Sunday, July 31, 2011

Are We There Yet?

It's that time of year again- last bits of road trips for vacation, to camp, to grandma's, etc. before summer winds down.  Though now in the days of DS, DVD and MP3, this phrase may not be heard as often as it was when I was growing up, you know we have all heard it, and have all said it: "Are we there yet?!?"  Though normally said by a tired child and normally met with either a tired, worn-out reply of "Not yet" or a sarcastic combo of "When the trees stop moving, we're there" and the ever informative "We'll get there when we get there".

It's funny to think about this silly question when it's related to a road trip, but isn't this the root of many of the concerns about our lives?  "Is this how life is going to be?" "This isn't how I planned it." "Is this all there is?" "What happens when the good times change to bad?" "Should I be worried about the future?"  "Where is God in my circumstances?"  Seems like we are always asking if we are there yet.

Two problems with our question- the same two problems that Ava has when she asks me if we are there yet on a trip.  1) We don't know where we are going  2) We have no idea the road ahead that this journey is scheduled to take.  Ava questions almost every day if I am on the right road home.  Funny from the mouth of a 3 year old, but I wonder what God thinks when I ask Him the same question.

My Bible study lately is taking me back through Genesis.  I love asking God to show me new truths in familiar stories- He is always faithful.  Genesis 12 talks about God telling Abram to "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." (vs 1).  That's it- no map, no time table, no destination.  Just start, and I'll tell you to stop when you get there.  What did Abram do?  Hebrews 11:8 says "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."  Throughout the 12th chapter of Genesis, the Bible tells us that Abram would travel "as far as..." and stop, and build an altar to God there and call on His name.  Then he would travel again until God told him to stop and repeat the cycle.  The Bible says that God appeared to him at these places.  I wonder if Abram ever asked God "Am I there yet?"  The Word doesn't say- all it tells us is that Abram praised God every time he stopped.  I wonder if his prayer was less complaining and more thankful that God had taken them safely this far and with faith that he would prepare the way if He meant for the journey to continue.  Might be an attitude I could learn from...

How would your life be different if you treated your journey with God in this life the way Abram appears to have handled it?  Would you start out your day saying "I don't know where you are taking me today, but I choose in faith to trust you and follow you.  I'll pause when you tell me to and go when you tell me to.  Where I end up and what I have accomplished will be for you to decide.  I will obey."?  And what if when there were times God just stopped us in the midst of our circumstances- some might be good places in life and some might be bad- would we stop to praise God because of His faithfulness to appear to us?  Could we find contentment in never knowing "Are we there yet?" until the day He returns and lets us see Himself clearly?

I am nowhere close to being faithful in this area, but God is working on my heart about trusting, following, being content, not looking for the destination, taking the next revealed step, not having to know the plan.  He is gracious to remind me that He is in control and knows the road.  I do know that I need to stop acting like Ava and just enjoy the ride with Him.

Psalm 139: 1-10, 13-16, 23-24
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in- behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well
My frame was not hidden from you when I was make in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes say my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Your fellow passenger,

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


What's that old saying about the grass being greener... or how about we always want what we don't have?  These are often thrown around as funny quotes when bemoaning straight vs. curly hair or jealousy over a friend's new car or house.  They sound a bit different and carry more weight if we apply them to real life, real world, really hard situations in life.  One situation this is often true is with regard to motherhood.  
Not that I have a huge amount of wisdom here, but I have made some observations about us women as we struggle with motherhood, specifically how and when this title is bestowed upon us.  There are more issues surrounding this topic than I can even know, but when thinking about myself and my circle of friends I know of the following types of women:

Moms of one child
Moms of many children
Moms of many, many children
Moms of young children
Moms of old children
Moms of children with children of their own
Moms of children who have died tragic deaths
Moms who lost children as stillbirths and miscarriages
Moms who lost their child to cancer and disease
Moms who lost their child to suicide
Moms of children with chronic diseases
Moms of healthy children
Moms of handicapped children
Moms of autistic children
Moms who want more children
Moms who want more children who can't have them
Moms who want more children but their doctors tell them it's not safe to conceive
Moms who don't want more children but are unexpectedly pregnant
Moms who have children born of other women, some in other states, some in other countries, some from other members of their own family, some from previous marriages of their spouse
Moms who have children they have brought into their home for a short amount of time, foster moms, for example
Moms who have had no problems or extraordinary circumstances surrounding motherhood
Women who want to be moms so bad they hurt way down deep in their hearts
Women who want to be moms but their husbands say "No"
Women who want to be moms, but their husbands have left them or are involved with other women

Quite a list, and I'm quite sure I have only scratched the surface of possibilities out there.  However, I know that for many of these types of women motherhood is not something only to be celebrated annually in May or enjoyed each time they hear "Mom" from their child's mouth.  For many, especially those for whom motherhood is somewhat elusive, the whole subject of motherhood can be very painful.  

As our family has been swimming in the pool of the processes surrounding parenthood for the past 7 years (and yes, I only have a single 3 year old child) we have run the gamut of emotions surrounding these issues from sorrow, frustration and complete and utter joy.  We have prayed and read and praised and begged and been thankful and surprised and at peace.  Through it all, I have so far learned 3 important things about God and maybe His opinion about some of these issues.

1) This is an issue because of "The Fall"- yes- Adam and Eve, specifically the curse after sin entered the world.  "To the woman He said, 'I will make your pains in childbirth very severe.'" Gen. 3:16  Because of the second part of this verse, it is often applied to childbirth itself,  though I would argue that the implications could and have been applied to the entire process from desire to delivery and beyond.

2) God is in complete control of this entire process regardless of expectations, hopelessness or modern science.  In Hosea 9:11, God declares that there will be "No birth, no pregnancy, no conception" in order to punish the Israelites for their unfaithfulness.  In the stories of Hannah (mother of Samuel- 1 Samuel chapter 1), Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist - Luke chapter 1), Sarah (mother of Isaac- Genesis chapters 16, 17,18 and 21) and most obviously Mary (mother of Jesus - Luke the end of chapter 1)  God shows His sovereignty over this whole parental process.  Whether we choose to believe Him and trust His sovereignty is another story.

3) His intention is that He alone is worshipped not parenthood, the desire to be parents, the love of our children or any other thing that takes our attention off of Him and onto ourselves.  In Ezekiel 8:14 God points out women mourning for Tammuz (an ancient god of fertility) and calls the practice detestable.  This is in a chapter dedicated to pointing out idolatry in the hearts of God's people.  He is pretty clear in His word that He is a jealous God and that He alone is worthy of our praise.  See: Exodus 20:5 and 34:14, Psalm 78:58, Revelation 15:3-4

May we as women seek to be all God has called us to be, including in those issues surrounding children and towards those in our spheres of influence.  May we even more seek to glorify Him and Him alone in our motives, affections, thoughts and aspirations.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Merriam-Webster defines it as:
-desire accompanied by an expectation of or belief in fulfillment
-expectation of fulfillment or success
-to cherish a desire with expectation
-to expect with confidence

Of all of the emotions common to man, hope may be one of the most central and instinctive, second perhaps only to love.  We hope for all kinds of things- marriage, children, jobs, rain, sun, good results from tests, answers to our questions, our favorite teams to win, that the store won't close before we get there.  There is no end to the things for which we hope.  

Sometimes hoping is hard when we just can't see the answer.  Sometimes hope feels like all we have.

The Bible has a lot to say about hope.  Here are a few...

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

"Always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.  There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." "Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." Proverbs 23:18 and 24:14

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life" Proverbs 13:12

"Then I would still have this consolation— my joy in unrelenting pain— that I had not denied the words of the Holy One. What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?" Job 6:10-11

"Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him." Psalm 62:5

"I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope."
Psalm 130:4-6

"I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. 
So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." Lamentations 3:17-26

"Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:23-25

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

"But as for me, I will always have hope" Psalm 71:14

I think scripture is interesting on this subject of hope.  Even in the above sampling of verses, hope is not always a positive word.  Sometimes the word "hope" is our very last cry of desperation, frustration and, well, hopelessness.  

Are you in a season of hope?  What are you currently hoping for?  We have been hoping for some things at our house and right now, there are no answers coming.  Though Proverbs 13 is true that hope deferred makes the heart sick, I know that Hebrews 10 is true as well... He who promised is faithful.

I, and anyone else who is hopeful right now have to remember whom our hope is.  We belong to Him and we, I, need to remember who our God is:

The First and the Last; the Architect of the Universe; Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, Dead but brings life, light, love, goodness and kindness; Holy, Our Saviour, Our Peace, The Ancient of Days, He never overlooks me; The Lifter of my Head; My Healer, Lord Almighty; My refuge, My comforter, Upright and Just;  The Most High, My Strength; The Author of my Salvation; The guarantee of a better covenant; The Faithful Witness; The Living One, The Amen, The Ruler of Creation;  What He opens no one can shut and what He shuts, no one can open.

There is nothing that can ever happen in my life, to those around me or in my circumstances that can change any of those things about God.  So, while my earthly hopes are currently deferred, I have to remember that my real hope is in the person and character of One who is unchanging and ultimately trustworthy of all my hopes and dreams.

With hope,

(All scripture from the NIV and portions of the description of God from Priscilla Shirer)