Are you in need of some comfort today, mama? I don’t know about you, but I woke up this morning in need of encouragement. And God sent it to me, by way of a beautiful sunrise, a pack of wild pigs, and this Bible verse…
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
In case you needed the reminder: God loves you
How has God shown you His love? For me, I see His love in my family and in nature. I get little “I love you’s” from God through Tyler every day. And I constantly am in awe of God’s love for me when I think about how much I love my kids. If I love my kids this much, and I’m a sinful human being, how much more does God love me?! (Matthew 7:11)
I’m a planner. Literally. My undergraduate degree was in Recreation, Parks & Tourism with a concentration in Event Planning. I enjoy planning things. In fact, one of my “hobbies” is planning vacations that I’ll (probably) never go on.
The older I get, the more I bump up against this problem with planning: oftentimes, my plans don’t coincide with God’s plan. And it’s frustrating, and, at times, painful.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
When God Had Different Plans for Me
At the beginning of 2013, I started to have debilitating pain in my joints. At the time, I was a riding instructor at a local horse farm. I would get home from teaching lessons at the end of the day and literally crawl up the stairs to our apartment because I was in so much pain. I started to see an orthopedic doctor and then a sports medicine doctor, and when neither helped, I went to a rheumatologist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist… the list goes on. I got a knee brace, shoe insoles, a plethora of medications and side effects, and a myriad of injections in my joints. Instead of getting better, the pain only got worse.
With every new doctor, I would hope that this would be THE ONE. This would be the doctor who would know what was wrong with me. This would be the therapy to finally “fix” me. This medication would make it all go away. But it didn’t. I found the truth in this verse: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
Three years into my journey with pain, I was consistently walking with a cane and taking several medications daily just to function. The pain kept me up at night—I spent a lot of nights crying on the bathroom floor, praying to God, feeling so alone and defeated. I was unable to work, barely able to go to church. There were days when I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help from my husband. This obviously wasn’t part of my plans.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The Greek term for faithfulness used in our key verse is “pistis” which conveys faith, belief, trust and confidence. This is the same word used when Jesus says things like, “Your faith (pistis) has healed you,” (Mark 5:34, 10:52) and in Mark 4:40, “Why are so afraid? Do you still have no faith (pistis)?” It is the same term used all throughout the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.
With everything going on in our world right now, it’s hard to be faithful. It’s easy to doubt what God is doing with this pandemic or in the various hardships he’s sending our way. Despite these storms, it is possible to have full faith in God – and not just blind, oblivious belief.
The next fruit of the Spirit in our series is peace. This is a pretty crazy time to discuss peace. At the time that I write this, the Coronavirus is closing in on half a million confirmed cases. Countries are closing their borders and several U.S. Cities and states have issued stay-at-home orders. We can make jokes about Quarantinis all day, but this is a terrifying situation.
So, how should we, as Christians, respond?
In my opinion: with preparation, prayer, and peace. I’ve already written about how we should prepare for disaster, so I won’t go in to it here.
One of the most important things we can be doing right now is praying. If you head to my Instagram, I’m doing a series of daily prayers for this pandemic. Please join me as I pray for our world in crisis.
Lastly, we should be at peace. We’ll get into the how later, but let’s talk about what peace is first.
This week, I’m starting a series on the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. I chose this verse because as moms, I’m pretty sure we all want to be everything in that scripture. Loving, joyful, patient, kind. But it’s hard. We get frustrated, impatient, lose our tempers. We get overwhelmed with the daily burdens of life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
I wanted to do a deeper dive on this verse to help me (and hopefully those of you reading this) to connect with and understand how we can grow in these areas.
For this week’s meditation, we’ll be looking at the parable of the wise and faithful manager. Because basically, “mama” means manager, right?!
Recently, after leaving a restaurant and strapping my son into his car seat, I handed him three out of the six toy monster trucks he’d brought with him from home. About a mile down the road, he says, “Mama, where’s my other monster trucks?”
“Oh Finn, I left them in the door. I forgot to give them to you.”
He considered my response and finally said, “It’s okay, but next time, will you obey?”
Last week we discussed how God calls us to love Him first, above our families. This week I wanted to talk about the priorities within our families: that as moms we need to prioritize our husbands – even above our children.
I say this by way of confession: it’s easy to put my children ahead of my husband. They’re needier – and their needs are more urgent. They’re dependent on me and therefore sap my energy wholly. I know you know what I’m talking about. I remember when we first got married and before we had kids, it was a struggle to keep God first and not elevate my husband above Him. Now, in this stage of life, it’s sometimes hard to remember I have a husband!
We ended up doing this family devotional because earlier that day, Finn had made a reference about God “liking” him if he did the right thing. I wanted to emphasize to him that God loves us no matter what – even if and when we leave him and disobey him – He always loves us and always wants us to return to Him. Even though the story seemed a bit mature for his age, I felt called to share this prodigal son devotional with him.
Before having children, I was often tempted to put my husband “above” God – to treasure my relationship with Tyler more than I treasured God, to get all of my hope and security in Tyler instead of God, to save up all of my thoughts, desires and hardships to work through with Tyler instead of turning to God first. Now that I have children, I’m still tempted to put Tyler above God – but it’s even harder these days to put my children before God. If I’m honest, prioritizing my children, and even idolizing them, comes as second-nature. They dominate my thoughts, enslave my emotions, and consume my desires. But this verse calls me to love God first.