Thursday, August 19, 2010

Carried In Vein

You remember when we were kids, our parents would sometimes call us using our full, formal names? Unfortunately, it was usually an indication of how angry they were.

My folks never called me using my middle name... because I was such an angelic, obedient child. *cough*cough* Alright -- I wasn't given a middle name at birth.

It was especially painful when friends overheard the adults calling out that long string of names. I think the parents knew this; it couldn't be a coincidence that a friend was usually within earshot! Either that, or the friends were horrible influences that constantly got us in trouble? Kidding! The friends would stand by as we would "march to our punishment", chuckling and making fun of the embarrassing middle names while we, the ones summoned, trembled in anticipation of the wrath sure to come. OK, so maybe I wasn't kidding about the friends getting us into trouble.

In a way, it all reminds me of when I'm called upon to ask my husband to please not yell my Savior's first and last name when he's angry. As the one who hears the name being called out in frustration and anger, I feel as though I'm the one walking the plank. Let's face it, when he uses both names, he means business... and as his wife, it can be unnerving to know that it's my duty to both diffuse the anger and yet anger him by delivering the message that his words hurt and offend me. It's not pleasant to deliver a message to an angry man who should be crying out to the One who can deliver him from his anger -- the very One he curses!

It helps bring home the importance of teaching the third commandment to my children. I'll be honest -- living in a world where the Lord's name is often taken in vain without thought, the influences on them are strong. I need to be stronger.

There are three words sometimes heard at home that put a lump in my throat and make me skip a breath -- you know the ones... "Oh My G_d!". I have called the kids on it every time I have heard it, correcting, teaching and guiding them not to take the Lord's name in vain. They understand that it's offensive to me, but they also hear this and worse from their father and it makes the heartbreaking habit harder to break.

The children are caught between two worlds, with one parent heartbroken, and another indifferent. They have asked me why, what "the big deal is", why it's wrong... I told them the only thing I knew... it's offensive, and as one of the ten commandments, it's important to honor God by not using His name this way.

Sitting in church studying scripture last Sunday, listening to the Sermon on The Mount series, I received a new perspective and understanding on this commandment. I've been letting it soak in for a few days, hoping the thoughts would form and the words would come.

As a Christian, I am a member of His family, carrying on the family name. I am also a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker... even a blogger, a writer and photographer (sometimes simply in my dreams). I am a work in progress, human, but above all else I am a Christian.

I am a Christian within every role in my life, and with that name a responsibility is carried -- the responsibility of being His ambassador, His servant, His representative.

Even though I am in the middle of two worlds much like my children, I still have a responsibility to eschew the worldly ways and follow only His voice at any cost.

My life, my thoughts, my actions, the example I lead... all have the potential to break the third commandment without speaking one single word.

Even in complete silence, even without anger, I could still break that commandment by not laying my life down for Him, because it goes so much further than not saying His name in a heated moment of frustration.

When my actions don't bring glory and honor to Him, I am making a choice to treat His name casually and without the reverence it deserves, to treat my Christian responsibilities lightly. The consequences impact my spiritual walk and impact me on an eternal level.

Studying this scripture on Sunday led me to look up the meaning of "vain / in vain":

1. Not yielding the desired outcome; fruitless; a vain attempt.
2. Lacking substance or worth: vain talk.
3. Excessively proud of one's appearance or accomplishments; conceited
4. Archaic Foolish.

"In Vain":
1. To no avail; without success: Our labor was in vain.
2. In an irreverent or disrespectful manner: took the Lord's name in vain

I couldn't help but see the spiritual perspective...

"Not honoring God will not yield the desired outcome, it will be fruitless, a vain attempt. Our spiritual life will lack substance and worth. When we are excessively proud of how things look or the things WE accomplish, our conceitedness does not honor Him -- it is indeed foolish. Not honoring His name, not honoring Him, will be to no avail, it will not succeed. Our labor will be in vain."

I thought of the words "in vain" many times of the course of the following few days, and it dawned on me that there is another way to see it, an analogy and a play on words all wrapped up into one.

My heart needs to be filled with Him to the point where it is His blood carried through my veins. He needs to be the lifeblood of my existence. If I do not allow Him control of my heart, if He isn't carried in my veins... He is carried in vain.

I want my Christian life to have weight in this world for His glory. I want my life to point to Him, sing to Him... but the cross is heavy. This is serious stuff. Jesus can't be an accessory to the outfit I wear, can't be the side dish or the afterthought. He's not someone I casually follow on Twitter, I'm more than a follower or a fan. He needs to be my lifeblood, the center of my life.

By nature, we're all torn between two worlds, but we must expect more of ourselves than the world standards, the "norm". It's required of us. It may make our faith seem extreme by comparison, but perhaps it's only because the world's moral decay has lowered the bar. We can't let that discourage us or stop us from seeking His face. We are called to be set apart for Him.

It all comes down to surrender.

Complete, relentless surrender.

Surrendering, dying to self, and replacing the blood in my veins with His blood, His life. The eternal transfusion of Him into my heart, flowing through my veins... so that I do not carry His name in vain.


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