Blessings and Blogs

A Life Victoriously Lived

Two weeks ago, I learned of the passing of a friend.

We hadn’t gotten together for some time, but we stayed in touch via e-mails and blogs.  She was an author and a homeschooling mother, and that was enough of a common ground to fuel many of our conversations.  She gave me advice regarding the publishing process, she offered suggestions regarding the curriculum we use in teaching our children.  And although I didn’t always employ her ideas, I always appreciated them.  When we spoke, she was always engaged; always interested.

She leaves behind her a legacy.  She touched many lives through the avenue of fiction and editorials.  She was a wonderful wife and mother.  She was loved by all who knew her.  She wasn’t perfect, but of course no one is.  And although I didn’t know her as well as some, I feel blessed to have been able to call her my friend.

Her last months and more were not easy, with health issue after health issue, but she exuded peace.  And it is with that observation that I offer this simple thought:  The Christian lives most victoriously lived–however briefly–are the ones which have been woven by God into the tapestry of others, for the purpose of making the fabric of our existence more beautiful than it might have otherwise been. 

Praise God for bringing Himself glory through the life of such an amazing woman!

Sick of Spam

I find it amazing that with all the technology afforded us these days, I am not able to block the twenty or more spammers a day who “comment” on my blogs.  Instead, I set aside time each day to sift through their rhetoric, labeling them as “spam”–which apparently has no real effect except to provide for me a glimmer of satisfaction–and trying to focus on the comments which are meant only to be responses or encouragements.

It’s frustrating, to be certain, but I suppose it is a commentary on humanity.  After all, ours is not the first generation to discover that there are those who would prey upon the efforts of others, determined to sell their wares at no real investment to themselves.  What I cannot understand, however, is why it is done so perpetually.  I get that they are vying for a chance to post their products or profanities on the websites of unsuspecting bloggers, but to what end?  I mean, I’ve never spoken to anyone who claimed that they followed up on a spam-mail they read, and are better for it.  On the other hand, such attempts to hijack are nearly always met with negativity.  So, why do it?

I’m sure I must be missing something, here.  I’m sure there must be something more that is gained from such efforts.  But when I try to analyze the possibilities, I cannot help but think that it boils down to this.  Whatever the reason, if there is a reason at all, it seems to me a little…well, sinister.  Creepy.

I wonder how many spam-messages I’ll receive with this article….

The Collision of Comfort and Calling

Not too long ago, I had the privilege of meeting and conversing briefly with June Hunt–a renowned author, public speaker, and radio personality.  Wanting to make the most of such a rare opportunity, I decided to redeem my time with her by posing a rather provoking question.  As a writer myself–though at a much more humble level–I was curious to know whether she considers writing to be her passion.  Her calling.  Her genre is much more academic than mine, and her speaking occasions incorporate the same concepts and insights as do her books.  So, I was wondering whether she saw both outlets as equal, or whether one gave her greater joy than the other.

She, a sweet and witty personality, gave me a big smile.  I could see that she loved the query.  Her answer was almost immediate.  She told me that she much prefers speaking, and that writing, for her, is a necessary extension of her speaking opportunities.  She knew there was a need for a written form of her message.  Her teaching.  And that was that.

Her answer surprised me at first.  For I am a woman who would rather keep a low profile and sort of work behind the scenes, except for when I write.  When I write, it’s as if an otherwise dormant part of me is suddenly awakened.  Alive.  I love the world of imagination, for it fuels the senses.  It feeds critical thinking and application to real-life situations.

That’s when it hit me.  This dear woman was extending herself beyond her comfort zone not because she enjoyed it.  But rather, so that more lives might be touched by the things God had given her to share.

How humbling.  How intriguing.  How intimidating and convicting!

If you’ve been keeping up with this journey I’ve been on–that of seeing my first novel through the stages of publication–then you know how ill-prepared I feel for what is coming.  I love the editing and rewriting and talks with the wonderful people at Tate Publishing, but how I dread the author signings and self-promotion endeavors which are on the horizon!  I know that there will not be lines at the tables where I’ll be sitting and waiting to converse with potential readers.  I’m too much of a realist to believe that an unknown author promoting her first work will command much attention, and yet, it frightens me just the same.

I cannot let myself dwell too long on such things, for I become physically ill when I do so.  It’s that difficult for me!  And yet, when I think of that kind woman–a woman who’s been writing for years upon years–I know that, with God, all things are possible.  The words in her books come across as effortless.  But now I know that the reason is not because she gets a warm fuzzy feeling upon penning them.  Rather, it’s because she’s following God’s leading.  Simply obeying.

Wow!

Blessings!

Short and Sweet

I thought I’d take a moment to send out a short blog about a concept rather mundane at first glance, yet intrinsically vital if we are to not only survive–but thrive–in today’s fast-paced world.

Brevity.

Yes, I’m being a little silly, but I was reminded several times this week of the often overlooked importance of the art of being brief.  

My four kids had dentist appointments.  I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I was that they were all in and out of the office–one of them even had x-rays taken–within an hour.  One hour!  Awesome!  I spent longer than that waiting in the checkout line at Wal-Mart the next day.  How I wished that sweet, chatty register worker understood the importance of brevity.  Instead, she insisted upon engaging each customer in deep conversation, pausing between product scans so that she could use her hands to help her articulate her thoughts on whatever she was sharing.

But, I digress.  Wal-Mart is still wonderful, and I’m sure the conversations were a blessing to someone–probably someone who didn’t have a cart full of frozen food items.

My oldest daughter sent me a text the other day.  She was posing a question–a simple question regarding curfew–but I had to scroll down a dozen lines of text and translate I don’t know how many text codes to figure out what she was asking.  I responded with a simple, TMI, feeling pretty good about knowing at least one text term.  Sadly, my three letters probably took as long to punch in as her little novella.  I’m so old.

Back to brevity.  I learned through the tweaking and editing of my story this past month, that I had TMI–and all the extra information was actually detracting from the impact of the story.  I had to revisit several scenes, and I even cut a few chapters.  It’s my first book, so I suppose time will tell whether my efforts will pay off.  But, I learned the importance of brevity.

Just this morning, I was “instructing” my children regarding their treatment of each other.  The bickering was about to drive me over the edge.  Halfway through my little rant, I noticed that their eyes, while on me, were glazed over, and their minds had wandered elsewhere.  Again, the art of brevity would likely have served me well.

I don’t have a big finale on this one–no closing paragraph which wraps it all up neatly for easier digestion.  It is what it is.  A thought.

Brevity is beautiful.

Blessings!

Spring is Sprung!

I’ve been so ready to feel spring in earnest!

It’s been a rather long winter–beautiful, but long.  I love each season in moderation, and I love watching a gorgeous snowfall.  But now, it’s time to listen to the chirping of baby birds, breathe in the scents (and pollens), and gaze upon all the vibrant colors of creation.  It’s time for rebirth. 

And with springtime comes one of my favorite holidays. The believer’s celebration of the risen Savior.  The believer’s Easter.

The little girls will don their pretty pastels and white patent leather shoes.  The young boys will fidget in their uncomfortable buttoned up collars.  And throngs of people who haven’t given the Savior of the world a second thought all year long, will grace the aisles of churches all over the world.  God’s Word will be preached, and souls will be saved.

And so this short blog is the proffering of a challenge.  I’d like to encourage all my friends out there to begin praying now for your pastors and music leaders.  Pray for your Sunday School teachers, nursery workers, and  fellow church members.  Pray for yourself. 

And most importantly, begin praying now for all those people who will come to your church, and churches everywhere.  Pray that, even now, their hearts will begin to soften toward the things of God.  Pray that any and all competing distractions will be decidely removed from the equation–that Satan will be silenced as the world bears witness to something it may not quite understand, but senses as somehow important.

Pray for the message of the risen Savior to be embraced by people of a fallen world.

Blessings!

~Kelly

The Great Omission

Recently, I was reading in II Kings.  The prophet, Elijah, was appointed not to die, but rather to be taken up to God in a whirlwind.

Wow.  The God of all that was, all that is, and all that will ever be chose to bring a man to His glory without his having to pass through the threshold of death.  Such an honor.  Such an endorsement.  Such a thing to ponder.

I began to contemplate the implications of the account, wondering what possible applications might be gleaned for today’s believers.  I mean, this is a pretty significant thing.  Not to physically die.

We know that, as children of God, we are given eternal life.  So, although dying may be unpleasant, the aftermath of death is not.  So why not simply allow Elijah to pass into eternity in his sleep?  Like many old men before him, and like countless old men since?  Why make such a production of it?

I do not count myself a theologian, but I do consider myself a student of the Word.  Every disciple of the living God—every joint heir with Christ—should be such.  And even though I may not have the most well-rounded and polished answers, I do have some thoughts I’d like to share.  Keep in mind as you read them, that I am, like you, a finite being.

That said, I think that God may have done things as He did for several reasons.

I believe God wanted to honor Elijah.  I think that God wanted to lift up Elijah’s steadfastness among a contrary nation, and before a watching Elisha.

I imagine that, although Elisha’s heart was heavy at the impending departure of his mentor, the victory proclaimed in the nature of the departure would infuse Elisha with a resolve which may otherwise have been lessened.  It wasn’t until the final moments before Elijah was taken up in the whirlwind that Elisha made his request—to be endowed with a double portion of his master’s spirit.  That request would be granted, but only if Elisha was able to witness the translation.  Which, as we know, he did.  So, Elisha’s witnessing of the event was of importance.  And his faithfulness, both to God and to Elijah, was rewarded.

Thirdly, and I believe that this both encompasses and surpasses the other two possible reasons, it simply pleased God to do so.  That’s it.  God is in charge, and His way is the best way.

But all this brings me to what, really, became the most soul-pricking notion of all.

Why would God take Elijah—a willing, faithful, constant voice of reason to the Israelites—out of the scenario?  I mean, when it all comes down to it, why remove one of the few Truth speakers—the prophet—from the picture?  At such a time in history?  Right then?  As I already conceded, it pleased God to do so, but why?

At first, I concluded that it was because God had given the Israelites over to their sins for a season, and so it was a good time to transition to Elisha’s inauguration as the next prophet.  And, while this may hold water, I soon decided that there might be more to it than that.  After all, this ebbing and flowing of faithfulness by Israel as a nation had been going on long before this time, and would continue for a long time after.

So, what was it?

And then it hit me.  What if I was asking the wrong question?

Here I am, wondering why God would bring away a man so dedicated to the accomplishing of His perfect will, when instead I should consider the reason for our time on this earth to begin with.  What if the better question were this:  What is our real purpose?  Why are we here?

My gut response is to say that we are here to bring glory to God.  Okay.  But let’s go deeper.

I let the new question float for some time, until the answer fell like a thud against my soul.  Such a simple, obvious answer, and yet I’d missed the significance of it for so very long.

Elijah’s translation to Heaven was more than merely a reward.  It was more than God bringing Himself glory.  It was, rather, a beautiful relationship—a connection beyond mere friendship or even lordship.  It was a God-spoken declaration of the kind of intimacy with Himself that is available to every one of His children.  It was and is a picture of all He wants to fulfill in and through us, if we will only allow Him full reign of our lives.  Of our souls.

So as my thoughts continue along this vein, I’m convicted.  Here I’ve always believed that The Great Commission was our number one calling.  I still do.  For that, obviously, would bring glory to our Triune God.  But what if that’s more of a side-effect of our main purpose?  What if that, in its truest and most pure sense, is only possible if a greater truth is embraced by His children?

What if our number one purpose is to be living in ever-closer communion with the God of our salvation?  What if, in all our finite striving to evangelize a lost and dying world, our witness has been devoid of the level of intimacy our Heavenly Father desires from His creation?  What if we’ve omitted the most important part of communion with our Creator?

I just think it’s something to think about.

 

Blessings!

     

Shhh…

The daylight hours are getting longer as spring descends—slowly but surely—on the New England coast.  We’re in a constant flurry these days, with the kids having just wrapped up their basketball seasons, preparing to launch into baseball practices, and the girls’ gymnastics heading into their end-of-year preparations.  Then there’s the SAT testing looming ahead of us, along with all that must be done to wrap up the school year.

I love each season in turn, but I must admit I’m especially glad for this year’s transition to warmer weather.  It’s been a long winter.

With so much time inside each day, and early evenings dedicated to sports—not to mention church and youth group obligations—we’re always on the go.  And somehow, more daylight makes it feel a little less rushed.  A little less frenzied.  No, that’s not really true.  I suppose it’s more accurate to say that it feels a bit more manageable.

So my kids are doing their math assignments as I take a few moments to type this entry.  The sun is beckoning them, I can tell, for I must occasionally admonish them to focus on the task before them.  It’s hard, I understand.  I’m distracted, too.  So ready am I for summer vacation and a few months of reprieve from the many commitments and responsibilities.  There will still be some, but they will be buffeted by time to relax and time to play and time to visit with friends and family and time to…just be.  I can hardly wait.

But then I think of last year, when I was also quite anticipatory of the break.  It was less than idyllic, for two of my children had squandered so many hours during the last quarter of the school year that I necessarily relegated them to summer school.  Nothing too strenuous, but a lesson needed to be learned.  School is important, and every student has a responsibility to make the most of his or her class time.  I want my kids to learn on purpose.  It’s important.  So, summer break was shorter, and the school year longer.  An exhausting lesson to learn.

But  I digress.  This is a new summer, and so far I’ve seen nothing close to the level of disdain for learning which I observed last year.  Maybe they’re just more sneaky with their inattention.  Or maybe they’re really getting it.  Or maybe it’s a little of both.  Time will tell, I suppose.  Whatever lies beneath the surface, it would seem that our school year will draw to a close on time this year.  In a little over two months, by my calculations.  I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

I’ve spent many a spare moment contemplating the family’s vacation plans for the summer.  The budget can’t take much more stretching, so we need to be creative.  I’d love to visit our families in the Midwest, but there are other things to consider as well.  Church camps, summer sports, local trips, all of it.  Which leaves me wondering something.

What happened to my nice, relaxing summer?

God’s Word says, Be still and know that I am God, but do I really have time for that?  I mean, between this obligation and that responsibility, with the plethora of items from each family member’s summer agenda thrown in the mix, when exactly am I supposed to stop and just let God fill my senses?  I mean, summer is short enough here in New England as it is.  If I add one more thing to the list, the season will be over before I’ve had time to enjoy it.  Right?

But what if the answer to my ingrained longing for a restful summer is in stepping out of all my plans?  What if it’s my ideas which are the problem?  What if all the business is elevated because of my attempts at just the opposite?  Hmm.  What then?

God’s admonition is, at first, simplistic.  Of course I know who God is.  Of course I know that He is. 

Or do I?

I mean, when I have my quiet times with God—my truly quiet times—I feel refreshed at the end of our time together.  I feel energized and more patient and more discerning.  When life is too busy to fit those devotions and prayer times into my day, then I can’t seem to get much accomplished at all.  It snowballs and I end up with a longer list of to do’s than with which I began.

Yes, life is busy.  I can accept that, and I can even embrace it.  We are a family of six individual personalities, after all.  But it doesn’t have to be hectic.  For that implies a lack of peace and purpose.  It implies a sort of flailing about and attempting to grasp onto things which can’t really be held, anyway.  It implies desperation.

Our God is a big God.  And if He wants me to shh—to stop what I’m doing from time to time, and just be still and let the concept work its way through me for awhile, then maybe—just maybe—He has a pretty good reason for it.

Blessings!

Home Sweet Home!

The trip to Italy was incredible!  So much to see.  So much to absorb.  So much to ponder.

We began our days in Rome itself, visiting such places as the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, a labyrinth of catacombs, and several museums.  We visited the Vatican and spent much time with our necks craned as we studied the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  We walked along a portion of the still existing Appian Way, our feet perhaps touching the same stones the apostle Paul’s graced as he was marched into Rome by the Praetorian Guard.  We gazed upon some of the same mosaics and sculptures which decorated the walls and floors of Caesar’s household.  We studied some of the Christian symbols which adorned the tunnels of many of the burial sites.

We traveled away from Rome to visit the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, both of which were simultaneously destroyed and preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius during the latter part of the first century A.D.  Pompeii, a large but relatively humble city, was devastated as a result of raining ash, while the comparatively small but wealthy and advanced city of Herculaneum was taken by lava flow.  Both sites provide glimpses into the past.  Glimpses which both feed the imagination and contribute to understanding.

During our free days, my husband and I traveled with several fellow group members to the famous city of Venice.  We joined two of our friends for a ride in a gondola, and we spent much of the rest of our time simply strolling along the quaint, narrow streets of San Marco.  It was a nice change, allowing us to recover somewhat from the frenetic pace we had adopted for the earlier part of the trip.

I feel profoundly blessed to report that I had several opportunities to do as I had planned.  That is, to imagine how it might have been for early Christians in Rome and surrounding towns, and to apply the legacy of their lives to my own existence.  I was, as I expected I would be, humbled.  I was drawn ever closer to my Lord and Savior as a result of my musings, and I am thankful that He allowed me to partake in such a deeply challenging journey.

But as I alluded to in my blog title, it’s good to be home.

Aside from the obvious—a reunion with my precious children and a great night of sleep—coming home was a return to familiarity.  A reminder of just how blessed I am. 

I live in the greatest country in the world, and I am surrounded by love.  I have the freedom to write what is on my heart, and I have the opportunity to put my words before an audience.  I live a humble life by the standards of many on this continent, yet am still considered to be among the wealthiest according to the world’s statistics.  I have taken much for granted, and have never known lasting hunger.  I have done without, but have never truly lacked anything.

God has supplied all my needs, and many of my wants.  Life is not always easy, but it is never more than my soul can bear. 

And with the assurance of my inheritance—my even grander home which awaits me—guaranteed, then the otherwise uncomfortable edges are dulled by reminders of the coming fulfillment of the promise, and my life is all the sweeter as a result.

And so, I leave you with these words.  Words which have been revived after a gradual decline into complacently.  Words which again encompass for me even more sentiment than they had in a long time.  Words which are now more alive for me than they have been in years.  Words which convey it all, for now, and forever.

Home sweet Home.

Blessings!

Redeeming the Time…

It seems as if life is moving at a faster pace than ever.  Only a blink has gone by since my high school days and college years and early months of married life.  A mere fraction of the same has passed since each of my children was respectively growing inside of me, developing by God’s design until the moment of their formal introductions into this world.  I look at my reflection and wonder whether that little crease I see at the corner of my eye was there yesterday.  I pluck a coarse, silver wire from my scalp and will myself not to panic.  This is life, after all.

But with each concession that the world is indeed spinning and time is unfolding at an unforgiving rate, comes another realization.  I have no choice but to acknowledge that I am accountable for the time I’ve been allotted.  Every day—every moment—is a gift.  Every heartbeat is another chance.  Another opportunity.

When I first began my plans to launch a site such as this, it was not with enthusiasm.  I grew up with Commodore 64 and the simple stick controller for video games.  I loved my word processor, for it alleviated a lot of the headaches associated with the typewriter I had been previously accustomed to.  For me, that was advanced technology.  Now, here I am, typing this blog on my laptop, so that I can share it with whomever happens across it (I should confess that it was only through the aid of a good friend, and my children, that I was able to rise to even this level!)  Needless to say, I found this endeavor rather intimidating.

My apprehension has since given way to excitement, though, and here we are.  I’m slowly but surely embracing the benefits of technology, and the avenues available to me as a result.  Which brings me back to the crux of my musings.  Time sure flies.

My oldest child is a teenager now.  My second born will soon be one as well.  My third and fourth are gaining on them with every passing day.  Every passing moment.  I’m resisting, trying to keep them all young for as long as possible.  I ache for them to grow up slowly.  To embrace and absorb every God-given moment.

My younger brother died at the age of twenty-one years.  Moments surrounding the accident which ushered him into his eternal home are permanently ingrained in my mind.  Conversations I am certain I would have otherwise forgotten are now remembered as poignant.  Frozen snapshots of my past which transcend the haste with which everything else seems to move.

Sometimes I wonder whether God didn’t allow the painful events of that time in my history to accomplish something quite profound in my existence.  For now, you see, in spite of the rush of the world and the almost maniacal demands of the same, I consider it a blessing that such a difficult event was used to teach me to embrace the seemingly insignificant moments in life.  In fact, I am now of the opinion that insignificance has little place in a world where God is God and I am His.

God, in His mercy and infinite love, allowed me to hear for the first time via sonogram, further evidence of the existence of my first child, on the very day my younger brother would have turned twenty-two had he not passed on.  And as I pause to close my eyes right now, I can still hear my unborn daughter’s heartbeat, quick and strong and healthy, attesting to God’s sovereignty.

Two years later, I was in the hospital again.  I was being prepped for the delivery of my second child, when we received the call.  My dear uncle had succumbed to the cancer which had been draining his life for months.  God, in His gentleness, allowed my son to be born shortly afterward, another sweet reminder of his attentive compassion to His children.

Now those moments, one may argue, are far from mundane, but I nonetheless doubt I would have absorbed the wonder of the experiences had God not sharpened my perception with the accompanying heartache.  But what of the completely normal, routine occurrences?  Was God speaking to me through those blinks in my history?  How much more might I have missed if the lesson of seeking His gifts in the fleeting moments—the moments sandwiched by busy schedules or other distractions—had not been indelibly entrenched in me through the living of such heart-wrenching tragedies?

There was another time—a time not surrounded by tragedy, but nonetheless made more poignant by those reminders that every moment is to be treasured.  I was having a conversation with my third child.  She was sharing with me her dreams for the design of her bedroom when the day came for us to transition from the apartment where we currently reside.  She loves to plan, and sketch the possibilities.  I was busy, working on one of my books, nodding from time to time as I continued on with my task.  Suddenly, I felt convicted.  My writing could wait.  I turned the fullness of my focus onto her.

It was one of those moments when, as I watched her blue eyes alight with with the thrill of imagining, and the joy of having her mother’s undivided attention, I was struck with the fact that God had given me this moment with my daughter.  Another chance to listen to her dreams, and to encourage her.  A moment to ponder in my heart for future recollections.  The God of infinity had given me another precious gift.

My fourth child is a prayer warrior.  One particular evening, I was snuggling with her as she offered her bedtime petitions to God.  I was awed by the transparency in her requests.  There were a few self-focused lines in the beginning, but by the end of her utterings she was content with whatever God decided would be best.  She faithfully articulated all of her burdens, and then she left them there, as if, whatever happened, the matter was as good as settled.  I am still humbled when God reminds me that I should always come to Him as a little child.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention my husband of sixteen years.  From the moment we met, and through the ups and downs of married life, there have been many God moments.  Moments which, had I been fastened on the mere so-called highlights, I might have overlooked.

I think, for example, of a New Years’ Eve.  Our children were young, so we had an early celebration with family.  We were on our way home long before the midnight hour.  The kids were cranky, and Randy and I were tired.  Randy was weaving along on the otherwise deserted road, as he attempted to scold the kids via the rear view mirror.  I encouraged  him to commit to a single lane of traffic, and he clipped that he was doing just fine.  It was at that moment that the police lights were activated, indicating that we were to pull over.  When the officer reached my husband’s driver-side window, he said, matter-of-factly, “I guess you know you were weaving back there.”

I was laughing, and the officer leaned further in, observed the still unsettled children, the hysterical wife, and added, “But I can see you have your hands full.”  And with that, the policeman left.  I was reminded to seek joy in even the most unlikely places.

Moment after moment, instant after instant from my past marks my present.  God is so good to me!

I suppose that the thought I’d like to leave you with is this.  Yes, time is moving by quickly, but if we allow God to work in our lives, He will.  So whether it’s reaching out to others, letting others minister to you, or simply being still and knowing God is who He says He is, don’t let life pass you by without absorbing the God moments.

Blessings!

Ciao Bella!

That, as many of you know, means Hello Beautiful!  It’s an exquisite phrase, and it rolls off the tongue deliciously, in either language.  It encompasses in my mind an endearing combination of bold intimacy and light friendliness.  It’s personal.  It’s welcoming.  It’s romantic.  It’s lovely.

I have been afforded the opportunity to travel with a wonderful group of college students, as well as my awesome husband, to Italy!  We’ll spend the bulk of our days in the ancient city of Rome, walking in many of the areas where the apostle Paul may have trod.  Gazing at some of the same architectural achievements the early Christians lived among.  Were martyred among.

The thought is sobering, to be certain.  We take so much for granted as believers in the year 2011.  But consider this.  You can, at this moment, check out any number of reputable Christian sources and find that persecution and martyrdom of followers of Jesus Christ are very much a reality in many areas around the world.  Many are waking up every morning, knowing that they will very likely be taunted, if not tortured or even put to death by nightfall because of their profession of faith.  And yet they stand firm.  Their lives—and deaths—are surrendered to the God of their salvation. 

Wow.

I get frustrated when the secular world rolls its eyes at my attempts to live out my faith before it.  I become even more agitated when my own will gets in the way of my intentions.  I fail constantly.  I repent.  Then I fail again.  It’s pathetic, actually.  But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

I want to be as the believers who have lived and died before me.  I want to be as those who are, at this very moment, standing firm—even in the face of physical destruction.  I want to honor God with every part of my existence.  Every fiber of my being.  I want to hear, when I enter His kingdom, Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

So here I am, a mother of four.  The wife of a man who works at a humble Bible college.  An aspiring author.  I am not an eloquent public speaker.  My looks are less than average.  I lack patience.  I am too easily offended.  I get nervous in large groups.  I fall on my face more often than I rise to the occasion.  How can I ever hope to bring glory to the One who is perfect?

And then as Truth confronts me, I have to smile.  The apostle Paul wasn’t perfect, either.  He tells us this himself in his letter to the Romans (chapter 7, verse 15).  For that which I do I allow not:  for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  Basically, he’s saying, I don’t do what I should, and I often do what I shouldn’t.  And yet God used him.

What better way for God Almighty to bring glory to Himself than to work through the imperfect, often pathetic?  How better for the God of the Universe to show Himself than through the weak and finite men and women who can lay claim to absolutely no self attained attribute?

Yes, we must study to show ourselves approved.  Yes, we need to be able to give evidence of our salvation.  But those aren’t us.  Not really.  For God takes the so-called strengths and the weaknesses of His children and makes them into something He can use.  Something wondrous.  Without Him, we can do nothing.  It’s not that we can do less.  It’s not even that we can do little.  We can do nothing.

So as I’m making preparations to take this trip, it is with a new resolve.  I know I’ll fall short from time to time—I’ve already confessed that I am a creature who stumbles.  But I am purposing to imagine—as often as possible—what it might have been like for the early Christians.  What it might have been like for Paul after his salvation.  And I will remind myself, every time the thought circles to completion, that such treatment of followers of Jesus Christ is still going on.  And I will pray, as I stand on those sites made famous by their perseverance through the centuries, for the ones around the world today, who know whom they have believed.  I will pray as they pray.  That their sufferings will serve to bring glory to our Heavenly Father.  That God’s purpose will prevail in spite of our human frailties.

And then I will pray for the courage to begin every morning as they do.  With the acceptance that this world is our mission field, but it is not our home.  And whether or not I am ever called to lay down my physical life for the accomplishment of God’s glory, I will purpose to daily lay down the summation of my life.  All the weaknesses.  All the mistakes.  All the shortcomings.  All the wonderful humanness.

One day, I will see my Savior’s face, and I will fall before Him.  I will lay all my unworthiness at His precious, pierced feet, and I will hear the words spoken tenderly by my Redeemer, “Hello, Beautiful.”

Or something very much like that.
 
Blessings!

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The Crimson Purpose: The Calling of Casey Evand The Crimson Purpose: The Calling of Casey Evand
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