I have some news…

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Lately I’ve been burdened by a message growing louder and louder within the Christian community, especially aimed toward women. “You are enough.” There are memes, blog posts, and articles trying to convince us that we can stop striving and rest in assurance that we, in and of ourselves, are beautiful and perfect and good. To be sure, it’s a sweet sounding message. The only problem is…it is a lie.  I’m sorry.  I know this is hard to hear.

Dear reader, it is not we who are enough. Yes, we can be beautiful or smart or athletic or rich, but the one thing we cannot be is enough. We strive hard to become more of all those things so that we can reach a magical point of arrival, but who have you known–who have you ever known who reached a day of believing he or she had reached destination enough? Who has stopped going to the gym because his or her body has hit that perfect point? Stopped going to the salon? Stopped working? Stopped dieting? Stopped attempting to be more, do more, earn more, achieve more? No, we keep striving, because in our hearts we know we are not enough.

We were never meant to be enough…Jesus came and died to become our “enough.” But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, ESV)  It is in Jesus that we can stop striving. It is in Jesus that we become enough, not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because the Son of the living God has shed his blood to make us pure, holy, and perfect–a perfection not because of ourselves but but in spite of us. It is not our capability but our inability to be great that makes room for his greatness and glory to be displayed. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made great in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

Let us not for another minute puff ourselves and one another up with a lie we deep down don’t believe anyway. Rather, let us proclaim the amazing truth that Jesus is enough! In our weakness, he is strong. In our darkness, he is light. On our very worst days, we remain unblemished in the sight of God, because in Christ we have been made perfect! He is our enough! As John MacArthur put it, “To have Him is to have everything. Not to have Him is to have absolutely nothing at all. All joy, peace, meaning, value, purpose, hope, fulfillment in life now and forever is bound up in Christ. And when a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, they enter into an all-sufficient relationship with an all-sufficient Christ.”

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. 6:14)

Jesus is enough!

 

 

 

 

The Profound Sound of Silence

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Our culture is so very noisy, isn’t it? When I was young, life seemed to be so much quieter. Television stations actually turned off by midnight and didn’t begin broadcasting again until 6 or 7 in the morning. We didn’t have the internet or cell phones or ipods to keep us constantly engaged. Within this age of information and digital connection, it’s so very easy to go days or even weeks without enjoying the gift of silence.

Several months ago, I felt impressed upon by the Lord to be quiet. I didn’t know why…I just felt he was telling me to be silent. Initially, I responded by withdrawing from Facebook, Twitter, and this very blog. This led to a precious time of beginning to hear his voice guiding me and preparing me for things I had no idea were about to happen. My life was about to change in a dramatic and wonderful way, but to get through those changes, I truly needed my heart to be fixed upon God and his faithfulness.

I won’t even pretend to understand everything that God is doing, but oh, the excitement of living in what I know to be his incredible, gracious plan! He has picked us up (rather suddenly!) from our home in Texas and transplanted us in Virginia, where we are getting precious time with all six of our children and our little honeybee. He has placed us with a sweet new church that just began in May. He has given me a new job, which I have to tell you, would never have entered my mind as worth considering had I not taken time to be quiet and listen. He has connected us with new friends in our neighborhood, who have brought us into their Bible study group. He has also joined us to the local Emmaus community in an exciting way. Through it all, he is teaching us to listen, trust, and follow.

During this same quiet period, though, some scary changes have taken place around us. ISIS now shares daily headlines with ebola. War is being waged in Ukraine (so very dear to our hearts) by Russia. Every day seems to bring troubles unimagined the day before. It would be so easy to tremble in the face of it all, had the Lord not drawn me into a time of quietness before him. This morning I was reading in Psalm 46…”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (v. 1-3) In my quietness before God, I have sensed that we are about to walk through difficult times. Many believers seem to have this impression. But I love how that same chapter ends: “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts (armies!) is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (v. 10-11)

In my entire life, I’ve never experienced such a true sense of utter dependence upon God. Oh, the hope that is found in total surrender! How grateful I am that he called me to be still and listen.

I Believe, BUT….

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I have to say it….there are some real downfalls to working as a bereavement counselor.  My work as such began in late 2009, when I accepted a position in victim services with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Besides conducting individual counseling, I ran a support group comprised of moms who’d lost their children to drunk drivers.  This was an incredibly difficult task as a mom of six children.  The cases I encountered were converted into fear.  Every time my cell phone rings, my mind goes straight to those scenarios.  This is true in spite of God’s incredible sustaining mercy which has been manifested over the past 25 years of motherhood.

After leaving MADD, I spent a year at the local Children’s Bereavement Center serving children who’d suffered sibling loss.  There I encountered cases where children had been lost due to illness or accident.  I also acquired an entirely new database of scenarios involving painful, traumatic loss.  It is in light of such knowledge that I feel utterly helpless as a mother and grandmother. ” I must prevent these things from happening, but how?”

I’ll be honest…these past three weeks I’ve spent helping with my granddaughter, I’ve been very busy childproofing.  Every piece of furniture over two feet tall is bolted to the walls (yes, in the studs).  The cupboards are locked with the latest, greatest equipment.  Chemicals are out of reach.  Outlets are properly covered.  These are the things I can do, and they are good things.  I must, however, come to terms with this difficult and profound truth:  I am not and can never be God.  My children and my grandchild are in better, more capable, even more loving hands than my own.  The tragedies with which I’ve worked should not compel me into fear, but rather a deeper trust in the One who loves them more than I. 

I’d love for this paragraph to be the one in which I share with you how I have overcome my fear of tragic loss.  To the contrary, this is where I shall convey my need.  In Mark 9, Jesus is approached by a man whose begs for his son’s deliverance from an evil spirit.  When Jesus responds to him that “all things are possible to him who believes,” the father desperately cries out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (ESV).  When it comes to my trusting God with my offspring, I must confess that I have everything in common with this man.

How I love to end posts with insight–an example of victory or proclamation of faith.  But this very day I experienced panic when a child didn’t respond to a text for several hours and didn’t answer the phone.  (Sent another child to check on her!)   I have every reason to think that tomorrow will bring fear and anxiety of its own.  So consider this more of a prayer request, my way of crying out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”  May I not trust in myself, but in the One who has accompanied me through every dark time in my life and theirs. 

Jesus, surround my children and grandchild with your angels.  Guide them with your hand in the way that they should go.  And while you’re doing that, help me to trust in you.  Amen.

My Unwelcome Visitor

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It’s here again.  I don’t know why–did I somehow invite it, or is it simply stubbornly and independently raring its ugly head against me?  I hate when it visits. 

Fear.

If one were to ask me what I fear, oh, there’s a host of answers I could give.  I fear losing my family.  I fear something happening to one of my children or my granddaughter.  I fear car accidents.  I fear the enemy of my soul and the attacks he plots against me. 

When the lights fade and the noise of the world subsides for another night’s rest, that’s when I’m typically most gratified.  I LOVE silence.  I enjoy solitude. 

And then there are those times….those excruciating times when my unwelcome visitor comes. 

What is fear?  A quick dictionary check calls it a “distressing emotion aroused by a sense of impending danger, evil, pain…whether real or imagined.” 

To me as a believer, however, it is goes much deeper.  It is that which presents itself to challenge my trust in God’s faithfulness in my life.  Fear, especially of the unknown, is the enemy of faith.  And the antidote of fear is faith.  Easily said, but how does one apply truth to the problem of fear?

First, I understand that I am in great company.  Peter the apostle, who spent years in the presence of Christ, experienced fear.  He walked on water, yet began sinking when he allowed fear to envelop him.  As soon as he set his eyes upon Christ, his fear was dispelled, and he again stood solidly upon that which was liquid.  Fear also caused him to deny Christ three times.  David, the shepherd who became king, expressed fear repeatedly in the Psalms, yet implored himself to put his hope in God.  Because of his fear, Abraham repeatedly lied about Sarah being his wife, believing that her beauty would motivate rulers to have him killed so they could have her.  In all cases, however, God’s faithfulness conquered fear. 

At the Cross of Christ our fears should be extinguished.  Did he not conquer death?  Did he not overcome sin?  There’s a well-known verse in Jeremiah that says.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (29:11, NIV)  This promise was given to the Israelites who were in exile….dispersed among enemy lands.  It was a horrible time for them.  And it’s a horrible time for us, folks.  If we watch the news, like Peter, we can easily begin to sink.  There are just SO MANY heart wrenchingly sad and evil and frightening things happening in this world.  But Jesus comforts us in John 16 when he tells us, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  Can I get an AMEN?

So this is what I do when this unwanted visitor of mine shows up to disturb my peace.  Like Peter, I set my eyes back upon Christ.  I turn to the promises God has given me in his word.  I remind myself of the faithfulness which He has constantly exhibited in my life.  I pray until I trust.

And like Peter, I rise. 

 

The above image was hijacked from radicalrunning.blogspot.com via Bing images.