Designed to Reconcile

Most of the items we find around our homes were designed for specific purposes. Coffee makers make coffee, chairs are for sitting, lights are for ease of sight in the dark. But, there are some items that can multitask; a newspaper is for reading, but can be rolled up to squash a bug. A fork designed to pierce a food item and bring it to our mouths, can, in a pinch, be used to stir our coffee if we can’t find our spoon. Not the ideal design, but we can make it work.

Mankind, likewise has been designed. We have been designed for relationship. Genesis speaks clearly to this when God declares it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. Everything else God created was good. God saw that it was good and commented. Mankind as part of His creation was good, except, not that the first man, Adam, was alone. By himself. With no one else to help him on this planet. Not good according to God. Man needed someone and God provided with Eve. He also told them to be fruitful and multiply. He gave them the ability to create other humans. And He gave them the freewill to choose to obey His instructions. They could stay innocent, or choose to know not only good, but evil, as well. And we know what they chose.

But God wasn’t about to write off the human race altogether. He promised to send an offspring that would crush the Devil. The original antagonist. God designed us for Himself. He didn’t need anything, but maybe He enjoyed His creation. He used to walk in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Can you imagine? A hike with the creator of the beauty of nature we see through His beautiful creation.

So God chose to reconcile us back. To a place where we would not need a veil or mask to hide our eyes from seeing God. He Himself would make the first move to restore the broken relationship. Years went by, like thousands of years, but God kept His promise and Jesus came as a baby in a manger. He was fully God and fully man. He was the promised offspring of Genesis. And He grew and set upon a journey that would take Him to a cross on a hill outside Jerusalem.

When two parties are in a broken relationship, there can be reconciliation,and a restoration of the relationship, or a severing permanently. But for a true reconciliation both parties must come to agreement. Between God and man, God made the first move to reconcile with man. But to have a true reconciliation, man must agree with God, accept fault, and allow the relationship to be restored.

Sounds easy, but like in any relationships, we tend to be self- centered, self- determined, and self- reliant. We want it our way. We don’t believe we have any faults to be accounted for. We are pretty good, in our minds, by our own standards. The other person is more to blame than us. And in terms of our relationship with God, He’s difficult. His old fashioned, and didn’t He tell the Israelites to kill a bunch of people? How can He say we are bad?

Without getting into a major discussion of gratuitous evil, let’s just realize that God has made His move. Now the ball is in our court. We can move forward and acknowledge our wrongdoing, accept His terms and look forward to a restored relationship with our creator.

Here’s a comparison; imagine that a rich benefactor sends you a $ 500 gift card to an expensive restaurant. You might think, “Well, I wonder what the catch is?” You realize there isn’t a catch, you just need to enjoy it. No reservations are required. But, you think to yourself, you’ll probably wait to use it. After all, your refrigerator and cabinets are full of food. You’re pretty much set as far as food goes. Maybe you’ll wait and use it when your friends can join you, or when your parents are in town. Maybe on your birthday. It’s months away, but that would probably be a good time.

You’ve decided that yes, that would be perfect. Invitations are given, you get dressed up for the occasion and call an uber- you plan on celebrating and do not want the risk of driving later-. Your plan is flawless. Except for one thing. The Uber parks across the street. In your excited state, without thinking, you open the car door into traffic, step out, right in front a speeding vehicle. The injuries are extensive and you pass away on the scene. That’s it. Game over.

Your plans come to nothing now. You thought everything was all set. Your friends and family were coming. You had the right clothes. You had your gift card. But, you would never get to use it. Why? because you thought you had time. Time to get all your plans together. Time to spend with your family. But, you waited too long, and didn’t realize your own shortcomings.

Time is one thing that is always running short. God has given us this beautiful gift of reconciliation with Him, but we believe we can redeem this offer whenever we choose too. Not at the invitation, when we hear it the first time, but maybe later, when we have all of our stuff together. When we are older. When our family can be there to witness it- like joining the church, or baptism, or confirmation. Yes, that would be perfect, except, neither are redeeming the gift of salvation, just outward acts. Today is the day. We were designed to reconcile with God and each other. We are made for relationship. Life is complicated, I get that, relationships with other flawed humans do not always work out. It is like using a fork to stir, it will work, but not as originally designed.

But, if we will do our part in reconciling to God, simply by recognizing our flawed lives, and accepting His offer. That He already paid our debt. That He has a future for us, with Him, then we will be able to walk with Him in the cool of the evening, as Adam and Eve could. God has done His part, now it’s your turn. You were to designed to reconcile. -God Bless- Nancy

Shifting Blame

Blame shifting holds us back. We simply cannot move forward while looking backward and assigning blame on another person.

I first learned how to drive a manual transmission while my husband and I were living in Spain. Many of you reading this blog or listening on the podcast, might be unfamiliar with manual transmissions. Here in the United States the stick shift is not that prevalent. but when we lived in Europe in the late 80’s and early 90’s there were very few cars that were automatic. So, it was quite out of necessity that I should learn to drive a ‘stick’. It was much trial, error and practice, but I finally got the hang of when to let out the clutch, move my foot from the brake to the gas pedal and boom! off I go. Timing is everything in shifting between gears. You could not move forward without shifting the gears to the next higher gear. To slow down and eventually come to a complete stop, you must reverse the process to down shift. shifting up to move forward and shifting down to stop.

I recently watched a parody intended to put shame on the Gen Z’s. It was designed to poke fun at their blaming everyone for the problems they are facing- like increased student loan debt, poor wages, a bleak economy and social and environmental injustice that they are left responsible for. It was light- hearted, but close to the truth as well. This is how many Gen Z’s see their world.

The truth is, we all have been guilty of shifting the blame for all of our problems on others. I recently came down with a cold, for which I blamed my husband- he had it first. And I became quite miserable. So, it was all his fault. Or so I concluded. But, honestly, I can never be completely sure. I might have picked it up just about anywhere. But, he was the easiest to blame, because he was the most logical source.

It is so easy to find others to blame, and some of that blame is justified. We are human beings. We are not human doings. and most of the time we really mess things up. Oh, we get it right sometimes, but we also make mistakes. We try to do something we shouldn’t be doing, and we fall short. We try to keep up with others and be like them, instead of being ourselves. Being the people God uniquely created us to be. We make decisions that aren’t the best for us or for others who we are responsible for.

If we look for the mistakes in others we will find them. If we look for the mistakes we ourselves make we will find them- and then point to the other person as the reason why we made the mistake in the first place. We really have a problem with admitting it could be our fault. We also shift the blame to others, because we don’t know how to fix our mistakes, or the mistakes of others. We want to move forward, but we get stuck looking back and placing blame, instead of shifting the focus on the solution to fix the mistake or shortcoming.

We blame others for our financial situation, rather than looking for a solution, by creating our own businesses, going back to school, or reducing our spending. We blame our parents- I did too!- for how we turned out, but do not try to learn who we are and how to grow and change- How to overcome the past- sometimes difficult and painful pasts- by learning from others who have walked a similar path before of restoration, healing and growth.

It is easier to complain and blame than to ask God for wisdom in overcoming the past and how to move forward. Blaming can become comfortable to us. It keeps us from bearing any responsibility. We sometimes like to stay stuck in first gear, than risking letting out the clutch and pressing forward. I am not just speaking to Gen Z, as I am speaking for myself as well. I am a recent college graduate who, like Gen Z is facing mounting student loan payments and many employment application rejections. I, too, see the injustice in the world and want to do something about it, but not sure what to do. It is easy for me to blame the employers who won’t take the time to view my application because I am a woman, or I have been out of the workforce as a Stay at Home Mom, and lack experience. As my youngest says ” You can’t get experience until someone hires you and they won’t hire you without experience.” Yes, it is as much a dilemma for me as for a Gen Z. And that is my point here. We all can blame others- younger people or older people, but the truth is, if we work together, forget about differences in ages, economics, gender, stop labeling and stop blaming- we could do so much more.

Blame shifting is not new. Check out the Book of Genesis and you will find it started very early with the first married couple. And they didn’t have parents to blame. Or co-workers, or even children. They were Gen Alpha. Adam realized the mess he now found himself in- working crazy hours with hard work and thorns and thistles,a messed up, broken relationship with his wife, the realization he did not have clothes and needing to hide so God wouldn’t see him naked, and now he would die, like get old, get wrinkly and die. And he blamed his wife and then God. It was all their fault. Not his. He just stood back and was minding his own business when his wife brought the piece of fruit to him. I mean what is a husband to do? Make his wife mad and not take a bite? Or take a bite and take a chance, ’cause she wasn’t dead yet, right? So, yeah. According to Adam it was God’s and Eve’s fault. God because He gave Eve as his wife and Eve because she picked the fruit, took a bite, and talked him into following suit. But… Adam too was to blame. Where was he when Eve was confronted by the serpent? Did he really have to eat too? I mean God had told him not to eat. So. yeah the first default blame shifting happened right there in the first few pages of the Bible. It is not new. You can find other examples in the Bible, but you can also find a solution. It’s called grace. And that will be on next weeks blog- Stay tuned! God Bless- Nancy