Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sunlight or Makeup Mirror?

Yesterday morning, the power was out when it was time to get ready for work. Ugh!  Fortunately, we had hot water for a shower, but there wasn’t enough light at the bathroom mirror for me to put on my makeup in the usual spot.

I ended up sitting on the kitchen floor in front of the French doors onto the deck.  As I was applying foundation with one hand and holding a mirror with the other, I remembered the lighted makeup mirror I used in my college dorm room. The morning light coming through the doors reminded me of the “Daylight” setting on that old mirror.  I also remembered that my dorm room had windows on three sides. Why hadn’t I used the natural light from the windows all those years ago rather than the simulated light of the makeup mirror?

Remember these?
Well first of all, there’s convenience. As I was reminded this morning, my task would have been easier with two hands and a stationary mirror.  And with my focus fixed on a makeup mirror, there would have been fewer things to distract me from getting the job done.  Then, there’s the little matter of actual sunlight showing more imperfections than I really want to face first thing in the morning!

Of course the point of this entry is not to make you feel sorry for me (or my coworkers) that my power was out for 3 hours and I had to go to work without washing my hair since I couldn’t use the hair dryer.

While I was getting ready I was thinking about how the sunlight, created by God, is infinitely superior to anything we can create to emulate it.

It’s so much more convenient for me to compare myself to other people than to compare myself to the standard God set and Jesus exemplified for me.  A lot of the time I look pretty good compared to my fellow humans.  I don’t murder or steal or kidnap people. I don’t shoot random individuals in a mall or theater.  I try to be nice to people, to help them, to occasionally make a donation.  I know there are those who are better at it than I am, but I can generally avoid comparing myself to them.
What is not so convenient is holding myself up to the light of scripture.  I don’t compare so favorably to the Biblical requirements to “pray without ceasing,” “be kind to one another,” “judge not,” “give thanks in everything,” “love my enemies,” “be slow to anger,” “take up my cross,” “turn the other cheek,” and countless other exhortations I know but choose to ignore, soften, or re-interpret.

Also, as I was putting on makeup overlooking the deck, I kept seeing the birds at the feeders.  In my bathroom, with the large window etched (for obvious reasons), I can’t see what’s going on outside. I can complete my morning tasks with minimal distractions from the outside world.  I can focus on my agenda, my plans, my little world, and ignore the activities, dreams and tragedies going on around me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I try to be a good wife, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, church member, and coworker.  I just prefer, in general, to pass over the extremes and things that require too much of me, things that are distractions to the plans I have made for the day, for my life.

This God-created light tends to show me for who I really am.  It reminds me that God sees me, sees my heart, sees the truth.  He knows what He created me for, who He created me to be. 

Sometimes I can fool those around me into thinking I have it all together.  I can say the right words, do the right things, look organized, listen sympathetically. 

But God’s light sees my heart. If I do all the right things for selfish reasons, they don’t benefit me in eternity.  God doesn’t count what I do in my own strength as righteousness.  He counts my faith in Christ as righteousness.  And that faith, and my knowledge of the unbelievable grace and mercy He has shown me in spite of my incredible shortcomings, should motivate me to obey Him and to forgive others.  He’d rather have my obedience than my self-determined good deeds.  That’s what is meant by, “to obey is better than sacrifice.”

I want to be better about choosing to look at myself by God’s light rather than by light man created. Oftentimes God’s light is not very flattering; it shows my selfishness, fears, and flaws.  But it’s also the only source of truth here on earth.  It holds all the answers to the questions I have.  It holds everything I need. 

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