Monday, July 29, 2013

Learning Again

Jacob playing quietly one evening last week, trying and trying again till he succeeded. 








I'm not sure where is post will go, or if it will make sense at all to anyone, but since I am slow of learning, since I find I am having to learn and relearn the same things over and over again, I thought I would sit here today and attempt to type out a little of what the Lord is teaching me.

It is always interesting how God providentially unites the circumstances and events of my life with the things I am reading and listening to. For a few weeks my thoughts have revolved around a few topics, the same ones being pulled out from various sources such as sermons, books, devotional time, and notes I've scribbled out in margins and scraps of paper. Then suddenly, because He is not a God of randomness,  God brings them together in a more personal and immediately applicable fashion. He uses truth that I only knew in a sort of appreciative way to communicate His love and care for me a personal way.

For reasons that are not necessary to explain, I had come to the end of my own strength earlier last week. And it was a hard week physically, mentally, and emotionally. Failure as a mom seemed constant. (And if Jon had been home, failure as a wife would have been likely, too.) Indeed, personal failure left me horrified.

They are the same faults that get me over and over again. They are the same sins I think I'll fight till I leave this sinful flesh behind. They are the ones that bring me to bitter tears of remorse and repentance, pleading that the Lord would deliver me. They are the faults that are felt by my husband and kids, the very people I love dearest. And over the years, in studying my own habits and tendencies, and in observing situations which seem to bring my most heated battles, I have found that both fatigue and stress leave me most vulnerable.

And fatigue was overwhelming me. Deep and dark. I'm not sure everyone can relate... this goes beyond  mere tiredness and the need for a few extra hours of sleep. It's the kind of fatigue that affects every part of me, and it scares me.

The other element, stress, was mostly self-imposed, though there were other unavoidable and unusual pressures as well. The self-imposed sort started as a mere desire to do various things, to use an unusual week to do things that were good and needful. As the days went on and I realized that these extra things wouldn't be easy to do, I attempted to resist reality and show that I was stronger than I really am. It was pride, trying to do more than what God had given me the strength to do in order to make me feel useful and spiritual.

I wanted to do a number of things, including visiting old Mrs. So-and-So, helping out a new mom, reaching out to friend, attending such-and-such...

One morning the error of my thinking and behavior was made clear. After I placed a call to initiate some of my "good deeds" and left a message, I thought to myself, "There, at least I've left a message. That counts."

That counts?!! What? This is not a Brownie point life! Salvation is not dependent on my works, and I am not accepted by God based on what I do for Him.

In addition to the energy depletion I was experiencing, I was adding to it a works based religion, the exhausting Christian life that brings God no glory and burdens the soul. I was focusing on what others would see of me and on what I thought would bring me a sense of satisfaction. The results, however, was further fatigue and stress, and sin that hurt my own dear little children (because an irritated, angry spirit brings out irritated, angry words).

Sometimes God has to bring us low, He has to crush our pride and remind us of our disgusting condition, in order to show us His character and His love for us.

So, in random order, and perhaps in disjointed fashion, I am going to list out some of the things I've learned again just recently, for my own benefit.

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The Lord has compassion on His precious children. (How precious are His children? So precious that they are bought with His own blood, His very life.) And as His child, He does not look at me and my failures with anger and condemnation. Rather, He has compassion because He sympathizes with my weaknesses. He pities me and my condition, and remembers why He had to die for me.

"As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust."
Ps. 103:13-14


"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Heb. 4:14-16


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My life is about what Christ has done for me; it's about what He continues to do for me. He saved me and keeps me. My life is not about what I can do for Him, and He is not in need of me. The amazing thing is that He wants me, He chose me and called me to Himself. He wants my heart, my all. All the time. 

My life is lived before His eyes, for His purposes. He knows my weakness and my circumstances because He has ordained them. It never really matters what I think others expect of me, or even what I would like to do for His Kingdom. Really, my life is lived before Him in the secret places of my heart.

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At this stage in my life, my husband and children are my primary ministry. If there is time and energy left over, then I can reach out to others. I need to save the best of myself for them, and this is honorable to God. As a wife and mother, this is the work He has called me to.

As a pastor's wife, I believe that this is also my greatest ministry to the church. In being devoted to my family and in managing my home wisely, I am freeing Jon up to minister in ways that are more effective than would be any of my small contributions. The flip side is that I can destroy his ministry and bring shame to the church by neglecting the needs of my family in order to do what others might consider "real" ministry. Many ministry families have come to ruin because the pastor's wife desired to do outside ministry --ministry that was visible or expected-- and neglected her home and family. I am thankful that I have the support of our dear body of believers in this way.

In addition, in our current culture where biblical roles for men and women are ignored or misunderstood, I find myself standing in a position where my choices and actions are noted. This is not something I have ever sought for myself, it is just a reality. All Christians, to one degree or another, bear this responsibility.

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I've recently read Stepping Heavenward, the journal of Elizabeth Prentiss, and a book I have loved and would recommend. These little quotes were good reminders:

"The best convent for a woman, is the seclusion of her own home. There she may find her vocation and fight her battles, and there she may learn the reality and the earnestness of life."

"I think a mother, especially, must lean to enter into the happy moods of her children at the very moment when her own heart is sad. And it may be as religious an act for her to romp with them at that time as to pray with them at others."

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Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matt. 11:28

True rest. Starting now and fully experienced in glory forever. What a comfort!

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Prayer. It is the way to run to God, to unload, to be renewed. He is faithful always. He refreshes the troubled heart and restores a gentle and quiet spirit. Through honest prayer I can be still and know that He is God.

Only then can I move forward with confidence, knowing that my life is lived for Him.

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A song that has blessed me this past week (click to listen):




~Katherine

4 comments:

  1. A million thanks for the "rawness" of this post. You are an encouragement in my walk and faith.

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    1. I figure God knows it all anyway! Thanks, Tanya, for your encouragement in return.

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  2. I am so blessed to meet you through your blog (through the E-Wife). I was encouraged by this post in a couple of ways - 1) as a reminder to myself of those precious God-given priorities - husband and children, and to be ok with "just" that, in spite of what others may think. 2.) That you, as a pastor's wife, are setting such a great example for all the moms in your church. Busyness, even with good or noble things can really rob us and our families of joy and peace.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Warmly, Carol

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    1. Carol,

      I'm glad you dropped by-- Nice to meet you! I liked what you said: "Busyness, even with good or noble things can really rob us and our families of joy and peace." It's so true. We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to lead us in knowing where and when to draw the line. Thanks for commenting.

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