Laura Miller | Category: The Christian Life
It is July 31, 2015, and amidst all the rancor about a dead lion named Cecil and the horrifying blame-shifting of purveyors of dead babies, there are reminders that tonight the rare phenomenon of a blue moon will appear in the sky. But this won't be a blue moon; it will be the occurrence of a second full moon appearing in the space of a month. However, there are times when the moon appears blue. Where the cycle of the blue moon can be predicted, the blue moon phenomenon can't. It only happens when there have been unexpected atmospheric influences such as a volcano eruption or wildfires, each spreading particles in the air and creating a filter through which the moon appears blue. The moon itself is still the same, still reflecting light from the sun in the way it always has, still the same crater-pocked, bright white surface. Debris spreading about the atmosphere between here and there is what makes our eyes perceive the moon as blue. It truly is a phenomenon in its unexpectedness, happening "only once in a blue moon", so to speak, or as rare as a month with two full moons.
Everyone is being urged to go outside tonight and look up. I'm sure all the tripods will be set up and timers set to capture the orb in all its splendid non-blueness, and you can bet I'll be out back enjoying the added benefit of being far from city lights so that it will be an even more startling vision to behold. And then, when morning dawns on Saturday, I will look to the east to see the spectacular star that was put in the sky to provide life-sustaining warmth, light, and order to the universe. Thankful for the momentary wonder of the moon, I think I need to keep my priorities in place. Without that sun, I'd be dead. As Genesis describes it, it is "the greater light to rule the day" while the moon is "the lesser light to rule the night" (Genesis 1:16).
It is so important we don't fall into the error of sacrificing the greater for the lesser.
Not long ago, a very good friend revealed to me the self-dialogue she uses for herself and suggests to her children when the path ahead looks to be unsure and perhaps a little difficult to navigate. She cautions herself and them not to sacrifice what is greater for the sake of the lesser. The greater would be any opportunity to give honor and glory to God, to appeal to His holiness and majesty and sovereignty. The lesser may be "good" options under some circumstances, but in the long run, focusing on them will result in missed blessings and mercies and means by which the Lord can be glorified through obedience.
I'll give you one example how this plays out in this post, although you can count on hearing more about this in the future.
A family is getting ready to leave for church, and in a strange twist of events, it's Dad who is running late this morning. The son, who wants to get to church early to help test the sound system, is tempted to hurry his dad along.
It is good for the son to be attentive to the importance of punctuality, but it is not glorifying to the Lord for him to so quickly cast off God's command to honor his father. All the good that comes from obeying this command as expressed in scripture (i.e., "that it may go well with you and that your days may be long upon the land") is not worth sacrificing for the sake of a lesser situation: a good feeling about being on time on the one hand, but on the other hand, a father who has been disrespected and God who has been disobeyed.
It is so beautiful how the Lord has provided us all the commands of the New Covenant by which we can know how to live and relate in this world. But when we are in the midst of living life messy with offenses and heartache and worry about what people will think, it's easy to be caught in the particle storm swirling around us and be satisfied with the lesser. Our view of what is most honoring to God's holiness is obstructed and distorted.
And sometimes, it's just plain hard. I mean, really hard. Hard as in it brings on persecution, consequences, loneliness, slander, or alienation. Thankfully, we have the grace of the Father, the mercies of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain us through the dark valleys. This is well articulated in a recent interview with Brett Harris (who wrote Do Hard Things with his twin brother, Alex):
"We do hard things, not in order to be saved, but because we are saved.... Our willingness to obey God even when it’s hard magnifies the worth of Christ, because in our hard obedience we’re communicating to the world that Jesus is more valuable than comfort, than ease, than staying safe."
Indeed, we are saved by grace and created for good works (Eph. 2:8-10).
In the Harris family, “do hard things” is just a fresh way to say “do good works,” Brett said. “We’ve found it a helpful way to say ‘do good works’ because we often need to be reminded that doing good works is hard, is supposed to be hard, and puts the spotlight on God—where it belongs—because it is hard.”
(Alex and Brett Harris are doing hard things, The Gospel Coalition)
When we cling to the endless wonders and glories of the Triune God, in His holiness and goodness, His mercy and perfect justice, His wisdom and truth, His immutability and eternality, His omnipotence and omniscience, there is little comparison to the counterfeit benefits of anything else. He is "chief among ten thousand" and "the altogether lovely one". As 19thc. preacher James Smith declared:
His love to sinners is astonishing.
"His mercy is everlasting."
The merit of his sacrifice is infinite.
His "name is as ointment poured forth."
His smile is Heaven!
(James Smith, O, Jehovah Revealed, 1863, New Park Street, London Grace Gems)
Don't let yourself be distracted by the other heavenlies in orbit in the sky. The moon casts great light, but it is only able to reflect the immensely greater light of the sun. Without the sun, there would be no light of the moon, blue or otherwise. Recognize the clutter that shields the true light -- idols, sin, distractions from our first love. Know God first and His glory and honor and holiness, and pursue Him through His Word, the law of the new covenant. I am confident then that determining what would be a godly response to little things like lions and being late for church, or weighty things like baby butchers, will made clearer.
(This article was originally written and posted on July 31, 2015, at http://thereyougothinkingagain.weebly.com/ .)
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