Friday, January 26, 2007

i am jealous of my cat

At any given point during the day if we decide to search for our 2 year old cat KC, we find her sleeping. She is usually rolled up in a very tight ball with her top little white paw covering her face. She is absolutely adorable and it is next to impossible to refrain from reaching out and stroking her head. Sometimes when I do this she'll uncover her face and give me a look of agitation, but most often she remains sleeping and appears very content. I've decided that KC is a great sleeper. I really am jealous of my cat. Sure, she has to use a litter box and her food is dry and crunchy and the same every day, but be able to sleep like that!

Seeing KC rolled in her tight little ball reminds me that sleep is a gift from God. Listen to these wise and practical words from C.J. Mahaney in his book "Humility - True Greatness"

The fact is, God could have created us without a need for sleep. But He chose to build this need within us, and there's a spiritual purpose for it. Each night, as I confront my need again for sleep, I am reminded that I'm a dependent creature. I am not self-sufficient. I am not the Creator. There is only One who "will neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:4), and I am not that One.

When I first read that I was struck with how often, when it comes to sleep, I operate with a very self-sufficient attitude. I used to pride myself on how little sleep I could get and still function the next day. I never recognized my need for sleep as proof of my need to depend on God. Sleep was something I just assumed happened at the end of each day and I never made the connection between sleep and God. Once I made the connection, I have sought to apply the truth with the wise counsel suggested:

So don't just fall asleep tonight or any night. Seize this opportunity to mortify pride and cultivate humility by setting apart sleep as a holy gift from God, as a reminder of your full dependence on Him and as an occasion to examine your heart before Him. Let the Spirit give you a new perception and appreciation of sleep, so that this seemingly ordinary act might be transformed into an opportunity to cultivate humility and weaken pride.

Today has been an interesting day. My kids and I met with a friend for several hours and my son ended up feeling sick. Homeschool was dropped for the day and the sofa was transformed into a sick bed. As my friend and I wrapped up our time of fellowship together, I realized that I had several things to do before I'd have to leave for my evening plans. It's going to be a late night for sure. When I get home and climb into my bed, before I fall asleep, I will take a few minutes to express my thankfulness to God and I will express my complete dependence on Him. Just as I drift off, I will feel the weight of KC resting on my legs, rolled up in a tight little ball.

singleness is a gift. period.

I asked my very dear friend Allyson, who happens to be single, to write this post. Her honesty will put you at ease and her desire to uphold a godward view of singleness will provoke you.

this is the second time i've typed out this post and about the fifth time i've written it in my head. i tend to think i am fairly content in my singleness, but sunday's message and the focused thoughts that have followed are showing me a few things... turns out, just because i may not typically struggle with the pain of being single does not mean i am necessarily believing all the right things about it.

are there specific times that i am thankful to be single? sure. but that thankfulness doesn't usually strike me in the same way as the example trace shared below. it seems a lot easier to realize the way someone else blesses you than the way the absence of someone blesses you. i think it takes some intentional effort to see these things at work. when i am really struggling with something, i can escape to a coffee shop with my bible and some books to read for hours... no notice required, no coordinating plans. when there is an opportunity to serve a friend, a family, or the church, and i have a desire to do it, i can work my own schedule to make room for it. as pastor matt pointed out on sunday, singleness is arguably a better gift than marriage simply because of the freedom it provides to be more completely devoted to God.

sometimes, in being thankful for these types of things, i wonder if it implies that i see marriage as a burden. but i don't. believe me, the more i see of marriage, the more i desire to be married. yet i do understand that it would come with many adjustments. other times i worry that my contentment with being single is just a celebration of selfishness. and it can be, depending on how i use it. and i think that how i use it flows out of what i truly believe about it.

here is where i am most challenged - have i just gotten used to singleness, learned to enjoy the advantages it can bring, and resolved to be content with these things? or do i truly believe it is a gift? do i think God has overlooked my requests for a husband, or do i trust that He has lovingly chosen this for me? His Word clearly labels singleness as a gift that is given, not as a default category for those who are not married.

so it seems that perhaps He has given a gift i don't really want. well, it wouldn't be the first time. in His perfect wisdom, God knows what i need as well as what i want. and in His care for me, when the two are opposed, i think He loves me enough to give me what i truly need. thinking back to before i was a Christian, i can clearly remember not wanting God or anything to do with Him. i needed Him, but i didn't know that. but now - i cannot thank Him enough for giving the gift of salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. God's Word assures me that because i am now in Christ, His heart is to bless me and to work all things for my good. all things - including my singleness.

when i see things this way, i can embrace this gift and be excited about the ways i can use it for God's glory. my other concerns can fade away in the light of this truth. i just need to be reminded, and to choose to believe the promises of the bible. i don't want to just be okay with being single - i want to treasure it.

and so, even when it doesn't feel like it -- especially when it doesn't feel like it -- i will honor God by choosing the fight of faith and affirming that my singleness is a gift. period.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

marriage is a gift, especially at 7:00 a.m.

I get really excited when my husband is scheduled to preach on a particular Sunday. At the risk of sounding cheesy, hearing Matt preach is a reminder of some 15 years ago when I realized I loved him and wanted to be married to him. By the grace of God, he is a very gifted communicator and when you combine that with his passion for the Lord and His out!

He was scheduled to preach this past Sunday and I was especially excited because my 5 year old daughter asked if she could stay in the service to hear her daddy preach. How could I refuse?

He exposited an overview of 1 Corinthians 7 and from that text he made the following three points:

  • singleness and marriage are both good gifts from God

  • singleness has some unique advantages over the gift of marriage

  • our marital status is not what defines us

This message was very stirring and provoking in a good way. I'll take the next few blog entries to express where I see God at work in our local church that reflects each of these points.

Singleness and marriage are both good gifts from God, point one.

Apparently I slept through the demonstration of this point this morning. My daughter Abigail woke up a little before 7:00 a.m. feeling sick in her stomach. She expressed it this way: "I might spit out" which translates, "I'm going to throw up!" Nice words to hear. Only I didn't hear them because I was fast asleep in my warm bed. My husband was up and getting ready to leave for work when he heard her little panicked voice. Instead of waking me, he set aside his own schedule and plans and chose to tenderly care for his daughter. In caring for Abbie he was also displaying and demonstrating his care for me in allowing me to sleep through the potential trauma of a S.O. (spit out).

When I finally woke up I was suprised to see Matt standing in our bedroom doorway. He explained what happened and immediately I was reminded of this gift called marriage. Matt was a gift to me this morning in how he cared for us. By the very nature of his sacrificial care he was a live demonstration of Christ's love for the church.

This may not seem like a very impressive demonstration of love but ask yourself this question if you are married: What would you have done in this situation?

Marriage is a gift. Although I believed that before Sunday's message, it was kind of God to give me a fresh reminder. And a fresh reminder at 7:00 a.m. was sweet!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

upward & outward...what's that?

I remember first hearing this phrase a few years back from C.J. Mahaney, leader of Sovereign Grace Ministries during his message entitled "The Main Thing." C.J. was actually quoting Scottish theologian Sinclair Ferguson who said the following:

"The evangelical orientation is inward and subjective. We are far better at looking inward than outward. We need to expend our energies admiring, exploring, expositing, and extolling Jesus Christ.”

C.J. went onto comment that "life is a spiritual, relational, and emotional roller coaster not because that’s just how it goes, but because we so often look inward to ourselves rather than outward and upward to our Savior. We experience this roller coaster because we pour energy into our selfish desires and expectations rather than 'admiring, exploring, expositing, and extolling Jesus Christ.' In other words, we must stop thinking about ourselves and start praising Christ, learning about Christ, and talking about Christ."

This little phrase "upward and outward" has stuck with me. In any given situation if I stop and ask myself where my focus is, I am immediately faced with a decision. Will I make the choice to readjust my focus away from myself and upward to the Savior or will I continue looking inward at myself? This one little question has had a great impact on my daily life as wife, mother, and friend.

So there it is, my first post.