Why not me?

ID-100180787Last night, my husband had a really bad headache.  He does get migraines, but this was different–just a bad headache.  It started at supper and he took a pill. Later, after picking up kids in the church van, leading Wednesday night prayer meeting and taking kids home, we were watching some TV when I looked over to see him holding his head. The pain was worse, so I got him another pill. I decided to sleep in the guest room and went there after kissing him good night, leaving him there all curled up in a pathetic ball with the covers over his eyes.

It’s now 4:19 AM and my brain is in overdrive. What if he… I should go and check on him, but I don’t want to awaken him, but what if he’s…

Such a morbid thought, but isn’t it possible? Why not me? The hurricanes just snuffed out lives–someone’s husband or father–why not me?

What would I do? More morbid thoughts, but it may be true, or will be true, someday. I hope it’s not today. He’s only 59.

An amazing statement came into my life recently and I can’t give credit, but this morning, in the wee hours of the day, sitting at his desk, they have new meaning:

God doesn’t give us grace for our imaginations.

I can’t even imagine what I would do. Tom and I may be weird, but we play these things through our minds every once and a while.  He, like most men, always says that he’ll die first and he’s probably right.

I think these thoughts are haunting me because –

  • We just remembered 9/11 this week. Sixteen years ago.  That doesn’t seem possible, but I’m sure anyone who lost a loved one on that day feels something different about the day.
  • 9/12 is the anniversary of my own father’s death. It’s always a hard day, mainly because I don’t want to ignore it but I’m never sure what to say, especially to my mom. I write the date on a piano student’s practice notepad and think, what’s today’s date? Oh yeah, the twelfth–the day my dad died, but I don’t say anything.
  • We went to a funeral this past Saturday. It was an untimely death even though his grandmother was 74. Less than a year ago she was healthy. Then the dreaded news came–cancer. Her husband is quite a bit older than she was and he probably never thought he would be facing that day. As I came to him during the viewing, he asked ME how I was doing! And then, after I asked him how he was doing, he said, “Good.  What are you going to do?  It’s how it is, and you just have to accept it.” WOW!

So, I’m heading back to bed. I may slip into our bedroom and just listen. I’m sure he’s OK…

… but if he’s not, I know only one thing, but it’s a really, really, BIG thing:

God’s grace will be sufficient for the day, no matter what it brings. He’s already taught me that. We carry burdens and heartaches. We have scars from past wounds. We’re made of tough stuff, although the bottom line is that God created us from dirt and when under pressure, it crumbles. But …

God’s grace will be sufficient.

I’m thankful that I can’t speak from experience on this one, but don’t we believe that faith is the substance of things hoped for, THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN (Hebrews 11:1)? Can you believe this wonderful, precious promise and the One who promised it for whatever you are facing today? Will you let the strong arms of Jesus carry you through?

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, 
Stand in his strength alone; 
The arm of flesh will fail you, 
Ye dare not trust your own.

Bart Millard

 

 

 

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Talent or Tenacity?

I’ID-100197640ve been teaching piano lessons now for over forty years, and I’ve had a lot of different students!  Some have gone on to college, majoring in music, while others didn’t make it past the first year!  I’ve noticed something over the years, and my conclusion may surprise you:

I’d rather have a student who is disciplined than one who is talented.

Talent is a gift from God.  There is nothing we can do as a parent to give our children talent. It is such a shame to see talent wasted, especially when the talent is wasted because a child has not been trained to be disciplined.  We often quote Proverbs 6:22

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Once again, I turn to my dear friend, Matthew Henry—a seventeenth-century commentator whose writing seems timeless! I admit, he can be a bit verbose, but the treasured insights are worth the digging:

A great duty charged, particularly to those that are the parents and instructors of children, in order to the propagating of wisdom, that it may not die with them:  Train up children in that age of vanity, to keep them from the sins and snares of it, in that learning age, to prepare them for what they are designed for. Catechise them; initiate them; keep them under discipline. Train them as soldiers, who are taught to handle their arms, keep rank, and observe the word of command. Train them up, not in the way they would go (the bias of their corrupt hearts would draw them aside), but in the way they should go, the way in which, if you love them, you would have them go. Train up a child according as he is capable (as some take it), with a gentle hand, as nurses feed children, little and often, Also see, Deuteronomy 6:7.

 A good reason for it, taken from the great advantage of this care and pains with children: When they grow up, when they grow old, it is to be hoped, they will not depart from it.  Good impressions made upon them then will abide upon them all their days. Ordinarily the vessel retains the savor with which it was first seasoned. Many indeed have departed from the good way in which they were trained up; Solomon himself did so. But early training may be a means of their recovering themselves, as it is supposed Solomon did.  At least the parents will have the comfort of having done their duty and used the means.

Having a talented child and not training them to be diligent is like having the sharpest knife you can afford but using the wrong side to try to cut something!  Frustration and discouragement is the result of such foolishness: for the student, the teacher, and the parent.

This is not an article on “how to train your child,” but a challenge to do it.  I’m convinced that most of us know WHAT to do; we just aren’t consistent ourselves in DOING it, perhaps because we are not disciplined ourselves.  Our own desires get in the way of training our children.  OUCH!  That may seem harsh, but I’m afraid it is often the truth. It is HARD to train children.  It is tiring, frustrating, at times, confusing, but oh, iit is worth all the effort!

As a mother of three grown children, it is with great joy that I’m able to visit their homes and see successful living.  What do I mean by that?  They are making right choices, sticking by the stuff, and raising godly children.  Our family get-togethers are sweet because children listen and adults think of others. There is joy, joy, joy in this old heart.  Are their lives bump-free? No, but they are proving God to be true to His Word!

So, take the challenge. You can do this! Start small and be successful in one tiny area.  Maybe it’s the mandate to make the bed every morning.  Perhaps it’s the underwear drawer: match the socks and fold the undies! 🙂 You will NEVER regret instilling the tenacity to do right into your children!  That’s a promise from God:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Blinded by Fear

It was a forty-year-old Moses who left Egypt and became a shepherd at the foot of Mt. Sinai.  For the next forty years, he herded sheep for Jethro, the Midianite priest who became his father-in-law.  (By the way, Midian was a son of Abraham and Keturah, the woman that Abraham married after Sarah died!  Amazing!)

For forty years he lived on the back side of the desert.  Did he ever think of his exotic life in the Egyptian palace as the son of Pharaoh?  He was an educated man, a man accustomed to wealth and ease, a conquering hero…and a broken man.  Life crashed in around him when he discovered his true identity and tried to put life into a new box—a box in which he did not fit!  His life was now simple, perhaps even complete: He had a wife and two sons and a job where he could be successful.

Then came the call of God. As you read Exodus three and follow the conversation between God and Moses, it becomes clear that Moses has not yet understood this God—the God of the Hebrew slaves which he left.  At the burning bush God outlines His plan, taking four verses to do so, and Moses humbly replies, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 4:11) The next verse is amazing!  God says:

Certainly I will be with thee;and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee:When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

 

God has just told Moses that he would be successful in this venture; he would return to this mountain and serve God there!  It was a done deal, but that’s not what Moses heard.  His ears were tuned into all the past fears that he had brought with him out of the land of Egypt!

When Moses once again questions God as to His name, and God calls himself I AM THAT I AM, God once again outlines His plan, this time taking eight verses to do so!  He tells Moses exactly what will happen:

  1. Go to the elders and tell them I will visit them and have seen their affliction
  2. I will bring them out to the Promised Land
  3. They WILL listen to you
  4. The king of Egypt will NOT listen
  5. I WILL smite Egypt
  6. He WILL let you go
  7. The people will spoil Egypt

Can you imagine if the Lord laid some venture on your heart, and as you prayed about it, God spoke to you and told you exactly what was going to happen?  Yes, there would be some bumpy spots, but in the end you would be successful.  That’s exactly what God did for Moses and yet he continues to plead incompetence, even after his rod became a snake and his hand was eaten away with leprosy.

Where is the turning point? In verse fourteen, God is angry with Moses!  But He doesn’t’ dismiss Moses; instead, he tells him that Aaron will be his voice.

We’ve all been there—faithless.  Moses does not have faith in God because he is crippled with fear:

  1. Lord, they won’t believe me: the fear of man is probably the most crippling fear that stops us from being all that God KNOWS that we can be! There are one hundred forty-five Bible verses that contain the words fear not!  Moses didn’t have those words, but he went on to write twenty-five of them! We have them all, written by our heroes:  Joshua, Samuel, David, Nehemiah, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel Joel, Amos, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Matthew, Luke, John, Paul, Peter and John! Perhaps a study on the phrase fear not would refocus our view.
  2. But I can’t _____ : You fill in the blank. In Moses’ case, he felt he couldn’t speak well.  God then reminds him that He is the One who makes the dumb, deaf, seeing and blind.  God gives us all that we need to do the job that He expects us to do.  It may have been a fact that Moses had these difficulties, and isn’t that just like God to give us a job that requires our greatest inadequacies, to strengthen our trust in Him as well as bring Him all the glory?

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;

and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

And base things of the world, and things which are despised,

hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

1 Corinthians 1:27,28

 

  1. Send someone else: Moses feels so incompetent that he cannot hear all the promises of God. He finally asks God to send someone else.  We have no idea what Moses faced in Egypt.  We do know that Pharaoh wanted to kill him—that’s pretty serious!  Not many of us need to run for our lives!  To put it into today’s terms, Moses was suffering from a major victim mentality!

Perhaps the greatest blessing from this passage is this: Even though God knew that Moses would be successful, he gave Moses the comfort which he needed to get the job done—his brother!  God promises to never leave us or forsake us, even when we have run from Him.  He promises to equip us with His own power and strength; and like Moses, He often sends us exactly what we need to do the job.  Maybe it’s a friend or mentor; perhaps it’s the finances we need or the equipment necessary to finish the job.  Often those “packages of blessings” come in ways or forms that we don’t recognize or expect. They come wrapped in faith, and God’s fingerprints are all over them!

Remember, no matter the situation, God ALREADY KNOWS THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE OUTCOME!  Praise His Name!

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24