The past few days have been a little daunting to me. I am getting ready to go to Canada to speak in a few days. Joy has a leadership project that we will work on and present tomorrow night (including making cup cakes for those who attend.) We celebrated Nathan's 19th birthday this weekend--with all the pressure of a birthday breakfast and presents--tonight we will have family over for dinner to celebrate the birthday dinner with them as they are close friends. Wednesday, Sarah and Joel are leaving for a long trip to Boston in search of some possible answers to a new college for Joel (if anyone has any spare room for prayers--please pray for God's favor and grace for Joel as he pursues his dreams!) and need my help to get ready for the trip. I have to teach two Bible study classes tomorrow both for the encouragement of moms and then I have to teach 2 leadership classes on Wednesday for the junior high children in my coop class. In the midst of this, everyone still wants to eat and wear somewhat clean clothes and I need to pack for the trip and finish preparing my talks for Canada and provide for my two children who will hold down the fort at home. Did I forget to say I am helping Sarah turn in some book proposals to publishers before she leaves on Wednesday. And, oh yeah-- I guess I should at least acknowledge Clay and a few of his needs as I help him get ready for our trip. Not to mention financial issues we are struggling with, long range decisions for Nathan that have to be made this week and on and on. You get the picture! And I know that each of you have lists of duties, worries and pressures to match mine! I awakened early this morning with the stress and worry about all of these things and more. One thing I know, though, is that it is a familiar place to be. Every season of this journey has been fraught with ups and downs and demands. I have come to view my life as somewhat of an obstacle course never knowing what hurdle will need to be jumped, what mountain to be climbed or what path to be forged.
Yet, the advantage I have is that I have perspective. I have seen the Lord bring me through so many such courses. When I come into His presence and spend time in his word, He has been there for me--I didn't always feel His presence, but I took His word and promises at face value and rested in them and then practiced taking steps of faith, one day, one issue at a time. And now I can look back and see that He has used each part of the journey to shape me--my character, my love, my humility and compassion and learning to rest in Him. But the more I have learned to put all of my issues into his hands (along with my feelings of loneliness, fear, weariness and deep emotion), I have learned to leave them there--with Him who is able and will accomplish His will in His time in my life.
These verses have been some of my anchors:
1. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (I need heart and mind guarding so that I don't spend unnecessary energy and time on worrying--so I give it into His hands and picture him taking everything and working on my behalf as his daughter.)
2. "In this world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world." John 16:33b The definition of courage is: the ability of facing difficulty, danger, fear or pain without being overcome by present circumstances and instead acting with resolve and strength of mind and behavior. I have made a decision of my will to take courage--practicing being strong, practicing habits of putting one foot in front ot the other to believe in a good outcome from a Father who is good. Courage is believing and behaving as though God will indeed be faithful. These habits create a life of faithfulness which lays a foundation of a life well-lived and well-built.
3. "For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances and I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and having need. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." I have had to grow in character as I walk in God's ways--to stretch my capacity to work, to stretch my capacity to love--to resist the down feelings and to learn to cultivate a content attitude and to practice being joyful in front of my children and family.
It has been through these things that I have had to grow up--but obeying the Lord in these places has made me more the person I wanted to be. Obedience usually leads me to peace and ultimate joy. I can indeed only do all that I have to do in the power of His Holy Spirit--not by might or by power--but by His spirit. I can, by faith, and by putting one foot in front of the other, do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
I have told my children that it is best to decide to like and embrace God's will--because having a bad attitude about it will not make it go away and indeed will make the pressures and circumstances worse. I have also noticed that bad attitudes or depressed feelings or content feelings behave much like plants in garden. If I water and nurture the depressed or negative attitudes they are what grow even stronger. If I water and fertilize faith and obedience, they are what grows.
I am a wimp at heart and was never prepared to have such responsibilities. I do think it helps all of us to know that we all feel overwhelmed and most moms never get the break they deserve. (That is why you brave and generous women are my heroines!) But I see that those sweet moms who find themselves able to persevere, to not remain in a complaining spirit, to trust God, are building in their homes wonderful souls who reflect the gold of their mother's multiple decisions of faith in God's word. These children are developing into great people and God knows it is because of the faithful labor of His precious mothers who knew that their labor would result in godly generations.
I must off to start on my list-but this is my prayer for all of you precious ones in the midst of your labors today: "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
II Thessalonians 2:16-17