"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 NIV

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When You are Thrown in the Valley

A late night phone call that wakes you from peaceful slumber into a reality too scary for nightmares. Phrases spilling from the lips of a well-trained doctor that you refuse to believe you are hearing. A split second that sets into motion a chain reaction you so desperately wish you could undo. Words you never imagined coming from someone you trusted.

Shattered, confused, and defeated you trudge slowly on wondering what just happened. The illusion of invulnerability has vanished. The idea that because you are a believer, pain will be kept at bay from you and your family has been tested.

As believers, we all face a time in our lives when the events surrounding us collide with the hope of what we believed was supposed to happen. An accident, illness, sudden death, betrayal, or shattered dream leaves us shaken and searching for truth. We live in a world full of brokenness. The ramifications of sin touch more than just those who commit it.

The decision to trust the truth of God's word rather than the facts of our circumstances is hard to make in the depths of the valley. Perhaps that is why God gives us a glimpse as to what lies ahead. He tells us in the book of John, "I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” 16:33 MSG

You will continue to experience difficulties.

It's not a possibility or a probability, but a certainty. Instead of worrying about what may come, may I propose that we be prepared for it. Not by trying to control what is happening around us, but by strengthening our trust in the one who offers complete peace in the midst of the difficulties. He says we can be unshakable, assured, and deeply at peace. Choose ahead of time to lean towards trust when we are tempted to doubt his goodness.

For those in the valley of brokenness right now, choose to keep looking for hope. Read about God's unconditional love, cry out to him, and ask for his peace. Understand that most events in our lives on this side of the curtain will not make much sense. Because he declared, "I've conquered the world," we can believe it is all in his hands. Instead of asking why repeatedly, ask who will I become in the midst of this struggle, how will this draw others closer to you, and what do you want me to do next.

For those who have been on the mountaintop for awhile, be thankful but be realistic. A valley could be closer than you realize. Instead of fearing the future, link arms with the one who will help you walk through it. Only when we close our eyes for the last time in this world, will our troubles be completely eliminated. Praise God that we do not have to face each new day alone!

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. (Psalm 34:19 NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)

God of the mountain and of the valley, help me to trust completely in you regardless of my circumstances. You do not change. Your love is complete and enough to help me face each new day. Thank you for taking the mess of this world, and turning it into something beautiful. Amen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This Thing Called Family

FAMILY (n): The group of individuals who live in my house, laugh and cry with and at me, and don't complain when I forget to apply makeup.

Some days I think this family thing couldn't be more ideal. I'll receive a peanut butter smelling neck hug from a princess pirate who wants to be close to her mom rather than in front of a screen. Or, I'll come home to find my boys have played "pick up the house for mom". Yes, it's actually happened. On those days, I think, I am so lucky to be going through this life with them.

Other days I'm glad I didn't know what I was getting into when this journey began. Because I might have changed my mind. Those are the days when I'll stand in the middle of the house I cleaned the day before, glance in a circle at the mess around me, and wonder if Dorothy and her red sparkly shoes had it all wrong. When the decibel level on arguments drowns out any semblance of peace, I want to slam the door and find a neighbor with a porch and rocking chair.

It's hard. It's wonderful. It's relentless. It's fulfilling. It's the life I have chosen, but not exactly as I had imagined. And that's okay, because I could not have anticipated how much joy could come from seeing pure delight in the faces of my children. I had no way of knowing how much my heart could hurt when another human being was in pain. The highs of my mountaintops have astonished me and the lows have almost taken me out, but I press on. Both experiences together shape who I am today.

It's impossible to know all that tomorrow holds. Honestly, I think it's much more of an adventure if the route isn't exactly outlined for all to see. I know who I want to travel with and our destination for all eternity. In each moment between now and then, I get to choose how I see this unit called my family.

I choose to see them as a gift from my creator, who lives in the only perfect triune family. I decide to trust that the circumstances I find myself in are not by accident, but are being used for his glory and my ultimate good: making me more like him. Will I be happy about everything that goes on inside our four walls? Goodness no. It's still not okay to paint smiley faces on bedroom walls and carpet with black shoe polish. But down the road (years down the road) I can laugh and tell a few great stories.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it" ... God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:27-31a NIV

Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 
2 Samuel 7:18b NIV

He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. Acts 10:2 NIV

Thank you, wise Father, for choosing these four individuals to help shape me into a more compassionate, patient, loving woman. I trust that you will give me what I need in moments when I think I have failed miserably. You redeem brokenness and honor prayers from the lips of souls set on living for you. Amen.