Sunday, May 12, 2013
Mother's Day Gift Wrapped in God's Grace
Philippians 4:11-13: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV 84)
Most Mother's Day Sundays find us packed into church, willingly or not, to honor our mothers. They truly are a gift from God. Look in the Bible and you will find many moms who influenced their children--for good or bad. Many Mother's Day sermons tout the Proverbs 31 woman, or maybe the Titus 2 women--or maybe a mixture of both. Most of the time it is connected to mothers somehow.
This Sunday? Way different. You see, I have been inwardly struggling with many things for a while now. Many months. Seeking answers in the wrong places. This week, the Lord graciously answered some questions not only in my personal time with Him, but in a sermon. On Mother's Day. That really had nothing at all to do with mothers. Or did it? It sure did impact this one.
Our pastor expounded on Philippians 4:11-13 and 'Contentment'. We have been following a sermon series over a few weeks, titled "Family Matters." Little did I know that when I prayed for the Lord to open my ears and my heart to receive the message, that I would be weeping by the end of it. On Mother's Day--did I mention that?
Written and dated 3/1/13, beside these very verses, was a prayer that I had prayed. "I pray to know this secret too." Well...that prayer was about to be answered. A Mother's Day gift from MY Father. It wasn't found in a book, in medicine, or even in a person, although I thank God for all of my blessings. My family, my friends, and my church family mean the world to me. Rather, it was found in the message and person of Jesus Christ.
As many of you know by my previous posts, this has been a tough 4 years. This week, after twisting my knee, I have had way too much time to think. But I have also had time to seek the Lord like I haven't for a long time. It took a crippling to get me to ....be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Sad state of affairs, no?
A friend sent me a message the night before my accident, about Psalm 23. The message included a story about the dangers that sheep unknowingly put themselves into. They will literally walk off a cliff while they are grazing--too busy focusing on the food. The message also included a story of how one sheep literally strayed into danger so many times that the shepherd had to break it's leg, then graciously placed it into his garment, to keep it safe. Whoa! Please don't send me anymore messages like that....kidding!!
Pastor expounded on the verses with such depth that it literally took my breath away. Learned, in verse 11, literally means to be "initiated into the secret". Paul had to receive some action in order to learn. Then, he brought up another favorite verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9. How Paul had sought the Lord three times over an ailment, and how the Lord had told him that His grace was enough (sufficient). Looking at the life of Paul, and realizing that he was writing Philippians while in chains in prison, we see that he didn't 'learn' the easy way. He had a hard life, but a life FULL of God's grace, provision, blessing and mercy.
Moving on in that same verse, Pastor said that content meant a "self-sufficiency not dependent on external resources." It had more to do with our "internal resources"--Christ. Our inner relationship with God.
In that same sermon, he asked a question that had been posed to me several weeks earlier in a conference call that I was a guest speaker for with Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor. "Is Jesus enough?" Not really understanding the implication at the time of that call, I would be reminded a few short weeks later.
By the end of the service, I was weeping. Weeping over what all I had put above my relationship with Jesus. Everything that I put above God. All of the idols I had created. THOSE were the cause of my stress. I had walked away from my relationship with Jesus and was relying on MY strength to "do the job". I focused on the storm, and not the Savior; the healing and not the Healer. Our loving God reached down and broke down those walls within me. He restored me. He:
"makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (Psalm 23:2-3)
Philippians 4:13 doesn't assure me superhuman strength or the ability to complete ALL that I set out to do. It does, however, assure me that my strength lies in Christ alone, and that He will strengthen me for whatever He has called me to do. Not what my plans are. His plans. According to Jeremiah 29:11, those plans are good.
The best Mother's Day gift ever? Wrapped in a sermon full of answers to my questions that He didn't have to answer. Chastisement wrapped in comfort and healing. For that, I am forever thankful. And the answer? That yes, Jesus IS enough.
Isaiah 30:15~ Only in returning to Me and waiting for Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.