I am forever changed by grief, but grief is not the full measure of my life in Christ. “GLEANINGS from Claudia — The Abiding Life” explores this life attached to the One True Vine.
“Offer right sacrifices and trust the Lord.” Psalm 4:5
I had the pleasure of spending time with our kids and grandkids in Athena this last weekend. Kristin is our firstborn and our granddaughter Helen is Kristin’s firstborn. I also bear that standing in my family. Helen is five and does the title firstborn proud. There were several times over the course of our few days together when she organized and directed just how a certain activity or experience should go. I took Helen and Patrick in to Pendleton for a McDonald’s lunch one day and Helen let me know in no uncertain terms that I was not taking the right roads to get to the restaurant. When we arrived at our destination she was willing to admit that the way I went worked, but it wasn’t the best way to get there! I laughed silently at her precocious directions even as I saw my own firstborn tendencies reflected in her.
I’ve recently started reading a chapter from the Old Testament, a chapter from Psalms, and a chapter from the New Testament together each day. Today’s reading really spoke to my firstborn tendencies. I read in Genesis 4 of the firstborn Cain’s rejected sacrifice. I puzzled over why the sacrifice was rejected and came to the conclusion that Cain brought ‘some’ of the fruits of the soil as an offering whereas Abel brought ‘fat portions’ from some of the ‘firstborn of his flock.’ Cain brought a lesser gift while Abel brought the best of the best. And then when Cain’s offering was not pleasing to the Lord he took matters into his own hands and attacked his brother Abel and killed him. I somehow sensed a first born entitlement reflected – an “I can do what I want in the way I want and woe to any who get in my way” attitude. I then went to Psalms 4 and found the verse “Offer right sacrifices and trust the Lord.” What a great word from the Lord. When I bring the best of my first-fruits to the Lord, I can trust Him for everything else. His pleasure in my love-inspired trust offerings comes back to bless me abundantly. And then flipping to Matthew 4 I saw Jesus, the One who is the ‘Firstborn over all creation’ and the ‘Firstborn from the dead’ extravagantly love and follow Father God as he used scripture to tell Satan in no uncertain terms that He would trust God and not listen to Satan.
This morning’s readings felt like a Spirit orchestrated primer on offering my first-born tendencies and my right sacrifices to the One who is worthy of the best I have to offer. Praise Him!
“Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Matthew 4:10