I am currently leading a Bible study on Wendy Alsup's,
By His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman's Identity.
In my reading this morning I came across the term "spiritual miser".
Miser - The definition of the word miser is "a person who hoards wealth and spends as little money as possible". The word "miser" and the word "miserable" are cousins in that they share the same Latin root for "unhappy or wretched".
If a miser is a person who hoards wealth and spends as little money as possible, then in light of that definition, a spiritual miser might be a person who hoards spiritual knowledge, Biblical understanding, or the deep truths of God's grace and does not "spend" these truths with others or even in application to the self.
This is what the book said concerning the term "spiritual miser" and Paul's prayer in Ephesians for us to not live as spiritual misers.
"...we who are tempted to live as spiritual misers would instead walk daily with an appropriate understanding of the wealth at our fingertips as children of God. You can recognize a spiritual miser because they are wretched and unhappy despite their inheritance in Christ. They believe in Christ, but they are still miserable."
I was blatantly faced with the diagnosis of my soul. I am a spiritual miser. I believe in Christ. I know Christ. I know that I have an immensely deep joy that flows like a slow moving river deep in the crevices of my heart and soul with the knowledge that Christ saved me from death, sin, and the Father's wrath. I know that Christ has made me new, alive, and has cleansed me from a sinful past, present and future. I know that He who began a work in me will finish it.
Then why do i complain so much? Why do i find the negativity in things instead of the positive? Why does a melancholy spirit invade my mind so easily? SIGH!
As I confessed this revelation with my Bible study group this morning, a friend brought up Abraham. Abraham was far from a perfect candidate for God to use for His great plan and purpose. Even after listening and obeying God in many aspects of Abraham's life, he lied and did not trust God in certain situations of his journey. It seems as though Abraham trusted God with the BIG things of life (moving from one place to another and the obedience to potentially sacrifice his only son), Abraham did not trust God with the smaller things in life (lying about his wife being his sister so he would not be killed- ok...maybe not so small). Point being, Abraham had certain things that he lacked in his personality. He did not ooze contentment nor joy. He feared for his life at times when he should have trusted God. He lied when he felt his life was in danger. He was easily swayed by his wife to take matters into his own hands concerning an heir and "slept" with Hagar. These are some pretty serious character flaws....YET...God still used Abraham and considered Abraham as righteous.
Was Abraham a perfect guy? Far from it!
So how does this relate to my spiritually unhappy soul? Well, I can rest, I mean REALLY rest, in that in spite of my personality, in spite of my wretched self, in spite of not oozing daily contentment, daily thankfulness and daily joy, I know that my God is still with me. He has not forsaken me. He will not forsake me, not now and not in the future. My merit is not based on anything I do right nor is it based on what I do wrong (which happens to be a lot by the way). Just because I don't see the world and life through rose colored glasses does not make me any less loved or accepted by God. The Father's acceptance of me is not based on how much I laugh out loud, or exude excitement over trivial matters of life.
My God is still working on me and not leaving me to dwell in my own misery though. How do I know this? Well because I yearn for more of Him. I yearn and seek to hear from Him.
Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” (1 Chronicles 22:19)
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1–2)
I desire for my kids to love Him way more than they love me. I want my kids to exhibit what Mathew wrote in chapter 10 verse 37 - whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. I know children are mandated to honor their parents, but truly, the only way I would be honored by my children is if they loved God, through Christ, with their lives and exhibited that love by loving Christ more than me.
In the midst of my day, everyday, I want, desire and need to know more of Him.
Psalm 105:4 reminds me to seek the Lord and his strength and to seek his presence continually!
Even though I grumble my heart still inclines to seek God and I want my family to seek him with the same imperfect eagerness.
When I read the Bible I find that seeking and loving God is evidence that He has not forsaken me. A person seeks after God because God has first sought them. A person loves God because He first loved them. 1 John 4:19 says we love because he (God) first loved us.
I know that the burning desire in my heart to know Him continually does not come from me, but from HIM! I rest....really rest...in that.
However, I cannot read my Bible all day because I have a family I must care for. I cannot study deeper theological concepts because dinner must be made, clothes must be folded, school work must be done etc etc. The only thing left for me to do is pray. Not the "go into a prayer closet" kind of prayer that I hear advocated often. Not the "closing my eyes, folding my hands" and "meditating quietly" kind of prayer. No, my prayer is sometimes more like a one-sided internal dialogue while I am brushing my teeth, chopping onions, or sewing. Sometimes I actually talk out loud to God when I am alone, which is rare. I am thankful that the God of Creation can read my mind and does not think I am loosing it when I talk to Him out loud. I am thankful that because of Christ's death on the cross, burial and resurrection, I have been beautifully reconciled to God the Father in the most magnificent way. I don't need to wait for a priest or some other mediator to intercede for me so that God can hear my petitions and/or justify me of my sin. Through Christ, I can talk to Him anytime, any day, at any hour and oh what a beautiful thing that is.
Recently a friend mentioned a music group I had never heard of. I looked up the band, downloaded their latest album and listened to the very first song on it. As I listened to the words I smiled quietly to myself. Once again, I found myself in the midst of a quiet blessing from a God who knows what I need and when I need it.