Source: FINE PRINT OR THE BOTTOM LINE?
Part Two of this post brings me to a truly enormous learning curve.
It’s not all about me.
And that’s one of the major problems we all face in today’s culture. Bombarded with the deception if it feels good—do it, we are led to believe we deserve to be happy.
A group of hot-shot educations began teaching this philosophy over fifty years ago. And we’ve allowed at least two generations of young people to believe life is all about them. They are special. And our tax dollars have paid and will continue to pay that costly bill. Parents bought the lie that their kid’s self-worth is the most important value we can teach them. And the P.C. police have pushed so far that everyone on the team gets a trophy…everybody’s a winner.
But we’ve failed to teach our children the Truth of the Word of God…without which, in the end, nobody wins. And you can’t teach what you don’t know and believe.
God created the family first. He didn’t create government, entertainment, or even the church first. Family was and is first. A nation is no stronger than its families. Which leads me, after the fact, to consider the importance God places on the family. Satan dealt us a two-fisted-knock-out punch with no-fault divorce, and we cheered. Now there is no difference between divorce rates inside or outside the church.
Am I qualified to speak on this issue? You bet I am. In the old days of all about me, I packed up two small children and hit the door of our house, running straight to the courthouse. I chose divorce. I wasn’t happy. I made a wrong mate choice. I couldn’t tolerate another minute. But forty plus years later, I’ve come to understand I’ll never know what God could have done in that marriage had I trusted and allowed God time to change both of us.
And the consequences of my choice bled a permanent stain into the lives of me, my ex-husband, our new spouses, our parents, our friends, my children, and goodness knows who else. Has God forgiven me? Oh my yes. God is full of mercy and grace and when we repent, He always forgives the sin. But those stinky consequences lurk alive and well in the lives of angry children and my new-found knowledge I didn’t trust God. I knew about Him, but I didn’t trust Him as Lord and Savior. Because, at that time, my life was all about me.
All the “buts” don’t matter. And we always have a list of them, don’t we? “But I made a wrong choice in the first place.” “But he or she doesn’t meet my needs.” “But I don’t love him or her anymore.” God is either sovereign over all things or He is sovereign over nothing. And when He said, I hate divorce, there was a reason. And, after the fact, the consequences have taught me—just like what He told Judah in Jeremiah 2:19:
“Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you. Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God, and the dread of Me is not in you,” declares the Lord God of hosts.”
Guess what, when I walked out that door, I forsook God’s authority over my life. Leaning to my own understanding, I pushed the fear of disobeying Him behind me, and I toted all my dirty laundry into a second marriage and Dick drug his rotten baggage along too. Divorce solved nothing. We had to begin all over again–with our old problems and a stack of new ones too. We had to learn the lessons of faith and trust and Holy Spirit produced love God knew we must learn, else there would be a longer string of broken homes, broken lives, and broken people. Perhaps even people lost forever in the darkness and lies of it’s all about me.
Television, songs, movies, and of course, FaceBook scream words of unforgiveness, anger, and hatred, and we mimic what we hear, but God’s Word says, “If you don’t forgive others, I won’t forgive you.” (Translation by DiAne). In recent years I’m learning what that really means and sometimes the lessons are really hard.
Jesus Christ forgave me for every single evil, hateful thing I’ve ever done—past, present, and future on that night in January. My despicable thoughts, actions, and deeds were nailed as an indictment against Him when He hung on that cross, suffered, and died for me. How then can I refuse to forgive every person who has been ugly, evil, or mean to me? And that’s the next lesson after life is not all about me. Refusing to forgive each other is not an option in the heart and life of a believer.
I am still learning, but have made great strides, in the dysfunctional use of my tongue. I don’t have to voice an opinion about everything and sometimes I just need to be silent. And most times, silence is preferred. I came from a loud and boisterous family and old habits and personality disorders die hard. I must choose to put them to death. Crucify them with the help of my Lord Jesus. Sure cuts down on the marital feuds and helps trend peace in my family and with others.
My ramblings, I hope, will strike a needful cord of help to some of you along the way. And, if you’d like, I’d love to have the opportunity to share more of those hard life lessons. Ours wasn’t always a peace-filled, loving forty years. I was taken to church from the nursery on. I walked the aisle at twelve with a group of girlfriends. But when we came to faith and trust in Christ in January of 1989, all things changed. Forever. The Spirit of God moved in, threw out a raft-a-garbage, tore down self-constructed walls, installed light that radiates into the dark, secret corners, and began a life-long remodeling job in our hearts, our home, and our lives.
Dick and I made a pledge to plaster prayer—together—into our daily lives. A praying plaster that cements that strong “cord of three strands” talked about in Ecclesiastes 4:12—The Father, Dick, and me—together ‘til He comes or we go to be with Him. ‘Cause it’s real hard to be screaming hate and throwing a tantrum when the three of you are involved in a life-changing, life-long conversation together.
Hope your old-house make-over is well underway too! And I pray you younger couples, at whatever age and stage you find yourselves today, have the extreme joy and faith and trust to reach forty, fifty, maybe even sixty years together with your spouse and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Posted in A Nation Divided | Tagged Angry, Believing lies rather than truth, Choosing Change, Deceived, Faithlessness, God's mercy and love and grace, Hope, Lies, My Way, No Fear of God, Self-Centered, Selfish, Transformation | 9 Comments »
Dick and I have just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and while it was a great time of celebration, I paused to ponder some of the things God has taught me along the way. Things, in light of our current culture, I’d like to share with those of you who think y’all might not make next year’s anniversary, or those of you who’ve decided marriage isn’t your cup-a-tea.
One of the first amazing facts, I’ve learned to ponder what God has taught me. God tells us over and over to remember—remember what? Remember what we’ve gone through. Remember how He carried us through the bad times. Remember the joy of the good times. Remember His promises to those who love and obey Him. Remember who He is and who we’re not. Remember and act upon what He desires us to become. But remember, you can’t remember what you’ve never learned.
Expect difficult trials and times. These forty years the hurdles have been many and varied: Job loss, several times. Critical illness. Heart attacks. Death of a daughter. Parenting grandchildren for a year after daughter’s death. Change in family dynamics. Destructive thoughts and behavior patterns. No job, no income, lots of bills. Anger. Rebellion to God. Caring for elder parents in our home. Death of both sets of parents. All of which lead to the third thing I’ve learned.
God never leaves us or turns His back when the going gets tough. He carried us through many of these harsh life experiences and guided us through the rest. God is faithful—even when we’re not. He is my Rock and He’s taught me to lean on Him. Doesn’t mean the grieving wasn’t hard. Stretched me to the limit. But He has never failed us.
Keep the main thing, the main thing. Today’s culture tends to encourage us to be attentive to the urgent while by-passing the important. Sometimes at the end of a day I just wanted to jump off the crazy train—too much of everything, not enough of me. Then I began to learn about seasons of life and God’s order. Remember, seasons come and go, they don’t stay forever. What we ought to do, we ought to do now. Like education, college and graduation. Career choices. Marriage. Parenthood. Then your teen’s years swiftly turn into empty nest years. And finally retirement and old age. How’s that for a quick, sweeping broad brush stroke across the seasons of life?
God tells us to do all things decently and in order. He is a God of order. We don’t see a flim-flam creation do we? No. Down to the last intricate detail, God orchestrated all of His creation and freely gave us life. We’re the ones who embrace confusion rather than order. We become bored with order or tantalized by the haram-scaram voice of deception. And that’s where God found me.
Hold your hand in front of you and consider, what would happen if your thumb were replaced by your pinky? Or how about if your index finger took your ring finger’s place and your thumb nestled in beside it to bump the middle finger to the thumb’s place. The answer is weird, fumbling, chaos.
And many of us have experienced fumbling, chaotic points where we by-passed stages of life or jumbled their order. Like an un-wed single mom attempting to get a college degree. Or grandparents forced to take over parenting the grandchildren because the parents rebelled against God.
All of us have, in one way or another, violated God’s deliberate order of life and many of us end up with a diagnosis of terminal heart failure…stuffing too much, too soon, into an unprepared vessel. God is always in the business of forgiveness, but the consequences of wrong choices or sin continue to trail behind us like super sleuths.
Whether you believe it or not, God is Sovereign over all things. He knew me and He knew you before we were formed in our mother’s womb. I can’t even comprehend that, can you? Not only did He know us, He granted personalities, skills, talents—gifts, to each one of us. We are all unique. Created for the purpose of glorifying Him. Do you know He loves to hear the sound of your voice—but is the sound He hears from me pleasing or full of discord? He gives me the right to choose.
I don’t know about you, but much of my life brought shame, not glory to God. I knew He was God, but had no clue what His sovereignty meant. But because God never changes and is always ready to grant us mercy when we change our ways and accept Jesus’ gift of salvation and choose to obey Him—when I came to Jesus and confessed my sin and shame, He forgave me. Then the key word is surrender. I surrendered my will to His will. My wants to His wants. My choices to His choices for Dick and for me. My obedience to God brings order and peace to my life and my home.
Sovereignty means whatever you’re going through did not catch God by surprise. He’s not pacing the heavens shouting, Oh no! What am I going to do now? He’s in charge of what’s happening—sets the limits of your trials and temptations. Before you were born He knew you. Before a word is on your lips He knows what you’re going to say. And He loves you anyway. Jesus died because of your and my desperate need for a Savior.
And it also means I don’t have the option of allowing my temper to run rough-shod over people. I can’t carry a grudge and be pleasing to Him. I’m accountable to God for every tiny word that comes out of my mouth and every thought I allow to fog my mind. I’m accountable to Him for each minute of every day, whether I choose good or evil. And I don’t get the choice of defining what’s good and what’s evil. God makes the rules. And they’re not old-timey words. His Word will stand forever.
Next week Part Two: It’s Not All About Me!
Posted in A Nation Divided | Tagged Accountable to God, consequences, Difficult trials, forgiveness, God is Faithful, God's promises, love, Order and Peace in my life and my home, Remembering, Seasons of Life, Surrender, The Right to Choose, You Can't Remember What You've Never Learned | 6 Comments »