Monday, March 23, 2015

Maintaining Eye Level & UPDATES

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:32
(KJV)

Thinking about Zachary reaching the height of being able to look me in the eye
without him having to look up or me having to look down
started me thinking about a correlating spiritual application.
Isn't there always one there some place?
Can't we always find a way to take a life lesson and dig out some spiritual good?

I love how God does that.
He gives us an original thought, then takes it to a whole new level.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:9

As Zach has grown through the years, Kevin and I have always tried to reach him...on his level.
When he was a toddler and in his early childhood years,
I would often sit on the floor with him in his room,
and we would build "farms" and "zoos".
Often they would have train track running through and around them,
and we would watch as his remote-controlled train engines would wind past
the zoos and farms we had constructed.
Sometimes, our endeavors transformed into some pretty elaborate infrastructure!
We would usually leave them assembled in his room on the floor for several days
because neither of us had the heart to undo all of our hard work.
Often, we took pictures of them before tearing them all down.

One of our many little farm scenes....
As the years pass and Zach grows taller and his interests and activities evolve,
(by the way, we still love building farms, zoos, and trains together...
I wish that would never change...:~),
we continually try to keep up with his pace...not ours.
We want him to enjoy the full scope of each age of life,
and we want to be an integral part of that...on his level.
We never want him to feel that we are not on the same page
or that we feel that his wishes are "beneath us",
because that couldn't be farther from the truth.
However low we need to stoop or however far we need to reach,
we want to stay in rhythm and alignment with his level.

Kevin and I have always felt that it is important to show Zach that his feelings matter,
his ambitions are validated,
his enthusiasm is worthwhile,
and his passions are significant,
not only to him....but to us, too.
We don't ever want him to feel that we look down on him or that we devalue his endeavors, aspirations, or the things he cares most about.
We try to see things through his eyes and try not to muffle or discourage his interests,
the goal always being to adjust ourselves to where he is....to his level.

All of this makes me think of the Body of Christ,
and how we should interact with each other...
 how we should do our utmost to reach and relate to others eye-to-eye...
on their level.
After all, Jesus did.

He was the Son of God walking the earth in human form.
Spiritually-speaking, He towered over all.
It was an immense condescension for Him to position Himself to see anyone at eye level.
He had every right to feel and act superior to all others.
Yet, He did not.
Ever.
However low He needed to stoop or however far He needed to reach,
He made the necessary attempts and put forth the required effort to look each person in the eye.
He met people where they were....
with the express intention of elevating them to His holiness, restoration, and redemption,
regardless of how sinful their lifestyle or how undesirable their condition.

No other example illustrated this more conspicuously 
than Jesus' association with the lepers.
These poor, unfortunate souls were society's chief outcasts.
They could not be touched.
There was no human remedy for their affliction.
They lived their lives breathing in the continual stench of the rotting of their own flesh.
They were separated from the ones they loved most,
having to live in hopeless isolation and lonely ex-communication.

Jesus wasn't afraid to extend His hand.
He trod ground that no one else dared to tread.
He touched the untouchables...
reached the unreachables.

How could He have ever hoped to draw anyone to Himself had He not been approachable?

He condescended to eye-level with every person He encountered, yet, He never compromised His Own holiness or true position.

He was tempted in all points, like as we are, yet without sin.  (Hebrews 4:15)
He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.  (I Peter 2:22)
Jesus never tainted or contaminated Himself by reaching out to others.

Shouldn't we follow His example?
Hasn't He condescended to each one of us?
Are any of us worthy to have Him stoop to look us in the eye?
So, if Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, looks at us with a sense of value and respect,
shouldn't we do the same for each other?
Are any of us better than the other?
Are any of us any more holy?
Are my "righteous" filthy rags less filthy than yours?

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..."
Isaiah 64:6

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:6

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God..."
Romans 3:23

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable;
there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
Romans 3:10-12

These Scriptures pretty much land all of us on an even playing field, don't they?

Had it not been for our sinless Savior laying down His life and shedding His precious blood,
none of us would have a shred of hope of redemption.

So, why do we feel superior to one another?
Why do we feel we have the right to look down our noses at others?
Shouldn't we do as Jesus did and look at every other person eye-level?
Shouldn't we stoop or reach or adjust ourselves to meeting people where they are?

"Be of the same mind one toward another.
Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.
Be not wise in your own conceits."
Romans 12:16

"For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God,
that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:
Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way;
for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity."
Hebrews 5:1,2
(Emphasis added)

Have you ever been around a "holier than thou" type person?
Chances are, if you have been in religious circles for very long, you have.
These are the kind described in Isaiah 65:5,
"Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me;
for I am holier than thou."

These "holier than thou" types always leave you feeling "less than"....
like you, no matter what you do or how many hoops you jump through, 
will never be good enough.
They spiritually, and sometimes physically, look down their nose at everyone else...
refusing to stoop or reach, regardless.
They claim to be holy and Christlike, but they act everything but.

"Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


If video doesn't load, click here.

Pride makes us act this way.
If we would be disciples of the Master,
if we would follow His example,
we will have to let go of our prideful ways.
We will have to be willing to maintain eye level at all times with every person we meet.
How do we know what another person is going through?
How could we ever imagine how it feels to walk through life in their shoes?
How could we ever hope to gauge the spiritual level of another?
How can we possibly perceive the level of light and understanding of someone else?
It could be that, in all of our self-pride, the person we so look down upon is actually worlds closer to God than we are!
None of us are on a spiritual pedestal, and if we perceive ourselves to be, we are sadly mistaken.



If video doesn't load, click here.

So often, we judge by outward appearances.
Too frequently, we are spiritually prejudice.
We base our assumptions on the "labels" others wear,
their adherence or lack of adhering to our "standards" and opinions,
and their denominational persuasion.

The only holiness or righteousness ANY of us can claim is through the precious, shed blood of Jesus Christ and having that blood applied to our hearts.

He took our place.
He stood where we should have stood.
He did everything necessary to lower Himself to the point of being able to look every one of us square in the eye.
It should have been me...and you...taking the punishment for our own sins.
As I mentioned above, He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.  (I Peter 2:22)
He not only came down from the height of Heaven to be one of us,
He took our beating and paid for our sin.
He deserved the best.
He chose the worst....
to prove that every, single one of us has value.
Every, single one of us is worth saving.
He wants every, single one of us with Him in Heaven one day.
He excluded no one from His amazing offer of salvation.
He said, "...him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out."  John 6:37

We have all felt the sting of being judged and looked down upon by others.
Rejection by self-described "holy" people paves the road to despair and hopelessness.
Why would we ever want to inflict that ugliness and pain on another?
It never ceases to amaze me how unlike Christ His followers often behave.
The deepest hurts seem to come from the very ones who profess to most closely mimic Him.
It must break His heart to see and hear it all.

Let's carefully and entirely read Philippians 2:5-8...
and really try to absorb this truth...
"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus;
Who, being in very nature GOD, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His Own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself,  and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Sometimes, we won't humble ourselves at all...not even enough to speak to our own brothers and sisters in Christ, simply because they are different from us.
Jesus humbled Himself to not only speak to us, but to become eye level with us...
to become one of us.

When I think about sitting on the floor with Zach, I can picture our Savior with the children He encountered while here on earth.
When parents brought their little ones to Him, and His disciples tried to send them away as unnecessary annoyances, Jesus rose up in their defense and said,
"Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, 
for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
Luke 18:16

Jesus met everyone on their level....even little children.

Children and adults,
royalty and outcasts,
clean and unclean,
healthy and diseased,
religious and sinners,
moral and vile,
desirable and deplorable....
Jesus loved them all.
I just have to stop and wonder,
what would our world be like if we did the same?

What if we reached our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one?
What if we tore down denominational walls and allowed the love of Jesus to flow freely through us to each other?
What if we stopped hating others and instead descended from our spiritual high horses,
and actually looked them in the eye, while loving them and listening to their problems?
What if we went a step farther and did our best to meet their needs?
What if we stopped making them feel hopeless by our sanctimonious airs,
and admitted our true position of being every bit of in need of a Savior as everyone else?
What if each one of us became an advocate for one underprivileged child?
What if we stopped wasting time judging one another and sizing each other up
and started focusing on the real problems like starving children and the neglected elderly instead?
What if we stopped pretending there weren't homeless people in our cities
and, regardless of their reasons for being where they are, started reaching out to them?
What if we faced the cold, hard reality of the fact Floyd reminds us of each time
we visit his blog, There Go I?

Isn't it true?
Instead of looking upon others with scorn, what if we acknowledged the truth of
"There, but for the grace of God, go I."
John Bradford

None of us, no matter how high our opinions of ourselves, 
are exempt from walking in anyone else's shoes, but for the amazing grace of God.

It has become such a catch phrase and so often quoted that I wonder if we have become desensitized to the profound depths of its meaning,
but I often truly wonder, if He were here now, in the flesh,
what would Jesus do?

How would He handle current situations?
Wouldn't He handle them the way He handled them while He was here?
He presented a clear picture to us of the way we are to treat one another.
Through example, He showed that He wants us to love one another
and to regard one another on an even plane....at eye level...at all times.

He even took it a step farther, stooping low, putting Himself below eye level,
to wash His disciples' feet.
Nothing else could have more powerfully proven His point.

By His own actions, He showed us what to do, and He ended the lesson with these words,
"I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."
John 13:15

Now, shouldn't you and I go and do the same?

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;
but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
Philippians 2:3,4

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;
in honor preferring one another."
Romans 12:10

*************************************
Update on Sandi
So many of you have written and asked about my sister, Sandi.
I am humbled by the outpouring of love and concern on her behalf.
She had some very rocky times, for a few days following her surgery,
and at one point was not doing very well at all.
But, God has answered your many prayers, and she is doing so much better!
She has even been able to return to work.
She has another procedure on April 15th, and again, we would so appreciate your prayers for her.
A big thank you to each person who prayed and helped to support us during this time.

Finger Update

I have also been deeply touched by so many of you writing to ask about my finger.
(To understand what I am referring to, please read Finger Post #1 and Finger Post #2.)
I am happy and so grateful to say that the wound is finally all the way closed.
It has been a very long, drawn-out healing process, and I have a very odd-looking,
raised-up, sort of "bubble-type" scar on the part that was most deeply penetrated.
I have learned that the deepest wounds leave the ugliest scars.
God continues to use this trial as a means of giving me a visual lesson on the many stages of healing.
At one point, my doctor thought a piece of metal was still stuck in there,
because of the odd way the scar protrudes over the bone.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I panicked when she told me they may have to re-open the wound and dig out the metal, should they find any in there, as this would have put us
back to "healing stage one".
Praise God, it turned out that there is NO metal in my finger!
There is just a weird-looking, raised-up section of bone that may or may not ever return to normal.
Cosmetic appearance is the least of my concern, and I can only praise God for clearing up the cellulitis and allowing healing to advance to this stage.
I look to Him for the completion of the healing process.
He is SO faithful!
Thank you ever so much for your prayers.

20 comments:

  1. Cheryl, great lesson you have been gleaning. Good to hear all of the wonderful updates. Many blessings to you.

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet visit, Wanda. God is so good to reveal Himself to us in our trials, isn't He? I trust He will bless you richly. :)

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  2. You are so wise! I love that you see Jesus in EVERYTHING as I love this analogy!!! So thankful that He always meets us no matter what level we are on!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Caroline. They mean so much! Yes, I am so thankful He meets us right where we are...He doesn't recoil from our humanity. Instead, He embraces us and draws us to Him...just as we are. So thankful for your visit and encouragement.

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  3. I'm always so amazed how prepared you are and drive the lessons home with your passion and scripture. Your post was resonating with me and the words from Job came to me as I was reading, "I repent in ashes"... it truly takes humility to find and honor our Father. When we do we see others exactly how we're supposed to. With love and compassion. A needed reminder.

    I was surprised and honored to have been linked with your inspiring site, sister. Truly.

    Glad to hear your sister and yourself are doing well. Praying for your sister's procedure on the 15th of next month.

    May God bless and deliver you and yours, Cheryl.

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    1. I so appreciate your kind words and visit, Floyd. Your blog is a consistent blessing to me and to so many others. I hope God will bless you richly for being so faithful to Him and His call upon your life. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and encouragement, brother.

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  4. May we ever be like Jesus as he reached out omitting no one as he ministered. I recently left a formal church as thought I was going to be placed in a certain church, but have discovered myself in a "mission" type setting. Trust and obey is best. I am glad your sister is better, and also your injured finger. Being able to look your children eye to eye means they are growing up. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. Yes, may we ever be more and more like Him! I am sorry you have had to go through these changes in your church setting, and I trust God will just lead you and bring you to the place where you can most effectively minister for Him. You are certainly a blessing to me here and on your blog, too. God be with you, dear sister.

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  5. Eye level. I noticed I would soon be eye level with my oldest grandson. So appreciated the truths found here. And encouraging,too.

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    1. Thank you, Pamela! So happy to see you stopped by. :)

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  6. Yes, yes! We are currently studying the Middle Ages in our homeschool and the way some of the old Bishops would walk around having people kiss their holy rings and such... It is nothing like the Jesus I know... Nothing like the Jesus I want to be. Thank you for sharing with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays Cheryl! You have the gift of encouragement.

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    1. Thank you so much for your precious words, JES! They blessed me so much. No, that certainly does not sound like the humble, precious Jesus I know, either. It deeply saddens me to know that because of the actions of Christians, so many turn away from Christ. He never acted that way, and all He did was GOOD and kind and so full of Divine love. God help us to present Him in His truth to this present generation. So thankful you stopped by, JES. God bless you and your family.

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  7. Thank you so much Cheryl for reminding us to reach people where they are at just as Jesus did and does for us, and I think it would be best if we remembered the saying "what would Jesus do" when we come across situations that we don't know how to handle instead of dealing with them in anger or fear. I am glad that your sister came through her operation well and I pray that the next one goes well to. I the posts about your finger, so I read them and I am glad that it is healing well, that sounds like it was terribly painful. Blessings to you dear friend and to your family. xxxx

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    1. I so appreciate your visit and kind words, Terri! I am always so blessed and encouraged when you stop by here. Thank you SO much for all of your prayers and love that you consistently show. You are such a dear blessing! YES, if only we would live life with the continual thought of "what would Jesus do". We are currently reading "In His Steps" in our homeschool studies. What a challenging book! God help us to follow in His footsteps, never wavering from what He would do. Much love to you, sweet friend.

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  8. Fantastic lesson Cheryl! Meeting our little ones on their level is so important, and I love how you see Jesus through it all! Your posts are so encouraging!

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    1. Aww, Tiffany! Thank you so much for your sweet words. I appreciate them so much! God bless you!

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  9. Love these encouraging Scriptures! A great way to start my day today~

    Elizabeth
    allkindsofthingsblog.com
    Home of "Tuesday Talk" and "Pincrazy Thursday"

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    1. So happy you stopped by, Elizabeth! I am so thankful for God's Word and how it speaks life to us each time we encounter it. :) God bless you.

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  10. Love this, Cheryl. So very good. So glad to hear about your finger :-) Pam

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