I Am Hidden In Christ

Hidden Under His Wings

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust!” … He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you make seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. Psalm 91:1,4

I grew up in a big city, and it took moving to a bush village in West Africa to familiarize me with chickens.  They were suddenly a huge part of my life – always pecking around underfoot, crowing before the sun even thought about rising, getting all suicidal by running in front of my truck.  African friends gave me dozens.  Poultry was the accepted “thank you” gift, even if all I was being thanked for was a visit and a nice, long chat.

Mostly, I just endured my new feathered annoyances … I mean friends.  But, the one thing I loved about them was watching a mother hen with her fluffy little brood of chicks.  At night, she’d snuggle them down under her wings.  They’d disappear – hidden under her body.  How safe and secure those little ones were. Nothing was going to get them that didn’t go through Mother Hen first.

I loved watching that because of these verses.  Finally, I could picture it – God, snuggling me under His wings, protecting me from predators that would love to dine on my downy weakness.  God, hiding me in his vastness.

That isn’t to say that physical harm won’t assail me.  Jesus made it clear that often, following Him will bring us into danger.  But, those perils can only destroy my body.  My soul, the true me, is safely hidden with God, whether I dwell on Earth or in Heaven.

And Satan’s firey darts, the doubts and fears and faith-snatchers he hurls at me?  If I stay hidden under God’s wings, those things can’t hurt me.

My God is a shield and bulwark for me.  How thankful I am to be hidden in Him.

I Am Hidden In Christ

Adopted Because of the Lamb

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. Psalm 103:10-13

Funny how some things stay with you. My daughter recently asked me what my favorite Bible verse is. It’s Psalm 103:10, and it’s due to content as well as personal context.

I heard a man preach on Psalm 103 several years ago. I don’t remember his name, but I can still hear his voice. He hooked me from the beginning because, in a very humble and servant-like manner, he stood before the congregation of well over five hundred people and quoted that Psalm from memory. In its entirety. Without stumbling.

Impressive.

But his sermon sank in deep as he pulled that lovely song apart, and my heart latched on to verse ten–He has not dealt with us as our sin deserve, or punished us according to our iniquities (I know–it’s a different version from above. I’ve switched Bibles since memorizing it). Powerful words of mercy. And this preacher painted an image I have not forgotten.

A Shepherd will intercede for an orphaned lamb. It’s best if the orphan can be matched with a ewe whose baby did not make it. But there’s a problem; ewes know which baby is theirs by smell, and they’ll reject a lamb who is not their own. The solution is rather gruesome. The shepherd will skin the dead lamb and cover the orphaned baby with the hide, allowing the hungry, motherless baby life by way of adoption.

Wow. I am hidden in Christ, adopted because of His sacrifice. When God looks at me, when He does not punish me as my sins deserve, it’s because I am wearing Christ–covered by the Lamb of God.

An image, I pray, that I’ll never forget.

I Am Hidden In Christ

Hidden In Christ: A Joint Post

So, if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. …Put to death whatever in you is wordly … Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another.  Just as the Lord has forgiven you, you must also forgive.  Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:1-3, 5, 12-14 HCSB

From Jen:

There is an incident from my childhood that still resides in my mind, beckoned whenever I think of ‘hiding.’

We were at a gathering involving many other children, and some of the girls were being particularly mean, as older elementary girls can sometimes be. While I have a sharp tongue, a fact that often gets me into trouble, I was a shy child, so I left the scene and found a hiding place. Though I could hear them looking, they didn’t find me, and I spent the rest of the evening in my secret spot.

I don’t remember the details of that night—what was said, who was involved—much of anything, really. All I remember was hiding, and feeling safe where I was hidden. That turns something of a sour memory into one that savors of sweetness, and I find that amazing.

Hiding isn’t always an act of cowardice. It can be one of wisdom, and can offer security. It can also change the outcome of something bad.

Kind of like eternity.

From Susan:

Jen didn’t say what she was hiding behind or under.  But, when the other kids were looking for her, they didn’t see her.  They saw the thing that was concealing her.

From Jen’s perspective, she was secure, hidden, safe. From the mean girls’ perspective, she was just gone, replaced by a large object.

Oh, in my life, may that object be Christ.  May he so overshadow me, that those looking for me will only see Him, not me.  That will only happen when I live out the words of these verses, when I hide my old self in Christ, putting away all that is worldly within me.

When I choose to hide wrath and showcase compassion, when I choose to push down annoyance and put on patience, that’s when I am hidden in Christ, eclipsed by His character.

Today, may His qualities completely hide my own.

I have no lack

Treasure Or Thorns?

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:18, NASB

Concluding this week with the whole idea of lacking nothing, I’m drawn back to where we began–to the concept of contentment in Christ. Why is that simple statement such a challenging practice.

Several years ago I was doing a study Jesus’s parables and I came to the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. I have such a distinct memory of this study because, while I’d known this parable most of my life, I’d missed some of Jesus’s explanation–specifically about the ‘thorns that choke (the seed) out.’

“And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22, NASB

This reveled something profound to my middle-class American heart, something that I am reminded of today as I reflect on the struggle for contentment: the more I have, the harder it is.

Jesus wisely told his followers to seek His kingdom above all things. He also said to set our hearts on heavenly treasure, because where we focus the delight of our heart will be where our heart flourishes, and where it will want to stay.

Concluding the week, I’m going to chew on that for a while.

Jesus, please keep reminding me that I lack nothing in you, and teach me to guard my heart so that I don’t make treasure out of rust and thorns, but rather set my delight in You.

I have no lack

Together, We Lack Nothing

I always thank my God for you because of God’s grace given to you in Christ Jesus, that by Him you were enriched in everything – in all speech and all knowledge.  In this way the testimony about Christ was confirmed in you, so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 1:4-7

The English language needs a plural word for plural “you.”  Every other language I’ve studied has one. But English-speakers?  We have to make them up.  “Ya’all.  You-uns.  Yous. You guys.”  None of them really work right.

These verses lose their punch if you don’t realize Paul was addressing a group of people, specifically a bickering church.  When he says “you do not lack any spiritual gift,” he means “ya’all” (Apologies to Northerners.  I grew up in Florida and live in Texas.)

The Corinthian congregation was fighting.  Each faction thought they were absolutely right and the folks across the aisle were completely wrong.  Harsh words had flown. Feelings had been hurt. And so Paul writes them a letter and tells them: “You (plural) have everything you need, all speech and knowledge.  And you (plural) don’t lack any spiritual gift.” 

Individually, none of those believers had all the gifts.  Individually, none of them had all the knowledge.  But, together, they lacked nothing.  God meant for them to be together, to be a church, to each contribute his or her spiritual gifts and understanding for the good of the whole.

One by one, they lacked what they needed to live godly lives and understand what was right.  But together, they lacked nothing.

And the same is true today, is it not? We may not like every person in church with us.  We may not agree with their perspectives.  But we need them to be complete.

The church: Jesus’ Bride.  I am thankful to be a part of that.

I have no lack, Uncategorized

Thirsty

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. ~2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV

Sitting in the library, working with some kids that I have in AWANA, time affords some interesting conversations. My daughter was working on verses that answer the question “What do I need to know about the future?” These, in particular, were addressing prophesies of tribulation and end times. Rote memorization means nothing without context, so I always make sure that the kids (whether my own or someone else’s) understand what we’re learning. So, with four or five other kids listening, as well as my friend, who happens to be the children’s librarian, we went over what the Bible says about the last days.

Tribulation? What does that mean? Hardship, a time of great trial and suffering. Why would God allow that? Explain that to ten-year-olds.

I think of thirst, but we’ll come back to that.

I have that conversation in my head this morning as I mull over our verse for today. Maybe not linear thinking, but this is how my mind wanders. Forgive me as I meander. I have everything I need for life and godliness. Cerebrally, I know this. But in the everyday stuff—huh. Why do I feel a lack? Not materially, but spiritually. So many days I lack vision, purpose. I feel void of passion, or rather, I quite honestly feel exhausted. But Peter claims that as a Spirit-baptized believer, I have all that I that I need.

So why do I feel insufficient? And how come, no matter what kind of goals I set or accomplishments I attain, am I ever seeking more?

Back to the idea of thirst. God designed our physical bodies to thirst, because we need water to live. We can choose to try to quench that thirst with soda, sugar drinks or coffee, but the reality is, what we need is water.

Why would I feel spiritually deficient? Maybe for the same reason our tongues get painfully parched when we are on the verge of dehydration. Thirst points to the need—and by its warning life can be saved. Similarly, Spiritual thirst acts as a warning, so that I am aware of my need for the Spirit’s life sustaining power.

Thirst points me to HIM—because it is in HIM that I have everything I need.

I have no lack

Looking for Satisfaction in All the Wrong Places

For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.  Colossians 2:9-10

Too often, I live my life as though this was not true.  I walk about discouraged, disappointed and wishing there was something more to make me happier.  And when I’m in that frame of mind, the “something more” is never God himself.  It’s something tangible — a different situation, more time to write, a published book.  “I lack these things, God.  Please give them.”

Yet, none of those things would satisfy me.  God has already given me everything to meet my heart’s cry.  He tells me so in these verses.  Think about it:

  1. All of God is in Jesus
  2. Jesus has filled me
  3. Thus all of God has filled me.

If the very God of the universe, the creator of everything, is filling me, there certainly isn’t any empty space inside of me.  There is no lack. 

I only feel the lack when I ignore the fullness, when I take my eyes off Jesus, when I begin to dwell on things that are not Him.  Certainly I lack many things that are not Him – a new car, perfect feet (one of mine is injured) everything in Penny’s or Neiman Marcus or … well, I don’t have those things.  I lack them.

But neither do I need them.  All I need is Jesus, and he has given me all of Himself.  And when I dwell on that, I am content. 

To the depths of my soul.