The Study With Friends community includes a team of bloggers who bless us with authentic and honest musings about how their faith informs their life, and how life informs their faith. These blogs offer insights and advice from the heart. They are experiential. For instructional insights, visit our bible study page.
One time in particular comes to mind, a time years ago when my kids were little. I was running around like crazy all the time, with four girls all under the age of six. In an attempt to keep them occupied one day we made a trip to the craft store. After loading our purchases and all of the kiddos into the minivan I drove to the nearest Chick Fil A. It was then I found that my wallet was missing. My heart dropped. Not that this was an end of the world situation, but it was upsetting nonetheless. I would have to cancel all of my credit cards (having to remember which cards were in there in the first place); I’d have to get a new driver’s license (which is a huge pain when you just lost your only form of ID); I’d have to contact my health insurance company and get new ID cards…just additional things to worry about when I was already up to my eyeballs in little girls.
Over the past several months, God has been making me more aware of the spiritual battles that Christians face. Ephesians 6:11-12 says, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV) Tuning in to any newscast or perusing any daily newspaper will confirm that the devil is alive and well on Earth, and that his servants are very busy.
“Doodoodoo dadadoodoo… under pressure.” Remember the song from David Bowie in the … 80”s? Yes, I’m dating myself. But it is true, “pushing down on me, pushing down on you.” Our lives these days are so crazy and we’re all under such pressure. Our health might not be in the best of shape. Our jobs are just that: jobs, not the fun, passion-filled, joyful place that you “get” to go to everyday, but the place you HAVE to go to so that you can pay your bills. Our children might be trying our last nerve, not doing well in school or on the field. Our marriages might be breaking down and friendships might be under stress. We’re in situations that are just plain scary.
Every summer for the last fifteen years, my selfless husband chooses to leave his home and family for five weeks to go up north to work. His goal is to earn extra money to provide for his family; even still, hating to leave us and be away from those he loves and holds dear. A choice to serve his family while denying self proves his deep love for us. The example he sets inspires us to share this type of self-sacrificing love with others.
One night, I decided I was going to attend a Bible study at the campus ministry house. I was so excited to go, I even left my dorm room extra early. I looked everywhere for the campus ministry house. At this point, I was already late, so I gave up looking and called my youth group leader back home with tears rolling down my face. I reached out to her because I needed help. I was frustrated and I needed somewhere to go. I expressed my feelings to her and as soon as I hung up the phone she googled “Christian Churches in Quincy, IL” and the first one she told me about was Madison Park Christian Church. Little did I know at this time that Madison Park would soon be my home.
But what I cherish most is my mother’s passion for caring for the poor of our community. For years, Mom made deliveries of food and basic supplies from the food pantry of our church, to indigent families nearby. I have often wondered if the bread, milk and meat she always included were purchased from her own pocket. The deliveries were often made well after dark, sometimes in the dead of winter, in crime-ridden neighborhoods, to families she did not know. But when she received a call from Social Services that a family was in crisis or a father had lost his job, my mom responded.
This was physically the hardest thing I have ever done. I couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes at a time, and had to use a shower chair. I used the walker for even the shortest trips in my house. I knew underneath it all that God was certainly at work, but the pain was so brutal that I couldn’t even try to see Him. I reached a breaking point many times, weeping into the night. God didn’t take away my pain. He didn’t fix it. I knew better than to ask why He was allowing this, as I knew there would be no ready answer.
Six months after we moved, I remember having a really long talk with God. I was honest with Him, like Job was. My husband and I were scared we had made the wrong choice. It was a leap of faith after all, can’t those things go wrong? So my husband and I pleaded with God for many weeks. We pleaded with Him to show Himself faithful and true to His word. We asked Him to take care of us, to prove to us that we had made the right choice. After all, we had uprooted our entire life, everything we knew and everyone we loved, for this move.
We’re very fortunate to live in a neighborhood which was once the site of a tree farm. Our property is inhabited by a variety of very old, very tall trees which cover everything in a blanket of shade. I’ve learned after 20+ years of living here, not to waste time trying to grow sun-loving plants. The only exception is the single corner of our house which gets the right amount of direct sun to keep a purple wisteria vine happy and flourishing. It has enthusiastically climbed all the way up the side of the house, sending its pendulous blossoms cascading elegantly over the roof.
I recently had the privilege of listening to a series of lessons on the Israelites: From the Exodus to the Promised Land. The teachings highlighted how God delivered his chosen people from slavery in Egypt, led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and then His dealings with them as they wandered in the wilderness another 40 years for their lack of faith. (I remember reading these stories when I was a kid and marveling that these Children of Israel never seemed to learn from their mistakes and how they kept repeating them; and how they complained!) The teacher of the series commented on their ingratitude and posed the thought, “I wonder how that made God feel?” Then he challenged us to consider how WE make God feel in our lives, and how we can be just as ungrateful as the Israelites were in the desert.