Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks In The Mommy-Fail Moments



1 Chronicles 16:34: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Psalm 106:1: "Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Psalm 107:1: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Psalm 118:1: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Psalm 118:29: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"


Psalm 136:1: "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."
The Bible has this phrase many times within it, and in my thinking that probably means it's pretty important.  So when was the last time you gave thanks to God because he is good and because his steadfast love endures forever?  
I believe we thank him for our family, our health, our jobs, our temporal stuff.  We may even thank him for our salvation and for Jesus.  Do we ever thank him for his steadfast love, that never fails, that never gives up, that never waivers -when we don't feel it?  

I'll be the first to admit, when I'm going through the dark, hard places of life, that I don't much feel God's love and I certainly don't feel like thanking him.  But in those times, God is still good.  And He still loves us.  God is faithful, even when we aren't!  

This past Sunday afternoon, my very willful son had pretty much zapped all my patience and grace while I was getting us ready to go back to church for the Thanksgiving service.  After chasing him around the house and saying "No" and "Stop" for the hundredth time, I snapped.  I smacked his bottom and yelled at him to "just be still for a minute!"  Then I grabbed all the things that you have to have when leaving the house with a toddler, managed to drop a couple while trying to scoop him up- realize it's raining, go back in the house for raincoat, get back to the car, wrestle him in the car seat and finally start down the road, only to realize that there is no way I can make the 15 minute drive to church in the next 10 minutes before the service actually starts!

It was once I had backed out of the driveway and turned on the Christian cd (because I probably need some Jesus right now- was my actual thought) that I just broke down emotionally.  I like to call these times, "Mommy-Fail Moments" or "mommy-fails" for short.  See I am not opposed to spanking my son but when I react in anger instead of just the need to discipline then I have sinned. When I yell at my son, I have lost my temper and I have sinned.  And so there I am, driving to church in the rain, running late, and crying out to God and Wyatt asking both to forgive me.  And it was at that moment, that low, mommy-fail moment, that I felt completely overwhelmed with the love of God.  I can't really describe it to you, all I know is that I felt peace.  I felt grace.  I felt completely loved and completely forgiven.  And I realized that though I may have mommy-fail moments, that I am not a failure as a mom.  That through grace, I am made whole.  My identity as a child of God, means that I am not defined by my mess ups or slip ups, but that I am a new creation.  And that God, the God of steadfast love, the God that is forever faithful, gives me grace upon grace upon grace through Jesus Christ.  So then my pity party turned into a praise party and as I told my husband, I had church on the way to church!  My tears of frustration turned into tears of joy and my questions turned into thanksgivings!

I thought about cleaning my face to make myself presentable before entering church Sunday night, but I just couldn't stop the flow of tears.  I was completely overwhelmed with how awesome God is and how very lucky I am that He chose me, that He loves me, that He is God!  And I realized that it's in those tough times that I truly appreciate God for who he is, and I am thankful.
God is so GOOD.  When was the last time you really felt that instead of just said it?
Love in Christ, 
Alyson

Thursday, November 13, 2014

God is Able, Why Doubt That He's Willing

This morning at around 3 AM, my son woke up crying.  We have a video monitor (yay- baby shower gift) so I laid and watched for a minute to see if he would go back to sleep as he usually does.  This morning, however, his little body would have coughing fits that would then make him cry again.  Our pediatrician said that keeping his nose clean would be a big help in reducing his coughing at night, but let me tell y'all, my son is not a fan of the nose sucking.  He fitfully turns his head so much that I fear even when holding him in almost a head lock that I will poke him in the eye with the thing. But seeing how my son was struggling, I went to get the aspirator anyway, hoping I could coax my son into believing that it would help him feel better... he didn't care.  I offered milk that he turned down.  So then I did what any mother would do and I scooped him up and carried him over to the rocking chair in his room.  And then I cuddled my son and rubbed his back and rocked him to sleep.  He managed to get to sleep and stop crying but the coughing continued every minute or so.  I even tried to sneak attack his nose at this point but even in his sleepiness he was not a fan and turned his head.  So, what do we do as Christians when we've tried everything we can do to no avail... we pray and ask God to do it.  (I say that sarcastically, because shouldn't that be the first thing we do??)

So there I sat a little after 3 in the morning having a conversation with God about my poor little boy.  It went something like this:
 "God, if you would just take this coughing and stuffy nose and sickness off of Bug and give it to me, I would gladly take it...I mean, I know you are so able to do this God, You are all power and all love and all mercy..."
 "Wait, I know He can, but do I doubt He will?  Am I sitting here asking God to do something and not really believing He will?  What's wrong with me..."
"Well it isn't that I doubt God's ability or his love, it's that I don't believe He just grants every person their every prayer request all willy-nilly." [I have to interject here, if you are still reading this, that I seriously did use the phrase "willy-nilly" and I seriously had this conversation in my head...I realize it was more with myself, but keep reading...]
"Do I have a lack of faith? The Bible says ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened to you.  But God is not a genie.  Though God does know my heart, and He knows that it is not out of selfish ambition or gain that I make this request.  And that if I had to choose between God healing my son right now or saving my son, I would choose his salvation..." [I proceeded to have some quiet contemplative time, which is basically what the whole thing was, since I wasn't talking out loud.]
"I do believe that God is in control.  I believe He is faithful, he is good, he is love and that he can heal. So, right now I ask You, God, to please allow my son to get a good night's sleep, remove this cough from him and help him feel better. I know that you can and I believe that you will."
I probably don't even have to tell you that just after this I realized that several minutes had passed since Bug had coughed.  And I held him just a few more minutes to make sure he was really asleep before I put him back down, not because I doubted that it happened, but because I was cherishing the snuggle time and the complete awesomeness of God.  And he didn't cough again, not once.  I laid him back in his crib and didn't hear another peep from him for the next almost 3 hours before I got up for work.

Obviously, right here is where I share that one of the purposes of this post is to give God glory for healing my son last night. Praise God!

The other purpose in this post is to share how amazing God is, when He reveals himself through his word. And how awesome He is when, He chooses to give us more faith, more knowledge, more understanding through his word...  even at unexpected times, like 3 in the morning.

When I laid back down in my bed, my mind immediately went to some scripture that my discipleship class had studied a few weeks back about Jairus's daughter and the bleeding woman.  This occurrence is recorded in Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56.  (We were doing a book study so this point that we discussed was initially made to us by Jared Wilson in his book "The Wonder Working God:Seeing the Glory of Jesus In His Miracles.")  Jairus was a prominent man, he came to Jesus knowing that he was able to save his daughter and believing that he would save his daughter.  The bleeding woman, however, was poor (she had given all of her money to physicians for healing) and she was probably of low standing in society.  She believed that Jesus had the power to heal her, but she doubted he would take the time to do so, i.e. she touched his garment herself to be healed.  I remember studying this and thinking how sad that this woman thought so little of herself and knew so little about Jesus that she didn't realize that He is love and mercy, power and might. That He would have healed her had she just asked.  I doubt for a second that he didn't know who it was who touched him or the very instant that she pushed through the crowd and was about to touch him just as he knew instantly when she did.  I am a strong believer in the sovereignty of God.  I believe that He is above all things and before all things and in complete control.  What I had to be reminded of last night that he revealed in little aha moments during my conversation with him in front of him was Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  Faith isn't just believing God can, it's believing He WILL. 


I still don't believe that God should be viewed as a genie or wish granter-- He is SO MUCH MORE than that.  But I do pray that my faith is stronger today than it was yesterday and I pray that this post will perhaps encourage you as well.

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When Jesus Said No



During my Bible Study time a few days ago, I read Mark 5:1-20.  I won't paste the entire passage here, but I highly encourage you to go read it.

What is happening here is that Jesus and the disciples have just gotten off a boat in the country of Gerasenes and they immediately encounter a demon-possessed man.  This miraculous healing is wonderful and full of many details that you simply must read for yourself.  But the interesting fact that stuck out to me as I was reading it was found in verses 18 and 19:
18 As he [Jesus] was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Mark 5:18-19 ESV

What grabs my attention in this passage is that the healed man begs to go with Christ, yet Jesus tells him no and gives him something else to do.  Hasn't Jesus' message been, "Follow me" yet here he is telling this man no... hmmm.  The two points I take from this exchange is 1- Jesus is in control and 2- Not all of us are called to the same life.

1-Jesus is in control
See, Jesus knows much more than we do.  He knows the why's that we cannot know.  To us, a man who had just been healed of a possession of thousands of demons, a legion of them, would prove to be a very loyal follower and probably someone we could count on to have our back.  But that's human thinking.  Jesus, being human probably realizes this, but he is also God and therefore, he knows that in the big picture he doesn't need just another follower or for someone to have his back- God's pretty much got that covered... What he needs is disciples.  People who will learn from him and go on after him.  And honestly, he needs the particular ones who were the ones he had, and only he knows why.

2- Not all of us are called to the same  life
As a Christian, I get into the habit sometimes of doing good for goodness' sake. ;-) For example, say there is a ministry within the church, a particular position perhaps, well obviously the good thing to do would be to fill it if no one else has, BUT, that may not actually be the RIGHT thing.  Is it a ministry? Check.  Is it building up the kingdom? Check.  Is it something our church supports and needs workers to do? Check and check.  Is it an area that God has called you to serve in?  Hmmm, wellll... And there you go, doing good for goodness' sake and not perhaps for God's.  Following Jesus was a very self-sacrificing role.  These men had to leave their families and jobs and travel from village to town trusting God to provide dwelling and food for them.  But not all were called to that high task.  Obviously, because Jesus denies this man the opportunity. 

But part 2 of part 2... or maybe B, whatever, the second part of this is that though we may not be called to the task we deem worthy, it doesn't mean we aren't called to act.  Jesus didn't just tell this man no, and then turn and walk away.  No, in verse 19 it says that Jesus told him to go home and tell all of his friends and family how much God has done and how much mercy he showed.  And verse 20 said he did just that!  Jesus asked this man to be a witness to his family and friends.  He doesn't call everyone to be a missionary in Africa, he calls us to witness about him right where we are, where he has called us to be. 

The hope we can take out of this passage is that you are no better or worse off than anyone else who is serving the Lord.  You are no more worthy or less worthy.  Whether you are called to teach, preach, sing, take meals, be a mom, be a nurse, or be a foreign missionary, God has called you to a specific calling that is unique to you.  He has uniquely blessed you with the gifts and talents to do exactly what he has asked of you.  He is in control and He knows why. And He expects us to be faithful.

So stop comparing yourself to others.  Stop serving where you aren't called.  And start seeking God and following his direction in your life.  Because contrary to what prosperity preachers preach *cough*JoelOsteen*cough* God doesn't want you to have your best life now, he cares about the big picture of eternity and wants you to do what brings the most honor and glory to HIS name, not your own.

Love in Christ, 


Alyson