“It’s our wavering between gods that has us sinking. It’s the wavering between the gods of things and the God of everything – that’s what has us flailing and drowning soundless in it all.” Ann Voskamp, “The Greatest Gift”
I don’t even think we know we’re making the choice, but in fact we are making “it”. The tearing down of myself over the exclaim, “Someone else can do it better.” The forsaking of the “assembling of ourselves” because we just can’t make ourselves wake up in time. Our marriages, which have indeed become “conveniences,”no longer understood under the beauty of covenant. The cheering of that which is outside the will of God. All hard pills to swallow, yet it is the wavering between “just enough,” to no God, to all God that has us sinking, many drowning. We wonder why we feel suffocated, so we search for a way, a quick fix, to get a breath, to make us feel better. Maybe our marriage, that one we thanked God for in the beginning, has become the easiest thing to just stop fighting for…so, we turn to the god of happiness instead because, “Wouldn’t the God I serve want me to be happy.” Careless words, catastrophic consequences. Is He only enough God when things are going well? Is He really the God of ENOUGH?
That co-worker that seems to outshine us in every way, sending us to our car each day for a long drive home, blaring “You are WORTHLESS” all the way. Is He only God enough when we succeed? Is He really God ENOUGH…period?
Life’s blows, its choices, the valleys that are so very hard, how easy to waver to “He doesn’t care”. “And if you don’t choose God, you’ll bow down before something else…” (Ann Voskamp). Surely I won’t bow to another, yet I do. I bow to the “I have to get myself out of this mess,” or the “just enough God” to get me through my junk.
Advent is still the gift of the “slowing down”. The gift that truly does keep on giving, for it’s within the slowing of life that we may just see Him more clearly. It’s in the slowing down that we find new resolve to fight for that which is worth it. Can we see the worth? You, my friend, are it…the worth…the one He came for – died for. No wavering is too late to change. Choosing Him always wins in the end. The gift of Christmas this year may just have been staring you in the face all along.
It’s that time of year again. We have one choice to make. It may be accepted, or it may be met with disdain. We are faced with the question, “To decorate or not decorate?” There may as well be picket lines on the “issue”. EVERYBODY has got an opinion. Me? I pretty much take the stand that I will decorate when I good and well please. I LOVE Christmas. I love the smells, sights, sounds. I was married in a December, week before Christmas, wedding, and the air just seemed to hold a little extra SPECIAL. The sense of peace Christmas brings me is something I would like to bottle up and take with me all year long.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just stay in the season? Seems like everyone loves a little better, lingers in our homes a little longer and problems just don’t seem so big. We fuss about people jumping into Christmas when it’s not yet even Thanksgiving, but isn’t this what WE always do? Aren’t we all rushing forward and sprinting toward the next season? I look back on times in my life where I desperately wanted OUT – out of pain, out of discomfort, away from people, away from having to TRY to just make it through another day. What I want is so often exactly what I do not get. Instead I am forced to REMAIN – remain in the pain, remain in the discomfort, stay with those people, stay and live in it day after day.
Seasons can be so hard. When we look back on them, we use words like “hardest thing I’ve ever been through,” or “I barely made it out”. There’s a lot of life we’ve lived in them to make it to the next season. When we are on the other side of it, I’ve often heard people say, “I really wouldn’t have had it any other way.” I’ve said it…through clenched teeth sometimes, but I’ve said it. It’s been in the toughest, most hard to understand times that I’ve seen God the most clearly. He did not abandon me when others did. He held my hand on the days I’ve been so sick that I could barely lift my head. He allowed me to be in it all because of this…Don’t we all need a little push to see things in our life that others may not be so willing to point out? To walk in greater humility, to point people to Jesus, to point out sin in my life, and so on, the list has grown in each hard season of life in order to make me more like Him. The season ALWAYS has a purpose. We may need to linger a little longer just to park ourselves in front of HIM and listen.
I haven’t put my decorations up as early this year as I usually do. I needed to personally linger a little longer where I am – busy, full calendar, travel, etc. – and just be present there. The demand to BE PRESENT OVER PERFECT shouts loud and clear sometimes. We’re left with the choice to move on or remain in it. The tough stuff, the easy… the reward of knowing Him will always be IN the season, but we will only ever find more of HIM when we seek more of HIM there.
Allow me to share something a little personal with you. In my home, I tend to be the one with the stinkiest attitude. It’s embarrassing to admit that…especially because I haven’t always been that way. Over time I’ve allowed insecurity, hurt and selfishness to breed ground in my life and I’ve developed some bad habits. It requires a lot of intentionality on my part to actually stop, think about my response to a situation and respond appropriately. It’s important enough to me to get this right because my attitude in the home can set my attitude in my day for the workplace, my interactions with people, in my personal ministry, my marriage, and a host of other encounters I have in my day. Why is it so important to set a good attitude to root in our lives as a Christ Follower? 1 Corinthians 12:19-24 talks about our importance in The Body of Christ. When we set our thinking on “He/She has such a better role than I have. Why can’t I lead that group? Why can’t I be in charge? Why didn’t I get to sing, speak, teach, etc.?” we diminish the importance of any work God wants to, and can, accomplish within us. If we imagine ourselves as a puzzle piece necessary to complete the bigger picture, we can see how vital our importance in the Body of Christ really is, and how a good attitude contributes to that. If we come in to church just to show up and check it off our list of “to do,” we are not contributing as a whole because a positive, outward focused attitude is so necessary to a worship environment. When we stop leading because we are not getting the recognition we think we deserve, we are the ones who lose because, in the end, God always finds a person with their “Yes” on the table no matter the task. Why is it so important to start with a positive attitude from the inside out? 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this.” We set the tone for others seeing a true picture of God. When we live and believe in how He sees us, He is glorified! How can you change your attitude today knowing it has a kingdom effect in the lives of others? #mondayencouragement
We were no different than any parents as we awaited our firstborn to make her way into the world. We had a “gameplan” of how we wanted to raise her. We had attended parenting classes, read every book out there and brought into the mix things we liked our parents did…and things we did not.
We, probably more I, brought in a list of preferences, too. I knew we were having a girl, but I loathed the color pink, so I kindly asked that pink NOT be a theme at my baby showers. I did not like clothes with characters on them (still don’t), so I had no plan to let my babies wear that! We decided early on that we would not demand feed our children, but we would begin a schedule of training them to have sleep patterns early on. To our benefit, all of our girls slept through the night at 6 weeks. Even still, that was a preference for us, but one that worked for our family.
As our girls have gotten older, I find that we are in the less popular crowd when it comes to how we raise our girls. Our preferences, admittedly, have changed (well, except for the character clothes part…I still don’t like them, but my girls love Marvel. We compromised.). Our preferences have had to go a little deeper and have become, instead, a guidebook. There are now set things that we just don’t waver on, but we stand on these things as how we want our girls to live. From how they resolve conflicts, to when, and how, to date, to boundaries they need to set up, we want them to be armed on how to make wise decisions. We want them to know that they may be the only ones making them and that none of their friends may join them. We are never going to be perfect at parenting, and they are never going to be perfect girls, but they will leave our home knowing where (to WHOM) to target their efforts.
There’s really nothing wrong with having preferences, but we cannot build our homes on them. There comes a time to say, “We WILL live this way!” The guiding factor that steadies us always is, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the peace of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13, ESV) I want my girls to live a life of peace, and even peace in the midst of chaos is possible when I am teaching my kids to live God’s way. The hardest thing for me as a mom is watching my kids fail, and even worse failing because they didn’t heed His teaching, but I’ve had to let them from time to time, so they depend on Him the next time! Parents, be encouraged that it is so worth it to be unpopular when raising our kids God’s way. I don’t want my kids to be like everyone else’s kids. I want them to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1). This is not just my preference, but my strength!
Keep it up, Moms and Dads! Keep your eye on the prize and your hope in the One that makes everything possible!