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snickelscorner

a blog about my little corner of the world

When Your Plate is Full

A few months ago while eating at a buffet restaurant, I was watching a young family choosing their food.  One of the little girls in this family had taken her plate and insisted on filling it herself. She had chosen a little of everything and a lot of some things. She was so delighted to be filling her own plate and she cheerfully exclaimed over many of the items she was going to try for the first time and did a little happy dance for the items that were her favorites.

Meanwhile, her sister seemed so content to let her mother fill her plate. Her mother would bend down a little and say something like, “oh, here, you’ll like this” or “this is one of your favorites” and the little girl would hold her plate up and let her mother put a little dollop of the food on her plate.

After everyone had their plate filled the family sat down. They were just a few tables over from us so I could hear some of their conversations. The little girl who had filled her own plate now had a problem on her hands. Some of the foods she had scooped up were now touching one another which was clearly not okay. And she wanted to try everything, but she struggled to pick which one to start with. She talked and talked and talked, but only ate a few bites of the food on her plate. I think she was overwhelmed by it all.

That day, as I watched it all unfold, I felt bad for the mother who was trying to coax the girl to eat this large plate of food and for the little girl who had entirely too much on her plate to know where to begin. And then I realized that this is how many of us live our lives.

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We want to try everything in life. We’ve been told that we SHOULD try everything in life. We should have a career, and a family and homemade cookies for the bake sale and a hand-painted tray to put them on. We should have the latest color schemes throughout our house and our kids’ rooms should be themed and our cars should be safe and good for the environment and it’s okay to make payments on this car until the day you sell it.

We’ve been told that we should see the world and explore our own backyards. We’ve been told that we should serve others, so we say yes to everyone who asks us to be on a committee. We should love others, so we never say no to helping someone. We’ve been told that being busy makes us important.

So we keep piling more and more things on our plates. We may exclaim excitedly over new things we’ve never tried before and we may even do a little happy dance about the favorite things we get to do. But when it comes right down to it, we’re often too overwhelmed by all that’s on our plates to enjoy any of it.

At least this is how I sometimes feel. And I wonder if it would be better to let God fill my plate. To wait patiently for Him to look at all the options in this buffet of life until He says, “here, you’ll like this.” He won’t overload our plates so that things start “touching” and overlapping.  He leaves plenty of space on our plates so we know just what to pick first and allows us time to savor it.

What’s on your plate this week?  I hope whatever you are doing, you take time to savor it!

~Stacy

 

Dig deeper: Mary was just a teen when the angel of the Lord came to her, but she was wise for her years. It says in Luke 2:19 that Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. She often thought of the events and the visitors and how they described her newborn son. Some translations say she “thought deeply” or “continually thought of them”. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates is as meditating. No matter which words we use, we know that Mary made time in her life to ponder, to think, to meditate on what the Lord had given to her. We, too, would be wise to clear a corner of our plate for pondering, thinking, and meditating.

In Psalm 119 the psalmist repeatedly talks of meditating on God’s precepts and statutes, His wonders and His promise. This sounds like a great place to start in my life too. Take a few minutes today to ponder anew what He has done.

 

 

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And the time came…

I love how God brings an idea full circle in my head and then asks me to share it. I hope I can do justice to the lesson He’s teaching me.

My Thursday morning Bible Study group just started a Beth Moore study called “Jesus The One and Only”. Our first session included the passage from Galatians 4:4, “but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law…” She talked about how the word “fullness” here means “to make full”.  I found it interesting that God wasn’t just passing the time until Jesus would come to bring us salvation, He was filling time. For the Israelites, this meant 400 years of “time” filled with silence from God. The Israelites had taken for granted the voice of God and so He remained silent to bring back a hunger for His Word.

For you and me, our time may be filled with other things. Unfortunately, sometimes we’re so busy with “other things” that we forget to look for the things God wants us to fill our time with. Are we so busy with work and kids that we forget our friends and neighbors? Do we have so many deadlines that we don’t have time to fill our souls with a word from God?  At other times, our lives may be filled with pain or disappointments and we can’t see how this would be God’s will for our time here on earth. Maybe we are waiting for something special and nothing ever really seems to fill the time.

“But when the the fullness of time had come…” I realized that God has our points plotted, and when the fullness of time comes we will witness each event, a reconnection with an old friend, the easing of the pain, the long-awaited something. Until then, God is filling our time, are we listening to the lessons we can learn during this time?

Then to really reinforce this idea that had been swirling in my head over the weekend, God had me substitute teaching in a classroom on Monday where the students made timelines. They talked about all the places they had seen timelines, in history books, at a museum, and one student shared that their Spanish teacher had a timeline on the wall of the classroom.  Then the students were were tasked with creating their own personal timelines. They plotted the points of their day, labeling them, marking their significance. And I envisioned God surrounded by timelines…one for each of his precious children from birth to death.  Points plotted and labeled, significant dates and events marked, each waiting for the fullness of time to be reached.  Not one event, not one lesson, not one joy or disappointment will happen until the fullness of time comes.

In all of this, my lesson is…don’t try to rush time! Enjoy the days with surly teenagers for the days of their leaving the nest is already plotted (and will be here way before this mama is ready)!  Love every minute with my spouse for there are points already plotted with things to be excited about and things that will bring heartbreak and tears. Be patient in the developing…of children, of careers, of the future- for everything there is a time. And finally, cherish the lessons, the fun ones and the painful ones for these too are plotted on my timeline.

Is there something you are waiting for that will only come in the fullness of time? What can you learn as you wait for that time to come?fullness of time

A Second Prayer for the Thessalonians

I can’t believe how busy life got there for a while and what that did to my ability to think straight, haha! But today I’m back with the last of Paul’s prayers that I’ll be looking at (although it is probably one of his earliest letters according to scholars), this one again to the Thessalonians.

The prayer begins in the eleventh verse where Paul references the previous eight verses in which he spoke about their perseverance and faith.  He says, “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Once again Paul begins his prayer letting the Thessalonians know that they are constantly on his heart and in his prayers. And then he encourages them to continue in their faith and love, despite their suffering and persecution so that they may be counted worthy of His calling (see 1:3, 5).  This made me wonder about my own calling and that of my family. I always think of “calling” as the jobs and assignments that God gives me; i.e. I’ve been called to be a mother. But here I see that it may be more broadly defined to include being called to love, to be faithful and humble, to make disciples, to have a joyful heart and on and on. Really it would include anything that God commands of all his people, these are our callings, because He has called us to be His. And Paul’s prayer here is to encourage them to be found worthy of these callings.  And so to pray that we and our families would be found worthy to be called “His” is an amazing thought.

And then Paul goes on to remind them through this prayer that it is by God’s power that they are able to accomplish the callings on their lives, fulfilling their purposes and acting in faith. One of the greatest things I can do for myself and my family is to remember that I can’t do anything on my own. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit in me that I am able to love fully, live faithfully and do all that God has called me to do.

I love the last part of this prayer because it reminds me that everything I do, and everything my children do, should be done to the glory of Christ and that I should PRAY for that. This is a spiritual endeavor that the Lord would love to help me do. I just need to ask. And I’ve been doing that with the new adventure I’m undertaking. Recently I learned about essential oils and how they can support all the systems of your body. You can read my story here.  I became a distributor, not to get rich and famous, but to glorify Him who gave us these precious gifts. To share that God is the Great Physician and that He has given us tools for healing through His creation.

I’ve enjoyed looking at these prayers from Paul with you.  I hope you are praying them for yourself and your family, too. We’re coming up on the summer months so I won’t be in regular Bible Study at church. But I’m asking the Lord to bring me to another topic to study on my own and I will share it with you, too!

Blessings!

Praying for the Thessalonians

Today’s reading took me to First Thessalonians where Paul tells the church how he thanks God for them and the things he appreciates in them.

The fourth verse in 1 Thessalonians is a really short prayer, and some might not even consider it a prayer since Paul is simply telling the Thessalonians what he prays about concerning them. But I think it still meets the criteria for our purposes today, giving us insight into the kinds of spiritual blessings we can ask God for.

Paul writes, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Again Paul starts with the idea of continual prayer. He doesn’t just think about these fellow believers on the day he writes to them, but he remembers them continually as he talks with God. It makes me realize that I don’t often remember before our God the people in my life who are faithfully working for Him. I don’t simply pray to acknowledge the efforts of the gals I do Bible Study with or my fellow teachers and helpers who so faithfully love the preschoolers on Sunday mornings. I might pray for a need our pastors have, but rarely a prayer thanking God for their endurance in serving our church.

As Paul writes to the Thessalonians he says he remembers their work produced by faith. This isn’t any old work he’s talking about. There are routine jobs and duties we take care of which require little to no faith. But then there are things God asks us to do that will only be done with faith in God’s ability to work through us. This is something I want for me, my family and my friends; that we would have the faith to do the works that God has pre-determined for us. That when God asks us to do what seems impossible, we would boldly walk in faith to do the work.

And furthermore, when we do those tasks in faith, we would do them because of the love we have for God’s people and His creation. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit in Galatians therefore we can know that true love can only come from allowing the Holy Spirit to live and work in our lives. We know this because the subject of love is given a whole chapter in 1 Corinthians and clearly this love is more than we can do on our own! So when Paul prays about the labor prompted by love he is commending them for allowing the Spirit to work in them, producing the fruit of love in them.

And finally he prays that all these works, done in faith and prompted by love, would be worked to completion with an endurance that comes from the hope we have in Christ. This makes me think of Paul’s writing to the Galatians in chapter 6 where he says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” When we rely on the Spirit to work in us, and know that our dedication will be rewarded we can have the endurance it takes to do God’s will through the good times and the not so good times.  

And then to know one day we will hear the words spoken by Christ, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Oh what joy to pray for this kind of endurance for ourselves, our family and our brothers and sisters in Christ!  

A Prayer for the Philippians

December seemed to get away from me and my intention to write about what I was reading and learning from Paul’s prayers. But I decided better late than never, so here I go, continuing with St. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians.

Paul had spent several days in Philippi during one of his missionary trips (Acts 16) and now, some years later, is writing to thank them for their recent support of him while he is imprisoned in Rome. And he tells them about the spiritual blessings he is praying for them.

Philippians 1:9-11 “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.”

I’ve been praying this prayer for my children for a while now and I’ve come to see how rich and full of meaning this one-long-sentence prayer is. Again we see him praying for these spiritual gifts and fruit, rather than monetary or even physical things.  Let’s take a look at this prayer bit by bit.

Love is a deep and wide subject. And I believe Paul wants the fullness of love for the Philippians. He wants them to experience the full width of love, ranging from loving God all the way over to loving neighbors and enemies. And he wants it to be a deep love, growing more and more as they come to know and gain insights into those they love which also encompasses knowing and loving themselves as God has created them.

Next we see a “so that”. I love looking at all of the “so thats…” in the Bible. There are so many times when we are given a command so that something good may happen.  Here Paul wants the Philippians to love so that they may be able to make good choices. So that their ability to discern what is the right thing to do, based on love for themselves, their neighbor or their enemy and God is sharpened and honed.

And with this deep and wide love not only are they able to make wise choices, they will be pure and blameless when Christ returns. Certainly we will sin, and our children will sin, even if we pray this prayer for them! But their hearts will be in a right place with God. Like King David, who was a man after God’s own heart, humans will sin. But when we repent, our transgressions are wiped away and we can stand before the throne of God confidently.

Having love, being pure and blameless, Paul prays that they may also be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Christ. Righteousness is not something we humans can get or earn on our own. It only comes from the saving power of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. And I think it’s important to pray this part because we want to remember that we didn’t do the saving ourselves, to remember that we can’t get to heaven on our own, to remember that we can’t be righteous without our Savior.

The last petition of the prayer would be easily overlooked. It seems almost an add-on really. But I think it has great significance. We want all the love, the pure and blamelessness, the righteousness to be to the glory and praise of God. Without this last piece all the rest is in vain. Paul writes in First Corinthians, chapter 13 that without love all of our gifts and abilities are worthless. Similarly, if we love and somehow take the credit for our great act of love then that becomes our reward. When we have a deep and wide love and acknowledge Who it is that enables us to have such great love we add to our treasure in heaven.

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Paul’s Prayer to the Ephesians

Thank you to everyone who commented on my post last week, either here, on Facebook or through email. It is a joy to share in the study of God’s Word. Today my reading took me to Ephesians.

A little background before we get to his prayer. Paul spent about two years teaching and preaching in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Paul left Ephesus after a riot began regarding his teaching. In reading Acts 19:23-27, I found it interesting that Demetrius,the man who began the uproar, was not so much against Christ (he had probably never really heard the story), but rather let his fear of what would happen to the idols and temples he already believed in cloud his judgement. And I wondered how often our own fears are rooted in those same arguments.  He basically said, “what would happen to our income if everyone started believing in this Jesus guy? No one would come to see the temple of Artemis or buy the silver statues of her that we make.”

I think so often that we create idols and temples without really knowing it…our jobs, our families, the culture around us. And when we hear something about following Christ which would require us to change our lives in some way we don’t listen. Not because what is being said is bad or wrong to our ears, but we fear what would happen to our idols and temples. Here’s an example, “The Lord has been convicting me about gossiping. But I’m known in my office for always having the latest scoop. I know I should stop gossiping, but my status at work, my friendships there, and even my own sense of worth will plummet if I don’t give out all the juicy details.” I wonder, are we sometimes like Demetrius, more concerned with the world we have built around us than in following Christ?

Well okay then, wasn’t that a fun little detour on our way to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, lol! The general nature of the letter and some of the wording suggests that Paul was writing to the Ephesians with the expectation that it would be shared among many churches in the area, often called a circular letter. And we see that the prayer is a bit more general as well, but definitely full of gems for us still today! So let’s look at Ephesians 1:16-19.

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (NIV)

Again, I am convicted from the very first words. How often do I ask for things for my family and friends, or ask that I be changed in some way so that I can tolerate my family and friends, or worse, ask that the Lord change my family and friends! Instead I should be giving thanks for my them. Not for what they do or what they can do for me, but simply because they are.  I should start out with a gratitude in my heart for all the people that are in my life; remembering that my life would not be as rich without them.

Then, with thanksgiving in his heart, Paul says that he continually asks the Father to bless them with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. So often I pray for wisdom (or more often a hit over the head) when I’m trying to make a choice. I want God to lead me, reveal His plan for me. But notice why Paul wants the Ephesians to have wisdom and revelation…to know God the Father better.

I was overcome this last week with a sense that God was showing me the way to “seek [Him] first” so that all the other stuff of life would fall into place. And here Paul brings it up again. We seek spiritual blessings, not so that we can become great in this world, but rather that we would know God better.

Next, Paul lists three things he prays would happen through the opening of the “eyes of your heart”. First, is to “know the hope to which He has called you.”  What is the hope that Paul speaks of? Their are many things which are encompassed in this hope. The hope of eternal life with Christ, the hope of the resurrection of the body, the hope of deliverance (2 Cor 1:10), the hope of the glory of the gospel message (2 Cor 3:11-12), righteousness through faith (Gal 5:5) and others. We have hope that there is more to life than this, because we have heard the good news.

When the eyes of our hearts are opened we can see the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. We can know that we have an inheritance and that it is beyond the world’s riches. The inheritance of eternal life sitting the presence of Jesus.

Many years ago I believe I experienced an “opening of the eyes of my heart”. For one brief moment my heart glimpsed heaven. I didn’t see anything, but the feeling of peace and joy and love in eternity caught me for a moment and I had such a longing for heaven. I truly believe that God granted that moment for me so that I would be excited for this very inheritance in heaven.

Finally, with opened eyes we see the power at work in us as believers. And not just any power, the incomparably great power that is like the working of His mighty strength when He raised Jesus from the dead. This is not just any ‘ol power. God alone has the power to speak the world into existence, breathe life into living creatures and resurrect the dead. And this power is at work in us and will work for us when we are seeking His kingdom and righteousness first. It is because of this power at work in us that we can “do everything through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).

Oh what riches await us as we pray this prayer. The blessing of knowing Him more, the hope and inheritance of eternal life, and the power of God Himself. Amen.

My December Study

I belong to a Bible Study class at my church and during the school year we meet each Thursday to study God’s Word and share life together. But we take a break from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, which is nice in so many ways. It takes a little of the stress of doing homework and meeting for class off during a busy time of the year. However, I really miss having a purpose to be in the Word. So I pick a theme or a book to study. The last couple of years I’ve spent December focusing on “emptying my manger” so that I would have room in my heart for Jesus. This year I thought I would read the book of Colossians.

I started today with chapter 1 and read Paul’s words of thanksgiving for the hearts of the Colossians and his prayer for their wisdom and endurance in Christ. And I thought to myself, “this is more Scripture to pray over my kids.” I already pray Paul’s prayer to the Philippians over my children often, but this adds some new petitions and I love it!

That lead me to the plan I now have for my December study…The Prayers of Paul. God placed these prayers in Scripture to show us His desires for His people, not for a pain-free life of ease but of a life reliant on Him and His Holy Spirit in us. I want to study the prayers so that I can truly understand what God wants for me. And because I’m already there, I’ll begin in Colossians, chapter 1, verses 9-14 with these words:

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

When Paul heard from Epaphras about these new believers in Colosse, Paul immediately began praying for them, and did not cease. This is a huge wake-up call for me. When I’m honest with myself and God, I know that I don’t have the prayer life I should. Yes, I pray for requests on our church’s prayer chain. Yes, I pray with my Bible Study group. Yes, I pray for things and situations when they arise. But I don’t always pray for my husband, my kids or even myself, like Paul prays…that we would be “strengthened with all power according to His glorious might”. These were people Paul had never even met, and yet he prayed unceasingly for them, why do I not even pray such powerful prayers for the people I love so dearly?

Taking the prayer apart, we see that Paul prayed that they would be filled with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. One thing I have struggled with much of my life is knowing what God wants me do with my life. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for over 14 years (and loved it), but at times I’ve wondered what else I should be doing. And I don’t want my children to follow in these footsteps. I want them to clearly sense God’s will for them, for the direction they should go, the attitudes they should have, the decisions they should make. And my husband could use a clear sense of God’s will in his life right now as well. I want to pray…with faith…this petition for my family.

We see Paul’s ever-guiding heart in verse 10 as he tells them why he prays this…so that “you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work…”  We shouldn’t pray for knowledge and wisdom for selfish reasons. But that we would please the Lord, having a heart for what’s on His heart. That we would bear fruit, whether through sharing the gospel, providing relief for those in need or having a heart of gratitude in the midst of struggles. It’s important, especially in our me-centered world today to remind ourselves and our kids…and to pray for this posture of humility and servitude before God.

The “why” continues at the end of verse ten, that we would be ever “growing in the knowledge of God…”  The more we know God and His heart, His might, His love, His creativity, His favor, His plan, His peace, His story, His glory…the more we want to know. I pray that my husband, my children and I would all come to know Him more and then hunger to know more and more.

Verse 11 continues, “being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…”  The might of God which shut the mouths of the lions, sustained Jonah in the belly of the whale, caused a stone to topple a giant, raised Jesus from the dead, that power is at work in us. It strengthens us for the trials of life giving us great endurance (emphasis mine) and patience to wait for God’s perfect timing. For the times when we, like Daniel, find our beliefs persecuted, or like Jonah find ourselves in a dark place. Or when we face a giant as David did, only perhaps ours is a medical diagnosis, a job situation or a straying child and it just seems too big to handle. Maybe we need some resurrecting in a relationship that seems dead, or a life that seems worthless. I want to pray for God’s power to handle all of these kinds of trials, not relying on my own strength, but on His.

Finally, what would my life look like if I joyfully prayed in thanksgiving that I have been “qualified…to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light”?  That through Jesus’ work on the cross I have a place in the kingdom of light. What if I gave thanks continually for being rescued from the dominion of darkness, from the rule of evil, from the baseness of this world?

And what if I not only gave thanks for this rescue, but also lived like I had a place in the light? What if my children understood what it means to be children of light? What if I truly felt free of the darkness of this world? What if?  What if I remembered each day that I have citizenship in the kingdom of God’s own Son? What if redemption, forgiveness, and salvation were the first thoughts I had each day? What if?

I want to pray this prayer, asking God for these spiritual blessings He has promised to us, and find out what life will look like!

 

 

 

Beautiful Submission

Recently I had the opportunity to do to a Priscilla Shirer Bible study on hearing the voice of God. During our last week of study we looked at submitting to God’s plan for our lives, including the authority figures He has placed in our lives. During the discussion with my Bible Study group, I found we all had more questions than answers after a week’s worth of studying the topic.

I decided that since “submit” in its various forms is found over 30 times in the NIV, God was serious about submitting.  And since I’m serious about wanting to live a life pleasing to God, I needed to know what submission is, what it’s not and how to do a better job of it in my life.

I began where I so often do, The Holman Bible Dictionary. Here submission is defined as the “voluntary placement of oneself under the authority and leadership of another.”

Then I looked at some other definitions online and found this one:  “The action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.”  This definition gives a different tone than the Biblical definition and I think that’s where our balking at submission began. The world gives submission a connotation of defeat…being beaten into submission, or of inferiority as in this definition of yielding to a superior force.

And I admit, I’ve bought into that definition, so when I read that I am to submit to leadership, or my husband, or to “one another” as St. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:21, I find myself thinking that I am not inferior, by golly, and I do not need to submit to anyone else’s rules or ideas, including those of my husbands.  But as usual, the world has it wrong! Submission as it was intended, Biblical submission, is truly a voluntary act; an act of recognizing the God-given roles we have on this earth and working within our role to bring Him glory.

The Holman Bible Dictionary goes on to say that we must understand that all humans are created in the image of God, and therefore have an equality with one another.  Read Genesis 1:27: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

However, He created man first, and created a “suitable helper” for him, namely a woman. This, from the very beginning, implies a leadership role for the man, a helper role for the woman.  I’m not a betting woman, but I’ll venture a guess here that Eve was happy in her role as helper…for a time anyway.

During my Bible Study discussion, a friend pointed out verse 16 of the second chapter of Genesis. The curse God places on the woman. We all know about the childbearing pains, if you have delivered a child you aren’t likely to forget!  But the second part of the curse is where it gets interesting, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  Is this where the happy-to-submit attitude left us women? If so, how do we get back to Eden?

A Beautiful Princess

The first step to regain a right attitude towards submission is to remember you are a beautiful princess, a daughter of the King of Kings.

  • He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecc 3:11)
  •  “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”  (2 Cor 6:18)
  • Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— (John 1:12)
  • I have summoned you by name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

When you know who you are and have confidence in your place in God’s kingdom, you can make the decision to submit to your husband’s authority with a willing heart.

Jesus provides a beautiful example of this. In John 13:3-5 we read that Jesus knew the power God had given Him, and that he had come from God and would be returning to God. And secure in that knowledge, He was able to serve, to wash the feet of His disciples.

Likewise, when we are secure in our knowledge that we are loved by God, and given all good things by God’s hand, we can serve and submit to our husbands.

 

A Beautiful Partnership

The next step is to remember you aren’t competing against your husband, you are in partnership with him.

  • The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him…Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” (Gen 2:18,22)

Women were created to fill a role in God’s creation, and I’m sorry, ladies, it wasn’t to lead the men. Organize them, feed them, clean them up and send them out the door looking good, yes!  But always in a helpful way, not demanding or destructive. Again I think our culture cultivates this attitude that women can have it all and do it all. And while I agree that women are indeed capable of running corporations and running households, in our marriage, we are to be the helpmate. This doesn’t diminish the sparkle of our princess crown. In fact, I believe that if we will submit to our husbands our crowns will sparkle all the more.

We can see this idea of roles in relationships in Eph 5 when St. Paul writes that “wives should submit to their husbands as the head of the wife”… and then goes on to say that “husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”  Christ had a role, that of savior, we the church have a role to submit to the will of God. Husbands have a role, to lead the family, wives have a role to support their husbands.If we honor one another and take care of the roles we were created for by God, then we can live in harmony with each other. 

It may be wise to spend some time looking at the roles you have in your marriage. If you keep track of the budget, it makes sense that you would have an opinion about a large purchase your husband wants to make. If you are the one who cleans the house, it makes sense that you would have an opinion on what items can be left on the living room floor.  But we shouldn’t spend time thinking that “if I am right, then he is wrong” or vice-versa.  A loving husband will consider his wife’s opinions, concerns and needs, but in the end he needs to be the one to make the decision and the wife needs to stand by him in that decision. If this is difficult for you, you may need to pray that the Lord would work in your heart so that you can honor your husband in this way.

We can see this “dialogue” in action in the ultimate submission by Jesus. He went to the garden to pray, bringing his feelings and concerns to God. Jesus knew God heard Him and loved Him, but the decision had to be made and Jesus had to submit to that decision. And He did so voluntarily. In light of this, can it really be that difficult for us to submit to our husbands?

 

Let me stop right here and say that this essay is for those of us with a penchant towards control issues.  It is not for those who are asking, “What if my husband isn’t godly?  What if he is leading me in a direction that God wouldn’t approve of?”  Well, of course every situation is different, but if you aren’t being harmed, then prayer is a powerful ally. Ask God to work in your husband’s heart; ask that it would soften towards God and His ways. Also ask God to bring to light ways that you can uplift your husband so that he would desire to be a good and godly leader.

If this is not possible, if you are in harms way, then you must take the stance that Peter and John took in Acts 4: 19 “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.”  Our first priority is always to obey God and if your spouse is asking you to do something that goes against God’s word, or is acting in a harmful way towards you, then you have to stand up for yourself, even so far as removing yourself from the situation if you have to.

 

So when we know that we are a beautiful princess in a beautiful partnership with our husbands we can step back and see how God’s design for man and woman is still the best design for a happy marriage. We can also see that submission isn’t a blind obedience where we are trampled on or watch our husbands make choices that will hurt us and our future. We are intelligent creatures created in the image of God. He doesn’t want us to be walked upon. So what does submission look like? How can we submit to our husbands while not losing ourselves?  Here’s a scenario to look at.

Your husband decides to buy a boat with his bonus check from work. He’s excited because the kids are old enough to learn to water-ski and he pictures lazy days on the lake, just like when he was growing up. You are concerned about this purchase because of the ongoing expenses of upkeep, fuel, and the “toys” that will be purchased to go along with the boat.  Additionally, you know that you really don’t have many free weekends during the summer with the kids’ sports and church activities.

What does submission look like here?

  1. “Well, it’s your money, I guess you can do whatever you want with it.”
  2. “You go right ahead and buy yourself a boat and see how it all works out…about as well as the last hair-brained idea you had I’d bet.”
  3. “A boat does sound like a lot of fun for the family. Before we start looking and getting our hearts set, do you think we could look at how the upkeep and fuel will fit into our budget?  And can we look to see how often we’d be able to take it out to the lake? I don’t want you to be disappointed if we can’t go every weekend.”

The first choice may look like submission, but it doesn’t sound very voluntary. This answer lets the husband have his way, but the wife will most likely be resentful for years, hardly contributing to a beautiful partnership.

The second answer again gives the husband what he wants, but not in a truly submissive way, nor does he get any respect which doesn’t make for a beautiful partnership either.

The last answer doesn’t even look like submission on the surface, but the wife uses her role in the family as budget-and calendar-keeper to keep the family from making a large financial mistake that the husband may regret down the road and inwardly berate himself for. Of course with this answer they may work together to find that it is indeed within their budget, or that the schedule isn’t as tight as mom first thought. Then a decision to buy the boat can be make with everyone on board.  But no matter what the outcome of the discussion, if the husband decides to buy the boat, the wife needs to submit, and pray until she can do so voluntarily.

Is submission easy? Probably not always, but nothing good in life is, right? So spend some time praying; ask God to open your eyes to times when you should have submitted. Pray that you will seek guidance and strength from the Holy Spirit the next time an issue comes up that requires your submission. Pray that you would honor God’s plan for your marriage by submitting to your husband.

An Empty Manger – Day 11

I’ve decided to shorten up our introspective look at the 10 Commandments by combining the 9th and 10th commandments today which will be our last day. By the way, how’s your manger looking??  Is it empty and waiting for Jesus?

Exodus 20:17 begins “You shall not covet…” What does it mean to covet? In the study notes in my Bible it’s defined “to desire something with evil motivation.” The Holman Bible Dictionary says this, “Inordinate desire to possess what belongs to another, usually tangible things.”

As the passage continues we see where are not to covet our neighbors house. The Lord had given this commandment, knowing that when His people were living in the Promised Land, each family with their own allotment of land, that some within the community would desire another’s property.  The Holman Bible Dictionary goes on in its definition to say that while the Hebrew word for “covet” is often translated “to desire”, here in the 9th and 10th Commandments it has a stronger meaning, “an ungoverned and selfish desire that threatens the basic rights of others.” There were land-grabbers at the time who would covet small farms, seizing them for their own profit. This is what the Lord was warning against.

As Exodus 20:17 concludes we learn we are also not to covet our neighbors wife, his manservant, maidservant, his ox or donkey or anything else that is your neighbors.

Luther writes in his meaning of the Tenth Commandment, “We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.”

At the heart of covetousness is a feeling that God has not provided enough for you. In the parable of the Rich Landowner in Luke chapter 12, Jesus warns against greed and says, “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” As the rich landowner constructs new barns to store his abundance his very life will be taken from this earth and his abundance given to another. Jesus’ final words in this story are chilling, “So it is with one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich towards God.”

So what does our final look into our mangers reveal? Do you desire the riches of the world or the possessions of your neighbor? Do you wish you could have a relationship with (or like) someone else?  James warns in chapter 1 verses 14-15, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

We would be wise to empty our mangers of desires for things that the Lord has seen fit not to give us. This may be a difficult one to deal with, we may have to leave relationships that are unhealthy, we may have to give up plans to “become rich”, we may have to lay our desires down before the Lord and walk away from them.

Heavenly Father, giver of all good things, I lay down my desires, those things I covet with an intent that is not holy and pleasing to You. Guard my heart that it may not be tempted by the things of the world, but that I may be content with Your provisions and the love of my family and friends. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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