Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lessons For Living

Today while talking with a couple of other mom's about our kids we realized how often the Lord uses them to teach us things about ourselves. My dear friend was sharing how her daughter's behavior was causing something inside of her to become angry and feel out of control. She was beginning to see that the Lord was using that experience to do something inside of her.

I recently discovered something similar for myself. You may have read about it here. The whole idea is that the "something" I want to change in my child (or anyone else for that matter) is actually the "something" He wants me to surrender to Him or has something to do with the "something". Does that make sense? This has got me thinking. What if the Lord is always using "something" to teach us and grow us? How many times have I overlooked opportunities for Him to use those "somethings" to bring freedom in my own heart? It doesn't have to be just through raising children, although I can see how the Father loves using them in this way. My children have the ability to bring out the best and the worst in me, making them excellent tools to strip away the outer "perfect Christian, wife, and mother " persona I try and wear. Nothing can crack that surface like one of my children throwing a massive temper tantrum in public.

Maybe you are thinking you are off the hook because you don't have kids. Let me remind you that He is very resourceful. If you don't have kids, your kids are grown, or even if you do have kids, He has many, many ways of growing us. 

This isn't really a new thought. "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger," right? What I discovered is most of the time I don't realize this is happening. By "this" I mean the opportunity Papa is taking to teach me something. I'm too busy asking the Lord to work on someone else or work on whatever the situation is. I become way more occupied with fixing them then with allowing Him to fix me. After all, I don't need fixing. I'm  not the one who is acting poorly. It's not that I'm bad intentioned. I can spend a lengthly amount of time "praying" for them by informing God how He should fix them.

Am I the only one like this?

Well since I'm being real I might as well tell you that there are also times when I'm feeling pretty good about myself and where I am with the Lord. I get in little ruts of self-satisfaction, pride in my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Everything seems to be going my way. I feel I've finally arrived.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say we should walk around feeling unworthy, or completely inadequate. I'm only saying it's a beautiful thing that the Lord uses these things to do something beautiful and wonderful in us. The truth is though, I think He has more opportunities then we realize.

So right now. At this very moment. What's bugging you about someone or some situation? As I walk this all out with the Lord, I'm finding that often when I surrender my own issue about the problem, for example: forgiving that person for their behavior, repenting for my own actions in response to their behavior, or just offering up a blanket prayer of humility expressing my desire for Him to make me more like Him in every way; I'm finding that the problem goes away. Somehow there is a heavenly exchange that takes place that frees the other person and allows them to experience healing as well.

I'll admit sometimes this is hard, especially when we feel justified in our feelings. Perhaps you haven't acted out any of those ugly feelings you may have felt on the inside. You could say you've done nothing wrong and have nothing to apologize for. Even if that's true, is that the point of this new life we have in Christ? To just be "right" all the time, to be "good" Christians? Or is the point to grow into mature sons and daughters in this family? Sometimes that means facing hard truths that only you and Him know about. Sometimes the work He does in you doesn't change the other person at all even if they really need to change. Surrendering to Him doesn't make what others do or a horrible situation any less wrong. We trust that He does have our best interests at heart. If there is something He wants us to surrender it's something that's holding us back not something that He's keeping back from us. 

I think we can establish that the fact is He wants to use these things to grow us up in our walk with Him. We can trust that it is for our own good because of His immeasurable love and desire for good for us.

Having established that, let me repeat a question I asked earlier. What if the Lord is always using "something" to teach us and grow us? 



Even when we're feeling good about ourselves? Even if it's actually the other person who has the problem? 

Just like my sons and my daughter never stop growing, (they eat all the time!) I don't stop growing. Or at least I shouldn't stop growing. I don't want to stop growing. He always wants me to grow. This leads to questions that I think we can ask daily that are answered in the form of our daily bread. 

"What do You want to do in me through this situation? Is there something in me that should be surrendered to You? Is there something You want to change in me even when I feel like everyone else is the problem?" 

You can't change people, but you can allow the Lord to use those relationship and situations to bring healing, freedom, and maturity in your heart. The amazing thing though, and I'm learning this more and more, is that this does often result in healing, freedom, and growth for everyone. That is nothing short of miraculous!

Psalm 119: 33-41 MSG
   God, teach me lessons for living
      so I can stay the course.
   Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
      my whole life one long, obedient response.
   Guide me down the road of your commandments;
      I love traveling this freeway!
   Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
      and not for piling up loot.
   Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
      invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
   Affirm your promises to me—
      promises made to all who fear you.
   Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
      but what you say is always so good.
   See how hungry I am for your counsel;
      preserve my life through your righteous ways!
 Let your love, God, shape my life
      with salvation, exactly as you promised;