gifts, hope, idols, approval
I had a good MRI a couple weeks ago, from the brain through the spine. Meds and alternative strategies seem to be working well and I got a good report (for the first time!). As we left the MS clinic at The Shepherd Center, Ryan reminded me of this verse: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7) Or we could say, some trust in MRIs and doctors, but we trust in the Lord. We can take the good as we’ve taken the bad and our trust has to remain the same – steadfastly in the Lord – taking good news as a gift to be received, but not necessarily grasped and clung to for dear life, as if the gift provides the life. As Augustine says: “It is easy to want things from the Lord and yet not want the Lord Himself, as though the gift could be preferable to the Giver.”
It’s almost easy for me to trust in the big “scares”…I do say almost because I waver and still, He meets me in my wavering. The small things, on the other hand, the things I think I have control over and am sufficient to handle – those I forget and I make my flesh my strength….and I’m cursed in it. As Jeremiah 17 reminds me: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the dessert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in parched places of the wilderness…Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought.” The image of the tree associated with this verse is so deeply meaningful to me it is tattooed on my wrist as a constant and permanent reminder of WHO planted me and to sink my roots deep into His soil, trusting Him.
It also reveals to me when I live “cursed”…Cursed in the way that my mind can’t turn off, can’t stop the comparison trap, can’t stop until everything is “perfectly” done, and tries to forecast the future protect myself. It’s tiring. Even in the good days – the days where the kids do well and we’ve accomplished in school what we (I) set out to accomplish, and we talked about Jesus and read the bible and prayed and got along, and on and on…I’m cursed in my mind when I trust in that because I HAVE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN AGAIN.
And I can’t. Because it wasn’t completely up to me in the first place. I lead and parent and plan and teach, yes. However, if my hope for myself and my identity lies in how all those things go, then I’m jumping into a ditch – either way.
Usually when I’m in this place, and the past two weeks it’s especially been in my ability to school our children proficiently, I realize I’m looking to myself way to much.
Can I have a “life-quote”? Well, either way, this is it: “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely….Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.” (want a bit more? check out this article!)
I am my own idol when I think let me good days make me feel superior and my bad days cause me worry and feelings of “not enough”. They are two sides of the same coin of myself being an idol. When the kids obey and our schooling goes well and I’m not running on fumes at 4pm, I long to praise God for the gift instead of letting it provide life for me. It cannot provide life and hope and security. In the same way, on the bad days, when there’s hard news or the kids are crazy and I’m incredibly embarrassed by at least one of them and wonder where in the world they came from; I can praise God because the verdict on my life is in and He says that in Him I am enough.
I am fully known, fully flawed, and fully approved of IN Christ. Not in my good works or in my bad works.
And in Christ? YOU are too, friend.
I’ll leave you with a profound thought from the Puritan writer, Richard Sibbes:
“We must not judge ourselves always according to present feeling, for in temptations we shall see nothing but the smoke of distrustful thought. Fire may be raked up in the ashes, though not seen. Life in the winter is hid in the root. We must beware of false reasoning, such as: because our fire does not blaze out as others, therefore we have no fire at all. By false conclusions we may come to sin against the commandments in bearing false witness against ourselves. The prodigal would not say he was no son, but that he was not worthy to be called a son (Luke 15:19). We must neither trust to false evidence, nor deny true; for so we should dishonor the work of God’s Spirit in us, and lose the help of that evidence which would cherish our love to Christ, and arm us against Satan’s discouragements.” (The Bruised Reed)