Monday, April 11, 2011

Visionary Monday ~ A Glimpse

I have felt inspired to chronicle bits from my journey as a stay-at-home daughter. While I hope these evidences of God's grace in my life serve as encouragement for others, my primary reason for wanting to journal these things is to remind myself of the LORD's calling on my life. These posts will serve more to direct my thoughts and heart towards His divine and faithful purposes in my life. I love searching for the beautiful traces of His fingerprints in what I once, in years past, labeled as the 'monotonous drone of every day life.' As a die-hard idealist and dreamer, I once rejected the home as training ground for the LORD's work in my soul and foolishly spent myself upon other pursuits. But the LORD in His mercy saved me from my path of self-destruction and clearly revealed Himself to me in such a way as I shall never forget! And, in that revelation, He granted me such a clearness of direction as to His specific plan for me. In His answer, I found a peace that completely washed away all my questions. He called me to return home to my family (not just in body like so many times before, but in heart!). So, here's a glimpse into what I have been learning and remembering at home as of late...

Calvary Love

Yesterday, during the service at the church that my family and I go to (Heritage of Faith Family Church), one of the elders gave a sermon on Colossians 4 and spoke specifically on the LORD's purpose and vision for the family. He discussed the different, but complementary roles of each member of the family and gave a very rich, detailed picture of family life. However, there were specific selections from it that I was challenged by. These Biblical principles have been re-occurring themes in my life, and so they win a special emphasis for this post.

1) When your family is ministered to, then you will be fulfilled.

2) While a spirit of independence remain in the home, unity cannot be maintained.

3) Selflessness is what makes a family work.

Almost immediately, I was reminded of Amy Carmichael's "if's."

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting, “Who made thee to differ? And what has thou that thou has not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love

If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any; if I can speak in a casual way even of a child’s misdoings, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I find myself half-carelessly taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s what they always do,” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I have not the patience of my Saviour with souls who grow slowly; if I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing) till Christ be fully formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. *For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water however suddenly jolted.

If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider “not spiritual work” I can best help others, and I inwardly revel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery; if stupid people fret me and the little ruffles set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles of life, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am inconsiderate about the comfort of others, or their feelings, or even of their little weaknesses; if I am careless about their little hurts and miss opportunities to smooth their way; if I make the sweet running of household wheels more difficult to accomplish, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient; if I shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joy’s mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I avoid being “ploughed under,” with all that such ploughing entails of rough handling, isolation, uncongenial situations, strange tests, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

...the list could continue on and on.

How often it is that I miss opportunities to further minister to my family because of that spirit of independence. While I may be fully present at home, my heart and mind often drift elsewhere. Not committed, focussed, or devoted to my family. Then, that spirit of independence becomes a spirit of discontentment. I become tired or weary of the daily hum of life, or disappointed by those around me, rather than increasing in the affections of Christ. I often have thought to myself, "Oh, I just don't love my Jesus enough! If I loved Him more, I would be so focussed on Him that my heart would be pouring itself out in love for others." While this may be true to an extent, I have been convicted that one can love Jesus very much and yet still be acting independently of Him because they have not submitted to His full reign. The reason why I am not always and fully available to minister to my family is due to the fact that I am not, first and foremost, always and fully available to my King. Yes, the spiritual disciplines of daily prayer and reading/meditation of the Word are spiritual disciplines that I live upon; however, am I communing with my LORD throughout the day as I tend to chores, running errands, projects, school, et? Or, am I subject to every stray thought and emotion of mine, and, on stressful days, walking through the events of the day in a fluster? So often it has felt more like the latter.

Gentle & Quiet Spirit

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. ~ 1 Peter 3:3-6

I never realized until earlier today, as I was thinking over this passage, the connection between a gentle and quiet heart hoping God and submitting to their husbands. While this verse refers to Sarah's submission to Abraham, I believe there is something even more significant to be said for the submission of a woman's heart to her soul's first Love.

A young and immature love is prone to act upon emotions and thoughts rather than from a broken will and a heart that is fully ruled by the One who holds all its affections. Wife, mother, and author, Nancy Wilson, paints an accurate picture of the 1 Peter 3 woman.

"Some people mistakenly think that a gentle and quiet spirit is displayed when a woman never speaks. This has concerned some of the outgoing personalities because they don't know how to be a silent lump. This is merely looking at externals. Certainly sometimes a quiet spirit will be exhibited by silence, but not always. And a quiet person can be all worked up on the inside. This is missing the point. A heart that is resting in the faithfulness of God is gentle and quiet; it is not stirred up with worry and anxiety. This gentle and quiet spirit is a calm, peaceful spirit. It is a tame spirit, a gentled spirit. I have often compared this kind of spirit to a glassy lake, not turbulent or troubled, but hardly showing a ripple. In contrast, the anxious spirit is like a stormy sea with whitecaps whipping along the shore. This of course brings to mind our Lord calming the troubled Sea of Galilee. Likewise, He can calm our troubled spirits when we look to Him."

To become that glassy lake that is as still underneath as it is on the surface, takes daily dying.

To Wait. To Hope.

We are not ignorant of the straying thoughts and emotions that dwell within us moment by moment. We are exhorted to take them captive. We are not unable to dispel that cloud of frustration or discontentment. We're told to "give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess 5:18). We are not to be weighed down by the heaviness of unexpected circumstances or difficulties within our family relationships. We are called to cast off all such burdens onto Him (Psalm 55:22). Christ prayed for us, "Father, sanctify them in Thy truth; Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17). We have access into the transforming work of His truth by His Spirit. The Word of God does not return void, nor does He ever lie (Num 23:19). For He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it (1 Thess 5:24).

Maybe it feels like the Word of God isn't practical enough for a particular situation or issue. Maybe it doesn't always bring immediate results. But the Word is not based upon what we're feeling or wanting. Just allow yourself to meditate on His Word and allow the Spirit to minister to you throughout your day.

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! ~ Psalm 105:4

"For this is how holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves..." The key word there is hope. Hoping implies that there is a process of waiting daily before Him. Hoping implies that one is seeking Him continually.

I write all this to conclude that the strength of a family is determined by the level of each member's givenness to the LORD and to each other. This is essential to a completeness of unity and love amongst each family member. May we ever seek to grasp the fullness of this vision for the family!


Nolan said...

"Whatever the need of the heart, His eternal answer is 'I am'." I've found that as part of the mind renewal, seeing that Christ is the solution to all is an ongoing process that He continually teaches. In every area that the flesh has learned to cope by its own means, Christ renews our minds and we see that He is truly the solution to all, He is the wisdom. It's wonderful to see how He has been renewing your mind in the area of family by the way you describe. That is the case with love. To know that we are completely incapable of loving another within our own power unless it flows from the LORD which overflows our hearts. To truly love others is to love Christ, and the abiding life in which He is the vine and we are the branches. It's really neat to see that described on the subject of family. And the matters of the heart, not just externally being there with your family, but sharing the joys and pains. I pray that He will continue to renew your mind in this area with His teachings and love!