Friday, December 20, 2013

Be careful little eyes what you see

While I was spewing instructions to the boys today, I heard myself say, "I don't care about how many toys are on the floor, I care about your attitude and whether you are working with cheerful hearts." My own words hit me like a fat piece of humble pie, right on the face. "I am not looking at the toys on the floor, darling, I am looking at you."

The boys were discouraged that despite their effort, toys and messes kept appearing on the floor (how this happens we will never know). I knew how they felt. I was discouraged about the six loads of laundry that have yet to be folded, my preparation for the upcoming conference continued to be delayed, the schedule was not kept, baths were not given, diapers were not changed, the car needed to be fixed, dinner still needed to be made.

But the Lord was not looking at the mess, he was looking at me.

There is sometimes a great temptation to make our prayer and worship to be about us.

Lord, look at all that I am doing for you! Look at all that I am sacrificing! Wasn't that a good prayer? Look at all the good things I am offering!

But the Lord is not looking at my sacrifices, he is looking at me.

Obedience is better than sacrifice. Obedience requires faith. Faith that seeks understanding, faith that may not yet fully understand.

Hans and I hardly got a wink of sleep last night. The boys took turns crying throughout the night for different reasons, and before I knew it, the sun was up. At breakfast, I was ready to give up. I felt perfectly justified to be perfectly unpleasant and unkind. My less favorable option was that I could carry on and fulfill my duties—cheerfully. But I didn't want to be cheerful. From where I stood, I couldn't see where joy and energy and motivation would come from.

The Lord wanted me to trust him, not because I know how everything would turn out, but because he is faithful and he is mighty—to work in my heart, to work in the children's hearts, to work in and through the circumstances of our lives for his glory.

The Lord is not looking at the mess, he is looking at me.

Is my heart seeking after him and his purposes? Am I carrying out my tasks with a cheerful, non-freaking-out attitude? Am I working for his glory, or for my own glory? Am I working to serve others or to serve myself?

Instead of looking at the mess, I need to look to the Lord.
I need to look to the Lord, because they are watching me.
I need to look to the Lord, so they would look to him with me.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The most joyful of all pains

Some of the most spectacular things in life are also some of the least expected.

Like a mother's pleasure in her children.

The first step taken, the first word spoken, first book read from cover to cover. And perhaps (I can only imagine), graduation, marriage, and the likes. But these things are nothing in comparison to the surge of pride and pleasure I feel when I see my child struggling to overcome his fears, when I see him sacrificing on behalf of others.

There is nothing like it.

It makes me laugh and weep and pray and praise all at once. This joyful pain is a strange thing, unlike anything I've ever felt.

3 Queens from Matt Bieler on Vimeo.

I watched this video today. I loved the intimate glimpses of these mothers in their natural habitat. It made me wonder how my boys see me. How will they remember their childhood, how will they remember my voice.

It made me wonder how the Father sees me, from above. This was when I got all hot and cold. I know I have not pleased him with the words I spoke, the tone I used, the thoughts I thought. I am often selfish, often annoyed, often impatient and unkind. I am often controlled by my fears, and I often refuse to sacrifice for others. In short, I would not want my children to be running around with three video cameras.

Before I had too long to feel too horrible about my failures — grace hit me.

When the Father looks at me, he sees Jesus. I mean, that's crazy talk. Not only did he give his Son to die in my place, took the punishment of my sin, he even made me his. I am hidden in Christ. I am no longer exposed and naked and alone. Christ's righteousness covers me. His mercy covers my weaknesses, my flaws. Not only did he cancel my debt, God made me his daughter. The Father sees the Son when he looks at me.

His love frees me to overcome my fears.
His love frees me to sacrifice for others. 

So, my dear friend, wherever you are today, whether you are happy or sad or tired. Know this: When you put your faith in Christ, God is pleased with you. Not because of anything you have done, but because of everything Christ has done. I pray that you would know his pleasure and know his love for you, because this love — it's pretty spectacular. You are forever his.

Christ crucified.

The Gospel makes me laugh and weep and pray and praise all at once.
The crucifixion is the most joyful of all pains.
There is no one like him.