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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

things we found in the fire #1

I try to be careful when I’m writing. Especially blogs. I love to read about what others have learned and I love to be taught through words but I would despair if my words began to sound as if I’d been given authority to teach – since I haven’t. Outside of my sweet children, that is.

Anyhow, this season for us has been quite a fire. It’s been hot and hard and in my mind I’ve started to very easily refer to it as a fire. Is God putting out this fire? Is he fanning the flames for His Glory? As I prayed through these things – a phrase begin to roll around in my brain and at first it made me chuckle and then it made me glad, and now it makes me downright joyful. JOYFUL. Did you see the movie, “The things we lost in the fire”? I didn’t. It seemed super sad and too much for me to handle but in my head, I started referring to “the things we’ve FOUND in the fire”.

At first I thought these things were just for me, to keep going – to keep walking forward. To get on my hands and knees amidst the rubble and look for treasures. But, if my trial-and-error-slow-paced-learning and reflecting can be encouraging, I’d like to share these things I’ve found in the fire. Not teach or instruct, just humbly share. And for organization sake, we’ll make a little series out of it.

The first is simple and concise – probably known by all but me. And it is this – Doing the right thing when you don’t want to can be more profitable than you’ll ever know. Spiritually put – allowing the wisdom Christ has put in your heart to be turned into obedience at the right time, can be more profitable than you’ll ever know.

A few months ago, a friend shared this verse with me: The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (prov 22:3) Unfortunately, I saw myself all over that description of a simple person. In life and specifically, in marriage, when I saw a hard time coming or I knew a day was already specifically rough – I could really clearly see two paths. One was to praise the Lord and walk forward in His grace. The other was to fear life, to fear man, and to take my pain out on any person in my path. In all honesty – the second option just felt good. To get bad news and blame someone felt like accomplishing something. When I become flustered with the kids, to go in my room and throw something released some tension. Even to outwardly bless my husband during a rough day and inwardly curse him seemed like a good choice because it gave me vindication and the appearance of godliness all in one. Complaining, focusing on my hurt, and sometimes ignoring life all together. Even sometimes, the seemingly neutral act of crying felt like a step forward and it felt good to express my fear or worry in that way.

But then maybe once, maybe twice after hearing this verse – I thought of the alternative. What if I didn’t scream or I didn’t cry or didn’t blame or complain. What if I took a moment to compose myself, closed my eyes and in my head screamed to Jesus, “I WANT TO TRUST YOU! HELP ME TO TRUST YOU!”. I found that it didn’t make me feel like a deflated balloon, without any power or will to keep living that day – but that when I would tell him very honestly what I was thinking – he would fill me for that minute with what I needed to keep going.

Then I tried it with the kids. Instead of yelling (or yelling on the inside with for a false sense of gentleness), I blinked hard a few times and asked the Lord to give me His eyes when I opened them again. Or with Nick, on a particularly discouraging day, when we were minutes from screaming at one another and slamming doors – we’d sit and hold hands and just talk to the Lord. What I saw when it dawned on me to look, was little pieces of fruit popping up around our house and marriage. We were still in the fire, but we could laugh and love and praise Jesus together rather than ripping one another apart.

I feel like such a high school bible study leader, but the fact is simple: it’s much easier to do the right thing on easy days than it is to do them on hard days. When life feels manageable and settled, do you know how easy it is to choose to pray? To praise? To teach grace and peace to your babes? But when you actually feel like your world is kind of crumbling and you feel like a failure and you’re not totally sure where your food will come from next week – it is immensely difficult. It’s much easier to yell, or cry, or plan but what we had to do was praise. To bless. To pray. And when we lifted our heads and said, “amen” – the answer wasn’t always there – but a little tiny piece of fruit was.

And now, when this fire is truly over – I have two good gifts given by father. A) The word of my testimony. To be able to say, “this is what it was like and this is what He is always like for us”. To say, when we praised Him, it felt like what we were supposed to do and we should praise Him because He is always good. And B)a comparison. If I can praise the Lord in the fire, I can praise Him when I get cut off while driving or when someone hurts my feelings or when a kid smears poop all over my sofa for fun. I can praise Him, always.

More to come.


Andrea said...

Amen. My husband has been unemployed for 16 months now, and boy have we had to allow God to refine us through this fire! It has been such a challenge for my husband not lose his sense of worth, not being able to provide financially (other than unemployment $), and to not feel entitled to a job or deserving of a better job than this or that because he has a Master's degree. Though I understand why he feels that way...the world clearly tells him he should...I have had to remind him from whom he gets his worth and that we really don't deserve anything we have, especially an education that was a product of simply being born in the US to parents who also had a college education. We are blessed, not because of what we have, but because of the salvation we have in Christ Jesus. Amen!

michelle said...

wise words, friend. this thought really speaks to my heart. those hard days can make you really mad, like seeing red/exasprated/irate, but i've been seeing God work on me and teach me to be kind and gentle and patient despite what "obstacles" are in my path in a given moment. and i tell you, it's brought me a lot of joy, too :)

Anonymous said...

I needed to hear this today. Thank you.It has been one of those days.

jill said...

i didn't know that it was possible to put into words what you just have. clearly, you were meant to use your words, to love him, and to show others how you chose the Spirit over the flesh. it is edifying to me, jessi. thank you. love-jill