipped by shepherds. Since no Levites came to chant, angels sang His Christmas carol. The great did not apply for tuition in His school, so He chose humble fishermen and despised tax-gatherers to be His disciples.

    Being Himself a miracle, the normal atmosphere of His life was friendly to miracles. People regularly came to ask Him to do the impossible. And after admitting it to be impossible they went right along and asked Him to do it.

    When taxes came due and the purse was empty, the first fish taken at the Master's command furnished money for double taxes. When ten thousand people came to Him in the desert He fed them all without opening a fish market or founding a bakery. Ten lepers were healed by the Word of His power all in a group. Maimed, halt, blind, leprous, palsied -- all were alike to Him. He healed them all. When the boat went away and left Him, He made a pavement of the sea, and reached His destination on time. When the restless waves would flood the ship on which He rode, He calmed them as a mother would put her feverish child to sleep. He broke up the only funeral He ever attended by restoring the dead youth alive to his mother. "It is fortunate," says D. L. Moody, "that He called the name of Lazarus that day when He said, 'Come forth.' For otherwise all the dead would have come at His invitation, as they will yet do some time."

    His whole life was vicarious and substitutionary. He came down to our world that we might go up to His world. He was born in a stable and cradled in a manger that He might get down beneath us all and lift us up to God. He was despised and rejected of men that we might be accepted of God and admired by angels forevermore. He walked the dirt roads of our world that we might walk the golden streets of heaven. He bore a cross that we might wear a crown. He drank vinegar mingled with gall that we might drink the water of life. He wore a crown of thorns that we might wear a crown of life. He was with the wicked in His death that we might be with the righteous in everlasting life. He was lifted up upon a cross that we might be lifted up upon a throne. He went down into the grave that we might come up out of the grave in the glory of His resurrection. He took our place on earth that we might share His place in heaven forever.

    Oh, blessed Christ, Thou hast won my heart. I fall at Thy feet in adoration. I worship Thee. I praise and glorify Thee. I ask no portion except the privilege of sitting at Thy feet. In Thy presence there is fulness of joy and at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.

    I cannot understand all the ways of God with me. But I know He has my good at heart, and I will trust Him forevermore. A man passing along the way saw a father attempting to chastise his little son. But the son drew near, threw his arms about his father's knees and clung so close that the blows fell upon him with small effect. And that is what I am doing and plan to do. I shall cling closely to Him. Even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. No matter what He does, I know it is done in love, and I shall not draw away.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wisdom is a person (part 4)

So I mentioned in my previous post that Jesus is our wisdom. Let me elaborate on this...

This is what Paul said on the importance of knowing Christ for him. My prayer is that we will be in full agreement, not just in thought, but in feeling, conviction, and in every sense of the word.

Philippians 3:8-15  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
Let me dwell on this. Oh that I may know Jesus. My Wisdom. The One who puts all my broken pieces together again. The One who accepts what the world had rejected. The One who understands even what I don't understand in myself. The eternal eye that sees deeper than any other eye. That Jesus I want to know. The One who knows me... My every thought. My every hurt. My every weakness. My every overt or covert rebellion. My fickleness, my frailty. And still loves me.

And the power of His resurrection. He died. I must die too, to lots of things. But there is power in Him. Because His resurrection gives me hope of a new life. When I surrender in brokenness, His healing power works in me. Renewing my thoughts, my desires. I can live a new life because the power of the Holy Spirit, which worked on Jesus to resurrect His body, is also working in me. Bringing me back to spiritual life. A life that's full of hope and joy. His wisdom growing in me... His teachings correcting me, guiding me to all truth. Not that I will really get there within this mortal body. But just to walk in that direction, and discover increasing little glimpses of glory, that makes my heart beat faster!
I was planning to write one or two entries... But haven't finished yet. Abide with me for one final thought.


Requesting Wisdom

(This is part three of my short series on wisdom.)

So if you've read parts 1 and 2, and have moved on to part 3, my guess is that you're seeking and praying for heavenly wisdom to light your path. Let me share a few passages I received today on this topic:

Mat 7:7-11  "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The great news is that God is good! If you're asking and seeking good things, good things you will most surely get. If you want to grow in wisdom, He is more than willing and more than able to grant you that request! 
See what James has to say on this kind of prayer:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

I think the point of the second verse, apart from pointing to possible incredulity/doubt as to whether God will grant the request or not, is to cause you to think again... Do I really WANT God's wisdom? When God lets me know His will regarding such and such matter, will I trust and obey? Or will I continue leaning on my own understanding? When the Lord guides me, will I follow?

Keep asking! And as the Lord reveals different areas of foolishness, confess and beg Him to remove all iniquity, tear down any strongholds and teach you how to walk closer to Jesus, our prime example of how to live a godly life.

My conclusion, on next entry.

Wisdom found

(This is the second part of my previous post.) 

To recap, I was totally disoriented until God's wisdom came to me. Not that I really deserved it, or that any wisdom I currently possess is really my own doing. I knew then, as I know even more clearly now, that if there is anything at all I know, I owe that knowledge to God, not to my own efforts. But anyway, I understood the main principle is Know God. 

That focus, which was the focus of David, Peter, Paul, Moses and many others, led me once and again to the Cross. I had read the story of redemption many times. But hadn't really understood it. Until I knew who I was (how miserable, selfish, foolish and a long etcetera of not-too-nice adjectives) I couldn't understand who Jesus is or what He did at Mount Calvary.

And then, when I saw my ugliness, He became my beauty. He became everything I wasn't (good, forgiving, tender-hearted, long-suffering, empathetic, loving...) and didn't have.

I just love Paul's descriptions of the Gospel. He really got it! One of my favorites:

1Co 1:18-31  For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 

This passage is too rich for me to attempt a commentary. I want to linger on the last couple of sentences. Christ Jesus is our wisdom. On the Cross He became our righteousness. It is by looking at Him (and not a passing glance, but rather an admiring gaze that is fixed on the Beloved, Admired Teacher) that we grow in holiness and wisdom.

 More to come...