Thursday, February 26, 2009

What should I really be longing for?

The past two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind for me. I feel like life is rushing past me.

I am a person who likes order, control, times of rest....I long for the 'perfect life' where its easy to wake up early in the morning and spend time with God, where I can go for a peaceful, invigorating 20 minute walk as the sun rises, where the before school routine runs smoothly with an element of joy in the air, where I can leave my house clean, neat, ordered, where I am so organised that I have lots of extra time to sit and read and play and have fun with my husband and children....

I also want to be readily and happily available to the needs of my family, friends, neighbours, church, community, not overwhelmed with housework....

Is it wrong to long for this perfect life?

Wouldn't having these things work out for me make me more Christlike?

There's a huge part of me that thinks it would!

But what does God think, what does He want for my life?

I strongly believe He is sovereign and in control of everything that happens in my life, that He has a purpose for everything, that He works all things together for good for those who love Him and who are called by Him.

But it is so hard and such a test of my faith when my 'perfect life' gets 'interrupted'

by helping others and by misunderstandings,
by washing machines, vacuum cleaners and dishwashers breaking down,
by unexpected guests and meetings,
by sickness and financial pressures,
by the presence of snakes and demonic activity happening within metres of our home....

How is is possible to have my 'perfect life' and be able to do the things which supposedly make me more Christlike and peaceful when these things come into my life?

Reading the following from our latest book club book, What happens when women say yes to God - Experiencing God in extraordinary ways, by Lysa Terkeurst, helped me with my attitude towards all this.

There are some things God wants us to get settled in our heart. Do we want to chase after the world's emptiness instead of His fullness? Or do we want our lives to be characterised by perfect love instead of perfect performance? Many people halfheartedly claim to be Christians, believing that because we will never be perfect on this side of eternity we have an excuse to pursue that which pleases our human longings. Why not push the limits, live for the now, and worry about eternity later? The problem is that we miss the whole point of our existence, the very purpose for which we were created. God made us for the relationship of His perfect love. While we are not capable of perfect performance this side of eternity, we are capable of prefect love. We can settle in our hearts that we will choose God's love and the pursuit of a love relationship with Him above all else, not matter what comes our way.

After reading this I spent ages pondering the fact that I am capable of perfect love towards God. I can choose to love God with all my heart, no matter what comes my way. That's what I should long for (not my ideal of a perefct life), to love God, to choose to love Him no matter what happens, no matter what He allows to come my way. He wants my heart more than my good deeds, a heart that has chosen to trust Him completely even when it feels like everything is failing apart. Later in chapter Lysa writes,

Nothing in life is certain. Circumstances roll in and out like the ocean's tide. The unknown can sometimes seem so frightening as we ponder all the tragic possibilities that we know can and do happen to people. We catch ourselves wondering what the next page of life might hold. We can't stop or control the things that roll our way anymore than we can stop the water's edge. But we can make the minute by minute choice to let our souls rest in God.
"Rest knowing all is safe in My Hands. Rest is Trust. Ceaseless activity is distrust. Without the knowledge that I am working for you, you do not rest. Inaction then would be the outcome of despair. My hand is not shortened that it cannot save. Know that, repeat that, rely on it, welcome the knowledge, delight in it. Such a truth is as a hope flung to a drowning man. Every repetition of it is one pull nearer shore and safety."

So I am choosing to love and trust. I am choosing to not be overwhelmed by the lack of order, by my dysfunctional household appliances, by threats of snakes, mice and demons, by fears of broken friendships and misunderstandings....

Its in all these times that I truly learn to know and love God, that I understand more deeply and fully about the love of God, the sacrifice He made. I am thankful for all the overwhelming things that have happened int he past two weeks, for the whirlwind I feel like I am in, because it is drawing me so much deeper into the love of God, drawing me further into that place of complete trust and surrender, deeper into goodness and treasure of His Word.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hope in God

Yesterday I got a taste of what my husband experiences as a Pastor!

Some days he comes home feeling drained, exhausted, downcast....

When you are involved in people's lives, for the sake of the gospel, you are a target.

You can expect to be misunderstood.

I don't know how he does it, I know I need to pray for him so much more, and for all the pastors and elders in our church, they carry such heavy burdens so much of the time.

I am so thankful for a God who can sympathise with us, who can lift our burdens, who truly answers prayer, who is enduringly faithful to His children.

I am so thankful that I can put my hope in God, and I am thankful for my husband who picked me up and cared for me yesterday.

So for all those out there who may be downcast, here is a verse for you.

" Why are you downcast, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God.
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God."
Psalm 43:5

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How do you show love to someone when they are suffering?

I have been asking myself that question today. There are people all around me, and one very close to me, who are suffering, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

My mother experienced extreme physical pain for a lot of my childhood and most of my teenage years, early marriage and early child bearing years. I often struggled to know how to show love her.

When someone is in pain, its impossible to really understand how they are feeling. Most people are good at hiding what they are going through, so sometimes we can walk right on by without any idea what they are suffering.

I have regrets about the way I showed love to my mother when she was alive. She suffered so much pain, that she felt bad to mention it. You could just see it in her face and body language.

I remember when I was in the early stages of my first pregnancy I tried to put myself in her shoes. While I was lying on the couch feeling fatigued, nauseated, useless, I would chat to her on the phone and realise this is how she feels almost all the time!

We watched Fireproof last night and what hit home to me about that movie was the only way the husband could love his wife was when he came to an understanding of Christ's love for him. The love of Christ is unconditional, unchanging, never failing, sacrificial. Christ's love fills us and enables us to love others because we are relying upon His love and strength not our own.

So I guess to be able to love others deeply, genuinely, as Christ loves them, I need to spend more time with Him, enthralling myself in His love and all that He is.

Coming back to my question, if you have ever suffered, or are suffering emotionally, physically, spiritually, what are some ways you need to be loved?

Monday, February 9, 2009

To keep or not to keep?

Ever since I got home from sunny QLD and stepped into my home, I have had the overwhelming desire to sort through and rearrange almost everything! I don't have much tolerance for clutter, everything needs a place and if it doesn't, I don't rest until I find one for it.

Due to the extreme heat we experienced last week, I wandered around my house aimlessly trying to ignore the piles of STUFF that needed to be put away. I had no energy to move, change, or sort, however I did manage to go through the kids bedrooms and the toy room and put around 10 bags of clothes, toys, bit and pieces into the Salvation Army wheelie bins!

Now thanks to the cooler weather today, I was into it again, this time my wardrobe which seems to collect all sorts of odds and ends. I managed to fill a 60 litre container full of old letters and cards. As I was going through them (and lots of other things) I couldn't help but think about all those people in Victoria who lost their homes, all their stuff in a matter of minutes from the bush fires.

I like to hold onto things for sentimental value, but I realise I cant keep everything, and when I think about how quickly it can all disappear, it makes me wonder if any of it is worth keeping at all!

But I keep thinking about the things I wish my mum kept from my childhood, and so I try to keep handfuls of mementos for my children. However, if God allows it all to be destroyed by fire, (one day it most likely will be) then so be it!

As I go through my things I can't stop thinking about all the hundreds of people tonight in Victoria who own only the clothes on the backs. Everything they owned has been destroyed by fire, I pray that they may turn to the only One who can give them the most precious thing in this world, the salvation of their souls.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Reflections and Friday nights!

This year we are venturing into some changes. Mainly they are to do with my husband's role as a Pastor in the church we are at. One of the most noticeable changes are to do with Friday nights, he will be home on a Friday night regularly for the first time ever since we have been together! He is no longer running the junior youth group on a Friday night. He has been involved with youth groups in 3 different churches for the past 19 years (I have been good friends with him for around 17 of those years!)

A lot of people might read that and think, well he deserves to have his Friday's back, he deserves a break from youth, he has done his time, it's probably time for him to move on... But the truth is he has never thought of it in those ways. There have been times when he's come home late from youth group and there have been issues with kids or leaders and he feels tired, discouraged, disappointed, but he's never wanted to give up.

My husband is so very patient, faithful and committed. He may feel like he fails or gives up, he might feel weak, but I know that his heart is firmly planted in God's hands.

As tempted as he has been at times to give up the ministry, he has always pushed through, kept persevering, waiting and trusting in God to pull Him through and for Him to keep working.

I was reflecting this morning on his work at the church. Personally he has gone through some difficult times particularly in relation to his health, which has overflowed into and affected all other areas of his life! But as I look back I can see so much fruit that God has and will continue to produce through him.

At the last church we were at 7 years ago, there were doubts from the elders there about my husbands abilities and skills, but what I think they failed to look at was his heart. My husband has a heart that is full on for God and for serving him.

I often remind him and myself of this verse,

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop (pastor), he desires a good work. 1 Timothy 3:1

There are not many who desire to be elders or pastors, but my husband desires that, he longs to serve God wholeheartedly, to serve His people, to shepherd, nurture, lead, build up. The temptation for him to leave the ministry has always been overcome by his desire to serve God, sometimes the grass looks greener elsewhere, but to be where God wants you, there can be no better place.

I have so much love, respect, admiration, for my husband and for all that he has been through the past years. I am so thankful for all the trials and hardships God has allowed us to go through because they have only brought us closer to Him, to each other, they have given us wisdom and insight into the ways of God and His ministry, and built up our hope, patience, faith, character. We probably still have another 20 or so years of ministry left in us, so I am thankful for the lessons we are learning adn for what He is preparing for us in the years ahead.

We looking foward to this coming year, it has and is taking us a while to adjust to the changes, especially having Friday nights free! Although I don't think they will be free for long!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Number 2 starts school!

Well this week has been rather eventful, eldest daughter back at school, year 2 - my boy started school for the first time, and no. 3 started fulltime kindy!

No. 2 was very excited to start school.

He gets just about as excited as my husband does! When I asked him if he was excited about going he looked at me with a very straight face,

'Yes I am excited about school.'

He was very adorable all dressed in his school uniform, bag on his back, hat on head, I was very happy for him.

He was very happy to say goodbye after settling in and he informed me when I picked him up that he loves school!. We shall see how long that lasts!

But what was very special today was what he told his dad in the car while I went to pick up no. 3 from kindy.

Daddy asked him who he played with today.


Daddy said, "Is E... your best bud?"

He shook his head and pointed at Daddy,

"Am I your best bud?" He nodded his head.

He is such a special boy, such a deep thinker and just knows how to connect. I pray that he will continue to only grow in his love and respect for his father and His heavenly Father who loves him so very much!

I look forward to watching him learn and grow at school, I can't wait to have another reader in the house!