Consider: The Plan

30 07 2010

Part 5 of  “Consider This”

“…describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design…”(Ezekiel 43:10)

When I first read this, I got hung up in the middle, right on the word “ashamed” and didn’t really feel like blogging about it; but the more I looked at it, the more God revealed to me the beauty of this passage; the beauty of what He was revealing to Ezekiel. I am seeing that this is a “get it, got it, good” kind of verse; but to arrive at the good part, you have to get it, got it?

Do I get it about my sin or I do I think I am pretty OK with the occasional deviance. I want to say that I really get it about my sin; sometimes I do; but there are many days I think I am pretty OK (that habit of always justifying, you know?) Being that I don’t have to go and sacrifice a bird or animal for my sins, getting blood on my hands, seeing the destruction of a living creature for my wrong-doings, has made me pretty casual about my sin. I can sin against God and man and drive on; sin being a hardly noticeable speed bump: what was that? Oh, nothing.

Because I don’t usually have to confess my sins out-loud to anyone, I can mostly tiptoe into my room and whisper an “I’m sorry” to God and I am good to go. What must it have been like during the “time of the sacrifice” in Israel with all those sinners walking around, carting their offering for only one reason: they sinned? There was no sneaking into the temple. We are the same sinners today; it’s just that only a few of us have to go public. 

In the passage in Ezekiel God is speaking through him and saying I ought to be ashamed of my sins, ashamed of what I have done. To be ashamed is to feel shame, guilt, or disgrace. In the Biblical context (as used in Ezekiel 43:10) another way of saying it would be “to be humiliated.” gives a good “word history” of humiliation:

In modern English we sometimes say that a person who has been criticized or humiliated has been put down. We speak as though the person had actually been forced to the ground or made to bow down in front of someone else. The origins of the word humiliate itself also suggest the idea of physically putting someone down to the ground.

Who chooses humiliation? Not I. I also don’t like the idea of someone physically putting me down to the ground and forcing humiliation upon me.

I may have mentioned this before, but a while ago I was reading a book (Excellent read: Leading with a Limp: Turning Your Struggles into Strengths) and the author pointed out that the word “humility” comes out of the word “humiliation.”  In other words, really understanding humility usually requires humiliation. At the time, I was walking through a difficult situation and the last thing I wanted was more humiliation; I wanted validation; I wanted relief. But the truth of that statement just landed on me; I know it is true.  Arriving at a place of humility isn’t something I could just decide to do or not to do; if during a time of humiliation my hands remain open to God, humble is something I would be a little more of afterward, naturally.

You have to know, I don’t like anything about that process. But after, after there is something I haven’t expected: actual acknowledgment and then, freedom. There is one less thing to try and prove, one less thing to try to impress people with, one less hidden thing, one less layer; I have found, after, that I am standing before God, agreeing with Him about me: “Yes, this is really all there is.” His hand is on my shoulder, and we carry on.

Can I be ashamed of my sins without God being heavy-handed with me? I am thinking about this and realizing yes, I can, but it takes practice.  Confession and repentance are both “action words” and I tend to be a lot less action-oriented about my sin. The parenting parallels are amazing.  When do you get to the point where you don’t have to tell your child, “at this point you should say, ‘I’m sorry’.” Every time I have to say that, I have just removed the opportunity for sincerity. Shame is not a “repeat after me” scenario. True shame comes from a heart that has felt the cause and effect of sin and is broken up about it. True shame comes when having a right relationship really, really, really matters; it matters more than anything.

Being ashamed/humiliated clears the way for God’s plan to be seen.  Looking back at Ezekiel, God has this amazing plan for how everything could work, how everything could look (if you just flip back a few chapters and even just scan the titles you can see how detailed God’s plans are; amazing). He has it all measured out, the vision is so clear in His mind.  I believe He has one such plan for me, an ideal future that looks like me following Him and us engaging in something above and beyond the drudgery and pointlessness of a self-serving, sin-filled life.

This is what is encouraging about today’s passage.  I think God is standing by and saying, “Just admit it.” As soon as we do so, with humility, He is rolling out the blue-prints to show us what is next.  It isn’t that our sin doesn’t matter, that there are not consequences, but God factors those in. He hasn’t given up on us. He doesn’t say, “Once the heat is off, come back and talk to Me.” God walks with us, among our ruins, saying, “Picture this, we could put this here and that there, and you could use this for that…”

God is always wanting to make known to us the design.

— Teresa Klassen




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