Sunday, February 20, 2005

It Just Ain't Natural...

On Today's Menu:
A Slice of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

No. I'm not a fan of pineapple upside-down cake. It's just funny how you make it. Put the pineapple rings and cherries on the bottom of the pan, pour in the batter, bake it, and FLIP!--the bottom becomes the top.

Human nature is a funny thing, too. We are wired to preserve ourselves and survive, and our bodies are designed to help us avoid pain. That's why it hurts when we touch a hot stove. Those nerve endings are say, "Hellloooo! You're burning your skin, doofus!" And so we stop.

Then again, the very nature that makes us protect ourselves can also cut us off from those we love when they hurt us. We won't forgive--it hurts too bad, the nerves of our heart are screaming, warning us to--stay away. What a natural reaction. We don't want to be hurt again. We want to be comfortable, safe--alive.

Here I go, back to one of those old Bible guys. Well, I don't think Hosea was that old when he wrote that God asked him to marry an unfaithful woman turned prostitute. Gomer just wouldn't stay put, even when Hosea took her home and gave her a life she had never dreamed of having. Poor Hosea; you can guess this setup seemed doomed from the beginning. Can't you hear his mother when she found out about the marriage?

"Hosea, why don't you find Rachel, that nice daughter of Jakov, and marry her? Why, why, why did you take a woman like--like that Gomer to be your wife? You deserve so much better. Ach, my boy, you are headed for nothing but disappointment." She shook her head and clucked. "Everyone in the village will think I have an idiot for a son. Your father's name will be disgraced."

But Hosea took Gomer anyway. Three kids later, she ran off and sold herself into prostitution. By all rights, he could have just let her go. Gomer was the one in the wrong. Hosea had only obeyed God's instructions. Against human nature to kick someone to the curb, Hosea sought Gomer out, and bought her back. His manly ego took a blow, as did his wallet. Ouch. Yet he took her back, and loved her.

With the bad rap God gets sometimes, this whole story took place to show God's pursuit of the people He loves. Against what is natural inclination, He forgives the undeserving. Now that's a religion I can stick with. I don't deserve forgiveness, but He gives it anyway. Even to those who will never believe or accept.

Wow, kinda like being a lottery winner and never going to claim your check.

Accepting grace, which here means a gift you don't deserve (with nod to Lemony Snicket), is accepting what just ain't natural. You have to flip your perspective like a pineapple upside-down cake. When I do that, I need to live to a standard like Hosea. Keep on forgiving as I've been forgiven. And that can be a lot easier said than done, especially when someone you've shared your heart with does the wounding.
Eve's Daughter

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