All of It and More

IMG_5748I have started no less than three blogs this week.   I have thought of about fifteen I want to write.  Time has been limited so I had hoped yesterday would be the day to put words to page, but God had different plans.

I spent the day at the hospital with my mom.  It is so very reminiscent of my time at this very hospital with my dad 2 years ago.  Thankfully, I do not believe my mom is in a life threatening situation, but it is heart breaking to be here.

I’m back here again today and will be again tomorrow.

And I’m torn because while I’m here my children are home.  I’m so thankful for my big kids who continually step up and help.  This time it has been my oldest daughter who has been simply amazing.  She very rarely complains about helping me…in fact, I can’t think of a time she has.

For the past several months she has been sharing a room with her 7 and 8 year old sisters, and she hasn’t complained.  How is that possible?  What a wonderful young woman!

Actually all my children rock!  Truly.  They step up without complaint in so many situations.  I’m so very blessed.

This hospital visit has provided time to be still.  I’ve had so much on my heart and mind this week.

And God has brought me to Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Sometimes God’s word just hits me…like a cool breeze on a hot day or a soft wave rushing over my feet at the beach.  There are other times when His word whacks me a bit more like the proverbial 2×4…but this time, it has been a gentle touch…a welcome hug.

What hits me most is the phrase “able to do immeasurably more” – that word immeasurably is one I can’t really wrap my brain around.

Immeasurably more.

It makes me wonder (again) why I can’t seem to rest in the knowledge that God is able.  GOD. IS. ABLE.

He isn’t just able…He is more than able.

I’m actually not sure what more than able means.  It’s like that phrase in Romans 8:37 more than conquerors – what does that even mean?

Although more than a conqueror I think I kind of understand…I think maybe it means that God doesn’t just make us the victor, He gives us the blessings of victory.  Like when the Israelites were freed from Egypt, He inclined the Egyptians to give them things so they began their journey with provisions.  They won freedom and provision.

Maybe more than able means that God is able and willing.

But that begs the questions, “Then why doesn’t He always fix things?”

Willing doesn’t seem like the right word, but I think it is.  It doesn’t seem right because when I think of willing I think that it means that if God is willing He should make it happen.  Just getterdone.

But I believe a better way to describe it is that God is willing to always do what is absolutely best.  Best based on His divine, omniscient, sovereign wisdom – not my limited, worldly wisdom (if that can even be called wisdom).

Good gravy!  I’ve ended up yet again at the issue of trust.

I have to trust that God’s ability and willingness to work in my life are always going to be based on what He knows, not what I know.

That’s a good thing, but hard to accept at times.  I feel like I know my situation so well.  I feel like I’m pretty sure I have a good idea of what would be best.

But then again, I take forever to make a decision and then spend most of the rest of the time second-guessing myself. So being confident in my understanding of my situation is kind of silly.  Thinking I have the ability to make the best decisions is not exactly my standard operating procedure.  Why in the world do I question God’s ability and willingness to work in my life…to work perfectly in my life?

I’ll tell you why…because it doesn’t look perfect to me.  Not perfect AT ALL!

My life feels so less than perfect…ugh.

Actually I don’t even need perfect, I would settle for uncomplicated.

Yes, uncomplicated…simple, straightforward, unfussy, easy.

Unfussy.  I love that word!  Man, can I be fussy!

Maybe the change I need is not an unfussy life, but an unfussy me?!

Maybe if I get my brain around “GOD IS ABLE” things will look  less complicated.  Maybe if I can begin to grasp that God is able to do immeasurably more…exceedingly abundantly, infinitely more, above and beyond, far exceedingly beyond all that we ask or imagine.  Those were just some of the versions I found.

What has all of a sudden struck me is that it isn’t just what we ask – it is what we don’t even ask…those things that I just think, dream, hope for, wish for, envision, and imagine.

God knows me so well, He knows all that I hope for and all that I imagine…and He cares about it all.

I read this in the Matthew Henry’s Commentary
3:20, 21 It is proper always to end prayers with praises. Let us expect more, and ask for more, encouraged by what Christ has already done for our souls, being assured that the conversion of sinners, and the comfort of believers, will be to his glory, for ever and ever.

And all of a sudden, my perspective has changed, yet again.

I know that the words in Ephesians 3:20-21 are meant as more than just a comfort for me as an individual.  They are meant to encourage us that Jesus has already done more than all we can ask or think…who would have ever thought to ask God for Him to sacrifice His Son for their salvation?  Who would have imagined that God would be willing to do anything to save us?

And yet, He did.

He already did it!  I didn’t even have to think about it or imagine it.

While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me! (Romans 5:8)

Oh my goodness!  I think my lightbulb just went on!

I get it!  Again, God brings us back to the gospel.  That God is able thing…it’s not just about my life, my nitty-gritty, my fears, my dreams, my hopes, my prayers…it’s about it all!  It’s about life.  It’s about salvation!

It’s about Jesus!

He is so good!  To remind me again that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead…that the same God who created me and watches me do dumb stuff constantly…that same God decided on a rescue plan for me, for us all… He willingly put it into motion…He made it happen because HE IS ABLE!

He is able to save to the utmost!  He is able to completely save.  He is able to forgive and redeem and sanctify and perfect!

Sometimes I think I’m quite able to do what needs to be done, but Jesus has proven that some things (all things) are done better by Him.

He was able to save me when I couldn’t.

He is able to forgive me when I can’t.

He is able in all the ways I am not.

He is able in all the ways I think I am.

He is able in every way to do all that I can’t even imagine or think.

Our Savior is so good…so good!

I’m so thankful for this time, even if it is sitting in a hospital room.  I’m so thankful for a moment to ponder things.  I’m so thankful for my Lord.  I’m so thankful for hope.

Whenever God brings me back to the gospel, I have renewed hope wash over me.  If He is able to save me, He is able to do it all!

All of it and more!

And Then There’s Me…

ImageThis single parenting thing is so difficult.   I get confused by all the different situations, personalities, struggles, and issues of my children.  I can’t seem to get my feet under me on any of them!

And then there’s me.

I think I might actually be more confused by my issues, struggles, emotions, and stresses than I am by any of my children’s.

I’m a mess.

Sometimes people are offended when I say that.  They want to correct me and say I shouldn’t say that.

That I shouldn’t be that.

That I should get my act together.

That I should be past the emotions…that’ll be a God-sized task!

That I should get out of the pit, but I’m not in a pit…life is just challenging right now.

That I should just put my big girl pants on already…Yeah…well, my big girl pants are on, believe me.

They don’t fit comfortably…they are sometimes too tight, sometimes too loose, sometimes too itchy, sometimes too stiff, sometimes too soft, sometimes the tag rubs wrong, sometimes they are on backwards and sometimes they are inside-out.  But they are on.  Dang it.

I think I’d like to say this…ITS OKAY TO BE A LITTLE BIT OF A MESS!!!

God didn’t say that I’d be perfect here…God didn’t say that life would be all neat and tidy…God didn’t say that people would act properly and not be mean…God didn’t say that everything would work out if I followed a certain set of rules or criteria…actually God said kinda the opposite…

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I looked up trials, tribulation and trouble in the back of my Bible and they pretty much seem like a given.  BUT God does not leave us in these troubles.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, thought the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.  Psalm 46:1-3

 And these trials have a purpose.  A good purpose…

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trails of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

Perfect, complete, lacking nothing…sounds pretty good.  Perfect is a pretty daunting word, but in this verse it does not mean being sinless.  It refers to our spiritual maturity.

“The testing of our faith drives believers to deeper communion and great trust in Christ – qualities that in turn produce a stable, godly, and righteous character.”  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary)

That’s totally who I want to be…stable, godly, righteous, not wobbly, messy, and self-centered.

And then I read about Paul…Paul who suffered mightily on this earth and begged God to take away his thorn, shared openly about his struggles…Paul, who had a passion for the Lord that I long for, shared how He wrestled with things…like sin and  circumstances that were by no means ideal.

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that swells in my members.  Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.  Romans 7:19-25

BUT THE NEXT VERSE IS AWESOME!!!

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1

After Paul shares of his struggles with sin, he reminds us and himself, that because of Jesus we are not condemned!  How beautiful!

When I share my struggles, like Paul I want to point me (and you) back to Jesus.  Because let’s face it, we all struggle with something.  How much better if we could share our struggles and our victories in order to encourage and bless one another without receiving any condemnation!

It would be such a monumental thing if we as the Body of Christ could be open and share without condemnation.  If we could choose to walk alongside one another through our struggles and the battles we fight in order to share the victories!

And there will be victories because the battle is the Lord’s!

Although I’m okay with sharing it, I’d really like to not be a mess.  I’d really like to get my act together.

But God is showing me that getting my act together isn’t really what I think it is.

I tend to think if I could just get a full-night sleep that would help, maybe some exercise, a well-ordered house, some children that actually do what I ask/tell them to do…you know, basically the perfect life…then I wouldn’t be a mess.

But life is messy.  And people are messy.  And relationships are messy.  And circumstances are messy.

And God tells us we will have trouble in this world…but He also says that we aren’t to fear it.

He has never been nor will he ever be surprised or overwhelmed by trouble, trials or messiness.

He isn’t done with me because I’m a mess.  He loves me always, completely, relentlessly.

When God looks at me He doesn’t see my mess (thankfully!), He sees Jesus’ perfection.

And maybe something positive we could do is remind ourselves again of who we are in Christ.  I’ve not done this before, but I’m going to share a bit from my book.  This morning I prayed and asked God to show me what to write today…there is so much I long to share.  And He has laid it heavily on my heart to share:

“Next, I want you to really take a look at yourself, your amazing survivor self.  Remind yourself of who you are or can be in Christ.  When my oldest was a little boy, I taught his Sunday school class, and we memorized this verse:  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!”  (1 John 3:1)

I always thought that was one of the best verses to memorize.  That word lavished is such a wonderful description of how God pours His love on us.  It isn’t a small amount, just enough to get us through the day.  It isn’t a decent amount that comforts us when things go badly.  He gives us limitless love.  There is no end to His love for us.

The chapter goes on to say that we know this is love because “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (verse 16).  My friend, God doesn’t just say He loves you; He demonstrated that love when, on the cross, He rescued you from your sin:  “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ESV).  How valuable you are in His sight!

God knows you and loves you.  “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. [So] fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7 ESV).  To all of us who believe in His name, “he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).  You are chosen, rescued, and forgiven because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:9-10).

I long for all of us to understand what Jesus has done for us.  We didn’t do anything worthy of His good opinion.  And yet Christ still died for us.  He knew our tendencies, our temptations, and our sins, and He still loved us enough to die for us.  He still loves us enough to die for us.  And He didn’t choose us just because we were all cute and adorable.  He chose us when we were all dirty, smelly, and rebellious.  He loves us even when we feel unlovable. 

Allow Him to “quiet you with his love” (Zephaniah 3:17), to calm your anxious thought, and to assure you that regardless of how you’re feeling or what you’re going through at this moment, you are dearly loved.

(“When Happily Ever After Shatters: Seeing God in the Midst of Divorce and Single Parenting, 112-113)

We might feel like messes, but when God looks at us He sees His precious child.  We might be uncomfortable with our mess, our children’s messes and the messes of others, but God isn’t.

He is willing and able to walk us through the mess.  He will stick with us.  All that He asks is that we trust Him.

Trust Him with our hurting, exhausted selves.  Trust Him with our children.  Trust Him with our circumstances.  Trust Him with our messiness.

I have known God to be faithful.  Another quote (sorry):

“Practically speaking, God obviously wasn’t doing my dishes for me or dealing with my sticky counters, but His presence gave me strength to face each task, whether tedious or terrifying. 

There are particularly difficult times in our lives when we completely understand that God is our strength.  We realize that it isn’t about coping with a situation; it’s about living in God’s strength.  It’s a surprisingly exquisite and painful place to be.”  (p. 24)

Dearest, trust God to take care of you.  You will be amazed at what wonderful stuff He can bring out of our messes!