Friday, May 22, 2009

Stony Soul, Thorny Flesh

I have this person in my life (a godly woman, at that) who is always commenting on women who have had multiple children at once, or like myself, has had many children in a short time frame. Her comments are of sympathy, yet they tend to take the "what a crazy woman" and "her life will never be the same" tone. For some odd reason, it has driven me bonkers to hear her say it. It is not encouraging statements to a girl who had 3 children in 3 1/2 years! And its the fact that this person seems to think their lives are only going to get worse. How sad I often think. Even she, who should know Christ enough to know better, is still missing IT. But wait...don't I miss IT too?!. And how so often I am just like this person, which is why I think God allowed it to erk me so badly. I am a die-hard, love the Lord with all I have kinda gal, and I find myself judging others situations and thinking to myself, "man, their life will never be the same." In that same tone I have heard from this particular person...and I start to examine myself. We get so hung up on logistics, facts, finances, and demands that we take things that are meant to be blessings and we make them into thorns. We forget that the Lord is Sovereign and He is ultimately in control.

When things don't go as we like, we immediately indulge in feelings of anger, resentment and frustration over the circumstances and we miss the point. God wants us to humble ourselves under his mighty hand. He wants us to believe that His ways are better than ours. But we get caught up in our world around us and we turn our eyes away from Jesus. They keep staring at the "problem" and we forget that God has a purpose for all of it. It is so hard to see what the Lord is doing through these "thorns" when all of our focus is on the pain and hardship. Some thorns are the child who just won't obey (I have a couple of those!) and some are for a an illness or a financial hardship. But I really believe God gives us these thorns to make us who He wants us to be. Trust me, I was not planning on having 3 children so quickly, but I have already seen God grow me through the demands of having 3 so close together.

Someone once told me that the removal of small stones which encumber fields does not always increase the crop. In fact they are an advantage because they attract moisture and radiate heat. Their was once an experiment where they removed all of the stones to improve the soil and they ultimately had to bring the stones back because the soil began to function so poorly. How often do we cry out to God and ask Him to remove the stones in our life. The thorns that hurt and cause us to be weak and tired. Sometimes, they even cause us to sin, to stumble and fall. But if we turn our eyes to Christ we see that sometimes it is better that they remain. So God can use them to make us into a richer, deeper, more nutrient soil.

Is it easy? No. But I would love to know where it says in the bible that life as a Christian would be easy, comfortable and safe. It sure sounds appealing, but the beauty of who God is tells us that we could not be the fruit-bearing people He wants us to be without hardships and pruning. And isn't that our ultimate goal, anyways? The goal is the journey to becoming more like Jesus. So I will bear my thorns with the strength that God gives me and I will remember that it is to become more like Jesus that matters. Although my eyes may wonder at times to the problem or overwhelming circumstance I will eventually remember that to Him be the glory for He knows that this is what I need to be WHO He needs me to be. And I will fix my eyes on Him when I find myself thinking, "Their life will never be the same," and my tone will sound different this time. One that reflects joy and hope and not discouragement or despair.

So to the Christians who see the circumstances instead of Jesus let us remember
2 Corinthians 12:10 "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults (I get lots of these as a pastor's wife who breaks the mold), persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Remind me of this when I am hurting, groaning with such pain it feels as if the Lord has turned His back on me. Remind me when one of my children is lost. Remind me of this when our finances remain so tight it feels as if we can't quite make it. Remind me of this when my eyes turn away from the Lord and to self. Remind me of this when I think the goal is comfort, ease and safety. Remind me of this when I see that person with difficult circumstances and think "man, their life will never be the same." Remind me that the stony soul and thorny flesh are what make me more like Jesus, and that my friend is my goal.

Until next time,


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