I need them. They need me. We need Jesus.​

The world tells me that I am entitled to my emotions and how they play out as long as I don’t hurt anyone else.

I sat in my room. Anger and frustration piled high behind an avalanche of unkind thoughts. Even in this heated moment, The Lord revealed the lie feeding my emotions. God does not invite me to linger in sinful self-pity.

My focus must be on honoring the Lord in difficult moments rather than indulging in an emotional release. But how? How do I move from frustrated and angry toward worshipful thanksgiving and praise? How do I move from dutiful obedience to heart-driven joyful action?

I pulled out my journal and started writing.

Why God? Why is it so hard? Why is it so difficult to parent? To teach? To reach? I’m trying, but I just keep hitting this same wall. I can’t seem to break through this barrier.

As I wrote out my thoughts, my heart started to soften. I remembered the day we adopted each one of our children. I remembered the day we realized how God had crafted each one individually and that each one would face their own specific challenges in working out their faith and growing up. I thanked God.

Thank you, Lord, for trusting my children to me. You could have given them to any family in this entire world, and you chose us. Why? I know I am weak. I am easily frustrated. Yet, you chose me. Maybe because you knew the very thing that might drive some others into resentment and tempt them to lash out would drop me to my knees. Maybe because you knew these kids needed these kinds of prayers. Maybe, because out of all the people in the entire world, you knew I needed them to sand off my rough edges and putting us together would sanctify us and stir us to pursue more of You. 

I need them, they need me, and we need Jesus.

difficult people

Just like that, the anger was gone. The avalanche of unkindness had melted into a river of love. It is impossible to stay angry with the person for whom you are praying.

Pray. Pray hard. Pray long. Pray faithfully until God changes YOUR heart. He will as He aligns it with His.


*Image by Ian Schneider. Used with permission. Unsplash.com 

The Answer is Hidden in the Command

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

This landed heavily on my heart. I had been praying for quite some time for specific relief from God. I am called by His name. I was humble before Him and desperate for his favor. But day after day, and week after week, and month after month, and year after year the situation remained unchanged. I was left with one desperate prayer.

Fix this. Please.

Blind to my disobedience, I struggled to understand why God’s answer was slow to come. Why did it feel like He wasn’t answering at all?

Seeing myself in my child

My child ran to my side. “Mom, can I go outside?” He eagerly shifted his weight from foot to foot.

“Clean your room first.” I smiled to soften the gentle reminder that he had to complete his chores before he could reap the rewards of playing.

“Can I go outside?” he repeated a little louder.

“Clean your room,” I spoke in a firmer tone.

“MOM, I want to go outside!” He accentuated his frustration with flailing appendages.

“And I want you to clean your room.”

We cycled for quite some time. My frustration rose with each repeat. He wanted to know why I refused to answer him, and I wanted to know why he wasn’t listening to the answer I gave.

Bang. Just like that, I saw my sin.

I am just like my child

Clean the rooms in your

All those times I pleaded with the Lord for an answer, He WAS answering. It just wasn’t the answer I wanted.

Please, fix this.

Repent.

Please, God. I need you to fix this.

Turn from your wicked ways.

God, why aren’t you answering me?

Pray and seek my face.

Acknowledging my struggles and frustration while waiting for God’s perfect provision is not the same as repenting of my sin. It is not the same as being broken before the Lord and owning the nails I drove into His palms and owning my part in this present trial.

God does hear my prayers. He has told me what to do. Humble myself and pray. Seek His face. Turn from my wickedness. Then, He hears from heaven, forgives my sin and heals this land. He has told me to clean the rooms of my heart.

Lord, I have sinned greatly. You have called me to more than this. You have called me to be more than I am and promised it can be accompished by the power of your Spirit. I have, in many ways, hindered your work in my family by refusing to seek You in this hardship, by refusing to turn from my wickedness that contributes to this problem. Today that ends. Your loving kindness had led me to repentance.

The greatest obstacle to your working in my family is me. The greatest obstacle to your answering my prayers is my lack of obedience. I repent. By your power, I deliberately turn from this pattern of disobedience and choose to walk in a new direction toward new life in You. You are my God. I am your daughter.

 I understand you might not radically step in and change my circumstances. But as the pain in the moment comes, I will choose to believe that you are supernaturally working out your perfect plan for my family and me. I don’t know how it will come together, I don’t know when it will come together, but You are writing our story and You have already told me it ends in victory.

Secrets and Sin

Secrets can eat away at the soul and whisper unworthiness. They can woo the broken into dark places where the fear of discovery, the fear of admitting imperfections and struggles with sin, leave many shuddering in the shadows. So, we cover our sins, our worries, with good works, pretending we have always been so grown-up, so pulled together, so perfect.

So untrue.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…”

All. You. Me. Everyone.

I struggle with my sin nature. Specific sins have caused me great grief, shame, and regret. But, right when I feel hopeless, right when I feel beyond the redemptive reach of God, I read the beautiful words in verse 24:

“…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Justified freely by grace through redemption. And fear is overcome by the God who sees me and my sin through the redemptive lens of His Son. He declares me beautiful and clean.

My sordid history, your sordid history, is part of a story about a God who died for us while we continued to sin. Bringing hidden sin into the light, confessing and repenting, does what nothing else can. It illuminates our desperate need for grace and forgiveness. It reveals that anything good in you or me is the result of God’s mercy in our life. It shows us what God has known all along, we need a Saviour.

And His name is Jesus.

*from the archives

 

Slick Nick

Nick just turned five, and the name Slick Nick still applies. He has, in the past, had adventures with Vaseline that have earned him the name (like the time he covered himself completely in Vaseline!.

It’s hard to imagine this angelic boy EVER disobeying.

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We  use Vaseline to sooth the dry patches of skin that plague our children. They all know the large tub is off-limits and only Mommy applies Vaseline, but man, does it look gooey and fun. Judging by Nick’s slippery body and slick hair, he had a blast.

His petroleum jelly grin prompted an outward smile and an inward groan. As a former hairstylist, I know it takes a shower marathon to remove Vaseline from the hair.

As Nick unhappily scrubbed down for the third time in less than an hour, it occurred to me that his curiosity came with a high price tag. He missed game time with the other kids as we attempted to rectify his retro 1950’s hairdo.

Sin comes with a high price tag. Whether our slip is premeditated or innocent curiosity, there are consequences and a price. Nick paid with two days of showers and it cost me free time and a replacement tub of Vaseline.

Like Nick, I experience consequences for my sin as I live in a fallen world filled with other sinners like me. The price of my sin is a life – either my eternal life or Jesus’s life. One of us will pay.

Jesus died on the cross and offers God His life as payment for my sin. After Jesus died, He rose from the grave, swallowing death in victory. I can thank Him for the payment, live a life of repentance and change on earth, look forward to an eternity in Heaven. Or, I can refuse His offering and by default commit to paying the cost myself in an eternity spent in Hell.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”