“Lucky” or responding to God?

I have no idea if it is kosher to cut and paste somebody else’s blog entry on your own blog because you think it is totally awesome and you want lots of people to read it. Of course, credit is given where credit is due… I don’t know the writer of the Nonconform Freely blog but I wish I did!

Lucky

Yesterday I heard those words that infuriate me. “You are lucky you have the option to stay at home.” Lucky? I am not lucky! My husband and I have CHOSEN, yes, as an act of our wills and, we believe, in accordance with the word of God, that I be a fulltime keeper-of-the-home these past 22 + years. We are not LUCKY to have the OPTION for me to stay at home!

Do I understand that some women do not have this option? Yes. But, far fewer than our society would have us believe. It costs much to choose this option. Like Paul listing his sufferings, out of need that people understand, I will list some of the do-with-outs of our years: 30 year old carpet in my living room and hall, 30 year old decor in our basement family room, bedroom, etc., only one big family vacation in 22 years and that one to visit colleges in Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan, no salon dyed hair or professional nails, no latest style clothing, no complete decorating or re-decorating of our home, missmatched used furniture. This gives the idea. Have I ever wished for these things? Certainly. Do I now wish for these things? Sometimes.

But here is what I have gained: the blessing of having to learn to be content, of being forced to trust in the Lord for His provision, of beautiful memories of my son’s and daughter’s growing up years, of being the primary person to shape my children, of availability to help with school activities, of no day care stress when my children were sick, of learning patience in the midst of 24/7 care, of having all the hours of the day to pray for my loved ones, of being the one to snuggle my kids after every nap, of seeing my children shout for joy each day when “Daddy” came home for lunch, of being home to hold my children accountable for their whereabouts as they got older, of seeing them mature and make wise decisions, of TIME, TIME, TIME. We had hours and days and months and years of family time, not big momentous events, though there were some of these, but day after day after day together. Many of the memories of their early years our son and daughter do not remember, but my husband and I remember.

There are no material possessions which can replace the gift of time. Time cannot be saved. Once is passes it is gone. These years with my children and husband are an immeasurably precious gift from the hand of our Lord.

My children are raised, but I am not returning to the ‘workplace.’ I have always told my husband that my job has no pay, but all the benefits. He and I continue to have time together each day at lunch and in the evening. I continue to have time to pray for my loved ones all day. I am able to meet with my grown children for coffee or lunch. I am available to help my aging parents. I hope to have the blessing of time with grandchildren. I want to savor all the time offered by the Lord to spend minutes, hours, days, months, and Lord willing, years to continue to be blessed by my family. It is not luck which dictates our lives, but deliberate choices as to how we will live our days.

Letting God define my longing

My life has had a theme of “longing” lately. Longing for things of the world: to be pregnant, to have financial security and creature comforts, to feel like everything is safe around me and I am loved. Praise the Lord, in the midst of it all, He has drawn me into his Word so that my worldly longing can have the proper context. God has asked me to allow my longing to be defined by who He is.

What is this longing that I feel? It is a direct result of the Fall. “Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:23-24) Who can even begin to imagine the feeling of longing and sorrow that Adam and Eve experienced as they looked back over their shoulders to the Garden, knowing that they could never return to the paradise lost? Can any human being imagine losing the unique fellowship that our original parents had with God Himself?

The Israelites, our adopted brothers and sisters, experienced 400 years of longing for the fulfillment of God’s promise to them. “Then the LORD said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.'” (Genesis 15:13-14) Homeless, transient, living in tents, year after year, generation after generation trusting that God would not abandon them in their affliction. The writer of Hebrews further describes the faith of our Patriarch fathers: “By faith he (Abraham) went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:9-10)

Even Moses, after freeing his people from the Pharaoh, receiving the law from the very finger of God, and leading Israel to the banks of the Jordan would go to his death without entering the Promised Land. “And the LORD said to him, ‘This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, “I will give it to your offspring.” I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.'” I cannot imagine the bittersweet tears that Moses must have shed on the water’s edge as he gazed upon the land that he would not inherit.

The Psalms are full of the longing of the great King David. When I read his words I can hear his choked sobs as he pleads with the LORD to pull him out of the pit of darkness and not forsake him as he breaks under the burden of his pain. “O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me.” (Psalm 38:9-10)

And finally, I am overwhelmed by the longing of Creation itself: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:18-23)

All of creation lives with longings not yet fulfilled. We dwell in the land before the promised land. We exist between the “now” and the “not yet.” And yet we too have a promise. “For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)

We think that we long for things of the world and that these things will truly satisfy us. But our true longing is for what was lost in the Fall–a return to paradise. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2) We long for that which only God can completely provide.

Turning 37

I turned 37 years old last week and I will admit that it was kindof an emotional day. A couple of years ago I was absolutely confident that my 37th birthday would find me with a little baby in my arms, content with life, knowing where I’m going and what I am doing. God apparently has other plans for me.

We sang this Jeremy Riddle song recently in church and it hasn’t left my mind since. I think the lyrics are amazing. I want to be “sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.” I want to be so supple in God’s hands.

To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of its suffering I do drink
Of its work I do sing

For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
And God is just

At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

What a priceless gift, undeserved life
Have I been given
Through Christ crucified

You’ve called me out of death
You’ve called me into life
And I was under Your wrath
Now through the cross I’m reconciled

In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love and
How great is Your faithfulness