Monday, September 5, 2016

The Basics of Need

  Not many things in life are truly needs. Air, food, water, rest, and shelter keep us living here on earth and Jesus gives us eternal life. Anything else is outside the realm of need no matter how strongly we feel, right?

 Of course, each need can be broken down into specific requirements. For example, we need water but particularly, we require water that is clean. We need rest but specifically, we need a good amount of uninterrupted sleep. 

 I am not getting this at the moment, not because I am not able to sleep but because Jellybean's feeding pump has decided to revolt with an onslaught of obnoxious beeping every 30 minutes claiming to be clogged. Ahhh, technology. So, I have given up sleep at least until this feed ends in about 30 more minutes. 

 While I am sitting here in the dark, my mind is thinking of all the things with which God has blessed me. A lot of blessings in my life are outside of the realm of need and it is amazing that God not only thinks of our needs but goes even further. I am kind of a weirdo though. There are not a lot of things that I wish I had personally. My mind runs more towards being physically practical or helpful. When God sees fit to bless me with something that is beyond those two criteria, I tend to squirm in a writhing pool of awkward emotions. 

 And, maybe that is the point. Need goes beyond just the physical life sustaining substances. Need dives right down to the heart of the matter - God's will and His glory. True need is derived from not what keeps us alive but what God deems is His will for the moment. So, if I squirm at what God hands me that seems beyond practical or helpful, then there is a lesson to be learned that is needed for His purpose and that should be my desire. 

 Lord, let it be that you determine my need and provide for me accordingly. If it be that I am starving, let me not think only that I need bread but seek to know if Your will is for me to have peace even if I do not get bread. For if I am seeking first the kingdom of heaven, then my needs are much less earthly. Give me the vision that I may see difficult situations as not just a need for escape but possibly a need for the strength that I will gain by going through them with You. 

 More of You is what I truly need so I do not get distorted by just what I see. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Without Ruth...Not in Minnesota

  Driving hours across Iowa, one has lots of time to ponder things, lots of things. For some reason my thoughts were fixated on the word "ruthless" and the fact that it means without ruth. This lead me to think about Naomi and what would she have done without Ruth. She would have been a poor widow all alone far from family. BUT GOD did not leave her without Ruth and they were led to the kinsman redeemer. She was not left Ruth-less and gained mercy and love when she thought God was dealing bitterly with her. 

 God did not leave me without ruth on my trip. It was a little scary trekking across country with just me and Jellybean and all his medical accessories and special made food. He traveled better than I did actually. He rarely fussed and we were able to find nice, clean rest areas with large bathrooms that accommodated the stroller so he didn't have to sit on the dirty floor. 

 We finally arrived at our Minnesota destination after 2 overnight stops, Jellybean immediately took to everyone who loved on him bunches. My nephew was just home from his spine surgery and I was hoping to help. That evening my sister's pastor and his wife came over with groceries and it was such a sweet expression of love and compassion. 

 One job I got to do was remove his old bandage. This was without a doubt the hardest task. He was in such pain as I pulled up the adhesive that was literally like pulling up a layer of his skin. Afterward, he said that it was okay. He was so gracious with my fumblings. 

 Some friends texted me encouragement and prayers. It was always helpful and right when needed. Another example of love and compassion. 

 It was sad to leave, but my nephew was doing so great that when it came time to go, it made me happy that they didn't need extra help. I saw much love, compassion, and grace and more evidence that God never leaves us especially in the toughest times. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Even Gray Areas Need Light

  Before I became a Christian I wrestled with God. The question was not whether He existed, it was why He allowed pain and suffering. I argued and screamed and cursed God through each difficulty and abuse. 

  When God saved me in spite of my ugliness, I wrestled through lots of scripture when I hit something I didn't understand. God was gracious to give me an abundance of strong older women who loved me but did not coddle me. They questioned me and pushed me to dig deeper. The gratitude I have for them is more than I can ever express in words. God was preparing me for something much more challenging and it would require long-lasting endurance which I am not known for in any circle. 

  1Peter 3 has been my main wrestling partner for a while now. Having found myself in a marriage to someone who no longer professes Christ has been difficult and I am sure he would profess that being married to a Christian is the same. There are A LOT of resources, blogs, and studies on these passages by people who are much greater theologians than I. There is also some not well-thought advice. 

  I am not a fan of the term "spiritually single" which seems to loosely imply a vacancy. God uses the term "unequally yoked" and that implies being bound although in an ill-fitting way which will create more struggle as you go along. What women in marriages to unbelievers do not need is an excuse to think poorly of their husband, to loosen the bind of marriage, or be petted in wallowing. So what do they need?

  Women in marriages to unbelievers need encouragement, strengthening, and help in the Word. They need to be some of the best equipped members in the church. They are not going out from time to time to witness to people and then go home. They do not get to use some planned dialogue. They must live day in and day out presenting the gospel without words and without a break. They are not going to be worried about a stranger slamming the door in their face but a person with whom they are intimately connected.

 They are to take into account their submission to God which requires submission to their husband, all of Proverbs 31, and they are to do all of this without fearing. Their actions everyday are not to be provoking but to seek to make their husband respected and to pour grace out even when they are faced with hurt. Their emotions are not to be the resource from which they draw their responses. It is to be God who they know hates divorce and has said that if their husband desires to stay with them, they are to do so. She is not to provoke or nag or pick at her husband and try to bring him to some understanding of his sin. She is NOT his Holy Spirit and an unbeliever does not have that understanding until God grants it. 

 Sometimes that means enduring a husband who is operating for his own purpose because he is not seeking God. Sometimes that means enduring hard times because she cannot submit to something that her husband has put before her because it oversteps her submission to God. In denying her husband, she needs to have much peace. Sometimes it may mean that she must confide in the church Body and the church should be prepared to step in and help. 

 The gray areas that lack are churches actively equipping and supporting women and men in these areas. Everything I have seen tiptoes so gently in the area of marriage to unbeliever because women are so sensitive about women who are being abused and like to throw that question out there as soon as these verses are approached. I think first we need to equip women then we need to answer questions like, "Do women need to confront their husbands when they are doing something wrong?" and if so, when is that and what does it look like? When you confront them and they get angry, what do you do? 

  My mind is settling in the area of being so studied in the Word that she seeks every moment to refer to it to know how to respond. If a husband is going to do something that will cause him dishonor or put him in a situation to break the law, then a wife should act to try to keep him from doing so if possible, like Abigail did for her husband Nabal. It may mean that you leave temporarily. It may mean that you bring in a mediator. It may mean keeping quiet. It NEVER means acting of fear or from feelings. 

  Gray areas are just as in need of light as those completely void of light.