Some days I try my best to be as much of my formerly “whole” self as possible, and other days I just have to accept the limitations I have. I miss the old me. I loved the energy I used to have, and the streamlined way my mind used to function.
Most of the time, I am at peace with what is gone, but other times I am taken by surprise with a pang of sadness, when someone asks me “where do you work?”, and I simply say “I don’t”. Which is not entirely true, but it is the simplest answer. It is not always easy to keep my perspective of the things God values versus the things that the world admires and respects. I went to college, worked very hard for my nursing degree, and by God’s grace, I had the privilege of touching lives as an RN, loved ones of a dying patient, patients themselves who were fearful and suffering, and the privilege of being part of that community of special people who do what nurses do.
These days my “place in the world” is not as defined. I have never had any love for this world, that’s not what I mean. To the degree that I participated in worldly things, it was more an effort to fit in, when I was a young adult starting to move out onto my own life and figure things out. There is a period of reconciling what you knew growing up, and of also testing what you have been taught, faith-wise. I found it very hard to believe, for instance, that there are people who actually enjoy the taste of beer, or inhaling smoke from a cigarette. I figured they had to really work hard to develop that “appreciation” but then, I still think that. I can’t even begin to fathom liking those things.
I loved the Jesus I learned about in church. And even though there was a period in my life I was disillusioned and particularly susceptible to Satan’s lies about God and about myself, I never doubted God’s hand in my life and His uninterrupted awareness of and vested interest in what was going on in my life. I tried to pretend otherwise, but it was in that impetuous way that an immature young lady might try to pretend she is not craving the interest of the boy she has a crush on. I had a lot to learn about Him. And He has lovingly and patiently worked with me through trials and snares, and good times and bad times, to show me Himself as He has written in His book that He is.
I understand that the sickness I have had in my body is a byproduct of living in a fallen state in this present world. Once man, in Adam, rebelled against God’s way, we were set on a trajectory of entropy. Dying can be instantaneous, but from the time we are born, we are in a slow process of death. Even as cells inside us regenerate, and despite God’s built-in design of self-repair to a certain extent, these bodies we inhabit are not designed for eternity. Illness changed me. And even when I miss what I once could do, I realize that it is God’s grace to remove self-sufficiency and show us our need for Him, not just for salvation and sanctification, but in everything. The reason we have to crucify self is because everything of our fleshly being is anathema to all that is Holy. Even as I have learned with my mind, that flesh is opposition to Spirit, I have continued in the futility of trying to improve the flesh. I could sit in a church that was all about being good and “living right” and know somewhere in my budding spiritual understanding, that is wrong-headed and really a diversion from the truth, and still fall for it. I guess that is because what our flesh wants and has always wanted since the fall, is to have some merit of our own. It’s what, in us, defies God and His being all in all. It is that green-eyed jealous monster that resonated with what Satan whispered in the garden, “that ye may be as gods”.
Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. We were created, and those willing to receive salvation through Jesus, really were created for Glory, but you don’t get there through effort or pride. Glory can only be bestowed by God because God is the owner of all glory. He wants to share it with us, but we want glory that is our own.
I consider myself to be probably more hard-headed than most people. I figure God had to be harder on me to get me to see things than some folks maybe require. I know all of my trials have been for my own good. I still get mad most of the time when a new one comes along, though.
For me, this world seems so old. Been there, done that. But that is not a teachable spirit, is it? I have seen very little of God’s created world, actually. On the one hand, I know human nature pretty well. But God forbid, and I sincerely mean that, that I should become closed to learning more. That is sort of the dilemma of getting older. I have had abundant curiosity most of my life, but when interacting with people sometimes results in lessons that disappoint, the eagerness to discover more about people and things, can get stunted. No one likes getting burned.
When we close up like that, we start to stagnate. God meant us, I believe, to inter-relate with others, with a built-in need for companionship. When you have been married a long time, it is easy to fall into a mindset in which you consider it “established” and begin to neglect it. Being a Christian can get that way too, and especially for anyone who struggles with that aspect of Christianity, the fact it is a relationship.
Recently a development occurred in my life, that I never expected to face, and on its face, it was something that made me very angry. But it has served as a catalyst that has a relationship getting attention it was in desperate need of, and thus, at the end of the day, it could be said that it was good that it happened.
That is the way God takes things that Satan meant for evil, and turns them around on him, and brings about something for our good. I have watched God do that countless times in my life. You would think it impossible for me to expect otherwise, and that when trouble comes, I should be able to shake my head in resigned acceptance and not get worked up over how this newest trial will turn out. But do we ever get to that point? I don’t know, maybe some people do, but it isn’t looking real promising for this chick. Expecting the worst is a knee-jerk response. This life is so full of trouble that when we hit a patch of smooth sailing, we can tend to automatically and pre-emptively feel dread because the good times never last as long as the trials do.
Now, as a Christian trying to live a life pleasing to the Lord, do you ever look around and see those who don’t seem to care about pleasing God, and how care-free they are? It is kind of like a mom with three beautiful children God has blessed her with, looking with wonder and envy at a barren woman and being jealous of her never-been-pregnant body. That woman would probably trade in her body for the privilege of motherhood. Even if she was one of those women who has no desire to have children, even if it is because she does value her vanity more, she wouldn’t feel that way if she knew the miracle it is to bring a child into this world.
While we are living this life, we are a lot like that completely oblivious baby in the womb. We are subject to forces and conditions and an environment that we didn’t choose, and we have no idea what we are, nor what loving intent brought us into being, and yet everyone wishes for a baby to grow up strong and wise, and loved and to experience all the good that can be experienced. We have not yet even been exposed to all God created us for. We have only barely tasted any of it, in this shadow-life here.
So as I go about my days, different from that of a lot of other women today, not having a job outside the home, limited in my abilities to function because my stamina is so low, and my mind doesn’t always run efficiently, I strive to still honor the Lord with what abilities He put in me. From blessing my husband and sons in keeping the home, to painting a work of art, writing, praying, studying the Word, editing the works of other writers, and any number of other things the Lord puts in front of me, I just try to work at doing whatever I do, as unto the Lord. He doesn’t have the same grading system the world has. So when I feel scattered and unable to stay on task, rather than get down on myself, I just thank the Lord that there is no one else but Him that I need to think about pleasing and He understands me and even if I am not running as efficiently as He originally designed me to be capable of, it was only with His permission that I became the way I now am. If it is okay by Him, who am I to be ashamed by it? By the grace of God, I am what I am.
Another way of saying it, “I’m me and I’m good ‘cuz God don’t make no junk”!
I don’t mean that we are “good” in and of ourselves, but I am learning to appreciate that as a Christian, not being like the rest of the world is actually the point. We are supposed to be distinguishable from the unsaved. Set apart. There are whole generations of professing Christians who don’t know that. It has not been taught. God has a specific design for male and female, and they are not the same. Everyone is unique in how God made them. The world now more than ever, is clamoring to make everyone the same, and to eradicate any distinctions whatsoever. Even between male and female. It is a crime of prejudice to even observe differences in culture, even while out of the other side of their mouth, the world demands the acceptance of “diversity”. That’s how confused the world is. With each year, the world moves further from God, and nearer to self-destruction.
I am happy to appreciate the good things each day brings, and even as I never turn away or ignore the perils of life in this day and age, I appreciate all the more, the myriad little blessings God gives us through out each day. When I enjoy a patch of sunlight, I try to remember to thank God for it. When I get a call from a friend I haven’t heard from in a while, I want to thank Him and say a prayer for that friend to be blessed as well.
I wish for others to know the truth. Most of the world is severely and deeply deceived. So much so that they are embracing evil that masquerades as angels of light. Not just the unchurched, but entire churches are doing it. Everybody needs to know the true Jesus. He died for all the sins of the world. For His own sake alone, He deserves for us to tell others the truth. Even if it means reproach. Even if it means being scoffed at, as talk of our Savior is wont to produce. But it doesn’t matter. What is a little scoffing? Jesus was scoffed at, spat upon, ridiculed, even as he bore the heavy cross on his excoriated shredded bleeding back up Golgotha hill. Serious proceedings. So serious and somber and critical, as the sins of all the world were heaped upon the sinless Savior, and the sky darkened as God Himself had to turn away His face from such a visage of His beloved Son. And yet even those present and witnessing it, most of them had no inkling the magnitude and import of what they were witnessing.
Many today won’t know, until they are burning in hell. Then they will know what that day was about. And with sorrow and regret, they will finally acknowledge Christ the King, but too late for them. Eternally and irrevocably too late. Some of them will be the people who you passed on your way to work every day. Some will be the neighbor who lived next door for five years, whom you never shared the gospel with. Don’t let Satan blind you to the need. Ask God to open your eyes to see the fields white unto harvest. You can be a laborer right where you are. You don’t have to go to Bible college or the mission field. I doubt there is any bigger mission field now than America anyway. Proclaim Him. He promised that if we would only lift Him up, HE would draw ALL men unto Him.
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