Shiny or Tarnished

 

This summer, while my in-laws were visiting, my mother-in-law offered to clean my silver coffee service that had been my Grandma’s.  This coffee service sits on display in my china cabinet in a protected environment, but still over time the silver and the oxygen react to make it go from the shiny silver it should be to this grimy and tarnished coffee service that it shouldn’t be.  This is not something I put on my list of things to do every day, so I am happy she willingly offers to clean it for me periodically when she comes to visit.

The tarnishing of my silver coffee service did not happen overnight.  It is a slow progression with a reaction between the oxygen and the silver.  Slowly, without even noticing the change in the silver, I will look at it one day and think how dirty and tarnished it has become.  It has not been used.  It has only sat there in the china cabinet collecting dust and reacting to its environment.

The Christian life and the silver coffee service have some similarities.

  1. We could say that the oxygen is similar to the sin that is around us. We can either react to it in a positive or negative way.  Obviously, the silver is an inanimate object not being able to react intentionally, but we as Christians can choose how we will respond to the sin that is around us.  I can choose to forgive when someone hurts me or I can become bitter over the hurt.  The act of forgiveness is intentional.  Bitterness can also be intentional as we choose not to forgive.  As we experience the many hurts in life, we choose which direction to take.  The route of forgiveness keeps our hearts soft to the Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit, no tarnishing.  The route of bitterness leads to a hardened heart that is tarnished by a continual burden of sin it bears. What about pride and selfishness?  These are internal fleshly desires that we must continually be aware of.  These are easily seen by the words that come from our mouths and our actions.  A humble, selfless person intentionally looks for ways to meet the needs of others and ways to encourage others. A selfish and proud person becomes tarnished by their sin and becomes so ugly, others do not want to be near them.

 

  1. If I used my silver service every week, it would get polished every week. Lack of use causes it to be tarnished.  As a Christian, God has given me talents and abilities that He wants me to use for His glory and for His kingdom.  If I do not use them, I become tarnished. God did not create me to sit in the china cabinet so people can look and admire me when they walk by.  He created me for use.  I may get a little dirty.  I might have stains. (If I would use my coffee service every week it would become stained with tea not coffee.)  I might have a dent.  I might need to forgive. I might need to swallow my pride.  I might need to let go of my rights.

 

Jesus did not come to earth to be put in the china cabinet and be looked at.  He came to serve and to sacrifice.  He came to seek out people that needed living water, healing, raised from the dead, forgiveness of sins, eternal life through His death.   He came not to get, but to give.

Is there someone who keeps causing you pain?  Choose every day to take the offense to the Lord and let Him help you forgive so the bitterness does not tarnish your heart and your life.  Are you sitting in the china cabinet so you don’t get tarnished?  Open the door, jump off the shelf, and fill yourself up with tea and then go pour it out on a thirsty soul in need.  What are you good at?  Are you using that skill to further God’s kingdom?  Or are you not willing to share because you might get stained, dented, and dirty with use?  Isn’t that better than being tarnished from misuse?

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”     I Peter 3:8

Advertisements

Faith is the Purpose

 

IMG_3698

For the last 21 years, my life has been devoted to being a Mom and homeschooling our daughters. I have spent countless hours devoted to these three beautiful young ladies.  Last week, though, I began to get a feeling of purposelessness. What would I do without them here to care for? All three are attending Cedarville University this year.

I have lots of things that I like to do.  I have lots of things that I need to do.  I could probably fill a 24 hour day with 36 hours of work, but I don’t want to just be busy.  I don’t want to just get through my days until my girls come home for a break or sit by the phone waiting for them to call.

We moved 2 years ago and I began trying to prepare myself for this moment in time then. I started thinking about the things that I love and trying to discern what I could do as a career that would also allow me flexibility.

I want to have time for people.  I like discipleship.  I love teaching God’s Word.  I love studying God’s Word.  I love walking beside others through the challenges of life. I love ministry.  I want to use my nursing skills and education to go on mission/service trips. I love being a Mom, and I would love the opportunity to help others be better Moms and learn from my experiences.

So how do I roll this all up into a neat little package and make it my purpose and also figure out a way to generate an income?  That is the challenge for me that I have not figured out. I got my real estate license last year, since my dad is a builder I have a love of houses. I love meeting new people and helping them find a house they can make memories with their family.  This offers me the flexibility that I long for.

But I still feel purposeless.

Being a nurse and a Mom have helped me to realize how much I value caring for others.

I don’t have any answers just searching and praying and leaning into God for the direction He desires for me.  He created me with a purpose and He wants me to find it. He also wants me to trust Him for this purpose.  It is not called faith because we can see; it is called faith because all we can see is a loving God who wants us to trust Him.

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  They were fed every day for 40 years with bread and quail from the hand of God.  They could do nothing but have faith.  Faith that the manna would be there in the morning.  Faith that the quail would be there in the evening.

I must have faith.  I know that my life is not purposeless, and God does have a plan for my days.

Through the process of writing these words God has washed over me His love, His peace, and His comfort.  There is nothing like the flood of God’s presence in my heart.

Rather now than feeling purposeless, I sit in eager anticipation of what God has for me.  If you are reading these words you have also witnessed what God can do when we verbalize our faith in Him and know that He will direct.

God wants me “to walk by faith and not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7). Remembering that as much as I want control, God is ultimately in control.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Empty Home, Full Heart

I started preparing for this day the moment I heard, “You’re pregnant.”  The moment we celebrated their birth.  Those first steps.  Those first words.  The first time I heard, “Mama.”  The first time they threw their arms around my neck and said, “I love you, Mama.”  We celebrated little achievements like losing a tooth and bigger achievements like being selected for the part they wanted in the play.  That first skating competition accomplished without falling down.  The game winning goal.

But we have also been preparing through the disappointments and changes in life.  Friendships that brought pain. Difficult school assignments.  Broken bones. Torn ACLs. Brain surgery.  Failed skating tests.  Getting cut from the team. Job disappointments.  Moving.

Every conversation.  Every hug. Every tear shed.  Every spontaneous laugh.  Every meal we have eaten together.  Every vacation.  Each moment we have made a point of spending together has prepared us for this day.

I don’t want to go home and face an empty house.  No more messes in the kitchen from a smoothie that was made.  No more crumbs on the couch from a chocolate chip cookie that was eaten.  No more swimming towels to wash after an afternoon spent in the pool so we can become, “sun kissed and glowy.”

An empty house brings joy and sadness to my heart.  I did not invest these last 20 years into your lives so you would sit at home and do nothing.  I invested in all these things so that when you were ready you would leave the safety of our home and become the young ladies God intended you to be.  Praise the Lord for Cedarville University and their stand for the truth of God’s Word and desire to teach you the things we have desired to teach you at home.

My nest is not empty. Rather, I have time to be intentional in other ways and with other people that God brings to me.

Dear girls, don’t worry.  I miss you like crazy.  I will always have your rooms ready for you to come home to.  I promise I won’t turn them into an art studio. There will always be fresh bread for you to have for breakfast and warm chocolate chip cookies to enjoy. I will come to visit and will always have time to talk on the phone.

My prayer for you is that as I have invested in you, you will likewise invest in others.  My heart swells with pride when I see you put into practice II Timothy 2:2, “The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses the same commit thou to faithful men that they may be able to teach others also.”

For me this is an end to a very large chapter of my life, but I long for the next chapter that God will write with my days. There will be tears of sadness as I miss the last chapters that have been written.  There will be tears of joy as I hear the new stories you write with the days of life.  I never truly understood how fulfilling, satisfying, and rewarding being a Mom could be until I held you in my arms, watched you live life, and kissed you goodnight… Even though our home is now empty, my heart is overflowing.