I am rejoicing this week; not in the sense of laughter and revelry, but just some quiet gratitude.
I’ve expressed in various settings that the most powerful miracle of all is when a human soul TRULY repents.
Not just being sorry for trite, ‘surface’ sins that everyone understands, but someone actually ‘seeing’ “I was wrong.”
Admitting our own shortcomings can be very, very difficult; especially in regard to understanding God. Admitting that we might have preconceptions about Him, whether they are placed there by parents, teachers, society, or self, is very, very difficult to bring about. Admitting that we might have misjudged another human because of ‘first impressions,’ ‘gut feelings’, etc, is most difficult, because of pride. We cannot be wrong.
We all ‘wrestle’ with God in that way; and He gently but firmly ‘hangs on’, until, possibly, we BREAK. Rare is it that anyone completely humbles himself when he first learns of God; not saying it doesn’t happen, because it does. But, it is not always the case. And, it usually is always the case that after we do meet God, we begin to rebuild our pride around the ‘version’ of religion we inherit. We take pride in ‘who’ brought us to Messiah, what person, preacher, and/or stream of thought, and we think that there is NO WAY we are in error now. And we rarely, truly examine ourselves, as we are instructed to do, to ‘see’ if we really are of “Emunah”, firm trust in TRUTH.
I have had the deep satisfaction just this week of hearing of two different ones who truly are humbling THEMSELVES, and allowing God to ‘change’ them on the INSIDE. They are listening. They are ‘hearing AND doing’, which is the Great command according to Yeshua, “Shema!” “Hear and affect an action”.
One of them was at one time a ‘belligerent,’ one who was hostile to keeping Torah. Not just on a passive level, but active. The other was too, but never toward me. But, it’s NOT the wearing of the tzit-tzit, or the speaking of Hebrew scriptures and prayers, or the Shabbat attendance, or the rejoicing in the feasts that gives me satisfaction. Anyone can do those; many do who are actually NOT of the faith! Doing Torah does NOT save us! It does affirm our trust in Elohim. But we are saved only by our trust in Messiah. It is the ‘transformation’ of their HEARTS that causes me to be overwhelmed to Abba in gratitude; to one of these I said, “that’s what I live for”. I truly do pray and cry out for CHANGED HEARTS… like what is going on in these two people during this season of Teshuvah. These two are making active steps toward reconciling with people, even those who they themselves did not offend… they are praying about different misbehaviors in others, and ‘seeing’ their own misbehaviors in situations. These are grownups! They are and have been being saved for a long time; they have known Messiah. But, they are finally ‘looking inward,’ to become more like Messiah. Sha’ul knew this sensation, saying to the congregations in Galatya, “My little children, for whom I am in travail again until Mashi’akh is formed within you…” Sha’ul said this to BELIEVERS! They HAD the Ru’akh HaKodesh! [or at least did at one time] They had been taught by Sha’ul himself! But, after he left, UBELIEVERS who were PRETENDING to be believers came and taught a false doctrine! And Sha’ul said he was troubled like a woman giving birth! [travail is particular to labor pains in Hebrew].
Yes, I do believe this process my two ‘blessings’ are going through was brought about by their first submitting to the EASY things of the Torah: Shabbat, kosher eating, keeping the seven Mo’edim, wearing tzit-tziyot, saying the prayers. All of these are the ‘small,’ ‘easy’ things of the Torah. It is the interpersonal relationships where we ALL fail so much; when we allow our PRIDE to BLIND us to our own error, our own sins against others, the inadequacies of our judgements on others, our failing to love God by TRULY loving our brothers. Until we recognize our sins against God [the first five of the 10 commands], we will not tend to our sins against our neighbors [the last five of the ten]; and if we never actually fix our behavior in the last five, then any effort to do the first five is an exercise in futility. Doing that only proves that we want to be religious, and give God ‘eye-service.’ I think MOST people in the realm of faith do this! They pretend to love God, give platitudes to people, but never REALLY learn to LOVE people, to do the hard work of CHANGING their own hearts.
So, kudos to the two who have proven to be answered prayer for me! It makes the striving that I do to change self so much more worth it, when others are going through the tough stuff willingly as well. Anyone can ‘go to church’ and constantly have the ears tickled with ‘holy spirit goosebumps’; anyone can go to synagogue and worship God, to be seen of men; to make themselves ‘feel’ like they’re doing the right thing. But only a FEW can and will ACTUALLY CHANGE!