What does it mean for Christ to be my righteousness? It means that each morning when I wake up, the Father is smiling down at me. He hands me a Math test with an A+ written on the top, next to my name. All the circumstances of my day are the “problems” on the test, and whether I make a mistake or even get so frustrated with the problem I’m trying to figure out on my own that it takes me lots of scribbling and erasing before I look over at Him, He whispers in my ear, “I love you. Never forget this test is meant to be done together, so keep confessing the pride that makes you want to try to do it on your own. You aren’t here to prove your love to Me but to receive My love with thankfulness, because even though I’m your Teacher, I’m also your Father, and your only identity is that you’re my daughter. That’s the kind of love you can whisper to others who are working on their own tests with Me.” (See 2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 1:4, Lam. 3:22-24)
I’ve heard it said that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.
I’m not sure how being a mother would be calculated if you factor in nap times, night times of being “on call,” and the fact that every time you turn around your children are at a different stage of life. (As if you could become an expert on unpredictable humans).
But if you took a skill like learning to play the cello, it would mean practicing for 40 hours a week every week for five years.
Trying to Do It All
A few weeks ago, Christopher and I strolled past ice cream and used book shops on our way to Touch of Italy for our anniversary, relishing our kid-free evening. We talked about the dreams we have, from publishing a novel to saving up for a powered paraglider (I’ll let you guess which one was Christopher’s).
It made me wonder how I would feel if none of our dreams happened–or if the pieces of success didn’t bring the fulfillment we thought they would.
If this life is all there is, we only have 80 years to squeeze everything in–if we’re lucky. Our bodies start breaking down, and we might regret not doing more when we had the chance.
As our children grow, we see them as fresh starts and try to live some of our dreams through them, running them from activity to activity in an effort to keep them from being “deprived.”
Or maybe surviving life with little people right now feels suffocating, the minute-by-minute responsibilities turning into weeks and months of setting aside other pursuits.
At times, I’ve fought the feeling that in some undefinable way, I’m missing out.
That if my circumstances were different, I could really be successful.
And then I’ve realized how prideful that is, choosing to live in discontentment rather than trusting God’s good care in the life I have now.
As believers, we don’t have to worry about missing out because Jesus gives hope in the present, marching all the way into eternity.
If we truly believe that we’ve been given the Holy Spirit “as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14), and that we have a “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. . . kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3-4), this present life can always be enough because Jesus was and is enough for us.
We don’t have to prove that we are enough because Jesus’ blood-bought forgiveness and garment of righteousness has already covered us and will cover us until our souls step into resurrected, perfect bodies.
So what do we do with our desires now?
Christopher and I talked about starting a life list, dreams that we would give to God. We realized that the list could be as long and outrageous as we’d like, since we have eternity to finish it.
Death from this life would only mean that we can work at the other things on the list from resurrected bodies that have been made perfect. Because Jesus is coming back to create a New Earth, we will have the chance to keep learning, in a world that has been completely restored.
Just think how many things we will have the chance to become an expert in.
Time is Not Running Out
When we quit feeling that we have to get it all done now, it makes this life so much less stressful.
When we see our lives on this present earth as a tiny dot on the line of eternity, we can rest in the circumstances that our Sovereign and Good Father has us in, and enjoy the people He’s put in front of us.
Because He’s in charge and always will be, we have a sure hope.
Paul says in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
If we are choosing to look to the God of hope, joy and peace are benefits in the present as well as the future, whether it be our kid’s next milestone or our final destination.
My mentor reminded me that God gives us grace in the present, and we can’t always see what His grace will look like in the future.
Trusting that God is good, loving, and in control, takes effort (strengthened by the Holy Spirit’s power), but the alternative is trusting in myself and forfeiting the gifts of joy and peace He wants to fill us with.
Lifting Our Eyes
Maybe you feel like you’re making little impact on the world. . . look to the God of eternity.
Maybe your marriage doesn’t feel like you imagined it as a little girl. . . look to the God of eternity.
Maybe the cooked rice got thrown to the carpet, smashing down into a sticky mess. . . look to the God of eternity.
When our desire is for Him, He directs our other desires and goals for our life.
Jonathan Edwards put it beautifully:
“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.
“To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends.
“These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance.
“These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun.
“These are but streams; but God is the fountain.
“These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”
― Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733
The Father has accomplished our salvation and adopted us as His daughters, so we can live lives of gratitude instead of striving for the world’s perception of success, fame, or money.
And as the apostle Peter reminds us to love one another deeply, he also gives us the perspective we need:
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:23-25)
Will you surrender the seed of your life to wherever the Father wants to plant you for this season?
Will you invite Jesus into your desires as you let your thoughts be shaped by His enduring Word?
Who is the Father leading you to love deeply today as you look to the hope of eternity?
It was going to be the first time in 19 months that I’d be baby-free for more than a few hours.
It terrified me to think of not being there to anticipate my son’s needs, put him down for a nap, comfort him, or make sure he ate some vegetables.
What if he cried in his carseat for hours?
What if he wouldn’t go to sleep in a new place?
What if he stole toys from their little girl?
What if he experienced (gasp) pain?
It caused me to question some of the beliefs I didn’t know I had:
1. It is my job as a wife and mother to try to keep my husband and child from feeling pain.
2. I need to do everything I can to prevent anything bad from happening.
What if I failed?
Occupation: Pain Prevention Squad
Sometimes, when we see those we love going through difficulties, it feels like we’re the ones with the hangnail being ripped off.
We wish would could take it away or even take it on ourselves.
But God has never shied away from pain, because there is something He values even more than our comfort.
- Joseph was falsely accused and thrown into prison. (Genesis 39)
- The prophet Isaiah was told no one would listen to his message. (Isaiah 6)
- Daniel kept praying to God despite a king’s edict and was thrown into a lion’s den. (Daniel 6)
- John the Baptist lost his head because of his preaching. (Mark 6)
God wants our hearts–and the hearts of everyone around us. He was willing to send His own Son to die an excruciating death so that we could be His sons and daughters. And, like a loving parent, He wants us to experience His spiritual blessings.
According to Ephesians 1, God . . .
. . . chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight
. . . adopted us as his children
. . . lavished us with grace with all wisdom and understanding
. . . redeemed us through his blood
. . . forgave our sins
. . . worked everything out according to his will so that we could bring him glory
. . . marked us with a seal, the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our inheritance in heaven
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Our pain has a purpose. My child’s pain has a purpose. I may not see it on this side of eternity, but if my son’s pain causes him to see his need for Jesus, I’d much rather he experience spiritual blessings with pain than live a comfortable life.
C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Problem of Pain, says that “pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
If I believe I serve a loving Father, who delights in His relationship with me, I can crawl into His arms, knowing that he may be using our family’s pain in any number of ways. . .
. . . to refine us.
. . . to protect us from further pain.
. . . to grow us.
. . . to guide us.
Sometimes our fear of pain can eclipse the rays of blessing Jesus wants us to feel.
When I was able to lay my fears in Jesus’ capable arms, I was free to enjoy the gift of solitude while my family was away. Isaiah got some really special “Daddy time,” learning how to communicate with him without Mommy intervention. Everyone came back in one piece. And I got the chance to see how efficient I can be when I’m alone in the house–and that I don’t care to.
I’d much rather trip over toys on the floor than be able to see what color the carpet is. I’d rather cook meals that get devoured in ten minutes than have no one to cook for. I’d rather risk pain than abandon my relationships to avoid it.
And seriously, who doesn’t like to listen to little-boy animal and truck sounds all day long?
Spirit, please lead us out of our fear of pain and into a place of trust. Please take our painful experiences and make something beautiful out of each one. You are worthy.