Beach time!

Beach time!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Altar of Peace

So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it THE LORD IS PEACE.
Judges 6:24a

     In Judges 6, The Israelites (those crazy, blessed, disobedient people!) were being oppressed by the Midians. Their tents and crops were constantly ruined by them and the Israelites were generally just ravaged by these Midians day and night. When the Israelites reached their breaking point, they cried out to God. Why didn't they do it earlier? I have no idea. Why don't we cry out to God right away? Probably because we think "we got this". He sends the Israelites a prophet who basically gives a reprimand from God himself. Something along the lines of "I delivered you, I rescued you, I told you exactly how to be obedient and still you don't listen." An angel then appeared to Gideon who is busy working and Gideon says "Pardon me, my Lord. But if the Lord is with us, why has all of this happened to us?". For some reason this line made me laugh. I think could see myself saying those same words (Ok, I'm pretty sure I have said those words to God before). The Lord Himself then appears to Gideon and commissions him out to save his people. " 'Pardon me, my Lord, ' Gideon replied, 'but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.' " Oh, sheesh, Gideon! God himself is telling you that you and He are going to save the chosen people together! The Lord assures Gideon that they will strike down the enemy together. Still Gideon asks for a sign and the Lord says he'll wait for him to return. God had to be worn out with the lot of them, no? But, oh, let's not be too quick to judge. We are just like the Israelites and Gideon in so many ways. Gideon brings some food back and the Lord instructs him to put it on a rock and fire flares up and consumes it all. At this point Gideon finally acknowledges the presence of the Lord and builds an altar of peace.
     What is an altar really? I'm ashamed to say that I googled the word to see an official (ok, from Wikipedia) definition of the word. I know what it is but I had a time articulating it. I'm kind of embarrassed that I had to google such a simple word but I figure I'm all out there these days anyway. Haha. So, it says that an altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made. Stick with me on this one. I got to thinking about building an altar of peace in my own life. At first thought it sounds like a lovely idea. All peaceful and fragrant. And then I started thinking about the sacrifice that is required to actually make an altar, well, an altar. Sacrifice is a stinky, nasty, and painful situation. There is pain and blood and all sorts of unpleasant things that have to take place at an altar. Now, we know that there is no actual physical bloodshed required anymore at an altar since Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and pouring out of blood for everyone. But still, what would a sacrifice look like if I was building an altar of peace in my life? I think I would have to sacrifice all of the yuck in my life that takes away my peace. I might have to give up my need for control, my self-centeredness, people-pleasing, fear, anxious tendencies, my quest to ensure God's love for me, and anything else that gets in the way of peace in my life. If I could truly go through the nasty process of sacrificing all of that in my life (which is the journey I feel like I've been on for some time now), I believe I could actually have an altar of peace in my life. And just maybe I could get to the place where I could see that an altar is not intended for the well-being of the one bringing the sacrifice (me) but it is to honor the one to whom the sacrifice is being offered (God). Get it? It's not about you and me, my friends. It's about the God the altar is supposed to be honoring. My quest for peace all of these months has been all about me and my ability to have a calm spirit and a peaceful heart. Here's my Aha! moment. When I am at peace and totally trusting my God to provide and love me, I am honoring Him. It becomes less about me and all about Him!
     Ok, so God just showed up here on my couch in my living room through this post. My mind is blown at the realization that God just taught me something totally new as I was writing and praying. When I am at peace, I honor Him. That is how I build an altar of peace. I sacrifice all of the uglies that keep me from peace and God is lifted up and honored above all else. As a result, people will see God for who He really is.
    I know that was a lot. And maybe that was just more for me than for you (I said during one post that this blog functions like a good therapist sometimes). But I ask that you think on and pray about how we can build an altar of peace in our lives. Not for our happiness but for His glory.

Much love, Laura (an Israelite at heart that keeps disobeying and is continually shown grace time and time again)

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