Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sweet Sisters and the Suffering Servant

My daughters love to take a bath.  When they hear the water begin to pour into the tub, they squeal with excitement and come running as quickly as their little legs can carry them.  I've noticed that lately they have enjoyed washing each other's feet.  Eden, who is four years old, will instruct Caroline, who is almost two, to hold her foot up so she can scrub it with her washcloth.  Caroline quickly obeys by raising one foot out of the water and then extends the other in like manner.  After Eden has sufficiently cleaned Caroline's feet, they switch roles and Eden offers her feet to her sister.

As I have watched this scene unfold night after night, I cannot help but think of the events that occurred during the Last Supper on the night before Jesus was brutally beaten and crucified.  In John 13, we read where Jesus "poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him" (John 13:5).  The King of kings humbled Himself and bent down to scrub the dirt off of the disciples' feet in order to model for them what true servanthood was all about.  He said, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14).  Jesus provided the ultimate example.  Not only did He show His love for them by performing this act of service, but hours later He would die on a cruel cross to pay the overwhelming debt for their sin...and for ours.

Am I willing to follow in the footsteps of Christ?  Do I delight in serving others or do I allow my selfish attitude to cloud any holy desire to display Christ to those around me?  Do I willingly offer myself as a sacrifice or do I miss opportunities to see God work because I am too distracted with my own problems or plans?  Lord, please help me to be aware of the needs of those around me today and extend Your love to all those that You place on my path.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Out of my hands and into His grasp

"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?"  Luke 12:25-26

I am a professional worrywart.  Seriously.  If worrying were an Olympic event, I would probably win the gold metal.  I worry about my health.  I worry about my husband and my daughters.  I worry about the future.  When I finish worrying about one thing, I just pick something else out to worry over.  I am a chain-worrier.

However, God's Word is clear that being anxious is wrong.  When I allow anxiety to control my day, I reveal my faithless heart.  When I choose fear instead of faith, I am really saying that God is not in control and He has no power to help me, which are two blatant lies straight from the pit.  My Heavenly Father is intimately aware of every detail of my life, and He knows exactly how to rescue me from peril or how to calm my spirit through the storm.  Luke 12:6-7 says, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows."  The Creator of the universe knows the number of hairs on my head (even the gray ones).  He is fully capable of bringing good out of my circumstances for His glory.

Do not be afraid.  Do not be anxious.  The same God who spoke the world into existence and flung the stars into space knows you by name and has placed you where you are for a purpose.  HIS purpose.  Your job is to "seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you" (Luke 12:31).  Lord, help me to seek You first and allow You to work out all the details.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Keeping My Eyes on the Prize

"And he said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."  Luke 10:2

Every time I read this verse, I have a mental image of a field.  The field is filled with grain, ready to be harvested, full of promised satisfaction, but there is no one willing to go and do the work.  As a matter of fact, the workers are completely distracted with things that do not matter.  They have set their eyes on temporal pleasures instead of focusing on the task at hand.   Diversions like shopping.  Or maybe ball practice.  Or vacationing.  Or even watching TV.

Now don't get me wrong.  I thoroughly enjoy a productive, bargain-hunting shopping trip every now and then.  I love stealing away for a few days and relaxing on a nice vacation every so often.  And I have several TV shows that I DVR every week.  But when I allow these trivial pursuits to crowd out my responsibility to go to the lost and share Christ with others, I need to stop and perform a priority check.  

It's important to note that Jesus didn't say to pray that the harvest would be plentiful.  He said the harvest IS plentiful.  HE produces the harvest.  Instead, He encouraged the disciples to pray for laborers to work and bring in the harvest.  He knew we would be selfish.  He knew we would allow the flashy, shiny things of this world to crowd out His command to go and make disciples of all nations.  We must be faithful to His calling.  The need is urgent and the fields are white for harvest. 

Lord, help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit and make me aware of those who need to move from spiritual death into eternal life.  Please break my heart for the lost and grant me the courage to share the gospel message with those who have never heard.

Monday, February 14, 2011

No Matter What

My youngest daughter, Caroline, is in the throws of the terrible "almost" twos.  She is greatly afflicted with this stubborn, willful temperament that causes the rest of us frustration, and sometimes alarm, at any given moment.  Just this morning I stood patiently with my four year old, Eden, while we watched Caroline sit defiantly on the concrete steps leading up to the door, refusing to enter our house like she had been asked.  Before you judge me for letting that precious little girl sit in the cold, please understand that she has pulled this trick many times and I have had to drag her flailing body into the house, while she screams bloody murder.  I'm sure the neighbors will testify for me.  I just thought I would try a different approach this time. I'm never quite sure which method of mothering is going to help her learn obedience, so this season of life tends to keep me on my toes.
Earlier today, I made my sweet little Caroline as mad as a hornet.  As she began to revolt against her loving mother for not allowing her to have her way, I decided to try to "hug" her bad attitude right out of her.  So I sat down on the floor, and pulled her into my lap, wrapped my arms around that glaring, angry child, and told her I loved her.  She proceeded to scoot as quickly as she could out of my embrace and fling herself onto the floor.  Then she stood up and took off, going somewhere...ANYWHERE she could to escape mommy.

This moment, like many others in this season of life, served to remind me of God's unfailing love for His children.  Caroline was acting in an unbecoming way, but that act of defiance did not make me love her any less.  No matter what she does, I will love her just the same and long to have a relationship with my daughter.  The Heavenly Father feels the same way about us, except His love is pure, holy, and righteous.  His love never, ever fails.  Psalm 103:13 says, "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him."  No matter where you have been or what you have done, the Lord loves you.  He longs to show you compassion.  Rest in His grace and mercy today.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Do I Love Thee

"Christian purity is not the mere avoidance of evil, but the pursuit of good." John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die

I am a rule-keeper.  I like to know where the boundaries are so that I can stay comfortably inside them.  I tend to impose this same mentality on my children (and yes, sometimes even my husband).  Don't climb on the couch.  Don't climb on the chairs.  Don't splash water on mommy when she's giving you a bath.  Don't feed stickers to the dog. 

But it's not enough to simply avoid things that are evil.  When I focus on the negative - what I should NOT do - I begin to feel trapped and restricted.  My focus should instead be on pursuing the good works that Christ created me to do (Ephesians 2:10).  I want to do as much good for the glory of God as I can.  Scripture says that the greatest "rule" or commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:31).  How does that flesh out in my daily life?

How do I love the Lord with all my heart?  By tuning my heart to sing His praise.  By rejoicing in Him for Who He is and all He has done.  By spending time with Him and hiding His Word in my heart.  How do I love the Lord with all my soul?  By placing my longings and desires at His feet and allowing Him to transform me.  How do I love the Lord with all my mind?  By purging the bad, mean, ugly, selfish thoughts that flow through my mind and choosing to dwell on that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).  How do I love the Lord with all my strength?  By giving Him the best of me and not leaving Him whatever is left at the end of the day.  By striving to be used and spent for Him instead of giving into laziness.

I want to love You in every way possible, Lord.  I want to pursue Your goodness and live a life of purity so that others will see Your light shining in me and will give glory to my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).