Month: October 2015

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 24

As I’ve written this month, I’m reminded of the temptation I have to read the Bible through my own eyes and life experience.

When I read the story of Abraham, I often wonder what his marriage was like but then I quickly remember that he lived in a different culture.

But I keep coming back to this.  We enter his story when he was seventy-five.  Already, there is so much to ask.  I assume his marriage was arranged.  Was Sarah as young as many in that culture, maybe even fourteen?  We know they were ten years apart (Genesis 17:17).  Did they love each other?  Were they friends?

Nevertheless, we see things were complicated.  She followed him to an unknown land.  When a famine hit, he and Sarah went to Egypt, where he told her to tell others they were brother and sister.  He was willing to pass off his wife to spare his own life. God spared both their lives and they traveled on.

God promises Abraham that he will have an heir.  After years passed waiting for this covenant to be fulfilled, Sarah urged Abraham to sleep with their maidservant so that she would have a child.  I can’t imagine this decision made their relationship any less complicated.  Sure enough, she was filled with contempt, blamed Abraham and banished her maidservant.

Eleven years had passed since we started Abraham’s story until this hate-filled moment.

There was no marriage counseling.  No marriage wisdom from the New Testament.  They had one thing…the promise directly from God.  They still doubted.  They still acted on their own understanding.  Sure, I can read these stories, knowing how the story ends and think, “How could they do that?”  But have I not done the same thing?  Have I not acted in anger or impatience, uncertain of what I’m doing along the way?

Thirteen years later, Sarah became pregnant.

I imagine years of agony, heartache, loneliness, doubts and confusion.

Yet the most powerful part of this story is that God remains constant and faithful.  “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 12:1)

The Lord God walks with his people, where they are along their journey, and He still fulfills His promises!

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 23

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So I married an entrepreneur…what does that mean?

  1. I move to where the business is located.
  2. Learn a new language.
  3. When I meet people, they identify me as “Chris’ wife.”
  4. Conversations full of vision and inspiration.
  5. Long days and short nights…or they blur as one altogether.
  6. Days/weeks traveling apart.
  7. Meeting a variety of people I never would have otherwise.
  8. Risk.
  9. Adventure.
  10. Loneliness.
  11. Flexing flexibility.
  12. Expanding new skills.  Never thought I’d be in sales.
  13. Letting go of dreams.
  14. Learning to drive in a lawless land (i.e to be comfortable with honking).
  15. World travel.
  16. Laughter.
  17. Sadness.
  18. Friendship.
  19. Pride.
  20. Frustration.
  21. Humility.
  22. Growth.
  23. Sacrifice.
  24. Patience.
  25. Forgiveness.
  26. Strength.
  27. Courage.
  28. Brokenness.
  29. Bitterness.
  30. Trust.
  31. Prayer.
  32. Overcoming challenges.
  33. Loss.
  34. Learning to find my voice.
  35. Exploration.
  36. Insecurity.
  37. Success.
  38. Comparison.
  39. Freedom.
  40. Peace.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 22

Infertility.

It’s one thing to read the story of Abraham who waited twenty-five years for the arrival of his son, Isaac, as we know the ending.  It’s another to live it without knowing the end.  I know I would not have responded in the same faith that Abraham did.

When I was single, infertility wasn’t exactly on my mind.  I was young, therefore, I assumed, it wouldn’t been an issue.

I got married just before turning 32.  Still young.  Not an issue.  Besides, I was adjusting to plenty of other life changes at once, I wasn’t exactly hoping to add another.  We had a new business to focus on as well.  With Chris’ schedule (i.e. arriving home anywhere from 11:00pm to 1:00am), I knew it would be a challenge to do family life.

So time passed.  Our childless couple friends soon became parents.  The business grew.  Some months, we were on the road more than we were home so I didn’t really have time to think about our start to a family.

I recall one mother asking why I didn’t already have four or five children.  Some women would be grandmothers by now.  I didn’t have an answer.  How do you explain to someone who has no issue having children that you don’t know why?

Another year passed by…and another and another and another.  Baby showers for loved ones came and went.  It’s a dichotomy only other childless women understand to share joy for a friend and grieve your own loss.  It becomes more and more difficult when there is no explanation for the infertility.  All tests show normal results.  “Unknown” is the response you get from doctors.  God seems to remain silent year after year.

And so we wait.

This past summer, during a grieving time, a friend’s husband asked to pray with me.  As he finished speaking hope, he added, “I see a baby girl.”  After years without answers, this word fell on a stoic heart.  I wanted to believe, as Abraham, did. But I was more like his wife, Sarah.  I had years to learn how to self-protect from what added up to constant disappointment.

Yet, this time, something was different.  I was reminded that God saw me, that He had not forgotten or overlooked me, when it seemed everyone around me received the blessing I had now longed for for several years.

As the weeks passed, I forgot those words of hope.  Then the miracle happened…that God had already showed me would.

Now, just months after I turn 38, I will meet the miracle.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 21

I’m far from living the faith that Abraham demonstrated.  He was a willing and obedient servant of God.

By no means was he perfect but he believed.  He was seventy-five when he first heeded God’s call to uproot his family and leave his homeland.  At this moment, God promised the land to Abraham’s offspring.

He heard this promise and believed….and waited.  And waited.

So he figured he should take matters into his own hands.  At eighty-six, Abraham had a child with his maidservant.

At ninety-nine, Abraham hears God speak, ““I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”

By 100, Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, was born.

I have a hard time waiting.  I was that kid who eagerly gave my dad a Father’s Day gift and before he could unwrap the first edge, I would yell, “It’s a tie!”  Patience isn’t my strong suit.  Let alone faith.  I’m quick to forget what God has said.  I easily get sucked into the whirlwind of doubts.

It’s easy for me to self-condemn because I have doubts in the first place.  What I love about Abraham’s story was that he didn’t have it all figured out, made his own path of what he thought God meant but God reminded Abraham, “I am God…I will make my covenant.”
Augustine in his, Confessions, stated “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless within us, until they find rest in you.”  The temptation is to wrestle, stir and agonize over the pursuit of happiness and rest, even as Abraham might have.  Though we may try to fight it, God alone is the one who will complete the promise He has made.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 20

In my thirty plus years as a Christ follower, I’ve believed that I have lived by faith.

Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s recently challenged my reality: “We have lived and believed too strongly the idea that it is possible, by considering all possibilities in advance, to make life so certain that it then happens completely automatically.  Only too late have we learned that the source of action is not the idea, but readiness for responsibility…Our being Christian today will consist in only two things: prayer and in doing justice among people.”
Is this what I hope for–to spend my days in prayer and doing justice for others?  Sure, I might pray in desperation.  Or what if the motivation of my prayers is to ensure that my life falls in line with my plan?  If I’m praying at all, that is.
So if I’m trying to control and seek certainty, what does that reveal about my idea of faith?  Faith is defined as “(1) fidelity to one’s promises; (2) belief and trust in and loyalty to God.”  Scripture also reminds us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Often Christians are mocked for such faith–“It’s blind.  You’re weak and not intelligent if you believe that.”  I would argue that it is certainty.  And I want it.  Yes, I have it, as a believer.  But I want to live with it as a daily confidence.  Daily, moment-to-moment assurance that above all else that God IS who He says He is and He has fulfilled His promises.  Faith is choosing to believe that what God has said is true now and forever.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 19

Do you have truth sayers in your life?  The irony is that I want them in my life but I’m not always accepting of when the truth comes.

Today I’m told by one of them, “Anxiety is ruling your life.”  Of course, my immediate response was to dismiss these words. Yet, after letting them sink in, I wanted to dig deeper.

What is anxiety?  Fear.  But fear of what?  As Webster defines anxiety as “(1) fear or nervousness about what might happen; (2) an abnormal and overwhelming sense of…fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”  So in other words, fear of…anything.

What does anxiety look like in my life?  As I further self-examine this trait in my life, I notice it has emerged more clearly since moving here.  What I was once used to–convenience, stability, comfort, predictability–has all gone.  So here, whether I’ve recognized it before today or not, anxiety has reared its ugly head anytime I sense a lack of control.  Pretty much daily.  It may not show with signs of sweat or an increased pulse but it can often come as Webster stated, through doubt of a situation or self-doubt.

What is the opposite of anxiety?  Peace.  Something I want more of but know I weakly demonstrate it.  Yet another reason to doubt.  Yet, there is hope.  The Bible addresses anxiety throughout the Old and New Testament.

Psalm 34:4  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all of my fears.

Psalm 56:3  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Isaiah 41:10  “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Luke 12:25  “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Where does anxiety come from?  Fear that I cannot control a situation.  In anxiety, my hope and trust is in me alone.

Where does peace come from?  When my hope is in Christ alone.  No one else.

Proverbs 12:25Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”  May the good Word encourage you today to choose to walk in peace!

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 18

We recently had our property fumigated in hopes to save the trees infested by pine beetles.  For years they have gone undetected.  They remain below the bark, secretly eating away at the healthy part of the timber.  Once they devour a tree that they have inhabited, they fly to the next tree to continue the cycle.  Unfortunately, weeks later, we needed to cut down eight of our trees.

It’s not always easy to catch what is below the surface in our lives.  Often times, we don’t see the problem or we choose to ignore it.

I tend to be an all-or-nothing person.  Also, an optimist and an idealist.  These don’t bode well for the slow-gnawing issues of life.  I don’t like to address them.  Or when I have to, I go “all-bad” as my husband reminds me.  With this approach, I am tempted to skip the “fumigation” process and jump right to the extreme, tree-cutting stage.

The good news is, and I’m still learning this, that life isn’t black and white.  Unlike the tree, for us, life is fluid.  This is freeing, if I apply it!