a plea for the Spirit when I’m tired

pexels-photo-573253.jpegThis is not going to be well edited. It’s late. And I’m tired.

Some days I’m just tired of bearing with the sins of others.

I know it’s ridiculously hypocritical because others are having to bear with my sins.  And I know God is faithful and doesn’t grow tired and does not give up when I do.  I know all this, but I need to write it out.  How should I deal with this?  There’s always just going to bed, which at this point is not a bad idea.

Getting tired of the sins of others happens with those you spend the most time with.  I get tired of my husband and kids more than anyone else because I see them, day in day out, warts and all. It’s no coincidence that the relationships between husband and wife, parent and child are the first to be specifically mentioned when the apostle Paul teaches the church about being filled with the Holy Spirit.

‘And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. ‘

Ephesians 5:17-21

Only the Spirit of God does not grow weary in doing good with people who aren’t good. But as one of those not-good people, I grow tired. And nights like tonight, when I want to throw in the towel (whatever that means), what I’m really saying is I need the rest that relying on God brings.

I don’t know how to pray, but the Spirit does.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:26 ESV

Every minute of every day it’s the Spirit I’m relying on to produce the endurance to love like Jesus.

Holy Spirit, I’m tired. Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and renew a right spirit within me, then I’ll be able to lead sinners in your ways and love like you love.  Revive me again Lord.  I’m going to sleep trusting you. Hoping in you. Depending on you.

Hope for moms raising kids against the odds

pexels-photo-934717.jpeg“No father-no family-no faith. Winning and keeping men is essential to the community of faith and vital to the work of all mothers and the future salvation of our children.” (Lowe, 2003).

I recently ran across this statement in an article born out of statistics gathered in Switzerland in the 1990’s. It’s not the first time I’ve heard such a conclusion. Mom’s like me, who are raising kids without their fathers leading them to Christ, hear messages like this intended to emphasize the impact of fathers in their children’s lives, and we wonder, “What about us? What is the hope for mothers raising children against the odds? How do we press on in faith raising our kids? Shall we fear the frightening conclusion that without the vital role of a godly father in their lives their future salvation is hopeless and give up?”

By no means!

No doubt, we need Christ-like men who will do as Paul charged and act like men, being watchful, strong, motivated by love, standing firm in their faith (1 Corinthians 16;13-14). We need them in our homes and churches. Without them, women and children suffer. Our kids need Jesus-loving fathers, but their hope for salvation does not rest on their dad’s faith or lack of it. The Bible points moms raising kids against the odds to the God who defies the odds in the lives of women like Jochebed, Moses’ mom.

Jochebed’s faith saved Moses’ life (Hebrews 11:23, Exodus 2:2). When the authorities said Moses would be killed, she saw his worth and hid him. Moms, we may not have ideal situations to raise our kids in, but their lives are worth saving! Jochebed’s godly refusal to obey Pharaoh is an example of where our ultimate allegiance must lie. Yes, we will be obedient citizens. Yes, by God’s grace we will be Christ-honoring wives, even if our husbands don’t believe. But we won’t hand our kids over to destruction or enable those in authority to do evil. Moms, look at this Image-of-God Bearer entrusted to you and don’t surrender to the odds. Stand firm in your faith! Do what you can to expose your kids to people who display life-giving, Christ-like examples. And if you can do nothing more, hide them and put your hope in God! Resist evil and do good in their lives while you can.

When Jochebed could no longer hide Moses from the evil edict intended to drown him, she committed him to God’s sovereignty by placing him in a little ark on the river. We commit our children to the good sovereignty of God in circumstances that feel like a statistical death sentence against them by dedicating our kids to Christ. We do this by putting them in the church where others, especially godly men, can teach them about Jesus along side us. Single moms, moms married to unbelievers, we need our local church! Men in the local church, we need you! We need you to show our sons and daughters what it looks like when a man follows Jesus and leads others to follow him too. We need you to be like Paul to our Timothys.

Jochebed committed her son to God on the river, and God entrusted Moses to Jochebed when Pharaoh’s daughter paid her to nurse him. Moms, whatever time you have with your kids, is time God has given you to feed them the gospel and display your genuine faith. I remember a very difficult time when I was alone, in a small apartment with a newborn at my breast and a toddler at my heels. The odds were against them, but God had given them to me. So, I did what I could. I filled their ears with songs, scripture and prayers. Through the years my sons have seen my sinfulness and heard me frequently confess I’m a sinner who needs a savior and that savior is Christ. Has it done any good? According to the odds it hasn’t. According to the statistics neither of my sons will believe.

Moses’ upbringing was not statistically favorable either.  Whatever age Moses was when his mother returned him to Pharaoh’s daughter, surely any statistics about Moses’ childhood would have destined him to be hopelessly lost to the Egyptian gods, wealth and power. But Jochebed’s hope for Moses wasn’t his favorable odds. If we start looking to the odds, we start setting up idols. God’s message to us in Jochebed’s story is this: Salvation for your kids is not by good circumstances or favorable odds. Salvation is a gift of our God’s miraculous grace. As Jochebed hoped in the God who rules rulers, guides rivers and gives beautiful children, we can hope in the God who placed children in our care.

Mothers, we need to put our hope in God, not the odds. And brothers, we need your servant-leadership to help us point our kids to Christ. Despite all that is against us let’s hear Jochebed’s witness and keep doing good, without fearing the frightening odds against us (1 Peter 3:6). If our children are ever going to trust and follow Christ it will be by the same grace that saved Moses, and us (Ephesians 2:8). We need to stand firm in our faith, even if our children’s fathers leave us in fearful circumstances. We need to plant ourselves and our kids in a local church. And we need to do what we can to feed our kids the gospel of Christ in our daily lives. The hope for our kids rests in the mercy of God, not our children’s fathers. Our hope is the promise that God is faithful to generations of those who love him (Deuteronomy 7:9). Our God is the God of Jochebed. He is Jesus who said, “With man it is impossible, but with God nothing will be impossible.” (Matthew 19:26).



My relationship with the Jesus I’ve never seen but love

pexels-photo-296282.jpegIf I was one of the disciples who followed Jesus while he walked on this planet, I would have been one he looked at and said, “Oh ye of little faith. Why do you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31, 6:30, 8:26, 16:8, 17:20).

My faith-relationship with this Jesus I’ve never seen but love (1 Peter 1:8), is overwhelmingly more held together by Jesus than it is by me. In fact, it’s totally held together by Jesus. If he let go, I would fall deep into the waters of unbelief and drown.

But he has me. Me of little faith. He has me like he had Peter. And like Peter I look at this Jesus in the Bible, out there walking on the stormy waters of my life, in total control, bringing me peace in the midst of my turmoil, building up our relationship by increasing my trust in him, and I get a rush of faith. I believe him. I know that I know that I know that he’s got this. I trust him so much in those moments that I ask him to let me walk out there with him, in the miraculous place of not be ruled by my circumstances.

He smiles. Glad I asked. Says, “Come out here daughter!”

I climb out of my safe little boat- sleeping in, to-do lists, schedules, meal plans, exercise routines, Bible devos…all the things I do to try and keep some order and safety in the midst of the troubling waters that threaten to destroy. Those dark waves of depression, hard marriage, challenging teenagers, pressures from outside and pressures from within engulf me. All the time. And it’s good to have a boat to keep those things from ruining. But it’s even better to walk where Jesus is, with all that threatens under his feet.

I start making my way to Jesus. I choose prayer over a little extra sleep. I choose meditations on scripture before I plow into my to-do list. I choose words of life over criticism and jabs when I feel hurt. But most days, just a few seconds into those steps of faith I realize, “I’m walking on water! I’m trusting in someone I have no control over!” And I start to doubt. “He might let me sink!  I can’t handle all these hopeless attacks that come with depression. I can’t make my husband love Jesus with me. I can’t make my sons want to follow Jesus for themselves. I can’t handle all these pressures in life…. I can’t!” And just like that, I’m under water, struggling to come up for air.

Disoriented by the waves of my hopeless, unbelieving thoughts, I kick my legs, push water with my arms, trying with all my might to find my way to the surface. And there I feel his warm, strong hand in the cold, violent waters grabbing my flailing arms, pulling me with his steady strength to the surface. There, drenched in unbelief, I cling grateful to this Jesus I’ve never seen.

The metaphor of me, walking on water with Jesus, and sinking in fear and doubt, plays out in my day to day.

The other day, I woke up late after working three long twelve hour shifts at the hospital, hurried to wake my teenage son, and went about my morning routine at a faster clip. In thirty minutes or less I read the Bible verse of the day on my phone, made my son a quick breakfast to-go, slipped on some shoes and drove him to school in the dark. We drove in silence while I prayed for words of life to speak to my strong-willed son who’s been resisting boundaries since he found out how to escape his crib at 11 months of age. None came to mind.

We pulled up in silence to the high-school at the coldest point in the morning, when the sun’s light just begins to drive out the darkness. “Ok, I’ll see you this afternoon at your game son. I love you.” He mumbled, “Thanks mom” climbed out of the car, threw his backpack over his shoulder and made his way into the institution that will not teach him about this Jesus I’ve never seen but love. I sighed a pleading prayer and started driving home.
On my way back home burning tears welled up, my throat tightened, I felt like I couldn’t breath. I was sinking. “How will he ever believe?! What if he never believes?! Why can’t I think of any life-giving things to say to him? I’m doing nothing for him…” And then I felt the strong grip of God’s faithfulness yank me out of my faithlessness. The remembrance of God’s sovereignty in the stories of Joseph’s betrayal, Moses’ call, Ruth’s redemption, Daniel’s answered prayers… and Peter’s restoration came to mind. And my tears flowed with thankfulness. This Jesus I’ve never seen whispered to my heart, “Oh you of little faith. Why do you doubt? Remember who I am. Remember what I’ve done.”

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you out of slavery to your sin. I am the one that made you able to want me in the first place. I am the one who gave life to your body and made you born from above. I am the one who took out your heart of stone and gave you a tender heart to love me. I am the one who teaches you and guides you and will never leave you or forsake you. I am the one who began this good work in you and I will be faithful to complete it. I am the one who invites you to bring your children to me. I am the one hears your prayers and gives good gifts. I am God. Nothing is impossible for me!”

This is everyday real life for me as a Christian. I heard the old old story. I believed it. And now everyday I go about my daily life with a heart that beats with tender-love for this Jesus I’ve never seen, and the people he’s put around me. But I forget so easily what He’s done for me. I forget that He’s the one who made my hope in him possible in the first place. And I start to sink. Even still I’ve found he’s always there, pulling me out of death into life, over and over and over again. This history I have with this Jesus I’ve never seen but love is proving to me that not only did I believe in him in the first place because he miraculously gave me a heart to have affections for him, but every day I will only continue to believe in him because his strong arm is holding me.

Jesus saved me. He saves me daily. He’s my hope for waking up tomorrow and still trusting him. He’s my hope for the human-impossibility that my husband and sons will see his worth and love him. For with us it’s impossible. But with God, nothing will be impossible. He will keep holding our relationship together until I see him one day face to face. And then, oh finally then, I’ll never sink in the waters of unbelief again.