"We are sure that we have a clear conscience and a desire to live honorably in every way." Hebrew 13:18 (NIV)
Part of my past that I've always tried to run from, never realizing that I couldn't ever achieve this particular goal, is that I am my father's son. In physical appearance, mannerisms, and even my voice. Everything I am you can see my father within. And I think that was always why we never got along, this fact I was so much like him and so different.
I've always tried to redeem that image, and I think tried to redeem my father's apparent hatred of me at the same time. Something that this verse touched off inside my soul today. So close on the heels of the marriage retreat and the lessons learned there. I have grown beyond the man I once was, but am so far from the man I know God designed me to be.
But, I know that this verse, in the context of the entire chapter 13 of Hebrews, that this is what God is speaking to me; living with a clear conscience----- always guarding against distorting or misrepresenting the Word of God to those I've been chosen to lead, being a true spiritual brother to those to whom God has blessed me with in the family of His grace, being a good father to my children (a gift that God has blessed me with), and being a faithful steward of that most precious gift of beauty...my wife's heart. And when I stray, become less faithful or conscieous of my relationship with God......conviction and heaviness weigh my heart.
And I wind up having one of those "AWWWW COME ON!!!!!" moments. You know, those times when you feel so convicted that you have to stomp around in a circle with your arms flying up and down in the air in quick motions as you mutter "AWWWW COME ON!! I GET IT!"???? No....well then let me apologize to those motorists along I-96 who were entertained or frightened by the comical rantings of a man having a "Aww Come On" fit. Not only was it frustrating, it was COLD!!!!
Upon the releasing of my ear by the Holy Spirit (reminisent of my dear mother's technique of getting my attention), I returned to my vehicle (which I failed to mention was safely parked well back from the highway) and called my wife. In a voice that reminded me of a child grudgingly giving in to something they still didn't want to, I told her I needed to have a dialogue with her tonight and asked if she would be willing. In reply to her question, I told her (in a better voice, one of repentance) that God pointed out that I wasn't living honorably and I needed to explain to her why, so that we could resolve this issue and I could clear my conscious. That once again, I was living in my father's shadow........
The teaching was concluded on the weekend with this comment, made by the facillating couple as we wrapped ourselves in the loving instruction from the Father above by giving communion to our spouses......."Struggle well."
I have often laughed when I've heard that said, and I've heard it said through many voices in the wilderness since I've started on this journey towards God.....Struggle well........... And when I fall back upon those old, sinful habits of my old self, I lose that struggle and feel the loss.
In the beginning of Hebrews 13, the first verse proclaims....."keep on loving each other as brothers"....... We have always heard of the admonishment of love, it's repeated throughout the Bible; represented by God, by Jesus, and by the disciples that were left to continue the work begun. It's the FIRST commandment that Jesus gives and the sole driving force behind anything as Christians we are led to do. But look at the phrasing of this particular "LOVE" verse............
"Keep on......." As Christians, we don't have the 'luxury' of deenchantment or disengagement. We can't be true to the commandment of love that Jesus gives us in John 13:33-34, where He tells the disciples to love each other as Jesus loved them. Jesus, the one person in the entire world who had the RIGHT to turn away from those He was to save in disappointment and utter despair at their foolishness, had to stay engaged to demonstrate love---- to the point where He hung upon a piece of wood in utter agony and pain, cut off from all that He was and whose He was, bearing the sinful stain of a world that rejected Him----- to utter "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
When your life become something that you just don't engage in anymore, you aren't honoring this loving gift. When your spouse, tarnished from the world's abuse and battered by the events in their life, gives you a glimpse that they haven't achieved "sainthood" yet or even the lesser accolade of "soulmate", you aren't honoring God's admonishment to love your spouse as Christ loved you if you respond unkindly and unfairly------ or even when you do, if it causes them to lose their sense of love.
Yeah, I had my "AWWWW COME ON!!!!!!" moment this morning out in the coldness of a freezing world, dark and cold in its harshness........ and I realized the truth of the 18th verse of the 13th chapter of a book written far before I was even born, for that moment in time. For it was in my desire to live honorably that my conscious was atuned to the Father's admonishment that I was not being faithful to the heart entrusted to my care.
But then my Father made the sun come out............