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Posts Tagged ‘God’s faithfulness’

Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on
how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and one theory: Love them,
especially when they least deserve to be loved.
-Kate Samperi

 

 “I hate you and can’t wait to move out!  You’re horrible parents.”

The palpable ache in my chest grew more pronounced as each word penetrated the most vulnerable places within.  How could my son –now nearly grown–regard us with such disdain and lack of respect?  Hadn’t we loved him?  Cared for him?  Prayed over him?

While teenage angst and resentment play a role in my son’s attitude, there is something much more significant at the core of his hostility.  What? Simply a heart of rebellion.  A heart that prefers to go its own way–regardless of consequences.

And how I want to rescue my boy!  My arms are held out awaiting his embrace, but instead I receive the lash of hurtful insults.  Rather than allowing me to sooth the hurts masked by “grown-up” bravado, my son turns the other direction…away from his family, away from his values, and away from the God he knew as a child.

Oh, what a painful place to be as a parent!  Yet, I know the Lord understands.  Again and again God’s chosen people deserted the faithful One to chase after gods made of stone or to indulge the limited pleasures of sin.  They left their Father.  And the lesson of love in all of this?  Despite the frustration and emotional turmoil, I must be faithful to my son–in my prayers, my actions, and expectations.

God does no less for me.

Scripture for Reflection

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  (Luke 15:3-7)

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
Deuteronomy 7:8-10

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Prayers for Prodigals by James Banks

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She grew up in a small town on the wrong side of the tracks, got pregnant before she was married, faced the possibility of a divorce, and endured the disdain of all who knew her—and later, all who knew her son.  Yes-I’m referring to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

During Mary’s time and according to Jewish custom, little girls were betrothed to be married at about twelve or thirteen years of age.  This was the first “stage” of marriage.  At the end of the year, the young woman moved from her parent’s home to that of her fiancé and they fulfilled their wedding vows.

Roll back the clock for just a moment.  Imagine your middle-school-self in Mary’s sandals.  Life is a little confusing.  You’re wearing braces, have a lot of bad hair days, and the cute boy you have a crush on likes your best friend.  Besides, your parents are always in your business!  But, Mary had a much different perspective than I would have.  She wasn’t worried about fitting in or what everyone thought of her.   How do I know?  Just take a look at Luke 1 (NLT):

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you![d]

 29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel[e] forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

 34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.[f]

And what was this little girl’s reply?

38 And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”  (American Standard Version)

Now, the Biblical translation of the word “handmaid” is doulos—slave.  Mary was giving up her own will to that of her Master and declaring her allegiance to him unto death.   She might have died because at the time women were stoned for having sex outside of marriage.  Who would believe Mary’s crazy story?  This young lady was pregnant with the Christ?  Right—as if God would ever bless a pregnant teenager and a baby  conceived out-of-wedlock.

But guess what?  He did.  God grew something beautiful out of Mary’s submissiveness.  He gave her a son—and not just any son, but His son.

What, then, do we learn from Mary?   My friends, when God allows the unexpected in our lives; when we are parenting our children and can’t imagine how things will work out for the best; that is when we need to be like Mary and take the second step by submitting our hearts to Him for “nothing is impossible with God”.

So, our first two steps toward relying on God when parenting alone—and anytime– are to:

  1.  Call out to him in our distressWhen we face the wilderness…when we are wandering…when we are alone in the desert with our children… then we call out to him for he is El Roi the Father to our little ones.  (See previous post)
  2. Submit our hearts to HimGod will and does use the unexpected for His glory when we are willing to live our lives for Him.

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One mid-September evening is etched indelibly in my mind.  My two preschool aged sons and I were hunched under the stairs in a closet made to accommodate nothing more than a vacuum cleaner and a few jackets.  Trying to forget the swaying of the house, Ben, Connor and I imagined we were pirates tossed about by the fiercest of storms.  “Lower the main sail!” one shouted.  “Aye, aye, cap’n.”  The children, delighted by our game, were momentarily distracted from the real danger screaming outside our front door.  Hurricane Floyd had crossed the threshold from sea to land, poised to lay waste to all of Hampton Roads, Virginia.  “Will these walls protect us tonight?” I wondered.  “Is the foundation solid enough ?”  Only time would tell.

As Christ taught, a house built on shifting sand can’t stand because it lacks a foundation.  In other words, my faith is only as strong as my spiritual foundation.  Without the stability of a solid foundation, I tend to suffer damage and, occasionally, even crumble when surrounded by life’s storms.    Such inattention usually results in my faith requiring a major overhaul.  The foundation needs to be stabilized or renovated.  But, where to begin when my relationships, finances or health are lying in a shambles?

Simply on my knees.

I have to choose to take my eyes off the storm and direct them heavenward.  Otherwise, I begin to doubt God’s love or his reasons for allowing a tempest to crash into my life.  I feel my spiritual foundation begin to crumble and then, like the disciples, my preoccupation with self and fear results in a desperate plea, “Lord, don’t you care if I drown?”  (Mark 4:38 NIV)  But, when I turn the focus away from myself and toward Him, I can look beyond the storm knowing that at his command, the wind and waves will be quieted.

When I meet alone with God and lay my burdens down, I discover a place of shelter and calm—a respite from the tumult.  Doesn’t the promise of such a place encourage your heart?

Scripture for Reflection

“Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!”   Psalm 116:2

Lord, help me to entrust all of my life to you today knowing that you can quiet my heart even if you don’t quiet the storm.

 

 

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“I don’t understand, Lord!”  These words  have been part of my inner dialogue, prayers, and conversations for at least the last week–and, really, for almost a year–as my children have been impacted by all sorts of struggles.

There have been spiritual issues.  My parents are just old-fashioned and out of touch.  God gets that I want to live my life before I commit to Him.

There have been academic issues.  Mrs. Kennington, we just don’t see the growth we expected. 

There have been emotional issues.  Temper tantrums at HIS age?  Tsk!  Tsk! 

Through all of it, God has reminded me that He sees the beginning from the end.  He is sovereign.  He is merciful.  And how have I responded?  Sometimes with worry or depression.  Often with frustration and anger.  And, just this week–I admit I’ve even neglected the God who has always proven Himself faithful.

Why?  Because I have an attitude disorder.  When things don’t go my way or according to my plan, I begin to think something is wrong.  I pout.  I whine.  I shake my fist at God and question His wisdom.  Isn’t that foolish?  Unfortunately, it’s an inherited human trait–this “I Did It My Way” mantra–and, it always proves false.  Even faithful believers like Abraham (Genesis 16; 17), Lot (Genesis 19:23-26), and Moses (Numbers 20:1-12) occasionally developed this kind of “stinkin’ thinkin” and  it definitely didn’t work for them.  Why would I ever assume it’d be effective for me?

If you’ve ever taken a dim view of God’s work in your life or the lives of those you love, you understand what I’m talking about.

Praise God for His bountiful grace!  Because once again, I’m kneeling at His throne asking for humility…wisdom…perseverance…forgiveness.  If you, too, have an attitude disorder then I welcome you to join me.  There’s a lot of room at the foot of the King.

 

 

 

 

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