Monday, October 06, 2008

They Are Weak, But He Is Strong!

I've been singing with Maren a lot. She loves singing and doing the actions and it is the best way to get her to sit still for a diaper change. We sing Jesus Loves Me the most. And I realized that the old song is true, even though I usually sing it without thinking about the words. He really is our strength in weakness.

I guess I have learned a lot from other Christians this summer, especially those that are suffering in various ways. We know of another Pastor that had a serious illness and surgery. He was sharing that he is weak and that when he was younger he would have run away from that. But now he is embracing it and accepting God's strength in its place. He has found himself really emotional in worship and just lets it come. All this was a shocking revelation to me. I always try to be strong and in control. If a tear somehow escaped during worship I would quickly wipe it away before anyone saw. After all, this is Northern Minnesota!

I don't want to be weak. I try really hard not to be a girl or wuss and do things on my own. For instance, I grill now. A variety of Pizza, hot dogs, chicken and I have watched BBQ University once or twice. We were having a church dinner this summer after church. I was trying to light our grill and it wouldn't light. I was very disturbed. I just got the tank filled the day before. What could be the problem? A nice man from church came by and informed me I didn't have the gas turned on. So much for being the grill master.

Obviously that is a petty example but still I want to have it all together and in control. Whether it is sickness, lack of money, injury, emotional tragedy or job loss we are put in the position of being needy. Americans don't like to be needy. But when we are we NEED Jesus and we need other believers.

When I am faced with a situation that I can't handle or change, it instantly brings me to my knees. I'm humbled and weak. And now I can see that it's a good place to be. Paul talked about that in 2 Corinthians. He pleaded with the Lord to take his thorn in the flesh. Jesus told him His power was revealed in Paul's weakness. And Paul didn't sulk or complain, He celebrated Christ's work in his life.

As a Mom, I am supposed to have all the answers. (However, they would say Dad knows it all!) I am teaching, correcting, directing the kids in their daily tasks. It isn't natural to let them see my weakness either. Maybe I cry when someone is hurting, when we are watching a TV show or feel like I'm not up to a task. Or maybe our family is persecuted or ridiculed for our beliefs. Or possibly we have some hardships living on a missionary budget with a large family. The truth is if I'm teaching them to love and follow Jesus they need to see my weakness. Because in our weakness we lean on Jesus and see His work.

I want them to see their weakness as a good place to meet Jesus. I want them to embrace it and not run from it. I mean it's not just a song we sing, He really is strong!

2 Corinthians 12:7-10
So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, "I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (ESV)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Life and Death

We've had a lot of conversations about death lately. I really want to shield my kids from hearing about it, talking about it and dealing with it. But I know that's silly because it's a reality of life.

We went to see a man from our church that is in hospice today. He is in a lot of pain and is barely recognizable as the spunky Jack we know from church. But yesterday when Mike was there he asked for me and the kids to come. So after lunch today we all loaded up and drove up there. It's a beautiful facility with lots of fancy family rooms to sit in. Jack really didn't know we were there. Mike sat there and held his hand for a long time and I chased the kids around trying to keep them from destroying the place. I really did want to go see him and at the same time I wanted to run away from the grim reality that he is dying. While we were waiting for Mike, I was reading the pamphlet about the hospice house. It talked about having time to reconnect and say thank you and good-bye. And it talked about moving from being a caregiver back to relationship. It spun it all in such a nice positive light you almost forgot about the dying part.

The other day Annie (our 3 year old) and I were in the car on our way to our little ECFE class. She asked me if she was going to die. She continued, "I don't want to die". I wanted to say no you're not going to die, but thought I better be honest. I told her that I didn't want to die either but we are all going to die someday. But she pressed, "not yet, right Mommy?". I wanted to agree, but after the tragedies of the summer I said we don't know. But I do know that we will get to be with Jesus in Heaven. To which she responded, " I will be safe and happy in heaven with Jesus. Can I bring my blankie and teddy bear?" I said I don't think we'll need those things because we'll have Jesus. To which she replied, " I love Jesus."

I thought that was a pretty deep conversation for a 3 year old. But it was also deep to me because I don't want to think about those things. I really, really don't! But the fact is that it is part of life and cannot be avoided. It is hard to explain things to my kids, when I haven't had the need, desire or courage to face them myself. I think earlier on in my parenting I put off those difficult questions when they wondered about sex or death or some other subject I didn't know how to deal with.

It seems more natural now to just honestly deal with the questions as they come instead of saving it all up for some mother-of-all parenting lectures that will include the complexities of life and death and the birds and the bees. I think they need to learn to deal with it little by little and step by step.

So I'm thankful we all went to see Jack. It seems to give more depth to the love Jesus has for us.

1 John 3:14-20
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.