Archive for November, 2011

The Limit of His Endurance

We couldn’t endure it any longer. I couldn’t  endure it any longer.

What kinds of trials do you imagine after reading such statements? In our society I see these declarations made after describing a loveless marriagean unsatisfying job… or a frustrating political conversation. I say it to justify ranting at my messy family! 🙂

However, I pulled these sentences from another time. They are quotes from a man who had been beaten,

stoned,

                  starved,

                                     shipwrecked,

                                                                    left in the cold naked,

                                                                                                                       whipped repeatedly, and who was despised by his former friends and family.

 

But he’s not complaining about any of those things.

 

No, the thing he could no longer endure was wondering how his spiritual children in another city were doing. He couldn’t endure the silence. He couldn’t endure not seeing them, not hearing from them.

Listen to the way the Apostle Paul describes his misery while you keep in mind the physical torture he has already lived through:

“We were bereft of you.”

“Eager with great desire to see your face.

We wanted to come to you.”

You are…

our hope,

our joy,

our crown.

You are our glory.

Our joy (repeating).

We were left behind and sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage you. We didn’t want you to be disturbed by our afflictions. (Seriously?! ) He goes on… “I feared Satan might have tempted you.”

Uh, I would not be this concerned about someone  if I were facing death by torture.

But Paul receives good news! He’s going to be released! He’s going to be blessed! He’s going to retire to a sunny seaside village and play 18 holes everyday!

No. He’s not. He’s going to die for Christ after several more years of intense physical pain. Yet “in all our distress and affliction” he is comforted. Why? Because he has found out they are standing firm in their faith. In fact, Paul lapses into almost a giddy mood. He declares, “Now we REALLY live.”  Hear the sentiment of verses 9 and 10 of 1Thessalonians:

“What thanks can I give to God for you in return for all the joy with which I rejoice before God because of you? Night and day I keep praying that I may see your face and complete what is lacking in your faith.”  (I changed the pronouns of these verses and paraphrased them – but that is what they are saying.)

So how? How could Paul love like that while bearing in his body such a high cost for following Christ. Here is what you need to understand ~

It’s Christ’s love for YOU that reigns in Paul. The Lord Jesus joyfully endured the cross to see you safely home, and every word Paul writes came straight from His heart. Don’t let Satan fool you. God loves you more than you can fathom.

Mom’s Miraculous Taxi

Em, Hannah and Rachel at the Phoenix Art Museum

Recently a friend texted me, asking if I could start a carpool with her. I haven’t texted back, partly because for a week I couldn’t find my phone. Those of you who know me are shocked I’m sure. But the main reason is she’s asking me to give up something that is often routine and uneventful, but occasionally… miraculous. Driving my kids to school and back each day is one of my highest privileges.

Take this morning for example. I handed a worship CD, Jars of Clay, to Hannah. “Aw, I’m not gonna get to listen to my music?” she asked, teasing me. Sorta.

“Would I force you to listen to my stuff?” Yes. I would, but not this morning. She grinned, and punched on the radio. Good Life came on, a beeboppy tune we all like. But the words an extraordinary glimpse at life without Christ. “This song amazes me,” I said. “Here he is, jetting all over the world, partying like a rock star, having the time of his life, and at the end he’s singing ‘Hopelessly, I’m afraid there’s something I might have missed. The hope is this really is the good life.'” I looked at Hannah. “Have you realized he’s singing that?”

She arches an eyebrow.

“Isn’t it amazing that the world hopes for the good life while they have everything, and yet through Christ you can be at peace in the middle of heavy crap and KNOW you really do have the good life?”

Hannah smiled. “Yeah, that’s pretty neat.”

The next song came on. A woman sang out, “I feel sexy and free.” I matched her tune, “Ewww, well woman don’t tell me, cos you nasty.”  Hannah and Rachel howled with laughter and we changed the channel. Something came on that reminded me of what our pastor Tom said at church last night and I looked at the girls.

“You know when Tom said every year has gotten better with his kids?” The girls nodded. “Well, when he said that, I looked down the row at you guys because that’s exactly how I feel. I love you more everyday.”

I stopped the car. We were at Hannah’s drop off place. She smiled again. “Thanks, Mom. I love you too.” She got out and Rachel took the front seat. She switched the radio to the CD player and started my Jars of Clay album. Rachel has taste what can I say? 🙂 We started singing together and half way to her school she reached over and held my hand. When I dropped her off, she gave me a long hug, and kiss. Just another day, another drive, but this time… Jesus made it miraculous. How can I give that up?

What opportunity is God giving you to watch a miracle happen with your kids?