When I think about the state of the world, I easily come undone.  Same is true when I fall short, sinner that I am, in my words or thoughts or actions. Why does God allow all kinds of suffering and sorrow, mistakes and mess?  And what does it mean to be seeking His glory, and seeking beauty, in a world that often looks anything but glorious or beautiful?  Years ago I wrote about suffering and pain, sharing some of my thoughts about why God allows it. 

Lately I’ve noticed another great source of comfort for me.  It lies in understanding the not-yet-finished aspect of God’s work in this world.  The pain of becoming emotionally undone is soothed by the knowledge that some of God’s work remains literally undone. 

His work of salvation was finished at the cross, but other work remains.  Jesus promised He would come back.  He told us to be busy while we wait for Him, sharing the good news: everyone who comes to Him is restored to God.  God is patient as darkness and sin expand because even as it does, more people are coming home to Him (2 Peter 3:9).  More people are finding the freedom and flourishing that comes from faithful living.  And more people will step into eternity washed clean by God’s forgiveness.  Jesus’s work of salvation is finished in that it has been made freely available to anyone who follows Him, but God’s plan for this earth is still in progress. 

The world’s seemingly endless spiral downward into decay and darkness is punctuated by the beautiful salvation of souls and all the goodness that comes from life with God.  The world might be dark, but light is shining.  Here’s some beauty: against the backdrop of darkness that is always increasing, God works out the exact opposite process in the hearts and lives of those who love Him.  He spirals us out of darkness and into brighter and brighter light, so that we “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15). 

This process of being made to shine like stars (aka sanctification) begins when we’re saved, but it doesn’t end until we are perfected in heaven.  Therefore, it is progressive.  It’s still not done. Wherever we begin, no matter how depraved or respectable we are, God can take us further.  God can make us more and more like Jesus.  Paul said “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 4:18). 

I love the sound of ever-increasing glory.

I hope in a God who is still working in me, and in the world.

I trust Him with the darkness because His light overcomes it. 

I might come undone.  Then I remember: God is un-done too.

Encouragement for the Worn-Out Mommas

This post originally appeared on That Mommy Blog back in 2016. I thought it would be fun to update it (look for the italics!) as we start a new school year.

It blows my mind to tell people my babies are nine and seven years old.  Fifteen and thirteen! Back when they were infants, I would meet people with fourth-graders and think, “I’m glad that’s so far away, I am SO not ready for that!”  Of course, I wasn’t ready then.  But as time has raced on, God has made me prepared.  Parenting has taught me that—believe it or not–you’ll be ready when the time comes!  Even though I’m in a completely different stage of parenting, I often think about those hard early days.  The days when I had multiple babies in diapers and the “body spills” were plentiful.  The days when my back and wrists and hips were all strained with the constant lifting of quickly-growing bodies.  The days when sleeping well was an unattainable dream, and even my dreams featured little cries of “mommy!” that would wake me up in the night.  Those days, momma, are hard.

Why then do older moms like myself so frequently counsel you young mommas to appreciate each moment, to not wish it away, and to watch out or it’ll just fly by?  I guess all those nuggets of wisdom are true.  It does go fast (even faster when you’re looking back at it!). and taking a moment to appreciate it may indeed be helpful.

I want to give you young mommas in the trenches a slightly different word on this.  This season of young children is a precious time, but it is also a difficult, back-breaking, exhausting time.  I am sorry that it has to be so hard for you.  I remember, and I feel your pain.  But the encouragement is this: it is so, so worth it. 

Everything you are doing now: all the bottoms cleaned, all the feedings, all the re-reading the same board book; all the lifting into shopping carts and breaking elbows with heavy car seats, all the sobbing and tantrums and sleep-training: it is all worth it.  Because every single act of love that you pour into them now is building the foundation for who those little people will become. 

You’re in the business of making people.  It’s the hardest and most important work of your life.

Yes, I do miss what my kids were like as babies.  I miss their fat little rolls and baby giggles and the sweet snuggles.  I miss their innocence and even the silliest of the tantrums.  But I also love the people my children are becoming.  Even more true with teenagers. I love that they can brush their own teeth and clean their own rooms (though usually not without a fight).  They still can! And they still don’t love it! I love that they are sensitive to the needs of others, full of imagination and creativity and intellect and love.  I love that they have hearts for God and for others. These are things you don’t see in your babies, but you are nurturing all these things even in the youngest children.

And you are nurturing them in their love for God and desire to seek Him. As you continuously point them to Him, you are building a precious foundation for their faith.

And, after all, it is a season.  However impossible it seems now, you will look up one day and realize with amazement that you have a fourth-grader.  Or an eighth-grader, or even a sophomore in High School. You’ve moved through those trying, early years and you are seeing ever more clearly why you persevered. 

So keep your chin up, Momma!  I’ll see you on the other side.  We can get together and tell all the young moms just how fast it goes.

Let God In

Everywhere I look, I’m noticing a trend and I bet you are too.  Believers are using social media…like it has nothing to do with God.  Believers are managing (or mismanaging) relationships…like they have nothing to do with God.  Believers are making choices in their personal lives…like those choices have nothing to do with God.

I do this myself.  I while back I was hurt by the words and opinions of someone close to me, and I spun for days trying to think of every possible way to respond.  My first reaction was to lash out or cut this person out; it certainly wasn’t to bring this situation to God.

Why do we act like so much of our lives has nothing to do with God? 

If we really trust Jesus with our eternal salvation, why don’t we trust Him with our daily lives? 

There is a better way. 

Jesus is standing at the door of your heart, knocking.  He says, “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”   In Revelation 3:20, the apostle John documented these words of Christ to the church at Laodicea, a church that experienced the salvation of God but then became complacent and lukewarm in their faith.  These believers allowed their comfortable lifestyles to lull them into a kind of spiritual sleepiness.  They may have believed, but they ignore their own need for an ongoing, vibrant relationship with Christ. 

Could the same be said of you and of me?  Are we so comfortable that we forget to let God in?  Do we forget our great need for a relationship with our maker?

Jesus wants to come in, and sit with you, and talk with you like a friend at your kitchen table would.  He wants to enter into all your questions, doubts, anxieties and wounds.  My friend, God already knows you, through and through.  He knows your history, your thoughts, your dreams, and your frustrations.  Because He knows you, He has the answers you need in the “small” stuff as well as the big stuff.  He can guide your words and actions, your thoughts and how you express them.  But to enjoy the tangible benefits of that kind of intimacy, you have to let God in. 

Today, before heading off to work, let Him in.  Invite Him to guide your thinking and decision-making. 

Before hitting “send” or “publish,” let Him in.  Seek His confirmation that your words honor Him and the people He created.

Before giving up on that difficult relative, let Him in.  Evaluate whether God’s grace, humility and unity governs your own behavior. 

Before pursuing a personal goal or making any kind of decision, let Him in.  Ask Him for His direction and then be bold enough to follow it.

Will you let God in today? 

The question is more difficult than it seems, because in our complacency we habitually ignore His knocking.  Not only that, but once we’ve invited Him in, we sometimes don’t like what He says.  He might ask us to swallow our pride, face our own sin, own up to our own mistakes.  When I finally took my situation to God in prayer, He revealed some ways that I had contributed to an unhealthy pattern of communication with this loved one.  I had to own that before I could heal and move forward.  It wasn’t easy.

So yes, it can be hard, but whether we let God in matters deeply, because there’s someone else lurking at your door.  Before Cain murdered his brother, God said to him, “…sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7).  Sadly, Cain invited sin in, murdered his brother, and suffered the consequences.  “Cain went out from the Lord’s presence” (Genesis 4:16).  Like Cain, we get to choose who we invite into our homes and our hearts.  And when we leave the Lord out in the cold, we are inviting the devil in. 

It is time to start living as if Jesus is both Eternal Savior and Lord of our daily lives.  It is time we let Him in to every detail.  When we do, we experience an intimacy that leads to His perfect guidance and faithful empowerment in any question, challenge, worry or problem we have.  Even better, His presence within us shines like a light pouring out from the windows and doors of our hearts, inviting others to want more of God for themselves.

All because we let Him in.

Something to think about! Love y’all!