I Chronicles 29:11 "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."

Monday, January 04, 2010

Substitutions

Substitutions are never as good as the real thing. Sure, there are some times when they come close, but it's been my experience that they never fully measure up. Think back to when you were in school and had a substitute teacher. Maybe it was fun the first two days to confuse the poor soul (especially if there were twins in your class), and you enjoyed the new way he/she did things, but eventually you ache for the familiarity of your old teacher. The way she used to do things. How she knew you well and encouraged you.

Maybe you've cooked or baked something, gotten halfway through the recipe, and realized you didn't have one of the ingredients. Scouring the internet can give you list upon list of substitutions for things in recipes, but nothing fully measures up to the original recipe. Especially if it's one of your favorites. It just feels like something is missing.

Or perhaps you've sent your hubby to the store with a specific list. And two or three things you wanted weren't in stock, so he substituted. For example, blackberries for blueberries. Or chicken thighs for chicken breasts. Or Rose Art crayons for Crayola. They are not always equal substitutions, and are definitely not what you asked for.

Substitutions can sometimes be a good thing. In sports substituting players can bring fresh life back into the game. New players who are rested and ready are a bigger challenge to the opposing team. But they don't last. Eventually the fresh players become the tired players, and need to be replaced. By the end of the game, there are no fresh players left. Only worn out, heavy breathing, sweaty people who are too tired to go back in.

Now think about your past, your life before you came to know Christ. What did you try to fill the void with? What did you use as a substitution for the love only He can give? Did you jump from one relationship to another? Dabble in drugs and alcohol? Shop until you were up to your eyeballs in debt? Talk incessantly on the phone? Do anything to keep from being alone with yourself?

All those things can fill our time, temporarily make us fulfilled, and even happy. We may even think they've brought new life to us in an exciting way. But it doesn't last. It's not for the duration of our lives. Eventually the good feelings fade, the emptiness left behind is painfully real, and we move on to the next thing, hoping it will do what the other things couldn't.

When we come to the end of ourselves, and someone shares with us the all-encompassing love of Christ, we realize everything we tried to fill our lives with was a sorry substitution for the real thing. What used to give us peace we now realize was cheap in comparison. Being truly loved, helped, cared for, secure, provided for, and listened to is what all people want. So many times we go about looking for it in the wrong places.

My relationship with Christ has fulfilled me. It's made me a better person, a better mom, a better wife and friend. It has given me a confidence to face trials that I could never have found any other place. It has forced me to look beyond myself to the needs of others. It has taught me what real, unconditional love is about. When I make mistakes, there is no worry that it will suddenly be taken away.

Any substitutions just don't measure up.

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