...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Friday, March 23, 2012

What is YOUR Value?

There I was. Sitting at a friend's living room for a Bible Study. Gazing out the large picture window. Focusing on nothing in particular. Lost in my own thoughts.

I was there to be involved in a Bible Study.
I should have been paying attention.
I should have been listening.
I should have been taking notes.

But, quite frankly, I had some things on my mind. Some concerns. Some quandaries. Some problems that weren't easily solved.

And so instead of paying attention to the Bible Study, I started looking out the window, lost in the maze of my thoughts.

And then I saw it:

There, laying on the deck, was a small, brown, dead bird.

No one in the room had even noticed.  Nor was it likely that anyone ever would. Because it was such a small, inconsequential occurrence. The death of one, small sparrow makes no difference and can occur without anyone marking it ever happening.

Funny, though.
That moment as I stared at the tiny, deceased bird, I was ministered to more than any of the rest of the Bible Study.

God used that bird to remind me of His word:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." -Matthew 10:29-31
That small dead bird, for whom the world takes no notice, had been noted by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. The death of that sparrow, which had not the least effect on anyone, had the full attention of the Heavenly Father.

And as I looked at that frail, little bird, I thought about my small, inconsequential problems. I thought of how alone I felt in my quandaries. I thought of my concerns which matter to so few other people.

And then I remembered.
I remembered to Whom I belong.
I remembered Whose Hand holds me.
I remembered Who had bought me.
And Who had counted every hair on my head.

I remember Who had counted me as valuable enough to purchase me through the death of His own Son.

And I recalled that because of ALL of that.....I did not need to fear. I did not need to worry. I did not need to fret.

Because I am bought. I am held. I am seen. I am loved.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Coming Home To A Clean House

We just got back from vacation. And when I walked in the front door, I experienced one of my favorite parts.

Disclaimer: NOT my house!
Coming home to a clean house.

Every mother knows how important it is to have the house completely clean when you leave for vacation. But am I the only one with a family that just does not understand the vital importance of this ingredient to a Mom's enjoyment of the vacation?

Is anyone else ever told, "But Mom, it will be here when we get back!"

What about that statement is supposed to make me feel better?

There are huge problems with the statement, "It will be here when get back" reveals.

And these problems are why, when my family says that statement it has the opposite effect than they hoped.

Because these problems convince me to work harder on the house instead of leaving the "life" that inevitably gets spread around on the flat surfaces of my home.

Here are the problems:

  1. If it (and be IT I mean the "life", aka- messiness) is still here, in the home, and we have a bad wreck, and other people come into our home (including my Mother, by the way) to help us out....then they would see how we "really live" and the secret would be out.
  2. Or in that really bad wreck in Reason 1, if in that wreck I died, then I would never be able to explain to those who showed up to my house that we never really lived like this, and this had just been a very busy week, and actually I am usually much better at keeping my home. Really. I am.
  3. Okay, morbid thinking aside, even if I don't have a car wreck on the way to vacation or on the way home... if I don't clean my house before I leave for vacation, I am making lists of what needs to be done when I do get home. In my head. On scraps of paper. All the time. On my vacation. Gee, that sounds swell!
  4. And then there is the worst thing about the "It will be here when we get back" statement. That is the fact that IT WILL BE HERE WHEN WE GET BACK. I will be coming home to WORK.  I will move from relaxing and resting into full scale "Operation Recover and Clean-up" when I get home. 
Call me crazy, but No Thank You!

I would much rather anticipate the happy moment of  opening the door to a clean, orderly, non-lived-in home.

And I would much rather revel in the few moments that it stays that way.

Because now that we are home.....

It will be, well, yeah, "lived in" again. Welcome home! Let the unpacking begin!

Oh well. At least it was perfectly clean while we gone!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Those Pesky Rules

We are on vacation. And one of the things my little girls looked forward to the most was access to an indoor pool. We don't have a pool or much opportunity to swim at any time of the year, so to get to swim in March is a real treat!

Now, not only is there a pool, there is also a hot tub!

That is like sprinkles on top of the sundae for my girls.

They were very excited. That is until they saw the sign.

They looked at me with that look. The one that says, "Really Mom? Do we really have to obey this goofy rule?"

Me: "Ummm...."  (OK- this is when Mommying is tough. I mean, they have been in hot tubs lots of times. They are well behaved. No one else is in the hot tub. It is sort of a goofy rule anyway. And I am more of a spirit-of-the-law than a letter-of-the-law sort of girl anyway. But on the other hand, what would I be teaching my girls? To only obey the rules they agree with? To ignore the rules they don't like when no one is around to see them?......See what I mean? Parenting in not for cowards.)

So after mulling the rule question around and all the dire consequences that could lead to the eventual juvenile delinquency of my children, I said, "We need to obey the rule. We don't have to agree with it to obey it." (Thought I would throw in a little object lesson while I was at it.)

But I did relent enough to let them sit on the side and put their feet in.

After a while my husband looked over at my daughter who now had her entire leg in the water. She had just sort of inched in little by little. Clever girl.  He said, "You are getting as much of yourself in the water as you can without officially getting in, aren't you?"

Brain Flash!
Spiritual Application!

When God puts constraints in my life....when He says "No" to something I want....when He constructs fences to keep me in or to keep something out....when He does that, how do I respond?

Do I complain?
Do I try to figure my way around the constraint?
Do I half-heartedly obey, and then squirm my way as close as possible to what I want?

And those questions all boil down to one, really simple question:
Do I trust Him?

Do I trust Him enough to accept the:

  • not now
  • not for you
  • not allowed
  • you need to avoid this
  • DON'T!

Because if I don't trust Him, I will balk. I will try to figure my way around the thing. I will inch my way into the very pool that He has told me "No" to.

But if I love Him, I will trust Him. Even when He says no.

Friday, March 9, 2012

While You Were Sleeping

Maybe the reason people flock to healing services or miracle shows is because we desire to see God work.

It would have been so great to be at the Red Sea.
Egyptian chariots racing toward us.
Pillar of fire in between us and them.
And then....SEE IT HAPPEN!
The Red Sea parting!

A miracle.
The supernatural.
God at work.
There would just be no other explanation.

But sometimes God doesn't work His miracles right in front of us.

In fact, most of the time, God is working His work without us even recognizing Him. Only later, after everything is settled, do we see the outline of His hand.

There is only one problem with that scenario.
That sort of freaks out us control freaks! We like to know what is happening and put our 2 cents in! I mean..."you might need my help God. I would be happy to help. I just LOVE to help. In fact, I have some GREAT ideas, if You need some that is. But, maybe....since You are God....You might not need any?"

I have been enjoying the Beth Moore Bible Study on Esther the past few months.
And I have been learning lots of lessons. Lots.

But this past week....it really struck me....God doesn't need me.
Okay, I already knew that.

But back to this Bible Study and to this time I am learning this important lesson. AGAIN.

The book of Esther consists of a fascinating series of events over many years. (There is at least 8 years from the first verse of chapter 1 to the moment of "The Dinner" in Esther 7.) When you realize how many years come between the event of Xerxes getting rid on one queen, finding another queen, and eventually ignoring that queen and condemning God's people to destruction, you realize that what is obvious to us in the retelling of the story, might not have been so obvious to those who were living the day to day life...even if that life was lived in the palace in Babylon. It must not have been until much later that they looked back and so clearly saw the tracing of His hand.

So here are our characters:
We have King Xerxes. What a guy. Besides all of his other "good work" he manages to squeeze in allowing God's people to be condemned to death.

And we have Haman, the evil man planning out that destruction.

And we have Esther (the former Hadassah) who is stuck in the castle, and while it was a miracle that she ever got there at all, the life of "Cinderella" is not always what it is cracked up to be. She must have wondered why in the world she was there at all.

And then we have her uncle, Mordecai, who sends her word- "You have to go to the king to save our people. Maybe THIS is the reason you are here in the first place!" (this is my loose interpretation!) Of course, for her to go to the king un-beckoned meant possible death!

So everyone fasts and prays for three days. And then Esther goes to the king. And then the King and evil Haman come to dinner. And then everyone goes home without the big "reveal" happening.

Wait a minute. Esther was DOING what she was supposed to do, at peril of her own life I might add. And when her big moment comes...nothing.

But here is the real kicker.

The BIG moment...
the pivot point of the whole story happens....

...while everybody is ASLEEP!

Except for the king that is. The King- well God providentially keeps him awake so he can just happen to remember the great service Esther's uncle had bestowed on him years earlier that, by the by, is completely unrelated to what is happening now. And THAT is the singular event that sets in motion the beginning of the end for the bad guy and the beginning of the beginning of the salvation of God's people.

Wait a minute! While Esther was sleeping??!!?

See what I mean? God didn't NEED her. He let her be a part of the story. He USED her faithfulness. He even used her name in the title of the book.

Maybe it was her name in the title that threw me.
I thought the story was about what ESTHER HAD DONE.
But no. It is about WHAT GOD HAD DONE!

And that is all my life is about as well.
It is not about me or what I get or where I go or who I love or who loves me.
It is not about what I have or what I don't have.
It is not about where I live.
It is not about me at all.

And it is most certainly NOT about what I have done, am doing, or will do.

It is all God.
It is about God.
It is for God.
It is through God.
It is because of God.

And it is all done BY God.

Whew. What a relief. Even for this control freak.

I think I will just go to bed now. Who knows what God will do while I am sleeping!

It worked for Esther!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Am I Believing the Truth?

Lately, I have been worrying.

And by lately, I might as well admit that I mean the past 23 years! (That is how long I have had kids, if you need an explanation for the odd number!) Worrying and motherhood have pretty much gone hand-in-hand for me.

But I am so good at worrying that I not only worry about my kids and their safety. I can worry about other things too!

I am also very talented at worrying about finances.

I am an expert at worrying about the demise of a major appliance or car (probably because I am so good at worrying about finances.)

I am extraordinarily gifted at worrying about my abilities (or more accurately, my inabilities) as a homeschool Mother. And I am also gifted at the follow-on worry of how messed up my children will be because of my shortcomings.

What About Faith?
I have a problem though. My worrying and my faith can often butt heads. I mean, they get along so poorly, I can't even have them in the same room.

My worry thinks up the worst thing that could happen.
My faith announces that my God has future, hopeful plans for me. (Jer. 29:11)

My worry convicts me of how I have failed in parenting.
My faith remembers that my God will finish all the good work He has begun in my children. (Phil. 1:6)

My worry sends the reminder to me almost daily of the things we need to purchase that we cannot afford.
My faith proclaims that my God will supply all my needs. (Phil. 4:19)

My worry makes dire predictions about the future.
My faith divulges that the Alpha and Omega has both the beginning and the end under control. (Rev. 22:13)

This weekend God used two incredibly divergent mediums to convict me of the uselessness of these diametrically opposed messages that I live with daily.

1.  The first was on Saturday when we watched the movie, The Man Who Never Was, which is about how the British made up fictitious papers, put them on a dead soldier, and planted him in a German controlled area to try and communicate the idea that the Allies were going to invade somewhere else than Sicily (which is where they were going to invade.) If the Germans bought the lie and moved even some of their troops then many Allied soldiers would be spared.

(On an aside- it was a great movie, if you like understated, suspenseful, British movies that don't have cars chasing each other and buildings blowing up.)

2.  The second was on Sunday morning at church when we sang the song, "Whose Report Will You Believe" which is an older song and one I hadn't sang in a very long time. The lyrics are:

Whose report will you believe?
We will believe the report of the Lord!
His report says I am healed.
His report says I am filled.
His report says I am free.
His report says victory!

So how did a movie that was made in 1956 and a song written in 1989 come together for me in 2012?

The Conclusion
The question from the song struck me.

Whose report DO I believe?

Am I like the Nazis in the movie and believe the lie?
Do I change my behavior based upon the bait my enemy waves in front of my face?

There was a reason the Nazi's finally believed the lie. The British Secret Service were REALLY GOOD LIARS. They thought through every contingency and followed through with multiple layers of lies.

And I am faced with a really good liar too. I am faced with the father of lies! (Jn. 8:44)

So when my worry is an antithesis to my faith, which am I going to listen to?
I will give you three guesses...(and since there are only two options to begin with, this really shouldn't be that hard!)

WORRY, listen up!
I am not listening to you any more.

Whose report will I believe instead?