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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Most days as a pastor's wife are wonderful. They really aren't all that much different from any other wife/mother's typical day. But then, frankly, there are those days, weeks, and sometimes even months that seem to try my selflessness and my desire to be flexible in every way.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things to experience in ministry has been the sense of being watched and observed, and not so much by a congregation but by Satan. He has studied me. He has studied my family. He knows where we appear weak, vulnerable, and consequently, have been uniquely targeted because of our visibility before others.

Though I could get on my soap box and wax eloquent regarding the various aspects of ministry life I have experienced and grown from, I think perhaps just sharing a few words God gave me some eight or so years ago will offer a pretty accurate portrayal of what perhaps many, not all, pastor's wives experience at times.  

THE GLASS HOUSE

Peering through the panes of my house outsiders seem to see
The very strengths and weaknesses that exist deep inside of me.
My soul exposed alike to friends and foe
Vulnerable to opinions that freely flow.
Wondering how I have arrived in this glass enclosure
Why would God allow such extreme external exposure?
Opportunity knocks, blessings abound, still my heart remains reserved
Fearing man, fearing perceptions, fearing what may be said or heard.
I’m in the struggle to survive this lonely road, this mental abyss,
All the while learning how to lean on God - Satan to resist!
More oft than not I first succumb to eyes which seem to see inside me
Until I recollect my thoughts and see how JESUS sees me!
Through eyes not judging the external but looking at my heart,
I only need look to HIM to recognize my part…
He’s placed me in this big glass house to live the life He’s given,
Set forth as an example NOT as perfection this side of heaven.
It’s a struggle to remember my goal is not to please all who see me or perceive me,
But to please my maker and be who HE intends for me to be.
It takes more discipline, more resolve than I alone possess
To live my life before others with a Godly brand of finesse.
So I hear the Lord as He gently whispers saying,
“Your glass house is a blessing I have given.
Seek me, trust me, allow me to mold you,
Fix your eyes on me - not others - and your heart I will renew.
So that you can live in this glass house with anticipation and with hope
NOT merely trying to exist or attempting to simply cope.
You are equipped for my purpose, I have made you so,
Allow me to lead you to where I would have you go.
Open the doors of your glass house and let others in,
I know it won’t be easy but many victories you will win.
For when you love without fear - love without reserve,
Your capacity to give grows and multiplies in return.”
In gaining God’s perspective, in looking through His eyes
I can see the hidden blessings that ought not be passed by.
So I live in this glass house so transparent and so clear
Living - loving victoriously in Him without the need to fear.



It's humbling to live in a glass house, to say the least. And, though I would love to say I have managed to live life as He desires before many watchful eyes, truthfully, I still have times of struggle.  But, I'm okay with that now. Fortunately, age has worked to my benefit. I recognize, like everyone else, I am a work in progress. He will do in and through my life what He chooses as I cooperate, just as He always has, to help me "arrive".

I am so thankful my times of struggle now serve as mere reminders to refocus, to regain my perspective, and to fix my eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).  My job is to keep loving, living, and learning...His way.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Forgiveness and Love - Not Mutually Exclusive

I have been thinking about forgiveness. I have been searching my heart for any place in which I might be tempted to hold on to grudges, hurts, offenses. I have contemplated some verses that I have taken to heart and which have spoken so loudly to me as someone who so desires to do only what God would have me to do.  My challenge to you is to simply read and allow God the room to speak to your heart. That's all...just a lil ole challenge on this gorgeous day!

Matthew 5:43-48 (the Message) says, "You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. "In a word, what I'm saying is...grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."

Proverbs 19:11 (the Message) says, "Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget."

Matthew 6:14-15 (The Message) "In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.

I Corinthians 13:13 says, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

Okay, so if your hurt, if you are offended, if you have been accused, if you have been misunderstood, mistreated, etc.  Whatever it is that is challenging your ability to forgive and love, take heart. Take your heart directly to the foot of the cross and there seek His enabling power to forgive. It is the act of forgiving others as we have been forgiven that allows Him (through our faith and obedience) the room to work in and through us.  We cannot expect to unleash His power without first obeying His commands. We cannot hope to live a life of joy and hope if we are wrapped up in our own pain. Instead of God remaining the Lord of our life, our pain, our hurts, the offenses we hold tightly onto, even if they are deep and hidden, will prevent us from having and enjoying the pursuits of a holy life and the benefits thereof! When we freely forgive and freely love, we find freedom ourselves. We are no more closer to living like He desires than when we are loving like He desires, without regard to our "feelings" which often become the gods of a powerless existence.

As you travel along on your own personal journey in this life, I hope you find you hold no unforgiveness in your heart.  I pray you are free to live unto Him and free to bring Him glory! Sometimes, it's hard to love. Sometimes, it feels nearly impossible to forgive and love with abandon, to show through our actions or inaction that we choose to forgive and love others as He has. And yet, it is His command that we do.  He has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to love unconditionally, unreservedly and unselfishly. This is how the world will know us...as true followers of Christ - by our love, not by the grudges we hold onto. When you seek to love like this, it may feel as though you are being impaled on the cross with Christ, but even that compares little to the extent Christ went to to show you His lavish love for you. So I ask, what more glorious suffering is there than to identify with Him in our act of loving those we consider to be the unlovable? I know of none- no greater cause to suffer for, no greater proof that we are who we claim to be, no greater witness to Who lives in and through us!

Blessings!