Friday, May 29, 2015

Hold My Baby

Psalm 84:11-12
"For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
1O Lor
How blessed is the man who trusts in You!"

In this journey of thanks based on Grace, I am learning more about how to live in thankfulness to God through times of trial. With a newborn and three-year-old, this mommy isn't getting much sleep. Fibromyalgia (or whatever chronic illness it is that I have) is also making its dastardly presence more poignant. It can be very difficult to press on in a perspective of God's joy. And so, during times like these, I am thankful for someone to hold my baby. 

It can be a moment of relief from the pain, or simply to catch a glimpse of rest from the constant needs of a little one. Even though I understand that it is by Christ's grace that I go through trials, it is a joy to experience moments of reprieve. These, too, are God's grace.

My battle with chronic illness may be on a small scale, lacking the grand concerted efforts of many people, but it requires the same level of individual effort. Even so, my heart is revived by the knowledge that God is orchestrating events on an even grander scale than a human battle. He interlaces time, events, circumstances, and others who minister into a beautiful pattern that glorifies Him. 

The moments of trial make the moments of reprieve all the sweeter. And those times of sweet reprieve can be a better reminder of the true reprieve of salvation. I cannot wait for the time when Christ recreates my body without sin and I can serve and glorify Him all the more in eternity.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The End of Myself

2 Corinthians 12:9
"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

Whether by circumstances or even my own attitude, I find it is God's grace that I come to the end of myself. Motherhood is no picnic, and I often find myself so frustrated, stressed, anxious, weary, or depressed that I just want to give up. It is there - in that weakness - that My God stretches me and molds me to make me stronger and more like Christ, His Son.

I am beginning to realize that it isn't just about relying on God; I still come to the end of myself. Rather, coming to the end of myself is not bad, but something that must occur before I can truly live in God's strength. I don't have to get frustrated, etc. to come to the end of myself and reach that strength. Instead, I should purpose to go straight to the end of myself - to my weakness and His strength - from the beginning. 

Before I come to the end of myself, I rely on my plan, my physical strength, or my talents. Living in God's strength requires looking ahead at eternity, recognizing my humble position under God, and being ready for whatever way He would have this task accomplished. Certainly, I should have a plan, but I shouldn't rely on it. I shouldn't place my hope or my emotional balance on it. That just ruins my contentment if God has a different (and thus, better) plan for me. How tragic!

My God is greater than I, His power beyond my imagining. This is His world that I live in; how can I hope to navigate it in my own strength?  Why would I want to?

I thank God for the end of myself, for the place where I live in my humble weakness and the Victory of His strength. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Thought of Eternity

1 Peter 1:13
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

As I try to soothe my 7-week-old daughter, I find myself searching for a way to live out Your joy. It is so easy to succumb to anxiety and stress in the face of her fussy cry, especially when compounded by pressing chores like dinner, or my 3-year-old son's need for attention. Now I perform the mother's nighttime dance of sway-bounce-pat as I spin a slow circle in my three-foot space, humming a made-up lullaby with her swaddled against my chest. Thankfully, it soothes her, but only so long as I continue; no going to sleep for Mama. 

It reminds me of a similar situation with my first baby. I held my son late at night as he screamed, and I found solace in Colossians 3:24b: "It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." I knew that my job was to serve God, which, at that moment, meant serving my son. All I could really do for him was hold him. And that was enough. God expected no more and no less of me. That I was fulfilling my purpose in that moment brought me a peace that, in turn, brought me a certain joy - even through his screams (and Mamas, you know that's saying something!).

In tonight's situation, God has added another of His truths to the solace of that verse in Colossians: the thought of eternity. 1 Peter is saturated with this theme. I can remember a fascinated awe at Peter's ability to stay his mind on the thought of eternity as I studied the first chapter. How could I live with a constant eye toward eternity?

I have struggled with - and asked God for - the answer to that question. Each moment seems to have a different answer or application. I have felt overwhelmed at the magnitude of different moments, let alone trying to apply the principle to each. I had to smile tonight as an application occurred to me.

You see, I'm musically oriented, and as I hummed my made-up lullaby to my daughter, there were pieces of it that I thought would be good enough to save and create an actual song from. Yet, right at that moment, I couldn't record it, or my daughter's soothing would be disrupted. I certainly wouldn't be able to remember it, so the tune would be lost.

Ordinarily, this would be a cause of frustration for me, since it's one more thing to put on hold while I care for my children. One more thing lost. Yet, with my mind on serving Christ instead of myself, and with the thought of eternity in mind, instead of frustration, I felt peace. Perhaps I won't get to it today, but God isn't calling me to write a song in this moment; this moment is my daughter's.

I have eternity to honor Christ with my voice and my songs. I am not my intended audience, and as my daughter slept restlessly in my arms, neither was she. I sang for God. And God heard it that moment. So I smiled with the joy of the Lord, knowing that capturing a song didn't matter, because it served its intended purpose as a sweet sound in God's ear. It was not, in fact, lost.

What skills do you have with which to serve Him? Are you letting the skill take precedence, or are you keeping it under the grace of eternity? God's grace allows me not only the joy of serving Him, but an eternity in which to do it. He hears me, sees me, knows me now, in this very moment - and I have an eternity to hone my skills for Him. What a blessing is the hope of what He has for us when He returns!

Friday, May 1, 2015

All-Pervasive Grace

Romans 11:36
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

God’s grace manifests itself in an infinite number of ways. One reason I have loved this thankful exercise, is because it has helped open my eyes to those many ways. With each thankful thing, I find another manifestation of His grace.

We often fall into the idea that the universe revolves around us. For example, if “…God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28) and I am one of those, then all things are for me, right? Not exactly. It’s more of an indirect thing. As it says in Romans 11:36, “…from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” Everything is about God. It is to His glory and by His grace that He chooses to work all those things for our good.

I’ve had trouble lately staying thankful, as I now have a newborn and have been trying to care for her, my three-year-old son, myself, and my husband. It isn’t an easy transition, as mothers will tell you. I have to keep reminding myself each circumstance is by the grace of God. Yes, the baby’s crying, my son is whining, I need to go to the bathroom, and somehow manage to cook dinner. It is all to God’s glory as He uses this to stretch me, and that is His unmerited favor - His grace.

May I “rejoice always; pray without ceasing; [and] in everything give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a) because I know He is working all things for the good of His children.