So today, while home with two of the kids on yet another snow day, my son said something that kind of stopped me in my tracks. We were goofing around in the kitchen, fixing a snack and he made some sort of 16 year old boy remark to his sister. While the remark wasn’t “awful” – it was not necessary and by my standards a bit rude. I “gently” corrected him – not by yelling or threatening punishment – but rather I reminded him to speak life-giving words. I asked him to make sure his words were appropriate and positive. My daughter smiled – no, she smirked at him and then gave me the angelic, batting her eyelashes grin. My son looked at me and told me that I’m no fun anymore. Hmpf. I’m no fun. I’ll be honest, I tend to ignore (bad mom) most things that come out of our teenagers mouths…as I believe that a lot of what they say is spoken for shock value…but this one I chose to take to heart – a little. And wow – we actually had a conversation about it. When I asked him to explain what he meant by fun and by anymore. He went on to explain that “before” I used to joke around more and that I wasn’t always on them about the things they said. Of course I had to ask him to define “before.” His reply – “before you started loving God so much.” Hmmm…I’m a big believer in no making absolute statements (ask Brian about this). I don’t thinks are “always or never.” So for my son to say I’m NO fun was a bit of an absolute. I kept drilling down on this statement (ask Brian about this too). “So, I’m no fun because I ask you to make your words life-giving? What else?” He replied that I used to let them watch other tv show and movies, and that I didn’t used to care really about their music. But mostly, its just that I just don’t like them to joke around with certain topics nor do I join in the conversations and that I’m just different. Different in the way I talk and in the was I act. I chewed on the comments for a bit before I let myself have any kind of reaction. It was actually the closest thing to a conversation I have had with one of our teenagers in a long time – so that was definitely a win. But even more than that – the bigger “win” was this…I’m glad that my kids see a change in me. If they didn’t see the transformation that has taken place in my life since I completely surrendered my life to Christ, then I would have to really question myself. It had never really struck me how MY change, MY salvation, MY redemption had affected those closest to me. While it was not especially pleasant to hear on of our children tell me that I’m really no fun (what does he know anyway?) it became a God moment for me at the same time. God promised that if we follow Him, if we walk in his light, that we will become a new creation. We should be transformed, and others should see that transformation. If the biggest change that my kids see in me comes from loving God so much – well I’ll take that any day! And I’ll pray that someday they will find the “fun” that I have found in living my life for God.
I recently heard a sermon about a story from the Bible that I had heard many times before…but for some reason I saw the story in a new light. Maybe I am more in tune with the spirit speaking to me, maybe it’s that I’m further along in my walk with God, or maybe it was the way in which the story was presented in this particular sermon. Maybe it was all three. I love that the word of God is a living book full of wisdom that comes to us in different seasons as the Holy Spirit sees that we need them. It’s exciting to me to sit down and study and see a fresh meaning in something I’ve read over and over. The story was from the book of John…the story of the woman who had been caught -in the act caught- in adultery. The Pharisees dragged the woman, naked, to the temple, into a large crowd. Caught in the act…dragged away…into a large crowd of people. I can’t even imagine the fear and shame that this woman felt. And I’m sorry, but where was the man? Why was he not included in this public judgment. She wasn’t alone in her adultery. Am I right? So the Pharisees make yet another lousy attempt to “trick” Jesus with one of their questions. John 8:5 says, “The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” You would think that these guys would learn that Jesus always had an answer. But before he spoke, he bent down and started writing in the dust with his finger. How had I missed this detail so many times before? What was he writing? What was this poor, scared woman thinking as he was doodling in the dirt? The preacher in this sermon I was listening to suggested that perhaps he was writing all of things that these men had done in their past. That makes sense, right? I mean Jesus would know. Like he was almost saying “Alright, boys, if you want to go there we can…but here’s what I know about you…” I love the way Jesus dealt with these guys. Finally he stands up and says “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” John 8:7 I would like to think that at this point he’s looking at them, then kind of looking back to what he’d written in the dirt, the looking at them again, almost daring them to challenge him. (I do not claim to be a theologian- just my take on it). As he stoops back down to write some more, the woman’s accusers starting leaving the scene, one by one until they were all gone. And then Jesus looked at her and asked “Didn’t any of your accusers condemn you? Neither do I! Go and sin no more.” Neither do I. Imagine what it would be like to hear Jesus say those words to you. Neither do I. I have been spending time with a very special group of ladies. They are such a blessing to me, and I learn so much from them as we all struggle through our own issues. The one common theme lately is that we are all afraid of what other people think. None of us like the feeling of being judged. I think that’s why these words of Jesus’ are so powerful to me at this point in life. Jesus teaches a powerful lesson to someone who seemingly “deserves” to be judged….that he does NOT condemn her. His love covers her weakness and his love is all that she needed in that moment. We need to learn from this that no one on this earth is blameless and without sin, therefore no one can condemn us. And neither does Jesus. He died so that we can live righteously. Romans 8:1 says “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” In that moment, this woman found out that she belonged to Christ. We belong to him. That’s such an amazing but sometimes difficult fact. We (and yes, I’m talking to me mostly) need to remember that we belong to him – when we feel the judgment of others – we are his. Their judgments do not matter. “The one” who was without sin in this story…the one who he said to throw the first stone…that one was him. He was “the one” without sin…but did he throw it? Did he condemn her? Did he judge her? He is all that matters.
This is not going to be a newsflash to anyone who knows me or who has read my blog on any type of consistent basis. I am a control freak. I have a very hard time sitting back and letting go. Instead I try to micro-manage, script, control, and dictate the way I think things should go. And may I just say that its not working out so great for me. I get so frustrated and discouraged with the fact that when I do try and control the outcome of things it doesn’t work. Things are going to happen the way they are supposed to happen according to God’s plan – he doesn’t need me to “help.” Secondly, my need to control things, situations, people, etc. hints to me (or screams at me) that my faith really isn’t where it should be or where I claim it to be…or want it to be. It’s so easy for me to tell a friend who is struggling that “everything will be ok…God is in control.” Shame on me for speaking it into someone else’s life when I barely allow it in my own. Truthfully, the last month or so has been extremely trying and difficult in my life. (Everything is relative – and even as I type “extremely” I know that there are others suffering much greater hardships than I). Brian and I have been married 6 months this week, and while we truly have an amazing, relationship built on God first, there have been challenges along the way. But it is only when I take things into my own hands – when I lean on MY own understanding – that I think things seem tough. One of our biggest challenges has been the blending of two families. Raising children is hard. Raising 5 children…hard. Raising 5 children – 4 of whom are teenagers…yep….hard. And throw in the fact that some are his and some are mine and the bar is raised even higher for difficulty level. And the thing about it is – we are blessed. We have really good kids who make good decisions and stay out of trouble,etc. Reflecting on the last month, I realize that things are toughest when I try and make things be the way I think they should be. In the last few days, I wasn’t sure how things would work out, where it would all end up, and how all of us would fare through it – but I WAS certain that all of it be ok – because we love God and he promises us that all things work together for good for those who love Him. I kept telling myself that over and over. Its in His hands. It will all be ok. Over and over – almost as if I was still trying to control the outcome. But I do believe in God and I know that He loves me. I do trust in His word. This morning, I went to church broken. I was at the point where I just had lost the energy to fight anymore. I was finally ready to turn it all over to God and truly ask Him to take it. (And all along God is waiting for me to get to this point. You would think after a while I would learn to make it easier on all of us and just give it all to him all the time.) At the end of the sermon, we stood and began to sing the following words…
“I lean not on my own understanding.
My life is in the hands of the maker of heaven.
I give my heart to you God
Trusting you will make
Something beautiful out of me”
At first, I couldn’t even bring myself to sing the words. They were a lie. I have been trying to do things my way – all on my own. Lately, my life has been in my own hands – not in the hands of the one who created it all. I have given God my heart, but my late actions have not shown a trust in God to make me into who he has planned. As the song went on and the words were repeated over and over I could feel the weight I’d been carrying around being gently lifted from me. As I began to sing the words, I truly was making a vow to lean NOT on my own understanding. If I earnestly believe that my life is in HIS hands, what am I so fearful of? Why am I worried? I’m always amazed at the way God works. He knows me so well. I am so moved my music and by lyrics. Today he chose that avenue to really speak to my heart. He knew I needed not only to hear the words of that song, but He knew I needed to let it all go and to sing the words from my heart to Him. Will this be my last blog about my inability to “let go and let God’? Probably not…I’m not perfect and never will be. And I’m sure my need to control will be something that I continually will have to ask God for help with. God knows my heart and he knows exactly how to speak to me. And right here and right now I am letting him carry the burden. I’m confident my life is in His hands and I do trust that He is making beauty out of my messes.