Please Understand

I hate misunderstandings. Perhaps that is why I have been such a faithful student of Myers-Briggs Type for so long. I want everyone to understand everyone. A great book to read on Myers-Briggs types is actually called Please Understand Me. As a middle child, I find it natural to play the role of mediator and peacemaker. As an ENFJ personality type, the drive to facilitate good communication and harmonious relationships magnifies that role exponentially!

About two years ago, I saw my tendency to communicate on the behalf of others displayed in full color. During a weekend visit my sister and brother-in-law, my mother and I enjoyed spending some time with my niece, who was about two years old at the time. Although very verbally advanced for her age, she occasionally had trouble communicating her needs. Even though she was very skilled at letting you know what she wanted, without a full vocabulary, she still struggled from time to time. Anytime I thought I knew what she wanted, I intervened quickly to explain her desires to whomever was listening. My niece, would then happily receive what she wanted, and I would receive heroine status, which is what I wanted!

On the last night of our visit, while my sister was reading my niece a book, she was suddenly interrupted midway through the story. Coming to her aid, my brother-in-law stepped in and started reading the book from the very beginning (instead of where my sister had left off). My niece, not knowing how to tell him exactly where to continue reading, closed her eyes and covered her ears with her hands and yelled, “Mauuurnie!!!” She wanted her Aunt Marnie to communicate for her once again, which I did, happily and promptly, barely holding back laughter!

One of the many remarkable things to me about Jesus was His ability to keep silent during His trial before His crucifixion. The injustice and misunderstanding of it all would have been some of the worst kind of torture imaginable for me.

“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”

Isaiah 53:7 (ESV)

“Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?’ But He gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.”

Matthew 27:13-14 (ESV)

Jesus took our sins, allowed Himself to be falsely accused and utterly misunderstood. The onlookers surely thought He was getting what He deserved.

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”

Isaiah 53:4 (ESV)

Jesus, who was innocent, kept silent during His trial and even asked His Father to forgive those who misunderstood.

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

Luke 23:34 (ESV)

The apparent misunderstanding was the plan from the beginning of time. The King of the Universe allowed Himself to be falsely accused and mocked while He prayed for His abusers.

Dear Jesus, Thank You for enduring the worst kind of misunderstanding on my behalf so I can enjoy being totally loved and understood by You.

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Ultimate Christmas Swap

What if I told you that my husband demands elaborate dinners every night? He only wants the freshest and finest ingredients, which means a daily trip to the grocery store. He doesn’t like to eat leftovers, so there isn’t ever a night off. He wants fine wine, candles, and background music. You could have a few different responses to this high standard. One might be, “He sounds like a tyrant who is very difficult to live with! You must be exhausted from all that work every day!” Another might say, “Well, he works very hard while you spend your days writing, working out, and playing tennis. He has every right to demand that of you!”

Well, I didn’t tell you the whole story. The truth is that my husband does demand those things but he does them all himself.  He loves to cook and creates incredible dishes for our family. He even enjoys going to the grocery store to pick out the best ingredients! He doesn’t ask me to do anything except to sit down at the table and enjoy the food that he prepared. In fact, he loves to entertain and is happy to cook for as many people as I will invite (at least before COVID restrictions)! When our daughter was younger, and our guests were raving about the food, she would often exclaim proudly, “We eat like this, every night!”

Some see God as One who demands a standard of perfection that none of us can ever attain. He actually does demand perfection, but that is only half the story.

“As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.”

Isaiah 53:11 (NASB)

God demands perfection and He delivered that perfection in the gift of His Son. Jesus takes our sin and we get to take His righteousness…the ultimate Christmas swap! When you think about how Jesus came to earth and fulfilled every rule Himself so that we can feast at His table forever, then there is a sense of relief, gratitude, and praise. He gives us eternal life and writes His law, that He fulfilled, on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 10:16).

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Romans 8:3-4 (NASB)

All we have to do is accept God’s loving invitation and take our seat at His table. He doesn’t ask us to bring anything.  “Just bring yourself!” As we tell our dinner guests at the Clark house. Entrust your entire life to Jesus, and He is faithful to finish the work He started in you.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

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