– Roshni Mathew
It is never easy to cope with betrayal. It hurts.
This morning, as part of my daily Bible reading (which is a part of my Church Community’s bible reading plan), I read Ezekiel 16. The book of Ezekiel captures God’s words to his beloved nation of Israel during the time they were captured by another country and sent into exile.
Ezekiel captures the heart of God’s deep yearning and desire for his beloved Israel.
Today’s chapter used the graphic imagery of a child, who without being washed or cleansed at birth, was thrown out in an open field. God, who is seen as a passer-by, sees this child and says “Live”. Later, as a child who had matured, God makes this child his own, using the imagery of a man taking this once despised child to be his bride. God says (in verses 9 to 13) that he washed this woman and cleansed her, bathed her and gave her clothes and ornaments to wear. He fed her finest of food, so much so that she becomes very beautiful and rose to be queen. So fine was her beauty, her fame spread.
This is the type of love story we’d all love to be a part of, wouldn’t we? I love makeovers, because it gives me hope of change and being redeemed from being fallen. It gives me hope that someone so despised and rejected is made queen!
But this beautiful queen goes and offers herself to other men, and behaves in a manner worse than a prostitute; she pays men to sleep with her, rather than the other way around. God, the man who bought her and made her his wife, is broken and says, “You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!”
God later goes on to punish her by gathering all her past and present lovers to turn against her. He says, he will put an end to her prostitution, and then will His anger subside.
Even though she forgot the days of her youth (and what He had done for her), God says “I will remember the covenant I made with you in the says of your youth and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.”
As I finished doing my community bible reading, gripped by the imagery, a couple of things stood out to me.
I hate being rejected, laughed at, and despised. I don’t like being ridiculed. I hate being betrayed by anyone. When someone doesn’t take my side, or isn’t loyal to me, it hurts.
But here is a man, who looked at me, born as a sinful baby, with no hope of survival on my own, who didn’t know it yet, but was so filthy that even my exterior cute and cuddly self couldn’t save me. Jesus looked at me and said “live”. He enabled me to be cleaned through the sacrifice of his own precious blood. He didn’t forget me, not once, not little, not at all.
But here I am, staring at these poignant words remembering that I have forgotten the days of my youth. I have forgotten the extent of filth God has saved me from. I have forgotten that this beauty that I have inside of me is not my own, but from Jesus, a man who was willing to be scorned and called ugly to be rejected, so God could call me His own and give me His son’s identity.
“Remembering the days of my youth” helps me stay loyal, focussed, and free from fear, because reminding myself of who God is sometimes is the only defence to what I maybe experiencing.
Now, I realize that nothing, no person, no job, no amount of money, ambition, talent or skill, gives me life, but the breath of God who looked at me and said “Live” and loved me to the point that He was willing to let His son Jesus, die, for me.
– Roshni Mathew
A few months after my brother was born, as was the custom, my parents took my brother and me to our grandparents’ place. It’s a small village where the young male baby is given much attention and pampered with love and gifts. Being the first child I was used to being the centre of attention wherever I went. So this visit was strange to me because someone else other than me was considered the cutest. I was not being given the attention I wanted! That was the first time I plotted the ruin of a person.
So one night they laid him down on the cot while they were chit chatting with guests. When no one was watching me, I watched his chubby smiling face, and I tried pushing him off the bed hoping he’d stop being the centre of attention. I pushed as hard as I could, but he was quite a heavy and healthy baby so luckily I didn’t succeed.
Now, two decades have gone by since this incident, my brother and I have changed so much, but one thing remains the same. I’m still an attention monger like I used to be. Presently, the person who bears the brunt of my insecurity is my husband. I often throw a tantrum around him to get his attention.
As much as I complain that I’m not getting enough attention from my loved ones, this morning it occurred to me that someone else has also been jealous of my time and attention. Just how I don’t like it when I’m not given attention, I don’t give attention to a certain someone, who rightfully deserves my everything.
God has also been jealous of my time and attention, but instead of giving him the time he rightfully deserves, I get distracted!
Every morning, after I finish my ritual of brushing my teeth and washing my face, I make myself a hot cup of chai, and sit down with my bible and CBR book. “CBR” is short for Community Bible Reading, wherein, the community I am part of, read a passage of scripture together during our individual quiet time.
Many times, instead of focussing on what is in front of me, I get distracted by Whatsapp, Instagram, my husband, food that has to be prepared, etc. I don’t give it my 100%. I am distracted and I don’t give God the attention He deserves!
I have previously compared my quiet time in the morning with God as a “date with my maker”. Now when my husband and I go on a date, or spend alone time with each other, I get so heartbroken when our time is disrupted either by a phone call, or by some urgent email that has to be sent out. So, how come, knowing what it feels to be jealous of my love’s time, I don’t regard my time with God as precious?
This morning I read from 2 Corinthians 8, which is from the Bible, a letter written by a man who once hated Jesus but become one of His biggest followers later on. He is writing to his buddies in a place called Corinth, who were followers of Jesus. He is encouraging them to be generous by giving them the example of his friends in Macedonia, who expressed their love for Jesus this way,
“ 3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.[b] 5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.” [2 Corinthians 8: 3 – 5 (NLT)]
One of the greatest expressions of love by God is self-sacrifice. I have to admit when I read the above verses I was cut to the heart. I don’t give God the time I can afford to give him. I don’t voluntarily out of my own free will spend time with Him when I can. I don’t give myself to God and to those who love Jesus! I am selfish about my time, choosing instead to give attention to things that should ideally be “second fiddle” in my life.
God was jealous for my time. He didn’t eliminate my distractions, but gave himself up for me. When I get angry with someone for not giving me attention, know what I do? I ignore them. Scratch that. I reject them blatantly for not giving me enough. Know what God did? He spent himself for me. On the cross, when Jesus died for me, He chose to cut himself off and be rejected by His Father, so I would never have to be rejected. So I would be given God’s attention! He gave Himself for me, and I fuss about not getting attention, when everything I ever needed was generously bought for me at the cross.
I’m still learning to give up more of myself, but in the meantime, I have to remember, that “God is jealous for me” and he spent Himself entirely, to give me His attention.
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