The question weighing on my heart: Is our example worthy to be followed? And a myriad of other questions.

The question weighing on my heart: Is our example worthy to be followed? And a myriad of other questions.

{{This post today is really just a stream of consciousness that has been on my heart for some time.  The state of the church weighs heavy on my heart, and I wonder if the next generation will find our example a trustworthy and faithful representation of the gospel. Please indulge me as I get this on paper and share. I realize this will be more of a chat than an article, so forgive the lack of form.}}

For those who have been reading here a long time, you know that I mostly write about faith, family, and the battle to live true to Christ in a culture that is shifting.

I’ve also been honest about my slowness to learn the lessons that Christ has for me (aka…failure to trust)  and my deep desire to live as if sin hadn’t infected this earth and my own flesh.

I’m also very much aware of cultural shifts in Christianity, and not in a good way. It has me wondering, will the generations to come find us faithful to the true gospel and to the mandates of Scripture?

This is a question we must all ask ourselves, one that requires soul-searching. When I look at the landscape of Christianity in general, the prognosis is far from holiness. We are more like frogs in the kettle that is coming to a boil and we don’t know it.

I can only soul search for myself, so why write this at all?

Because other women I know are also struggling.

They write me daily, confiding deep, deep hurts. Some wonder where God is in all of this.

  • Some tell of heartache in the family, husbands who are MIA physically or emotionally and I can’t tell you how many write that their husband does not lead the family spiritually.
  • Others have been scarred by religion gone bad (C.S. Lewis says, “Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst.”).
  • There are those whose children have walked away from God, or are just plain apathetic.  Others are in bondage to drugs  (an epidemic that I fear every family will be touched by, either by a loved one who struggles with addiction, or by the necessity to rescue a child neglected by the epidemic.) The list could go on and on.

These dear ladies are looking for footing on what seems to be sinking sand. Where is the Rock? They worked hard for their family, that marriage, that job, that relationship, that ministry, that child, and now it is all crumbling before them.

We clench our fists and tell God that this is not what we signed up for. This is unacceptable. How could this happen?

We want to know the end of it all.

We ask the forbidden question, “WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS?”

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He’s there, in His goodness, quietly growing green grass under our oblivious feet each day. He pushes up buds through tender warm earth and colors our world with beauty and fragrance, a million species of flora and fauna bursting forth because it makes Him happy to do so. He’s the God who is there to feed the birds each day and direct the tides so they don’t overflow their borders. He’s the God who gives us another breath, another sunrise, another soaking rain to water plants that come and grow again.

I don’t have all the answers and neither do you, but we do have a good God that we can trust. It’s in these moments that we must live out the truth of a solider under the command of Another: Thy Will Be Done.

Until we get this…

Until we submit to His will and His way,

we’ll be nothing more than an insubordinate child, thrashing and grasping and tantruming against the plans of Our Good Father because we’ve not realized that He knows best.

We’ll never be able to trust and obey when we have our own agenda or hang on, close fisted to our own demands.

And that sin of charging God foolishly, or worse, trying to control God, that sin of rebellion and pride that we wear so proudly as “self-sufficient” or “independent” will be the very sin that breaks your heart and perhaps teaches your kid a lesson you never intended: Momma doesn’t trust God, so how can I?

Sometimes the thing we hold on to like we control it is the thing that has us in bondage.  Sometimes the thing God pulls from our grasp, that thing that breaks us is the beginning of freedom.

One of the lessons we teach our little ones in Sunday school is the song, “Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Mindless, you say? Ignorant? Trust God?

Many today only obey God’s Word when it fits their framework or ideology. The problem is that God’s Word is the path to life and when we disobey it, we are inadvertently walking another path: the path away from God and His blessing.

So, in short, my biggest problem is that I underestimate the depravity of my independent spirit, my stubborn will, my pet sins, or my unloving thoughts.  We don’t think it will come back to bite us, and it certainly won’t affect others.

“Has God said?” It’s NOT a big deal. “You will not surely die.”

We swallow the lie, hook, line and sinker. We’re predictable that way.

We want Christianity our way and we have a ready ally in the culture. “Do your own thing.” “Be your own man.” “Live for yourself.” “Don’t let anybody stop you.”

It’s infiltrated the church so much so that we now have a carte blanch term for anyone who attempts to live in a holy manner: legalistic.

(For the record, legalism is a matter of a proud heart, not a tender conscience toward not sinning or a pursuit of excellence and obedience to Scripture. Legalism is an attempt to gain eternal favor with God by doing good works or law-keeping. Actual legalism is the enemy of grace. It’s not the same as careful obedience born out of loyalty or love.)

I remember a time when an older woman mentioned that she thought it was wise to do her devotions in the morning before the day got started to re-align her will with God’s and to fill her mind with Scripture before the day began.  I later heard a younger woman criticize that as “legalistic” because no such command exists. (Though, there are many, many verses about seeking God early in the morning in scripture.) This woman couldn’t even share what she does without being labeled. It’s quite sad.

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Excellence in Christianity? LEGALIST! But, oh, we fork out the money for seminars, webinars, and workshops full of excellence-attaining advice on every other topic under the sun from blogging to gardening to dressing to home decor. But don’t talk to me about Christian living. Who do you think you are?

Are we so independent that we can’t listen in humility and learn from those who have gone before us?

Why are we so soft that we can’t understand generational differences and make allowances for them? Wouldn’t the abundance of grace we’ve received warrant an acknowledgement that the older generation, though imperfect, did the best they could with the resources they had, feet of clay and all?

We’ve all made mistakes, the previous generation and me and you. And none of us is always right. Which is why our safest course is to sincerely follow God in faith and obey His Word.

The church of 100 years ago bears the shame of racism and bigotry just like the culture around them did. It’s easy to wag our fingers and judge them, but the more productive question is to ask where have we become like our culture and where are we blindly sinning today.

I think future generations will ask, “Why didn’t the church care about holiness? How did they become apathetic and distracted? Where did worldliness seep in and why did they throw away a rich history of godliness and truth-bearing? When did peace at all cost trump truth?”

Have we come to the point that if it isn’t commanded, then it isn’t necessary?

Has obedience become optional? When the Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill,” does it mean I can beat someone to a bloody pulp as long as life isn’t lost?

When the Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill,” does it mean I can kill someone’s reputation and slander their character as long as no physical blood is shed?

Where is the Spirit in this form of Christianity? Where is the power? The love that transforms? Where exactly is the transformative power of the gospel?

We each have to ask for ourselves:

  • Is our walk faithful?
  • Will those who follow behind us say we walked well?
  • What’s it like for your teen, your child, your fellow congregant to be following your example?
  • Do we make excuses for our long history of sin because we had good reason or because we were dealing with unbearable circumstances?
  • Have we spent so much time looking at the world that we don’t even know what Christianity looks like anymore?
  • Are we characterized by love?
  • Do we pray, “Thy will be done?” or Do we want to lead God by the nose and call the shots?
  • Do we look for loop holes for ourselves while coming down on others harshly?
  • Have we failed to love people better than ourselves?
  • Why, again, are we airing our dirty laundry on social media? Does this debate really have to happen and is it advancing the good news of Jesus Christ?
  • Do we even know how to suffer for someone else anymore? Is that even in our mindset as Christians in 2018? Can we wrap our heads around these words from 1 Corinthians 6:6-8 ?

But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?  No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!*

I have a theory–a very unsubstantiated theory about what has happened to Christianity in the past ten years. Forgive my ignorance if it sounds stupid to you,, but for the last year or so, this phrase continually pops into my head; a comment from the parable of the seeds in Mark 4:

THE CARES OF THIS WORLD.

“but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

I’ve taken these words to heart in the last few years as I’ve felt the cares of my own world weighing heavy upon my shoulders. Foster care is not something I can write much about, but fostering changes you in ways nothing else can. The weight of the brokenness of the entire system is somewhat crushing. The navigating of daily worries is like nothing I’ve dealt with before. Though things have evened out for us, we’re forever changed.  I can honestly say that I’ve never worried about a child as I have this one. The not knowing, the fact that this child is a ward of the state, the court dates, the emotional ups and downs–I can tell you that it has been a revelation for both of us.

The cares of this world, choke the word and it becomes unfruitful.

Now, I know that you can’t take a parable too far, but if the cares of this world can choke out the gospel unto salvation, I think they can do a number on believers as well.

Maybe your cares aren’t dealing with foster care. Maybe you are one of the women dealing with deep pain who wrote to me.

Maybe you are just weighed down with distraction. Maybe world news is too much for you? Maybe any news is too much for you. Maybe you need to focus on leading a quiet and peaceable life with the people you come in contact with.

No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Tim. 2:4

I’m more convinced than ever that we should take an inventory of our hearts and cares, and yes, of our own sin and ask,  Am I truly following Christ in a wise manner.

  • Where is my focus?
  • How is my daily obedience?
  • Am I immersed in the Word daily?
  • What has entangled me?
  • If I find myself in a struggle, am I doubling down on my intake of God’s Word or am I leaning unto my own understanding and doing what is right in my own eyes?
  • Do I realize that I am a soldier and that my God’s commands are not optional, but are for my joy and happiness and fullness of life?
  • Have I surrendered all to God or am I holding back whole areas of control?
  • Where am I turning for happiness and hope? (These are my functioning gods.)
  • What has left me unsatisfied and deflated? Am I willing to turn from my dependence on that to see the True God who offers real hope, strength, lovingkindness, and mercy.
  • Am I trusting God as evidenced by obedience to His Word, or do I have a  million reasons why I am exempt from this command or another?
  • Am I distracted by civilian affairs?
  • Am I willing to do hard things not knowing the outcome?
  • Am I willing to immerse myself in Scripture so that God’s ways look more normal to me than the culture I am inundated with?

These are my thoughts recently and my hope for those who come behind us, that they’d see this generation of mothers and leaders and say that YES, they were faithful to follow God and are an example and pattern for me as well.

Thanks for letting me process these thoughts and share them with you. I’m mostly preaching to myself. Please feel free to give me your thoughts or anything you’ve learned along these lines. God bless you all as you seek to serve Christ.

 

*(I’m not saying that people should not suffer the consequences of their own sin and if that means court, trial, and jail, especially in instances of violence or abuse, then we can be sure that the judge is a messenger of God’s justice. I’m saying that in ordinary instances of loss, are we willing to take the hit for the sake of our Christian testimony? Do we even think in those terms anymore? Do we always have to be avenged and right?)

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2 thoughts on “The question weighing on my heart: Is our example worthy to be followed? And a myriad of other questions.”

  • This, Yes! Thanks for writing and sharing, I too have been wondering the same things.

  • Love this! I’ve been pondering the state of the church too. It weighs heavy on my heart too. Thank you for sharing this.

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