Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
The first several months of marriage were really hard. It had nothing to do with my husband – he was mostly what I thought he would be: loving, generous, patient, and somehow simultaneously adventurous and consistent, logical and creative. The reason marriage was so difficult is because it revealed a lot about me that I wasn’t expecting and didn’t necessarily want to see. There are things you can’t know about yourself until you go to places you’ve never been before, and I had never been a wife before.
My husband and I used to laugh when people would ask the typical newlywed questions about us quarreling over dirty dishes in the sink and wet towels on the floor. Ha! We wished that our biggest issues revolved around ultimately insignificant domestic chores and preferences! How can I be worried about who is doing the laundry WHEN I AM HAVING AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS?! Okay, so that is funny now, but Lord knows it was not funny at the time.
There are things you can’t know about yourself until you go places you’ve never been before.
Many of the things I had already “dealt with” in my own heart and believed I had moved beyond were suddenly back and grossly magnified. I realized anew how astonishingly self-centered I was, how deeply rooted my insecurities were, and how impossible it must be for anyone – namely my brand new husband – to love me. This downward spiral of over-self-evaluation quickly progressed into an analysis of my shallow faith in Jesus. I concluded that I was not only a selfish person and lacking wife, but also a hypocritical Christian! Before long, my prayers (when I did pray) were all about what I was doing and who I was instead of what God was doing and who He was. It was all about me. Ew.
This is a lesson I keep learning: examining our own hearts is vital and healthy when it is Spirit-led and when we surrender what we find to Jesus, but fruitless and empty when it leads to any destination that is not characterized by deep gratitude and worship of our Savior.
If I find within myself any goodness or light, then praise Jesus! His Holy Spirit is present and active and making beauty from ashes within me! He is the Giver of all good things and the Light of the World! He is transforming and redeeming my heart!
If I find within myself hypocrisy and darkness, then praise Jesus! His Holy Spirit is with me and His Light has exposed and illuminated the darkness in my heart! Now I know what to surrender to the Lord and can trust Him to bring to completion this good work He has started within me.
The Gospel never terminates on me (How freeing!). It is always about Jesus Christ! And if it isn’t, then it isn’t the Gospel. I used to pray and ask God to bless the decisions I was making, big or small.
Lord, please bless this work opportunity and be with me as I start this new job. I want to glorify You and I want so badly to be an example of Your light to others at this company.
Although I do not think that prayer sinful in ANY way, I have a new perspective on what it means to pray and for it to be more about Jesus and what He is doing than it is about me and what I am doing. Mostly I have stopped asking God to bless my decisions and have started asking Him to show me what He is already blessing. This little shift in perspective has helped me greatly.
Lord, You are already working. Even now, You are drawing Your children towards You and making old things new and broken things beautiful. Please give me eyes to see what You are already blessing, and let me be a part of Your story. Glorify Yourself in me!
The Gospel never terminates on me. It is always about Jesus Christ! And if it isn’t, then it isn’t the Gospel.
That season of difficulty and fruitless self-evaluation at the beginning of our marriage did pass, and I think it is important to tell you that what ended it was as simple as completing a sentence. (God is so patient with me, y’all.) Even through moments of wholeheartedly believing that God made me a wife only to humiliate me and remind me how worthless and selfish I was, I had a husband praying with me and over me. The Holy Spirit used my husband, mom, and brothers and sisters in Christ to gently remind me that if the voice speaking to me wasn’t calling me Beloved then it wasn’t the Lord talking.
Our God is not out to shame us, and He never leaves us. It is the enemy that comes to steal, kill and destroy. The devil is an accuser and he will twist what is beautiful to make it destructive. I believe he would love nothing more than for us to be on an endless quest of self-evaluation and self-discovery in the name of being “better Christians” as long as our gazes stay upon our own reflections and we never see beyond ourselves and glimpse the glorious face of Jesus! Whew! I get a little excited when I talk about Spiritual Warfare and the authority of Jesus, y’all. But I digress. 🙂
The Holy Spirit used my husband, mom, and brothers and sisters in Christ to gently remind me that if the voice speaking to me wasn’t calling me Beloved then it wasn’t the Lord talking.
This is the sentence that, when completed and BELIEVED, ended my season of self:
For the wages of sin is death…
During that season I found myself getting stuck here, over and over again. I am a sinner. That is who I am, that is my identity. The statement is true, but it is also incomplete.
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT JESUS! Praise God! Yes, I am a sinner and I deserve death… enter JESUS! My Savior has gifted me with eternal life instead of death. Love is alive and has a name. PRAISE JESUS! Everything is about Him and His glory, not about me and my glory. Friends, rejoice with me as I celebrate this precious gift that literally keeps on giving! In His presence there is joy and pleasure, freedom and peace. May we continually “complete the sentence,” being ever-humbled by our great dependency and need and divinely empowered by the eternal gift of God in Christ Jesus. Beloved, YOU ARE SO LOVED. I am claiming this truth over you (yes, you) even now as you read this, and asking God to show you where He is moving and working so that you can enter into His story and blessing.
Beloved, YOU ARE SO LOVED. I am claiming this truth over you (yes, you) even now as you read this…