Friday, January 22, 2016

Submit....if you dare.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:22-28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

       If you ever wanted to stir the pot, present the above verses to someone- just about anyone. The first reaction I hear from people is something negative about submission. In our culture, we want to be leaders, and strong ones too. Submission is for the weak, and the ones who are spineless. We are all about women's rights and being equal to men. We are so set on proving that we can be more than merely submissive, that we have lost what these verses are talking about. We tend to shut down and start thinking of arguments as soon as we hear the word 'submit'.

       We are losing our identity as women, and the unique creatures God made us. In a world where the difference between genders is becoming more and more blurred, we need to define ourselves as God would define us. Don't misunderstand me. I don't mean that to be a woman you must wear flowers, and sip tea from delicate cups while being the picture of gracefulness. We have our own unique personalities, and I understand that. I personally, enjoy power tools, working in the dirt, and strong coffee. This, however, doesn't mean I'm less of a woman, and any less accountable to submit to my husband.   

       Now before you get fired up and start writing angry things in the comments, hear me out. First, let's look at these verses. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Wow! The depth of love that they are commanded to love us with! The guys are being given a pretty high standard here. Christ loves His bride so much, that he gave his life for it! Husbands may not always show the love they are called to, but we aren't perfect on our end either. They are not being given permission to belittle, harm or look down upon their wives. I think we often picture a husband degrading, commanding, and belittling when we think of submission. Yet, this is not the way God intended it to be. Submission also doesn't mean sitting quietly in a corner with your head hung down, and having no voice of your own. However, one must have humility, self-control, and kindness to submit. It involves listening, praying, and being servant-minded. Submission is a choice, a privilege, an honor. I truly believe that. It is meant to be an act of love. 

       Believe it or not we are all submitting to something already. What?!? But you're so not the submissive type, right? We might be submitting to sin or selfish wants without realizing it. We submit to Christ or the world. We are to submit to our husbands, but we are both to submit to Christ. Men and women alike, are to submit (there's that pesky word!) to God. Should we not submit to the Lord? Should we not yield to His will? We don't like the idea of yielding to anyone or anything. We want freedom, and we want it now. We are patriotic, and believe that all people have the right to be free, and they do. Yet, none of us are truly free unless we submit to Christ. If we don't we are slaves to sin. We are all submitting to something, and a servant of a cause, even if we don't acknowledge it. Consider these verses:

 "What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[a] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
Romans 6:15-23 ESV

      I think the majority of us can safely say that we indeed want to submit to Christ. So, when it comes to submission to husbands, why do we get hung up on it? I firmly believe that it is our culture. It is viewed in such a negative light that the positives are drown out. Yielding to the will of our husbands, does not make us lesser Christians. We are equal in our Christianity. 

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭3:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    We are all equal in the fact that all are equally able to receive God's mercy and Grace. Women don't receive less grace, or a smaller reward for faithfulness. God's love covers us all equally. 

    There is great beauty to be found in submission. God made me a very strong (can you say STUBBORN??) woman, and learning to yield to my husband (or anyone for that matter) and allowing him to truly be the head of our household, has been a hard-learned lesson. I want to control things, and assert my opinion over his. Oh, I still give my opinion, and as a wonderful leader of the house (and amazingly patient man), my husband takes into careful consideration the things I've said. Usually we reach a decision together, but occasionally, I have to yield my will to his and trust that God is leading him to make the right choices for our family. Ultimately, submitting to our husbands is equipping us to submit to God. Very rarely, I strongly disagree with his decision, I go over his head and bring my petition before God. If my husband doesn't move, I have to have faith that God has His reasons, and things will work out. 

   I've come to learn that submission isn't for the weak. Rather, it is quite the opposite. It takes a strong woman to yield. To go against the norm in our society, and be viewed as taken advantage of, unintelligent, and ignorant, is tough. It takes a lot of faith, and humility. God has given us a wonderful opportunity to shine in this. We can take this task and use it to learn how to better serve our Lord and submit to His will. We can still serve in unnumbered ways, without being a man (A topic to be covered in a later post?). We can encourage, love and be a helper to our husbands, so that they can fulfill their role in God's kingdom. What a responsibility we have! I want to be like my Lord and be a helper to all I meet, but especially my husband. I was made for this.(Gen. 2:18) What a privilege to be his helper. God designed things the way he did for a reason. Perhaps it's time we put our faith in His design. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Thought on Prayer

          I have blogged about prayer a few times before. I really can't believe how often we overlook and under utilize this amazing gift. Prayer works, plain and simple. It heals, helps, and guides. It's not the prayers themselves, no. It is the one we are praying to and through that is the action behind the words.

          Some time ago I jotted down a poem about prayer. It was one of those things that just seems to come straight from your heart, without hesitation. I would like to share my poem with you now, and hope it touches your heart in some way. 

      One night I lay upon my bed,
speaking my prayer within my head.
    Letting thoughts wander and fall,
forgetting that I was speaking to God at all. 

      Snapping back to my unfinished prayers,
 I was so weary from the day with all of its cares. 
      I was too tired to speak aloud my praise
to the one that has numbered all of my days. 

      Unable to focus on what my mind tried to speak, 
without even knowing it, I drifted to sleep. 

      I saw before me a man on his knees, 
weeping and praying and begging, 'Lord, please'. 
      I thought to myself of how nice it must be, 
to have a life so easy and simply just free. 
      For how else could this man get down this way, 
Unless he had nothing better to do with his day.

       My heart was too cold to hear the words that he spoke.
   Then I looked in his eyes and his heart just...broke. 
      A friend kissed his cheek and he was soon led away, 
I started to realize who I'd just seen pray. 

     He walked to a place where he was beaten and scourged.
His flesh was torn up as he lay on the floor. 
    Then I saw him hanging on that crude, man-made tree, 
gasping, bleeding, dying, and..... Praying.....for me. 

     I fell to the ground and wept bitter tears, 
 angry with myself for all my past selfish years.
     My savior prayed with all of his heart,
my prayers were sad, broken and falling apart. 

      I rolled over and awoke, lying in my bed, 
where I'd fallen asleep during the prayer I'd said. 
        I got out of bed, and knelt on the floor, 
Praying for forgiveness and so much more. 

      So, now before I crawl into my bed, 
and let thoughts of the day start flooding my head, 
       I get on my knees and speak to my Lord. 
After all, isn't it only part of what Christ died for?

Prayer is such a privilege. As busy or hard as we say our lives are, I truly believe that we make time for what is important. If we don't have the time for our Lord, maybe we need to step back and look at what we ARE making time for. 

      My heart is convicted to be better in my prayer life. Join me, and let us praise our God everyday, and approach his throne with humble hearts. 

                                                                                                           Love, Sarah


Saturday, January 2, 2016

An open letter to right wrongs.

Dear people in my past (both distant and  recent),

          I'm so sorry. I'm sorry that I let my pride get in the way. I'm sorry that I hurt you. Even if I don't know that I did, or if I was too stubborn to admit my faults. If I've done anything to taint your view of what a good Christian should be, have mercy.

          I come to you today tired of my mistakes and realizing that, I'm human, and fall short. I am a work in progress. I will be until the day I die. I will trip, and stumble. On my way down I may reach to catch myself and end up giving you a black eye.

        With my birthday quickly approaching, I reflect back on the time that has passed. I realize I've not been the best I could've been. At times, I've been deplorable.  My apologies to you for any wrongs I've committed against you. By God's grace and mercy, I've found my path.

        Pride is a great tool of Satan. It goes hand in hand with justification. Oh, the dangers of being able to justify anything and everything! Humans are experts in the area, are we not?? At times I've told myself that I shouldn't apologize because it was your fault. Or I hadn't really done anything wrong. There is also the classic, "I'll just stop talking to you and pretend it didn't happen". I can be a coward!

        I also owe apologies for, poking my nose where it didn't belong, judging, being stubborn (not in a good way), and letting you down. I've been immature and impatient. I have misjudged your motives, been cynical, and honestly been afraid to let you get close and open up to you.

         I'm trying my best to follow Gods plans for my life and realize that He really does know what he's doing and doesn't need my "help".  I apologize for being who I was. I'm changing though, and always striving to be moving in a God-ward direction. God really can take the biggest disasters and polish them up and make them beautiful and useful. I'm learning what it means to fully commit.

          So here it is, staring you in the face. I'm asking you to forgive me. I learned a couple of years back, when someone hurts us, the hurt is ours. We must choose what to do with it. We cannot sit and wait for an apology. The hurt is ours to make into something healing or something destructive. I've forgiven the ones that have hurt me. I feel convicted to extend an open apology to those I may have hurt.

           I'm placing my heart out here for you. I want to be more like my Lord everyday. I want you to see that I stumble, but also that God's grace picks me up and I move forward.


Friday, January 1, 2016

This day.

                                                 This day. If I can make it through THIS day.

 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own troubles." Matthew 6:34 ESV

        Life is a complex series of twists, turns, surprises, disappointments, joys and troubles. Anyone out there feel your chest get tight or that sinking feeling in your stomach if you try to think beyond today? I do. I try hard to apply the above verse to my life.

        There have been days when my worries have taken me all the way into my children's adulthood! I have to snap myself out of it and remember that the bible tells me I can't accomplish ANYTHING good by worrying.  (Luke 12:25) Nope. Notta. Nothin'. Zilch. Zero. Zip.

         Events in my life have underscored the above truths. Worry is a poison. It is what I like to call a "justifiable sin"in our world. Not that it's truly justified, but we've made it socially acceptable. Shame on us. We are becoming more and more acclimated to our own standards rather than God's. We worry about every little thing. It's interesting that in a world so full of technology, it only seems to multiply the things we can worry about! We live in a world of information overload.

        I'm actually learning (slowly) how great of a peace it brings to "let go and let God". Truly, it is. I used to worry so much more. I used to believe that I was a bad person if I didn't worry about everything. Not joking. Who's going to balance the nations budget? What if that comet coming towards our solar system hits Earth and we go into an ice age? What if someone steals my identity? What if my child isn't potty trained before college??  So many possibilities to worry over! Now when I say worry, I want to make it clear that I understand that there is a different (it's a fine line) between concern and outright worry.

       The strange thing I've found is that I really have some things to be concerned about right now, and yet I honestly feel more at peace than I have in a long time. I've had a surprising amount of people tell me their worries about our upcoming journey. Where will you get money? Will you have enough? Where will you live? Won't it be dangerous? What if you regret it? What about the kids education? What if you have health problems? What if it doesn't work? On and on and on the questions/worries go! While I don't have answers to all of these, I have some answers. More importantly though, I am trusting God to help us figure it out. We are going to work hard and fully commit our lives to the kingdom. I believe that things are going to be difficult but so very worth it. God is faithful, is He not? He has is eye on the sparrow, knows how many hairs are on my head and watches over us all. I am willing to take risks in this life, because I know what is waiting after this life is passed.

          Worry is lending tomorrow's possible problems today's time and energy. Guess what? We don't get that time and energy back. We must not squander these! What peace and freedom there is in letting God take control! We can do our part, and once our part is done we must be willing to hand it over. I encourage you to read Mathew chapter 6 and take it to heart. Meditate on God's word. God is so faithful, yet we want to put Him in a tiny box and do it ourselves. It won't work. God will not be contained.

        This week I challenge you to something difficult but rewarding. Every time you find yourself worrying over something beyond your control, pray. Say a prayer and let God know you're handing your worry to Him. He WANTS you to take your burdens to His feet. At times I visualize wrestling a black cloud, stuffing it in a box and physically laying the box at the feet of my Lord. It can be a very powerful image if you really put your heart into it. Now, when Satan tries to entice you to take control of the worry again, remind yourself that it's not yours to fret over. I know this all may sound cheesy, but it really helps me. I find myself asking, "100 years from now, will this matter?".   "I gave this to God, it would be rude to take it back!"  It sounds crazy, I know! Just give it a shot. Just one week, try to be aware of your thoughts. It will be tricky, but I think you'll enjoy the results.

       We are God's people! Are we not supposed to be shining examples of his love? Consider the possibility that at the root of worry is fear. What have we to fear? According to the world, there is much to fear. I do not serve the world though. In 2 Timothy 1:7, we are reminded that God did not give us a spirit of fear. We serve an almighty God, and it's high time we acknowledge how awesome
our God truly is.