Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Six Words or Less

AARP did something right this month – one of the articles in their magazine told of Ernest Hemingway’s being challenged to tell a story in only six words. He came back with, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

That was the introduction to a new feature of the magazine inviting readers to tell their life stories in six words or less, with the best to be published each month.

Got me to thinking. How would I describe my life in six words or less? Maybe this: Sixty-five, Not Through, More Adventures! Or: Daughtering, Wife-ing, Mothering, Granmama-ing, Great-gran-ing, Gone. (The great-grans are only a dream right now, but I hope to have gobs.)

Kind of pares us down to the bare essentials, doesn’t it, trying to cram years of emotions, activities, words and thoughts – LIVING - into a few puny words?

Which expressions would you chose, or make up, to describe your marriage? Mine might be: battle scars, blessings-covered, hilarious, merged. Or I could say: green partners, greener parents, God-rescued!

What about a child of yours?
Your outlook on life would call for what terms? Your habits?
Your housekeeping? (snicker)
Your cooking – or lack thereof? (more snickers)

Describing children should be easier than other subjects; think of them in certain situations that bring out the finer points of their personalities, such as, coaxing him or her into the 2-year-old Bible class. Or saying prayers at bedtime. Of course, there’s always the teen-age years. I would frame one of our off-spring this way: melodramatic, incredibly discerning, artistic, inconsistent, persistent. Another could be, Slightly irreverent, skilled, prankish, compassionate, reserved.

Now for the hard assessment – oneself. My outlook on life? Which day? Sometimes this would describe me: Focused/ unfocused, organized/ disorganized, full/empty. Contradictory. Other days, when I allow more of Jesus in me, I hope these words fit: New nature! God’s power! Jesus’ warrior!

I’m not going into the housekeeping and cooking. I’ve wasted enough of your time already, and I don’t want to resort to even minor falsehoods.

Try this exercise – see what it reveals to you about your life.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Centering on Jesus

How can I, as a woman, find satisfaction and joy in my walk with the Lord?

I can tell you this: the direction and focus of our thoughts have everything to do with living joyfully in Jesus Christ. When we let anything sneak in to steal the place the Lord himself should occupy in our thinking; when our minds are captured and seduced by any issue, person or objective, then we stumble, looking to the right and left, instead of being fastened unswervingly on Jesus. Letting my mind visit, then rent an apartment in the wrong neighborhood can incite discontent, dissatisfaction and resentment. And guess what? I ultimately end up focusing on – yep, ME.

What should I allow to capture me? Not what, ladies, but Whom!! Just as surely as I train my energies on a what, then just as surely I will be distracted from the most important theme of my life: Jesus Christ the Savior. Let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. Let us look only to Jesus… (Heb 12:1, 2).

Real joy will never result from centering on those things we’re unhappy about. How old were you when you began to suspect the church family wasn’t perfect? Your suspicions were well-founded; we, the church, are most imperfect. How shall we handle that fact? Decide that perceived or even genuine injustices or boundaries will prevent us from growing in the Lord? Withdraw; get interested in something else? Become resentful and lash out at every opportunity? Launch a one-woman campaign to correct those imperfections?

Do you really think our Lord will allow us to go without anything we must have in order to become the people He wants? Was David really serious when, in Ps. 23:1, he declares that our Shepherd will supply our every need? Is Scripture truthful when it says we have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3)? Every one, Lord? What could possibly be more wonderful than this fact: God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace. And he raised us up with Christ and gave us a seat with him in the heavens. He did this for those in Christ Jesus so that for all future time he could show the very great riches of his grace by being kind to us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-7).

Isn’t the honor given to us of being raised from death and seated with Jesus in heaven awesome enough to make up for the omissions, the glitches, the immaturities in every church family?

The church is imperfect. Does that prevent me from loving the Lord my God with everything I have and loving my neighbor as myself? Does that hold me back from laying down my life for another? Does that seal my lips so that I cannot tell the gospel story?

God’s power to realize his purposes through you and me is not blocked by what other people do or refuse to do. The One who fashioned Eve is not scratching his head, stymied about how to use you beautifully because others won't cooperate. Nobody - nothing - can hinder Jesus putting fruit on my branches if I am ingrafted into him.

I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing … by this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.