Say Something!

Mother and Child

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching, for they will be a garland of grace on your head and a gold chain around your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9

There are times when I go back to read something I’ve written and feel amazed. And I can’t even believe it was me. Like today. I just read my “About” page and see that I had total focus and clarity. I knew the goal of the blog this past February. Because at that time I felt such a connection to God. I was absolutely sure of His plan for me. For I heard Him through His word, life circumstances, people, nature and song. The God of all creation spoke to me and I found that to be incredible. But as with life, there are ups and downs and highs and lows. And when January rolled around, I found myself low. Again.

I have to say that over the course of the past few years, I’ve had more lows that I care to mention. In fact, there have even been a few times when I just wanted to give up on God. Once or twice, I felt that following God was just too hard, and even muttered aloud, “I quit!” But inevitably, I always found myself pulled back into His embrace. In the end, I always ran back to Him. Because in truth, I can’t imagine Him not being a part of my life. How could I possibly think I could move forward without Him? For He is my heavenly Father and I am His child. I’m His. And what comforts me today is that even during the dark times, when I think I’m leaving Him behind, He never forgets me. Never. For His word reminds me…

“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15

And so for today, I stand amazed in His presence once more. For I understand. And with increasing regularity, I find that it’s my own child who leads me into understanding. See, my son and I have gone around and around with one issue. His listening skills. In fact, it was last week that I was so incensed I had to hold back until I could gain control. I called out to him while he wasn’t more than three feet away. But rather than his turning to me with listening ears strapped on, he began singing out, “La, la, la, la,” over and over again. And for some crazy reason, I tried to talk over him rather than grab him by the shoulders and make him turn and listen. Can you imagine? And it’s no surprise that I was LIVID when he didn’t hear what I said. And so, we had a not so fun moment and tears ensued as he tried to explain that he didn’t hear me.

And today, I am quite certain, God feels the same with me. Because ever since the beginning of January, I’ve been crying out to God over and over, “Oh, I need a word. Please speak to me. Show me something new. Talk to me, Lord.” And Psalm 5 and 6 penned by King David seemed to point out the obvious. For David emotionally cried out to God as well. He asked that God hear his groaning, his tears, his weeping, his plea, his prayer, his words, his sighing, his cry and his voice. That’s where I noticed it. Through all my moaning and groaning and pleas and cries, my clanging in God’s ears must sound the same as my son singing out, “La, la, la.” How in the world can I hear him if I never shut up? How can I focus on His words when I’m too intent on my words?

My Son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:1-6

Yesterday, I heard Him. I had been pleading, “Say something!” But God had already said it. Not only that, it was something He’s spoken to me more times than I can count. How weary He must be of repeating Himself. Just as I feel when I have to tell my son four times to put away a pair of shoes. “Please say something, God!” His response, “I’ve told you again and again. Put this away. Until you stop this behavior, we can go no further.” Basically, my heavenly Father is saying, “Enough! Listen to me and do as I say.” Like I say to my own son.

Today, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that God made me a mother. Because I love my child. I love him. There is nothing he can do that will ever change that. And he can pretend he’s upset with me and turn his back on me and tell me he doesn’t want my hugs and kisses. But I know he wants them. Even those times when he says he doesn’t want to make up. Oh, he may try to leave me behind, but in truth, he can’t go on without me. In fact, he can’t imagine a life without me, for I’m his mother. And this right here is how I can understand God’s love for me. It’s through my child that God has taught me so much. He shows me how I need to grow and how I should be disciplined. But more than that, He shows me how He loves me.

…and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

Today, I’m so glad that God repeats Himself. Like I do with my own son… over and over and over again. I know that God will never give up on me. He will never stop loving me. And because He’s my heavenly Father, He will never stop instructing me. He will tell me what I need to hear as many times as I need to hear it. Because one day, I’ll stop la-la-la-ing and really listen! I’ll hear Him when He says something. And then, I’ll obey my Father. As every child should.

A Full Closet

Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, I listened to a Mother’s Day message today in which the speaker addressed some of the very things I have been thinking about recently. Namely… insecurity. (I’ve included the link to Lysa TerKeurst’s message at the end of this blog). And the funny thing is, she mentioned her past (as a little girl), the fickle opinions of others, and the fragile choices our children make. And I found her message to be illuminating in that she helped me identify the problem with my insecurity. And it isn’t what I would have thought. See, my line of thinking was that if you’re insecure, you’re not confident. And so logically, low confidence means that you’re not lofty and high up, right? Because if you’re insecure, you’re staying low, right? Doesn’t insecurity then, in essence, mean that you’re humble and meek? And if so, isn’t God pleased by that?

You know, I have been praying for godly wisdom for a little while now. In order to know how to please God, I need His wisdom… because His is so different from the world’s. And, fortunately, the speaker pointed to Scripture that points directly to godly wisdom. And it’s through Proverbs 11:2 that I see just what my insecurity really is: “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” Illuminating, huh? And so, I find that insecurity is not lowly and humble at all, but in fact, the opposite is quite true. The mere fact that I have been feeling insecure, and shameful, highlights the hidden pride in my life. And if I want God’s wisdom, as I have been so praying… then it’s in my humility that I’ll find it. And so I see, the issue is not at all insecurity… but pride. Because it’s pride that cares what other people think. It’s pride that feels shame in not measuring up to other people’s standards. And it’s pride that produces those feelings of inferiority. It’s the pride of life…

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16

So in a nutshell… God has answered my prayer. I’ve been seeking godly wisdom, and praying for God’s wisdom, and so James 1:5 has been played out in my life: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally…” Because through a message I watched at random today, God has shown me where to find His wisdom… and it’s not in my insecurity. If I want God’s wisdom, then I must be humble. And so, I have a choice to make. We all do. We must decide where we will find our true identity… and where we will find our true security. Because if we place too much importance on this world via its opinions and its measuring stick, then we will never, ever feel secure. Because the world is passing away, and the lust of it… but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:17). See, our security can only be found in Him.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, God never ceases to amaze me. I am forever awed by how God fits together the pieces of my life… how He strategically plants me in places, and in circumstances, and with people, and how He opens the eyes of my understanding, enlightening me, that I may know what is the hope of His calling for me. See, I’ve been feeling less than. But He is opening my eyes, and I am beginning to see what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance. And I’ve been feeling inadequate, but He is showing me what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward me, who believes. He is showing me that I am complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. I lack nothing… because I am complete. But it’s Him who completes me. I will never, ever measure up to man’s expectations… but with God, because I am covered by the blood of His Son, I am complete. That’s my security.

You know, everyone wants to fit in. Everyone wants to be liked (well, most people do – I have run across those who actually take delight in offending other people). But the truth is, Christians will never, ever fit in with the world. Because the world and God see things in stark contrast to each other. God’s kingdom is flip-flopped from the worldly kingdom. God’s wisdom does not mesh with the world’s. And if we hold too tightly to the world, and the things of the world, then pride creeps in and wisdom walks out. And shame always follows.

Shame has always been with me… it’s always been part of my make-up. It first took root when I was a small girl. When young, because of things I did not have and my not-so-full closet. When older, because of things I did and a much fuller closet… only the closet happened to be filled with skeletons. And older still, disgrace follows because of the things I do, or don’t do, that may or may not measure up to mere man’s expectation of me. And so, shame cloaks me. But the cloak of shame comes directly out of the closet of pride. And that garment of insecurity was not selected for me by God. And so, I have a choice to make. I can gain the whole world today, packing my closet full with robes of shame in trying to keep up with the Jones, or… I can choose Him. And with Him, my closet need not be so full. Because with Him, I will be clothed in robes of righteousness. And with Him, I will be clothed in glory. And in order to be so clothed, there is only one item needed… Him.

And so, the choice… a full closet, or an empty one? Here or there? Or, this world or that one? The choice is mine to make. And it shouldn’t be that hard of a decision.

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what advantage is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:24-26

Laundry… or greatness?

Last Sunday we talked about greatness in Sunday School. The question, “What keeps you from greatness?” There were a lot of answers ranging from debt to fear to busyness. I even put out my hands to portray a set scales… laundry in one hand and greatness in the other, to show which outweighed the other. Laundry had it. But this morning, I’ve come to the conclusion I can have it both ways. I can have my laundry along with that elusive greatness. And this morning, I see that I am the very thing that’s keeping me from it. Ironically, it’s my inaccurate sense of self-importance that keeps me from greatness.

Micah 6:8 says to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. I believe He says to walk humbly because we need to have an accurate view of ourselves. It’s in Romans 12:3 that we read, “For I say, through the grace given to me to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” The truth is, if you think too highly of yourself, you cannot practice justice and mercy. Because if you believe yourself to be holier than thou and that you can do no wrong, then you may think that perhaps the person collecting benefits from the government should be out there working like you do, right? And if you think you’re so high and mighty, then just maybe the person who is doing something wrong deserves every bad thing that comes their way, right? Because you’re not doing that wrong thing. The ugly truth is if your opinion of yourself is overly elevated (and I’m speaking for myself here), then you will not be able to do justice and love mercy. It’s impossible, and I should know. Because I’m living proof.

We can simply walk with God, or we can walk humbly with God. It’s our choice. I wish I could say I chose the latter, but for years now, I believe I simply walked with Him. And highly, I might add. Because I walked and talked with God, and attained all the knowledge I could. But rather than apply it to my life, I tucked it all away inside my head. And that caused me to feel good about myself… all that stored up knowledge. And because I was walking with God, who is Greatness, well, there were times in which I could not help but feel as if some of His greatness rubbed off on me. There’s no denying that sometimes I have sat back feeling smug in the knowledge I’ve acquired, feeling oh, so enlightened. In fact, there have been times that I’ve felt pretty, darn great. But not about Him… about me!

So how do I fight this? It’s evident that knowledge puffs up, so what can I do? Fortunately, God showed me what it is that I lack. It’s something called wisdom, and He offers it to us all. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5.  I see that knowledge without wisdom is useless. Because they work together. Wikipedia states that wisdom is the judicious study and application of knowledge. And so, that’s one of my problems. I haven’t applied what I’ve learned.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthy, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:13-17

Envy and self-seeking are not new conditions of the heart. They’re worldly and they’re as old as the hills. It’s in our nature to covet what someone else has, and to desire what we don’t have. Jealousy comes naturally to us. But it’s earthy, sensual and demonic. And it goes all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden, and the first sin. It goes back to Cain and Abel, and the first murder. It goes back to Jacob and Esau, and determining who would rule the other. It goes back to the hatred of Joseph’s brothers, when their father loved him best. And it goes back to the disciples. They had a worldly way of looking at things, too, as there was rivalry among them. They argued about who would be the greatest. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” And when the disciples’ mother was self-seeking and ambitious for her two sons, the others were moved to indignation (self-righteous indignation, I’m sure). Jesus said, “But whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Wisdom is thrown at us every day. But there’s worldly wisdom and there’s godly wisdom. The two do not go hand in hand. Because what the world says is great is the complete opposite of what God says is great. The world says look out for number one, but Jesus says to look out for them. The world says the more money you have the greater you are, but Jesus says to give it all away. The world esteems those who are wealthy and famous, snubbing those who don’t reign as high. But Jesus says blessed are the poor. And Jesus, who was the greatest to ever walk this earth, did not come to be served, but to be Servant. He is our example.

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:12-15.

Sunday, I wondered, “Laundry… or greatness?” Well, I wanted greatness. And now I know, I can have both. Rather than resent the duty of laundry, it can be an act of service I humbly provide to those I love the most. If my attitude is lowly, and if my heart is not lifted up, then in the eyes of my Lord and Teacher, laundry is greatness. Becoming servant to my family and loved ones is what will make me great in His kingdom. I simply need God’s wisdom to apply all the truths I’ve learned. And then, as I walk humbly with Him along life’s highway, I will be changed through the process. I’ll be able to accurately and soberly assess myself because I’ll have glimpsed God’s glory. And so, when I am not lifted up… I will be able to live out Micah 6:8, serving God by doing justly and loving mercy. Because God will direct my path as I humbly follow Him. The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way… all the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth. Psalm 25:9-10

As time goes by, I’ll come to understand that it’s not at all what I think that will make me great. But the complete opposite. Because God’s wisdom is so different from my own.

I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. Romans 16:1-2