Friday, September 16, 2011

When I Am Weak

You know those days when the struggle with flesh is vividly apparent? When you can feel yourself swiftly and easily sliding into sin? When the ground has already given way beneath your toes and you know you are in grave danger of falling? Today was that day.

Disappointment turns into bitterness. Frustration gives way to grumbling. Concern morphs into proud and critical judgment. As thought rolls over sinful, angry thought, I begin to feel overwhelmed. Not only with the situation provoking me, but with my frail faith that is so quick to forget how much I have been forgiven and how much I ought to forgive others.

As I hear the Spirit's whisper, I feel the conflict grow stronger. Longing for holiness, lusting for sin. I ache for the fight to end quickly, pleading the Spirit to silence my thoughts so I don't have to continue striving, but the battle continues throughout the day. I feel the complaints pushing at the back of my tongue. More stones give way beneath my feet. I cling and ask Him to hold me until this battle ends. He comforts me with these precious Words and I feel as though He was thinking of me when He breathed them into being.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful,

and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it.

Humbled by His faithfulness to me in the midst of my faithlessness to Him. I cling to His grace, asking him to enable me to give it to others. And I thank Him for allowing me to feel my fraility because it causes me to rely only on His strength and grace. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  I know my battle isn't over, but I also know that He has already secured my victory. Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September - Sweet-sounding Word

The 1st of September holds as much newness and anticipation as the 1st of a new year. It has been this way to me for as long as I remember. Time to return to a more structured schedule after the carefree busy-ness of summer.

I love making schedules. But I hate following them. So I make long lists of responsibilities, goals, ministries, and opportunities. I tend to get so very excited and try to swallow everything whole and smash it into the tidy lines of a notebook. Everything looks so do-able and reasonable and productive on paper. After a few weeks of struggling to carry it all though, my long list of possibilities has become a record of failure. A guilty reminder that I didn’t complete what I set out to do, or at the very least, a reminder that I didn’t do it as well as I had expected to.

Then I lecture myself on laziness, on my short temper, and on my resentment of the tasks I formerly enjoyed. And I forget that all of these attitudes are symptoms of a disease, and no matter how hard I work to cure the symptoms, it will be a fruitless battle unless I find an accurate diagnosis for my condition.

The 1st of September is wooing me again this year. Trying to make me believe that I will miss out if I don’t embrace every offered opportunity. Trying to convince me that if I don’t accept every ministry as my personal mission, than I am a poor Christian. Trying to induce me to walk in my own strength, to buckle down and just try harder.

So I am having the conversations with myself again. Am I taking on too much? Am I being lazy for trying to simplify? I should say no more often. No, I shouldn’t be so focused on my schedule, I need to be more flexible. Paul talks about being poured out as a drink offering. Am I being selfish with my time? What about my husband? It doesn’t feel right to pour myself out to others so that I am empty for him. But what about having eyes for the needs of others? Do I have unrealistic expectations for myself? I don’t want to be one of those wimpy people who can’t handle everyday responsibilities. Neither do I want to be one of those agitated people who have no peace in their lives and run around one step behind their to-do lists.

I so desperately want to do everything well! And it hurts my pride to say that I can’t take something on. My mind remembers the stinging embarrassment of telling someone I didn’t have the time to commit to some activity and hearing their scornful “You can’t handle this workload? Man, you are going to be in trouble when you have kids to take care of if you’re already overwhelmed now!” Internally, I responded defensively and with anger, followed by a discouraged wondering if they were right.

As I remember that conversation, the memory helps to reveal my heart issue: a deeply rooted pride. This desire to be able to handle it all, to show myself capable, to be excellent in all I do, to receive the approval of those who will tell me when I am not doing enough. A perfectionism that seeks satisfaction in the approval of myself and others. This pride takes my Spirit-driven desire to serve my Lord and His people and twists my motives into self-service and renders my efforts useless and exhausting. I ignore my desperate need of the Spirit's strengthening power and forget that all my breath, my very ability to move and work, comes from Him alone.

Father, give me the ability to discern what you desire from me in this season. Give me eyes to see that everything I do is to be done for your glory and allow that to motivate me to pursue excellence in everything my hands find to do. Forgive me for trying to earn the approval of man instead of seeking how I might please you with my time and my actions. Thank you so much that I don’t have to earn Your approval, that Christ's blood has purchased it for me forever.. Thank you that I can approach Your throne in confidence, knowing that when You look at me, You see the righteousness of Your Son. Forgive me when I arrogantly think that I need to add the filthy rags of my good works to the sacrifice of Christ before I can walk in joy before You. Please take the offering of my life as a sacrifice of praise, poured out to Your will and use it to Your glory.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A lot can happen in 11 months.

Settling into a one-bedroom apartment

Homemade fall decorations being replaced by homemade winter ones

Our first Christmas as husband and wife

Packing up a few months later to move into a three-bedroom house with wisteria and shade trees

Afternoon drives to mom's and dad's to cure homesickness

Evenings spent studying with husband for his classes

A diamond on my sister's left hand

A new job

A spring-break road trip with precious friends

A graduation celebration for another sister

The birth of a nephew

Pinwheels, cottonwoods, fireworks, first kiss, and a gold band is added to my sister's diamond 

A road trip to California, four days of the Word, increased resolve

Playing in flower bed dirt, working on small house projects side by side, daydreaming of more to come

Tasting and seeing. The Lord is so very good.