Monday, January 14, 2008

New Jersey!

The Lord has graciously seen fit to allow me the privilege of visiting some very dear friends of mine who live in New Jersey, so I am currently away from my precious family and the wonderful Mid-West. I do miss my family dearly, but I am enjoying my time here. My friend Sarah and I have had our good, solid, encouraging Bible based discussions, thoroughly enjoying each others company and edifying each other in the word. My friend Rebekah and I had done the usual stay up 'til 1 am being giggly and talking about everything and nothing. We've also had opportunity to comfort each other during two difficulties that have come up in the last five days that I have been here. Wednesday I am leaving the Fullers to visit another friend of mine* that I haven't seen in three years-I can't wait!!!! I have enjoyed my time with the Fullers, prizing every moment.
however, as precious as this time has been, I can't wait to see my family again. I have had the time of my life sharing with the Fullers how much my family has changed, telling them how blessed I am by each individual family member and having fun trying to describe the individual characters of each of my wondrous siblings and my parents. At another time I'll have to share with your some of our conversations, but for now I have a headache and need to get off.
'Till next time :D

*Name withheld in respect to the young lady's wishes

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

“So are you working outside the home right now?” my well meaning friend asked. Inwardly, I winced, “well, right now I work for a family once a week as a mother’s helper. Other than that, no, I am at home helping mom care for the house and the younger ones.” She nodded and we moved on to other topics.
The truth is that I love being at home, I know that what I am doing has a huge impact on the future generations. I am seeking to help my parents as they raise my younger brothers and sister to be God-fearing agents of multigenerational faithfulness. The difficult part is when others, well intentioned or not, ask what I am doing with a predisposition that assumes if I am not out working or getting a degree, I am living unsuccessfully and unfulfilled. There are the extremes, on the one hand I have been told that I am brainwashed, on the other, I have been pitied. Sometimes I feel like I can’t win, and the impression I get is that I am a lazy and inept daughter, stifling her full potential.

Bearing Discouragement

Even if we are fully convinced of the eternal value of remaining at home, the world’s response can dampen and discourage a young maiden. How does one handle these times?
Perspective. For instance, I just came out of a discouraging period where I was so emotionally drained that I was having a hard time focusing on my God given responsibilities and the littlest thing was threatening to set me off. I spent two-three days praying and asking God to show me what my problem was; on Saturday my dad and I had a talk and the Lord, using that conversation, as well as Sunday morning’s message cleared enough clutter from my mind for me to see that the reason I was discouraged was loss of perspective. I had taken my eyes off the Lord and, as daddy said, was, out of lack of faith, trying to do His part. In essence my attitude was saying, “Lord, You have no clue how badly this hurts, You don’t know what it means to be me, and if You think that I am going to let You lead me through another painful trial, then You have got to be kidding me.” How’s that for lack of faith? One of my struggles did arise from my friend’s comment, but the reason for that was my loss of focus. I allowed myself to view success through the world’s reasoning instead of through God’s wisdom.

Keeping Proper Focus during Times of Discouragement

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” ~Colossians 3:1-3

Keeping proper focus is a decision, an action that must be taken on our part. God gives the grace and we must act upon that. We are created with a will, the ability to decide and choose for ourselves. In the midst of this, God is sovereign over the affairs of men, the Psalms are chock full of examples of this as are the Proverbs 1, but His sovereignty does not negate our responsibility to strive to keep a biblical focus.

What I am NOT saying

If we continually strive to view everything with a God-honoring perspective does that mean there won’t be so much pain? No, not really. Job kept incredible perspective after losing all his children and his material possessions: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” 2. Job had the right perspective but the next thing that happened to him was he lost his physical health. The bible says that he was covered in boils from the bottom of his feet to the crown of his head, and that he used a broken piece of pottery the scrape himself. Later on, during his discourse with his friends, Job says that he gets no relief from his pain. But what Job doesn’t see that the Lord graciously reveals us, is the purpose for his trials. He never knew that around two thousand of years later Christians would be reading his account and being blessed by his fortitude.
Pain will come, but when it does our response should be like that of King David, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in Thee: yea, in the shadow of Thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” 3.

When the going gets tough, keep on going; take your hurts to the feet of our Lord and be faithful-the Lord will lead you out of the valley in His time and give you a beautiful mountain view, if you are faithful. And be encouraged, the Lord Jesus suffered as a man and understands grief and pain, follow His example and finish this race well, one lap at a time.
“Looking unto Jesus the Author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds”
Hebrews 12:2-3

Foot Notes:

[1] i.e. ‘The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will.’ Prov. 21:1 (His sovereignty)
‘A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on and are punished’ Proverbs 22:3(Man’s action or decision).

[2] Job 1:20-21
[3] Ps. 57:1