Propitiation: A Big Word I Didn’t Know I Knew

I often say that God did all the hard work for our salvation.  He chased us throughout history, always loving us first; always making a way.  He proved His love for us in that while we were still sinners He sent His Son to die in our place.  He, by the power of His Holy Spirit, draws us to Himself, convicts us of our sin and even cries out on our behalf in prayer when we don’t know what to say.  Jesus stands at the right hand of the Father telling Him over and over again as we come to His throne with our humanness – in our sin – what it is like to actually walk around on this ball of dust held captive by skin.  He does the chasing.  He does loving.  He did the dying and the resurrecting.  He does the drawing.  He does the mediating.  By comparison, our job is so simple.  Our job is to recognize Him as Lord, to see that He loves us, to hear when He calls and to confess our sin – every time.  Our job is to repent and rest and be quiet and trust; to obey and follow and stay focused on Him.  He does the forgiving, the leading and the directing.  Our job is to receive it from Him.

I am working through a pretty hefty book right now by John Stott called The Cross of Christ.  This morning’s lesson is on “propitiation”.  How’s that for a vocabulary word?  It’s so funny to me that I am studying this now because 5 years ago, before sitting under the teaching of my current Pastor, I would have had to look it up in a dictionary.  (Don’t worry… you don’t have to get yours.  I am about to tell you what it means!)  Now, it at least doesn’t scare me!  To “propitiate” means to assuage or appease someone’s anger; to gain or regain the favor or someone else.  Turns out what I “often say” can be summed up in one really big word.  I don’t like thinking too terribly much about the anger of God, but to use my own terminology, “propitiation” simply means that God did all the hard work to save us.  To quote, Stott, “It is God Himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God Himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God Himself who in the Person of His Son died for the propitiation of our sins.  Thus God took His own loving initiative to appease His own righteous anger by bearing it His own self in His own Son when He took our place and died for us.”

I don’t know about you, but that blows me away.  God took His own loving initiative to do the hard work for me because He knew I would never be able to do it for myself.  He bore His own righteous anger at MY sins because He knew I would never be able to withstand it on my own.  And then He, Himself, in His Son, Jesus, died for my sins so that I might be His very own daughter – chosen, adopted, blessed, gifted with every good gift, abundant and eternal life, the Fruit of the Spirit and the very fullness of Christ.  And my job is to simply accept His gift of grace and mercy, rest in His salvation and trust Him with all that I am and all that concerns me.  My job is to simply gaze into my Father’s face and fall in love with Him.

O Father, captivate me.  Even when I struggle and pull away – as children sometimes do – hold me fast.  Change my heart and draw me close.  Whisper my name in the winds of life in this world and the downpour of my daily.  Continue to do the hard work of drawing me to Yourself and make me more and more like Jesus as I keep my eyes fixed on Him.

The iPod Incident: An Unexpected Lesson in Answered Prayers

So, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a TINY bit obsessive compulsive… about SOME things.  [Let me pause here for certain members of my family and close friends to stop laughing and wipe the tears away from their eyes…]  My latest obsession has been my daughter’s 3DS and my son’s iPod that mysteriously went missing at exactly the same time.  And I do mean exactly the same time.  See, we don’t allow “screen time” in our house during the week.  So, iPods and 3DSs don’t really have any chance to get lost except on the weekend.  Thank God!  That, right there, is reason enough for any of my fellow OCD Mommas out there to implement the “No Screen Time During the Week” policy as far as I’m concerned!  

Anyway, both of these fairly expensive, much loved electronic devices went missing on the same weekend.  The weekend in question was February 23-24, better known in the Mulligan House as the “Mom was out of town and then totally wiped out because she spoke at a big conference with Laura Story” weekend.  That, simply to say, I wasn’t paying much attention to where anything was on Sunday afternoon.  Monday was spent “redeeming” the weekend: doing laundry, putting things away, organizing etc. etc.  And, frankly I did a fabulous job: no baskets of stuff hanging around or piles waiting to be sorting!  I even dusted, for heaven’s sake!  So, on Tuesday or Wednesday, when I finally realized that said electronics were amongst the missing, I didn’t even know where to look! 

Well, when Momma can’t find something – even if it’s not hers – ain’t nobody happy in the Mulligan House!  So, we searched and lamented and stressed and cried and fussed and every time the missing electronics crossed my mind, we did it again.  I literally began asking God for 3 things: 1. Keep the DS and the iPod safe.  2. Show us where they were!  3. Keep the fact that I didn’t know from driving me completely insane.  In order to appreciate the fact that I am really not exaggerating my distress here, you need to know that I still have flashes of anxiety regarding a Walkman I lost my junior year of college… 20 years ago!  Really.  Blessedly, God began to answer number three really quickly!  Had He not, I may have been hospitalized before number two could ever happen!

The next weekend came and went.  I did an EXHAUSTIVE search of the Suburban, the Jeep and the church… because when your Daddy’s the Minister of Music and your Momma’s the Sunday School Director, SOMETIMES you get to take electronics to church on Sunday afternoon…  to no avail.  They were gone.  Totally lost!  I had texted Papa, Joey’s Mom, Hannah Beth’s Mom and Mrs. Dianne – the lady who cleans the church.   There was nothing left to do except learn a lesson in responsibility and keep on truckin’.  But, of course, even with God’s undertaking, Momma’s mind kept calmly turning to “Where the heck could those things be?!”  Several times, I had flashes of brilliance and as I was going to check a coat pocket or my bag of props from the conference, I giddily thought: we’re about to find them!!  But we didn’t. 

Until last night!  I went into my daughter’s room to do something, when all of a sudden I had an overwhelming urge to see if she had been cramming things under her bookshelf when she “cleaned her room” daily.  And there, crammed way over to the left – to her credit, the side her DS is supposed to be plugged in on! – was her DS, case and all!  Momma lost it a little, but was generally thrilled that we had found the DS and overjoyed that we now had a REALLY good reason to go ahead and clean up the rest of the stuff I found under her bookshelf.  And clean out her nightmare of a closet.  And her hideous “junk drawer”.  I told you: I’m a little obsessive compulsive… about some things!  Kep whispered to me as we finished up her room, “You know what, Mommy? God answered my prayers.  I was really praying that He would help me find my DS.”  Bless her heart!  She’s got a little of her Momma in her!  There was celebrating at the dinner table!  Praise was offered to the Lord!  And Caleb wanted to know if I had found his iPod too.  Bless his heart.  We asked God, as a family, to keep his iPod safe and to help us find it.

I decided that even though God had answered MY prayers also and I was not obsessing about the iPod any longer, I couldn’t, in good Mommy Conscience, just let it go completely until I had done a big “search and rescue” in Caleb’s room too.  So, this morning, that’s what I did.  I organized, dusted and vacuumed – even under the bed.  I cleaned out his junk drawer and checked every pocket of every coat and bag in his closet.  But I didn’t find his iPod.  I left his room, praying, “God, please keep the Pod safe until we find it and use this to teach Caleb a lesson in being responsible that he won’t forget.”

Then, I decided since I was on such a “roll”, I would continue my super-cleaning!  I was dusting the rocking chair from Caleb’s nursery that now sits in our upstairs landing because his sister had asked that we put it in her room.  Heaven knows it needed a good dusting before I put it in that freshly cleaned room!   I had wiped every nook and cranny of the base then lifted up the cushion to clean under there too, when what to my wondering eyes appeared – stuck WAY down under the side cushion – but my boy’s iPod!!  WooHoo!  Go God!  Go Momma!

I still hope Caleb, and Keppley, both learn a lesson in responsibility from these last 10 days of distress over their missing electronics, but I have to say, that I am truly praising the Lord this afternoon that the lesson we ALL got to learn today is that God answers prayers.  He knows every hair on our head and where all our stuff is!  He knows what stresses us out, when it’s best to leave things lost and when it’s best to reveal them to us.  He knows what we need and how long we need to struggle until the lesson is learned.  He will take our anxiety from us if we ask Him to and yield control to Him.  And just when we think that’s the lesson we’re supposed to learn, He’ll make it more about His goodness than our need to learn our lesson.  I am so glad God keeps searching for and rescuing me when I’m “lost”.  And I am SO glad I get to tell Caleb that God answered his prayers today too!