God is being so good to me. But sometimes I don’t want it. Oftentimes it is hard. Ever since Joshua was born and God really started calling my attention back to Him in faithful devotion and I began really praying to become more like the woman He originally created me to be, life has been full of challenges. I am thankful to say that there has been nothing big and tragic… I am so thankful and blessed for this. Rather it has been day in and day out living that He has been growing and challenging me. And it always turns me back to the book of Philippians.
When I prayed and began work on my Home Management Binder to include making a Personal Mission Statement and Personal and Family Goals for 2012 one of the biggest themes I kept coming up to was: To walk in complete surrender and obedience to everything the Lord asks regardless of the sacrifice. I am continually reminding myself of this as daily I feel like I fail in learning what God is trying to teach me. He wants me to take His Word seriously. To really live out His commands not just post them on a notecard in my bathroom mirror like a motivational quote to make me feel good from time to time. But to really really live what He says. This is not easy. The Lord requires a lot from us, but He also provides a lot for us.
Here are some of the specific lessons and specific verses that He has been training me to live by:
- “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind consider others better than yourselves. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” Phil 2:3-4. Wow. Many of us have read this before but let’s think about what this looks like in our lives seriously. This is about sacrifice. Sacrificing our wants/needs/desires for those of others. Being a wife and a mother the opportunity to learn this lesson is one that occurs multiple times every day. I usually wake up with a general plan for the day but often things change and I am frequently challenged to put aside my wants/needs/desires/plans for the day and consider what would be best for others… not myself… which is a sacrifice. It might be best for my kiddo to take a nap in his bed then run that extra errand I need/want to run; it might be best to leave the house a little messy and take lunch to Adam so he can see his kiddos instead of perfecting my home to feel some sort of control over my life; etc., etc., etc., the opportunities here as a wife and mother seem endless.
- “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” Phil 2:14-15. Yep… He said it… ALL things without complaining. That means cleaning another mess from the kiddos or the husband or the dog and cat; that means another sleepless night from the noisy neighbors upstairs or the kiddos waking up for whatever reason; that means driving another 30 miles into town to run an errand for your husband or spend time with extended family; that means helping out your husband when you had your mind set on a little “me” time. Do ALL things without complaining. We all have heard it but are we living it? Think about this throughout your day and count how many times you beging to complain (even if it’s only in your mind)… it is quite frequent for me.
- “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Phil 3:8. Again here I must preface by saying how thankful I am that we have not experienced the loss of some great things in our lives, we truly are blessed. I am currently in a stage of my life where I am losing a lot of ideals for my life. I am losing the ideal of having a steady income at one job through my husband all year long in the same place not requiring us to travel back and forth between states, the ideal of having a home we can call our own or even a home we can rent with some peace and quiet, the ideal of my husband’s job providing more time at home with me and the kiddos, the ideal of having a washer and dryer to put an end to the 60 mile round trip all day laundry adventures at my in-laws. Each of these ideals have been a huge struggle for me and I continually struggle against thoughts that “if only this or that were like this then my life would be easier/better”. God has a plan and a reason why our life is the way it is right now and He wants me to count these things as loss for the excellence of knowing Him. That each of these “lost” things will bring me closer to Him and knowing about Him and His provisions. He knew I was stubborn enough that this was the lifestyle He would have to bring me to in order to teach me these lessons.
- “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:6-7. I have experienced this peace that surpasses understanding on many occassions in my life and each time I experience it I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to His promises. That when we do surrender our will to His and submit our requests to Him trusting in His timing and His plan then we will be filled with peace. This is much better than being anxious over everything always wonderfing when our way will come about and what will happen next. The Lord has it all under His control and He is such a loving and amazing God that we really don’t have anything to worry about. He has brought me miles with this lesson although I still have a long ways to go.
- “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – medtate on these things.” Phil 4:8. This has been a huge lesson in my marriage. After reading The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace and her charge to renew our minds in regards to our husbands I have really been challenged in this. I do struggle with bitterness and unforgiveness towards my husband and one of my downfalls is allowing my mind to wander into negative land. Thinking about the offenses against me and the things I wish were different and the ways I have been hurt. When I meditate on these things all it does is allow the root of bitterness to sprout and flourish. God has been training me to renew my mind and meditate only on praiseworthy things. When I am faithful to doing this it makes such a difference and I can view my husband and our marriage with the hope and faith God has.
- “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Phil 4:11. This one for me goes hand in hand with counting all things as loss. God has definitely been challenging me to be content in our circumstances. As I have mentioned before, I struggle with living again in an apt. with noisy neighbors who smoke, driving 60 miles round trip just to do laundry and grocery shop, Adam working 12-14 hrs a day in a job he’s not thrilled about, travelling to and from Arizona this winter for Adam to work and not having a stable place to call home that we can be at day in and day out. None of these were in my life plan and ideal for this stage in our life but this is where God has us and I know without a doubt in my mind (this is the peace He has given me that surpasses all understanding) that He wants us here to grow us and shape us more into the man and woman and family He created us to be. He loves me so much that He wants me to grow in Him and this is how He needs to do it and for this I am so grateful.
Another amazing thing about the book of Philippians is the amazing promises God gives for all of these lessons I am learning:
- “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6
- “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Phil 2:12-13
- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
- “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19
It is not easy. But God is at work. God loves me so much and I can trust that He knows what He’s doing : )