Starting with the right foundations
Last summer, as Joy and I ventured out on a ministry exploratory trip to Italy, we stopped on our first jet-lagged day to see the Vatican. Marveling at the classic paintings, inlaid tile, marble statues filled us with a sense of reverence for the lives that had gone before through hundreds of years in this ancient city.
Yet, once again, my imagination stirred at the frescoes Michelangelo painted while lying on his back in the small, lovely Sistine Chapel-the story of the Bible painted through His imagination.
There again, I was filled with awe to see the fingers of God touching the fingers of man to bring life to his being. God created man, crafted him to bear his image, placed his fingerprints on his DNA. It is no small thing to be created, specially designed, imagined in the mind of the one who crafted the whole universe.
Each of us has the imprint, the unique touch of God on our lives. We have stored within our being the spectacular ability to think profoundly, to act heroically, to love sacrificially, to accomplish works of excellence, to live faithfully. Each of us is a miracle with only one life in which to live into the profound design that God has placed on our lives.
If there was one legacy I wish I could leave to other women, it would be to help them think more Biblically, to know more about the transcendent God who is their Father, and to have confidence because of the magnitude of His life inside of us.
When a woman knows scripture--the whole counsel of scripture, not just verses here and there taken out of context-- gaining a Biblical understanding from Genesis to Revelation, then she has more confidence and ease in her walk with God. It is also why I hope to give a good bit of my life in the next years to our podcasts, where women will learn a little of Biblical instruction, foundations, prayer, Bible study--to follow God in our lives as we serve and love Him. I hope to continue to invest my life into helping women know how to teach and love God in such a way in front of their children, that their children embrace a vibrant faith. But to pass on great faith requires that we cultivate a deep faith for ourselves.
God makes it clear throughout scripture that his priority for us is to know Him and love Him with our whole heart and mind.
"Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, let not a rich man boast of his riches, let not a mighty man boast of his might, but let him who boasts, boast of this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the God who exercises lovingkindness and righteousness on the earth for I delight in these things." Jeremiah 9: 23-24
And, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." Psalm 127
And so the starting point for any arena in our lives must be God--our worship of Him and knowledge of Him and obedience--a heart that wants to please God.
So, let me begin by praying for all who read this today. "Lord, I pray that each one who reads these blog articles and listens to these podcasts will be led by you. I pray you will provide them with insight, skill, love, wisdom and the understanding of what it means to be filled with your Spirit and to walk by faith in this journey of motherhood. And bless them with strength, joy and a sense of affirmation in their great calling as parents. I come to you in the precious name of Jesus. Amen"
A part of knowing and trusting God is to understand and embrace that He knows our circumstances, He sees us, He is able to redeem every single situation and can restore health to our weak, exhausted or damaged lives.
I love the verse, "‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. "
A part of us living joyfully with God in the midst of our circumstances is embracing this truth--He has "plans for our welfare"--He has our best in mind. "not for calamity--but to give you a future and a hope."
Right now, where all of us are--there is hope for a better future if we allow Him to guide our lives.
Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Often we are tempted to say:
It is too late. I have already messed up my children." "I am scarred by the decisions I have made." "I can't even imagine how God can redeem my life right now, or my circumstances."
When I gave my life to the Lord, almost immediately and for the next 12 years, my life became very hard--illness in my family, a divorce in my family, problems in my personal life, problems in the ministry, loneliness as a single woman, difficulties with work, finances--2 car wrecks, a church split, immoral leaders in our church, and on and on. Throughout some of this time, I thought, "God, do you care about me? I can't believe that I have loved you so much and you have allowed all of this to happen."
Today on the podcast, and in this chapter of Own Your Life, I shared more about my "come to Jesus" moment while hiding behind a couch, and finding that my place of utter fear and disillusionment became a place of worship for me and put me on a road to understanding what would become the messages of my whole life.
Yet, now, I look back and see that, because God was a great parent to me. He did not pay attention to my immature toddler whining, because He had my best in mind. He wanted me to grow stronger, more compassionate, more full of faith, more loving and patient. His allowing the difficult circumstances in my life helped to take away all of the false hopes I was depending on to be happy. His way of leading me led me to freedom and maturity and in the end more contentedness.
God is the God of second chances and His whole nature is to love and redeem. So, know that He is in your home, He sees you, hears your cry and may just be working great things--even if you can't see or understand how. He favors those who seek Him and obey Him and He is a God of compassion and will work in and through your life.
(Even as a Father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. Psalm 103: 13)
Once my little girl was having a grand time eating a huge bag of potato chips she had found in our cupboard. When I had to take the chips away from her so that she would not get a stomach ache, she fell down on the floor and sobbed as though I had been utterly mean to her! But, as her mother, I knew what was best. I ignored her crying and took her in my arms and held her and sang to her in a rocking chair until she settled down.
But a part of our submitting to God and experiencing His love and care is in releasing our expectations of life into His hands and trusting Him even when we cannot easily feel or see Him, but trusting Him that he is good and a kind Father.
It all starts with your view of God--if you choose to believe that He is loving, you will face your circumstances with courage, patience, faith. But if you just want Him to do your will your way--you may find life disappointing. He is all wise and knows just how to turn every part of our life puzzle into good, or wisdom or redemption--if we trust all of the details of our lives into His hands--and trust what His word teaches us.
Ultimately, so much of what I lived and what I know to be true, I learned by reading scripture, pondering it, studying it, seeking to really know God and walking with Him. Pondering Christ, who is the perfect reflection of God, according to Hebrews 1.
Women will go the way of their church culture, media culture, family culture, peer culture--they will follow whoever is leading, unless they have developed their own convictions. We will listen to other voices if we have not learned to discern the voice of God.
The problem with this kind of approach is that it leads to whims, to whatever way the cultural wind is blowing.
And so, God, our heavenly Father, wants us to climb into His arms, to surrender all of ourselves into His capable hands. I love this verse that speaks so generously of how tender God's love is for us: ""As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you." Isaiah 66:13
God even compares himself to a mother who holds, cherishes and comforts His child.
Today, remember that His plans for you are for your welfare. He loves you and is bigger than any difficulty you face. He understands all of your ways, and He longs to give you hope and blessing.
Enjoy the podcast for this week, let us know what you think, and please share it!
Don't forget to sign up for the live webcast for Tuesday, May 24, 7:00 Mountain time. If you can't join us live, if you register, you can listen to it at your leisure. We will be discussing:
*If you are discouraged in your role as a mom, find hope for learning how to love and accept your children and your role with more grace.
*Discerning personality differences and learning how to reach the hearts of challenging children.
*Learning to find help for your out of the box children.
*Understanding from a real out of the box child how he felt about growing up "different" and what helped him to keep going.
*Learning how to endure with grace through the difficult pathways of motherhood.
Hope you can join Nathan and me. We are learning so much together as we are finishing writing our new book this week. Register HERE