No color would be here. No form. No raging sea, nor gossamer thread in blue sky. Were God not, no paintings would be hung, no symphonies sounded, no wail of newborn. Bleak, grey, nothing. No hope. Rather is our magnificent world; people and place of color, gifts, talents and genius. The Sabbath of two; one within, the other a day set aside. Today, across our country and around the world will move God’s church into the sanctuary where praise and honor will be lifted to the Almighty, the Creator, our Saviour.
Edit: On my facebook account to which this article is linked, someone made the following comment:
To all moms out there whose children are unsaved I say, ‘you have laid your children on the alter of prayer…you pray for them daily…you have raised them right and yet they remain unmoved…I consider you a successful, deserving of honor mother. You have the horns of the alter in your hands. Your children will rise up and call you blessed.’I responded as follows:Shirley Buxton Christie Banda is certainly right to acknowledge there can be godly mothers whose children are unsaved. Without question this can be so, and her advise to continue to pray for our wayward children is sterling. Even a mother cannot assure the salvation of her children, for each of us must make that decision for ourselves. The thrust of my words was to point up that a mother doesn’t have to be successful as far as the world judges success–high-powered jobs, fashionable clothing, social graces, physical beauty, or towering homes with magazine interiors. NO! With none of those to my credit, I will consider myself a success if my children make it to heaven.
1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. NIV
I awoke this morning with this scripture on my mind, although the King James version is the one most familiar to me, and its strong words impacted me anew: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
My daughter and I spent several delightful hours together recently, and during the course of our conversation we discussed the sacrifices many people of God make for His work, and although I agree to the nobility of such a stance, I’m a strong advocate that the care of one’s family should be placed ahead of our work in the church. Balance. Always, in every area of our lives, balance is the key. Many years ago, I heard a pastor tell of a lady in their church who spent many hours praying at the church, but whose housekeeping was a disgrace, and who often did not prepare meals for her family as she should have. Not enough time, for she was at the church praying. Because I’m closely associated with ministers and their wives, I’ve sometimes heard them (usually as they have grown older) regret that they didn’t spend more time with their children as they were growing up.
I want to take a little turn here, and while I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, I consider these thoughts important. Not only do I believe mothers and fathers need to provide for their households, including time and attention, but I believe children, especially as they near adulthood, need to kick in and pull their own weight in their homes. It troubles me when able-bodied teenagers seem to expect to be attended to, expect possessions to be placed in their hands–cars, phones, debit cards, computers, Ipads, fine clothes, yet offer little in return. A hard-working dad with a healthy, godly son in residence struggles to find an extra few dollars to have the lawn mowed or the weeds pulled or the garage cleaned? An unwell mom struggles with a mop while the beautiful teenager lounges about and preens and plans for the next youth event?
Paul looked askance at such, and although I suspect he was addressing his remarks to mothers and fathers, I believe it well within the mark to believe that young people should contribute to the success of their homes, including being involved in hard work that will ease somewhat the enormous obligations that are heaped on their parents. Having said that I want to acknowledge what a beautiful sight are teenagers–and there are many–who have developed a strong work ethic, and who make their parents and other relatives proud. Be assured I am not advocating that the joys and freedoms of teenagers be denied by their being required to take on entirely too many tasks or adult roles, for all-too-soon, it seems, the full weight of adulthood will descend soundly on their young heads. Rather, it is my thinking that by observing Paul’s wise words to Timothy, our godly young people will more easily move into the ranks of mature, adult Christians who become loyal and faithful wives and husbands, and caring successful parents.
In my early morning musings today, this scripture rang in my ears. Despite the shifting of the earth beneath us, the fierce winds of false doctrine that rage about us, disease and pestilence that rain on our lands, and almost unimaginable government directives, we people of God rest securely in ultimate safety.
“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.” Deut. 33:27
. . .someone to preach God’s Word to us, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to pray in the night over us, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to discipline us when we stray, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to marry us to our chosen one, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to dedicate our babies, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to lift our heads when we’re discouraged, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to rejoice with us when we succeed, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to baptize us, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to explain when we’re confused, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to hold us when we weep, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to cheer us on when we fail, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to listen to our dreams, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to help sort out our callings, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to lay hands on us when we’re sick, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to anoint our heads with oil, so He gave us pastors.
. . .someone to walk with us through the final valley, so He gave us pastors.
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding . Jeremiah 3:13
Would that within the church each of us had someone to whom we could go and to whom we could express our doubts, our fears, our questions, our disappointments, our hurts–all of it, a real “gut-spilling”–and be assured that person would not unfairly judge us, nor tattle on us, but also would guide us and instruct us, and if we were wrong, who would tell us so. Surely there are a few such ones, although I suspect there to be a wide and dangerous dearth of such people.
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
I know these situations call for extreme carefulness and wisdom of the highest sort, for it must be acknowledged that sometimes when a person approaches another because of trouble in his life, he/she may adamantly reject the advice that is offered, or even take offense at the suggestions. Yet, I believe we must take the risk . . . if we are to fulfill the law of Christ. For we must remember what burdened is, how it looks, how it may act, how ugly it may have become. A truly burdened person may virtually in some ways have lost touch with reality and may be unable to recognize viable solutions. In a funk. Disconnected.
Courage and a mantle of bravery are required of a pastor who sees one under his care who is floundering and who instead of ignoring the situation or of excusing himself by saying I will pray approaches the person and offers help. (Certainly there are times when prayer is the sole answer, and we must have the wisdom to discern the difference.)
Very recently I was approached by a person who pointed out a flaw in me that had hurt that person. I was stunned for I had no idea my actions/words had resulted in that effect, and certainly it was not deliberate. Yet I suffered and felt deep pain. But I respect that person, and I am thankful he/she felt comfortable with telling me of their hurt and that they felt comfortable enough to reveal their questions. I will help them bear their burden (wishing I could do more.) I will be more careful with my own actions and with my own words. Thereby we fulfill the law of Christ.
So what can we do? A couple of things come to mind. One is that I look around at my own life. Is there order? Am I progressing? Am I growing in Christ? Are relationships within my family and within my circle of friends healthy? Do I even have friends? Real ones? If I see a serious deep issue here, may I find someone to whom I can “spill my guts” and from whom I anticipate direction. May I determine to take no offense at what is offered me.
Second is that I look within myself to discern whether another human being who is in pain, who is floundering, can feel comfortable with coming to me for help, for direction, for healing.
The pictures? Taken from a high seat in a double-decker bus last Spring as we toured Rome.
I stand desolate, undone, undeserving. Enter grace. A dance. A whisper of hope. A wisp of the eternal.
Enveloped in love, I can breathe again, the pain bearable, the disappointment endurable.