I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by Your Word.
Yesterday was a hard day. I'll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say my discouragement related to parenting. After supper my husband suggested I take some time by myself to get refreshed—so I headed back to our bedroom, laptop in hand. While he put the boys to bed, I spent some time laughing at bloopers from a favorite TV show on YouTube and felt the heaviness of the day slip away.
But when I woke up this morning, the heaviness was there again. What happened? I had not actually received refreshment the previous evening—I had merely taken a break and escaped from reality for an hour or two.
Psalm 119:25 (above) tells us it is God's Word that revives us! And David proclaims in Psalm 19:7, "The teachings of the Lord are perfect,reviving the soul." Oh boy, did my soul need reviving and refreshing this morning!
So, assured of His glad welcome (Eph 3:12), I met with the Lord this morning and received the refreshment my soul needed. God is good!
"If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, [spouse] and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life."
Jesus was quite popular and had a large crowd of people following Him around. I'm sure some people were sort of "star struck" and proclaimed they'd follow Him to the ends of the earth. (Even Peter said he'd be willing to die with Jesus.) But Jesus knew that fair-weather, half-hearted disciples would be ineffective—so He made it clear that His true followers would need to be so committed to Him, it would appear as though they hated everyone and everything else in comparison.
What caught my eye about the verse above was the "even your own life" part. As I take a few moments to ponder it, I see I spend a fair amount of time/effort trying to make my life as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. I recognize this because of the displeasure I feel when my life seems "too hard" (hah! seriously?!), too unpleasant from dealing with whining/arguing children, and full of thoughts of "when can I get some me-time" to read, exercise, be on the computer, veg in front of a movie, etc. And this is often. When I am so consumed with what I perceive are "my needs", how can I really be sold out for the Lord?
I am reminded of Matthew 26:41 where Jesus says, "Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." In my heart of hearts (my spirit), it is Jesus I desire more than anything else! Nothing is worth living for besides Him! But I am self-centered and weak (my flesh). I want extended amounts of leisure and pleasure, and no harassment. This is not reality for a follower of Christ. Not that it's all drudgery! But it is hard work, and it takes perseverance and perspective. Jesus said, "If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will find true life" (Luke 9:23-24).
So, the antidote for a half-hearted pursuit of Him and the temptation to create (and worship) a comfortable life: keep watch [keep eyes on Him] and pray!
The new year is in full swing. Seems like the perfect time to start new habits. And so we ponder and daydream of what we'd like to change. But you know, I think we tend to exalt the dream more than taking action!
Reminds me of another cute little quote I came across several years ago: "Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes" (Robert M. Hutches). Funny!.... and oh so true.
You want to get in better shape? Go for a walk—now—instead of having a snack. You want to be closer to God? Get into the Word—now—instead of checking Facebook.
Don't wait to feel motivated. Just do it—right now!
And, yeah... as I sit here and write, my 5-year-old comes upstairs to inform me that he "lost" his bouncy ball in the treadmill. Yes, in the treadmill. The very treadmill that the boys are not supposed to touch. I can hear it rolling around in there when I lift the plank. Great. So much for exercise in the winter. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr..........
You want to vent less anger? (I do.) Take a deep breath—NOW—instead of verbally puking all over everyone. You want to be more joy-filled? (I do.) Instead of complaining, thank God for your blessings—now.
When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives... don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character...
James 1:2-4 (Phillips)
These verses apply to me (especially the trials that come with being a stay-at-home mom) ...and these verses also apply to my boys. I need to love them enough to allow them to struggle sometimes.
I so truly want the best for my sons... and part of that is allowing them to experience (and hopefully learn from) life's hard-knocks. So often I want to soften the blow of disappointing circumstances—but as "nice" as that seems, it only makes them weak. "Nice" and "good" are two different things. Jesus didn't strive to be nice—He was good and He did good. Do I value being "nice" over doing what's right? Am I willing to do what's best for my kids, even though it might bring discomfort (for everyone involved)?
Much as I hate to admit it, it is the trials that grow our character. When I shelter my child from difficulties—whether it's sugar-coating an answer I know will disappoint them, or appeasing them by telling them they can just exchange the Christmas gift they didn't really care for—I stand in the way of valuable life lessons and character growth for them.
Lord, give us discernment in our dealings with our children. Help us to be willing to allow hardship in their lives, so they will develop perseverance and mature character—and so they will be strong men and women for Your Kingdom purposes!
I am a wife (married 15 years), mother of two sons, and a disciple of Jesus Christ. The majority of my time/heart/life is spent investing in my boys— playing, home-educating, and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.