Saturday, March 20, 2010

Don’t Quit

When my kids want to give up on something I always give them the good motherly lecture about completing things. Piano lessons is a great example. They hate it and they hate practicing. I tell them the importance of sticking to a task no matter how hard it is. I remind them of the joy of knowing you saw something through to the end. And I know I’m right because I’m the Mom. And because we need pianists in our church.

But sticking with things is hard. Yesterday I wanted to give up. I was tired, hurt and had lost heart. I hate difficulty so much that it seemed easier to quit and walk away. I was too tired to think about things logically. If I did, I would realize that just because the road I’m on is hard, doesn’t mean another one will be easier.

The word that I found yesterday was perseverance. Perseverance is the patient endurance of hardship. It’s talked about a lot in the Bible because God does not promise us an easy life. He promises us hardship and times of testing. It’s really no fun. That comes as a rude awakening to me because I grew up in happy Christian land. Since I follow Jesus everything should be great.

So why should I persevere? And where is God? Has he turned his back for a while? I could stick it out until I feel better. But there are no promises of anything getting better in this life. Ever. So it’s not stick it out because it will be ok. It’s stick it out because God is at work in you. Unseen changes in your heart and life are what He’s after.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Really? God is less concerned about my happiness than the condition of my heart? He might allow hard things to make me cling to Him, hope for His return, become less prideful, become a better wife and mother? Those heart changes are unseen things. Until you start to act on them. Maybe you forgive someone, or reach out to someone in need. Then the hardship is producing maturity.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

When we face the tough times, perseverance must finish its work so that we can be mature and complete in Christ. Without hardship I would be a flabby Christian and trust me, I’m flabby enough already. Why would we care about the hurting if we had never been hurt?

So then I realize that there is joy in the hard times because of the work God does in us. I can look back over my life and wish things didn’t have to be hard or change but I cannot wish that I was the person I used to be. I’m so thankful for where He’s brought me and the things He’s shown me.

And as I try to help my kids persevere they need to see that God is working in them. The point isn’t just to hold out until it gets better. We need to hold on until Jesus finishes the work. That may not even come in this life. But then we won’t be lacking anything. We may have less, we may be weary, we may have had pain but we will have Christ. And after persevering through tough times for a while, that’s the only thing that matters.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangle, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Signs of Life

Winter is long in the north

very very long


It’s easy to wonder if spring will ever come


The snow has been melting fast

turning fields into lakes



The first walk as winter fades



feels like it could wash all your troubles away

the warmth of the sun shines straight into your heart




Climbing on rocks and throwing sticks




Hoping to see a coming ship






As the dirty and dingy snow disappears on the ground

underneath signs of life can be found

DSCF3661 DSCF3660


Sometimes I forget that God can wash away

the winter in our hearts, it is not here to stay


God’s love and forgiveness are more powerful than the sun

to melt away damage in our hearts that’s been done


And underneath all the snow, dirt and yuck

there’s patches of green, we don’t need to be stuck


New growth brings hope

Signs of life

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lessons from the Swimming Pool

We spend a lot of time swimming at our school's pool. This weekend there was an end-of-swimming lesson family swim. A dad was out in the deep end catching his daughter off the diving board. There's nothing unusual about that. The kids learn to jump to a noodle. This time, the little girl missed it.

Things can happen so fast in the water. Even little kids hit you with a greater force from the diving board than you might expect. It quickly became apparent that they were in trouble.

There was the lifeguard in charge on the deck. She only calmly watched as the young lifeguard on the stand wasted no time. He jumped in and brought them to safety. She seemed totally confident that he would do his job.

There was another man in the pool helping. He was just another Dad, who also happens to be an EMT, swimming with his kids. He did not have the dramatic jump from the high chair of the rescue. But what he did was even more dramatic. He went over, scooped the scared little girl up in his arms and held her. He sat with her next to the dad for a long time.

I've never seen such a dramatic picture of what God the Father, Jesus His son and the Holy Spirit do for us. When we are sinking and overwhelmed, Jesus rescues us. It's hard to ask for help, but when you have no other options there is nothing better than a savior coming to your rescue. You don't need a helper or a friend, you need someone to save you. That's Jesus.

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." Hebrews 1:3

After the rescue though, we aren't just left laying breathless on the edge. The Holy Spirit comes in and comforts us. He wraps his arms around us and walks with us through the recovery.

"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." John 16:7-11 ESV

God is watching it all. His plan for saving us has been set in motion. He does not have to panic to respond because he knows what is coming.
"He determines the number of stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power,
his understanding has no limit."
Psalm 147:4-5

I'm so thankful for the picture of the watching, rescue and recovery that day. The loving plans of God, the sacrifice of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. At the times in my life where I feel like I'm wandering, God has a plan. When I feel like I'm sinking, Jesus saves. When I feel disillusioned and discouraged, the Holy Spirit brings comfort.

I don't want to think about what would have happened that day had the lifeguards and EMT not been there, or had they not cared. The results would have been horrific.

God offers his saving grace and love to all of us. We don't have to navigate the waves of sin, hurt, anger or disappointment alone. Why do we try to?