Because of joy 3

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:44-46

When we consider the context of parable in Matthew 13:37-39, we see a different picture. Christ is depicted as the merchant seeking fine pearls and sells everything to purchase the pearls. We now see this parable in a way that is congruent with the rest of the bible.

Christ is the seeker, not us

As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
Romans 3:10-11

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10

Romans 3:10-11 is crystal clear that we are not the seeker. There is nothing in the nature of the unrighteous that makes such a person seek God. Adam, in his sinful state did not actively seek God and instead he hid from God (Genesis 3:8-10). Instead, God in his nature is seeking union with us; even while Adam was in sin, He called out to Adam and asked “where are you?” Christ came to seek and save (Luke 19:10), not man. The nature of God is consistent in this parable.

Salvation is a gift, not a purchase

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Ephesians 2:8

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

To consider the gift of reconciliation with God and eternal life with Christ anything other than a gift is to be in direct opposition with what scriptures clearly say. Salvation cannot be purchased. 

Christ finds us of great value

I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.
Proverbs 8:30-21 (related to 1 Corinthians 1:24)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

God delights in us and when I say us, I mean all of mankind. Not just the saved, but the unsaved. And that is why Christ died for us, because He finds value in mankind. Mankind was worth the price of His son.

The world tells us that we are unique and valuable; that we should just be ourselves and love ourselves. There are heaps of songs like Katy Perry’s Firework (“You don’t have to feel like a waste of space; You’re original, cannot be replaced”), pumping out the message of self-value and self-worth into the hearts of people around the world. The problem is that while the world preaches this positive message, it will not validate our intrinsic value at any cost. The world wouldn’t sacrifice anything for us. The world’s value system is selfish, that’s a fact

The positive values are just a façade. The world functions like a hypocrite – all words without action. But Christ doesn’t put on any façade. He says that He values mankind and He backs His words by paying the costly price (1 Peter 1:18-19) for us to be reconciled to Him. The only place where we find ourselves truly valued is in Christ.

The fine pearls

When God sought for pearls, he didn’t just seek any pearl, but “fine” pearls. God already has other pearls, such as the angels and Old Testament saints (Hebrews 11:39-40). He wanted a certain quality of a certain kind. He wants different pearls with a distinctive and spectacular shine, shape and form. That quality comes from Christ Himself (John 17:22-24); He shares His own glory which us that we might reflect His qualities.

The congruency of this interpretation makes it clear that the “fine pearls” are God’s chosen saints – those whom He effectively died for, who share in His presence and glory. And this is our amazing God, who He seeks for us, sees value where there was none and yet pays the price to reconcile us to Him. That is undeserved grace.

It is so easy to forget this as a mature Christian. Preachers see no point in preaching to the already saved. But daily we need to be reminded of the beauty and majesty of the gospel. It is in this gospel that we see the grace and mercy of God. We need to constantly remind ourselves of the gospel by which we are saved.

Grace on grace

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John 1:14-18

What we have received from Christ is appropriately described as “grace upon grace”. The mental picture that this creates is amazing. The picture I get is one of an Asian grand-mother piling on the rice into a bowl for her grand-son. She isn’t satisfied when the bowl is full, she heaps it on, giving a mountain of rice for her beloved grand-son. And when he is finished with some of the rice that he was already given, more rice is piled on. Rice upon rice; grace upon grace. That is the quantity that we receive from the fullness of grace that is in Christ.

The consistency of His grace is also worth mentioning. When we dig further into His grace, we don’t find a hidden agenda. God didn’t give us this grace because He pitied us as weak creatures or because he was arrogant as a God. What we receive is “grace upon grace”, not grace upon pity or arrogance. There was nothing but grace under the grace.

There is much to be said about this fullness. Christ is described as “full of grace” and thus we receive this grace “out of his fullness”. This tells me two things:

  1. There was no lack in Christ, He was completely filled with grace – He didn’t need anything, He was entirely selfless since He had no lack
  2. There was nothing else in Christ but grace – There was no place for deviation in who He was and what He came to do, everything He did was intentional and an outpouring of His grace. He had nothing else in Him – no hatred, no insecurity, no fear, etc

Jesus is a man of substance and His substance was God’s grace. This is the same substance and quantity that is offered to us. When we understand the extent of God’s grace, there is nothing we can do but accept His grace in awe and wonder. It is more than we can handle, more than we deserve, more than we can ask for or imagine. This is the Jesus Christ I serve.

Wow. Grace upon grace.

The Law

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
Romans 7:7-13

These days the Old Testament Law is personified as a hard school disciplinarian who punishes anyone who defies it’s rules. But that isn’t the picture that we get here. Read what Paul says, “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.” (v12) So why would Paul give credit to the Law when it had no power to bring righteousness (Galatians 3:11)? Becuase of 2 reasons:

  1. We would not know what sin is without the Law (v7)
  2. The Law was instrumental that sin would bring about our death (v10), we can then recognize sin for what it is (v12)

The Law certainly isn’t bad. The Law reveals God’s character and the glory of His holiness. It allowed man to know God. The Law defined for us what sin is – anything outside of His character and His glory. It revealed sin for what it truly is, an instrument of death and seperation from God. There is one more reason why the Law was given.

Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.

Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
Galatians 3:19, 21

The Law was added because of the transgressions until Jesus Christ came. Before Christ, forgiveness of sin came through the Law. The Law was God’s grace to His people in the Old Testament! Without the Law, the Israelites would have been entirely wiped out for their transgressions.

Dependance and Correlation

So Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered,“I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Luke 7:41-43 (NET)

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.
Luke 7:47 (NET)

Jesus, the great mathematician, outlines the relationship between two variables: forgiveness and love.

  • Where there is forgiveness, there is love. Love is the evidence of forgiveness. There is a dependence – a causal relationship.
  • The proportion of forgiveness is the proportion of love. Larger forgiveness, larger love. There is a direct linear correlation.

If Jesus was my lecturer, He would draw a graph representing the relationship between forgiveness and love to look like that (see graph below). That is what it looks like in His kingdom. He might plot points on the graph representing the debtors who owed five hundred and the other owning fifty. He might also plot the points for Mary and Simon. Mary would be top right and Simon closer to the centre.

x-axis = forgiveness, y-axis = love

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:23-24

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, between a twenty first century believer and a first century believer, a man and a woman. There is no difference between Mary and me. Mary sinned and fell short of God’s standard, I sinned and fell short of God’s standard. Mary was forgiven much, I am forgiven much. Mary loved much. What about me?

Where am I plotted on this graph? Is mine in the top right, centre or bottom left?

The Law

The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
Deuteronomy 30:9-14

Now hold on a minute. We’ve heard how bad the Old Testament Law is and how no one can attain God by obeying the Old Testament Law simply because it is too hard and that is why we need Jesus Christ. But here God says that the Old Testament Law is not too difficult for them or beyond their reach. According to God, it was possible for Israel to follow God’s Law.

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
Romans 7:12-13

Even Paul admits that the Law is good. He says that the Law is not sinful (v7), but the Law is holy, righteous and good (v12). The problem was not with God’s Law being unattainable, unreasonable or overly difficult. The problem was sin being sinful and against God. Sin is not a natural part of human nature – we weren’t created with sin, it was introduced into our nature. So regardless of sin, the Law is good and attainable.

So if the Law really wasn’t bad at all, then why do we beat it up so much? Because of the Pharisees. They laid over God’s Law their own law. By applying their own heavy yoke onto God’s light Law, they made it inaccessible and unattainable for every one. Pharisees of that time followed the teaching of Hillel or Shammai. Although the house of Shammai had a much heavier yoke than Hillel and had stricter regulations to following the Law, both of them followed the Law with outward obedience and not inward transformation. They made a mockery of the Law by turning it from obedience that comes from the inside (Matthew 22:37-40) to obedience that is only a outside show (Matthew 23:1-7, 25-28; Romans 2:28-29).

So if the Law really wasn’t that bad, why do we need Jesus? Because Jesus is better and better was promised.

But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
Hebrews 8:6-7

Jesus offered a superior Law (and Covenant) – the Law of Grace. It is better, it is less cumbersome, it is not to be weighed down by regulations. It is carved supernaturally into our hearts and minds, and empowered by the Spirit, causing us to follow Christ naturally (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Hebrews 8:10-12). It was needed because it was the plan all along. That is what was wrong with the Law, not that it was inaccessible or unattainable, but it was not the complete picture of God’s plan. It was only the first half, the lesser half.

So what about now? Does that mean that we follow the Law? Has Jesus made the Law accessible to us again and we have to follow the Old Testament Law? Absolutely not! The Law has served its purpose and has been fulfilled and set aside by Christ (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15).

We might think that Christ only fulfilled one or two parts of the Law – the Sacrificial Law for atonement, the Sabbath Law, etc but there are many other bits of the Law that He did not fulfill. What about the Feasts? What about the Law regarding ear rings, hair, etc? What about all the other bits of the Law that was meant to distinguish Israel from the other nations? James 2:10 tells us that the Law is one single entity, one unit. If one Law is broken, the whole Law is broken and the person is deemed a Law breaker. So if Christ fulfilled one part of the Law, He has fulfilled the whole Law and He is deemed the Law fulfiller.

In fact, Christ has summed up the whole Law and established it anew as “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). That is the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). Those two commands are not burdensome because we have already overcome our sin nature through Christ (1 John 5:3-5).

We need to get it out of our heads and language that the Old Testament Law was bad. It wasn’t bad, it was good! But Christ is better. I thank God that His grace is consistent. From the Old Testament Law of obedience to the New Testament Law of grace, His grace and mercy is evident. All I have for such a wonderful God is adoration and thanks! The work of Christ is even more wonderous – to improve on what is already good, holy, accessible and attainable!

Looking forward, outward and upward

One of the passages in the bible that speaks volumes to me has got to be Genesis 15. The depth of God’s faithfulness and grace toward Abraham (then named Abram) is unbelievable. God’s amazing response to his obedience with promises no one else can make (Exo 20:6).

Looking forward

The passage begins with “After this…” – this is a significant conjunction, linking what just happened in Abraham’s life and the relevance of what God says to Him next. He says, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, …”. What has Abram got to be afraid of? What does he need a shield for?

In Genesis 14:1-12, four kings battled against five and the four won, carrying off bounty from their kingdoms. Anyone vaguely knowledgeable at math would be able to tell that you that four is smaller than five and have a natural disadvantage (v8). This battle shows the strength of the 4 kings in battle strategy, military technology and/or brute numbers. They were 4 kings you did not want to pick a fight with.

Next, Abram does a crazy thing and attacks the victorious kings. Rescuing Lot from the four kings, and taking back all the goods which had been won in their battle. Abram had just offended some pretty mighty people, and that is something to be afraid about. People whom he certainly needed protection from.

Next, God said “…your very great reward.” (in ESV, “Your reward shall be very great.”). Why would Abram have needed any reward?

Because he had none! His bounty from the battle he had returned entirely to the King of Sodom after giving a tenth of it to King Melchizedek. He had no reward for being righteous twice – once for rescuing his kinsman Lot and another time for giving to Melchizedek (the King of Righteousness, a sort of archetype of Christ).

Also, rejecting the five defeated king’s goods might also have insulted them. Rubbing salt into their already wounded egos, Abram puts the message across clearly that he wants nothing to do with them and their riches.

By the end of Chapter 14, looking forward was distressing for Abram. New enemies and no bounty even after a successful battle.

Listen to God’s promises to Abram. God promised freedom from fear, protection that God himself provides and a boundless reward that is not yet seen. God knew what was in Abram’s heart, and he knows what is in ours. He is not hesitant to release us from fear, to be our protection and to be our very great reward. In fact, Christ obedience has already released all that to you, just as Abram’s obedience released all that on him.

As we look forward in our lives, we look towards God’s promises in uncertainty.

Looking outward

Abram still wasn’t in a good place after God’s promises. The darkness* he was experiencing perfectly reflected what he was feeling. As he looked outward towards everything that he had, it was all cold and gloomy. He had herds of cattle and lambs, he had tents and equipment, he had slaves of men, women and children. He had everything BUT an heir. The closest heir he had wasn’t his own. The most important thing in life was the only one thing he didn’t have. All his possessions and God’s promise of protection and providence didn’t mean anything to him if he had no son to protect and provide for.

How apt is that picture as a reflection of our own lives! Many of us live in pertetual darkness where nothing is ever enough. We disregard God’s promises and get impatient with Him, failing to see that He who provides for small everyday things can also provide for big miraculous things. Looking at our possessions and everything we hold dear, we see that He has been faithful and he will continue to be faithful.

Abram wasn’t just waiting for a son. God’s promise to Him was dual, it was also about THE Son – Jesus Christ. The picture of a promised son is a picture of the promised Messiah (Gen 12:2-3, Gen 22:17-18, Gal 3:16). Abram was waiting for the one person who would bring fulfillment to everything in his world. Just as this world is waiting for Jesus, who would bring fulfillment to everything in this world. Even if everything in this world was set straight, and everyone was protected and provided for, there would still be one thing lacking. J. W. Hyde says it best:

“If every person in the world had adequate food, housing, income; if all men were equal; if every possible social evil and injustice were done away with, men would still need one thing – Christ.”
– J.W. Hyde

As we look outward, we are thankful for His faithfulness and trust Him even more. We look to bring Christ into every area of of life and to the lives of those around us.

* The implication that it was dark comes from the next portion where God says to look at the stars.

Looking upward

The passage seems to say that the word of the Lord came to him again, as if to imply it was a separate instance that was not the vision, perhaps at around the same time. This time, “He took him outside…”. Abram had been indoors physically and perhaps mentally. His view was narrow and small, his mindset was confined. It seemed like he could not see how BIG was this God he served and how great was God’s plan for him.

God then directed Abram to “Look up…” and in the next sentence said “So shall your offspring be.” This small break gives the effect that Abram had looked up and saw the stars. He saw the greatness and radiance of God’s creation; the sheer number of stars! What a magnificent sight to see! He saw that even though all was dark around him, the stars were brightly shining. As if they were a glimmer of hope, however far away, they existed. In that moment, I believe that he understood that his hope rested on a great God who has given him a grand promise.

It was said that “Abram believed the Lord…”. He placed the belief and trust on the person and the promise. That sounds like “I trust you”, rather than “I trust that you will…”. His trust and belief was not conditional to God fulfilling the promise and not on the promise itself without belief in God. It was unconditional belief about God, and thus about the promise. He believed everything that God is and because of that, everything that God said.

Righteousness is having the state or quality of being righteous – having been reckoned/judged according to moral principles and divine law, have come across as acceptance and right. When God “credited it to him” (TNIV)or “counted it to him” (ESV) as righteousness, he took Abram’s belief as righteousness.

That standard for attaining righteousness exist even today in the New Testament. There are 2 ways to righteousness. Either, we can have absolute and perfect obedience of faith (to the law) to be righteous or we can look to the end of the law, towards Christ for righteousness (Romans 3:19-22). This righteousness was not based on our obedience, but Christ’s obedience. Since we are not able to fulfill the law and be 100% obedient, no amount of religiousness (Romans 10:3) can lead to righteousness. No amount of anything other than total and absolute belief in God and His promised son, the person of Christ Jesus, can a person be perfectly righteous (Romans 10:4).

So where is the New Testament message in the Old Testament? Right here with Abram, years before the law, where he believed and was righteous.

As we look upward, we see and BELIEVE in Jesus Christ. Looking elsewhere would be totally hopeless.

Triple threat

The question to ask when entering any evangalical meeting is: What is on sale?

We had an interested discussion in cell the other day about what the salvation call is or how it should be. Most of the salvation calls that I have heard consist only of the nice toppings on top. Jesus gives you EVERYTHING. All good, no bad. I guess it is only normal that when selling a product, you mask any negative features and magnify the positive ones.

In the words of totally crazy-as Westboro Baptist Church leader, Margie Phelps:
“Every institution in this country not only teaches sin in word and deed but is proud of it and teaches you to be proud of it and sticks your face up into God’s face demanding that He bless you in spite of it. Now that is the condition of this nation.”

Margie isn’t entirely right, but sometimes our altar calls really sound like that. Are we misrepresenting the gospel in our salvation calls? Maybe we need to add a disclaimer: true salvation and accepting grace leads to intentional transformation by loving Him and loving the things that He loves. Much like selling any drug/medication, should we not give a list of known side effects.

Jesus – Contains effective sin-killing and salvation-giving agent.
Use on blind, lost, broken and hungry people to effectively restore to abundant and whole life.
Directions: Apply generously over all areas of life (and beyond) everyday all day.
Known Side effects: Loss of self, loss of sinful habits, intentional discipleship leading to life transformation.
If symptoms persist, continue using and apply God’s grace.
For external and internal use.

No no, grace isn’t cheap. It is just as expensive for the giver as it is the receiver.

Love and life

I’ve been reflecting on my years of dating. It’s strangely familiar yet so far away. Growing old really has a strange effect on you. Here’s what I thought of those years and how I made sense of myself:

Looking back at the years I spent chasing skirts, I cannot say that any of those years were wasted. I’ve laughed and cried and made a huge mess of things, but I value every minute of it. Every single time I put myself out, I have loved. Taking a broader view of love as more than an expression, emotion or character. It is an experience (1 John 4:16). If you haven’t loved, you haven’t lived. It’s an old saying but it sounds a bit like a bible verse we are familiar with isn’t it? (“If I have not love, I am nothing.” 1 Cor 13:2)

Keeping away

Honestly, I could not keep away from girls. I get lonely when I don’t have the companionship I desire. Is that a bad thing? No. It means I am not gifted with the gift of singlehood. It means I was built for community and relationships. But I am aware of the effects of this desire. I would not allow myself to be overwhelmed with it. I would not let my life be ruled by it. I cannot say that I’ve done very well there.

The times that I really began to devote myself to seeking God’s word was when I was at my loneliest – in NS. When I had to stay in camp, with nothing else to do. No girlfriend, no computer, no television. I started studying my bible and reading authors like C.S. Lewis and Philip Yancey. Was I still lonely? Hell yeah. It sure didn’t take me long to find another skirt to chase. Life is about relationships and I just cannot keep away from them! I only thank God that He redeems even my dumbest decisions.

Slippery slope

I remember the first time I held a girl’s hand (I’m not talking about group prayer), it was a huge rush of sensations. The first kiss was strangely pleasurable. Physical intimacy is like a slippery slope. There is no way of climbing back up, all I can do is slide slower. Much like eating a packet of M&Ms during a lecture – how long can you keep away from the open packet before finishing it all up? The chocolate needs to hold up until I get out of the lecture. The longer the lecture, the longer between each M&M. More time to get to the end of the packet, more effort needed to hold off. A man only has that much strength before he gives way. That being said, I believe in short dating and early marriages. Maybe because I am a person that speaks in intimacy.

“The right girl at the wrong time is still the wrong girl.” – Doc John

Few statements make more sense to me when it comes to dating and marriage. If I meet a nice woman after I’m married, it’s the wrong woman – turn away. If I meet a woman 5 years before I’m ready to be married, it’s the wrong woman – turn away. That being said, no one defines the right time other than me. I don’t want to slide on the slippery slope for 5 years! Might be ok for some, but not for me.

My decisions have not always been about what makes sense or what I believe. Wisdom is not knowing what to do, it is having the experience and ability to carry out what you know. I’ve made some pretty bad decisions with and without knowledge. I am only thankful that Christ redeems and restores.

Love will keep us alive

Call me idealistic or whatever you want to call me. There are a million things about the future which are unknown at any one point in time. But I believe that future is what I make of it. If I believe that love will keep us alive, it darn well will. I didn’t care if I didn’t have a job yet or if I won’t be earning much. If the person I was dating was willing to walk with me, we’ll walk and we’ll be happy. Of course, I’m not irresponsible and I don’t intend to be a bum. There are a million unknowns in life, but if we’re willing to work it out, it’ll work out. Some call it stupidity, I call it adaptability and commitment.

If it means, going through multiple phrases in life through dating and marriage, then that’ll do. If things change, things change, but we stay together. Many people talk about preempting problems and differences. I think that is wise. I also think it is wise to understand that not everything can be foreseen, that commitment and flexibility is needed.

Now that my dating years are over, I am thankful that my lovely wife-to-be accepts me for who I am, where I have been and who I will become. I am blessed to have Sara walking beside me. Come rain or come sunshine, we will walk on.

I have been feeling excited and nervous about getting married (although I already legally am, I’m just feeling it more). It marks a big change. It means no more choosing which girl is the best one. It means I am responsible for providing. It means one day, I will have little creatures running around my house calling me “Dad”. It means a whole lot of things, and all of which have so far been unfamiliar to me.

I realised that I need to make (new) sense of my past, present and future in a totally different way and I need to do so very quickly. God grant me perspective.