“So, When Do I Get to Feel Peaceful?”

I’d like to welcome a number of new wives who are just beginning this journey toward becoming the godly wives God calls us to be.

It can be a bit overwhelming at first as you begin to look at all that you don’t know and all that it seems needs to be changed.  A lot of you have very valid concerns and questions.  If you have a question I have not addressed here, please leave it for me in the comments and we will talk about it!

  • This seems like more than I can handle.
  • When does the peaceful part start?
  • I feel like I am losing myself. (Part 2)
  • I don’t want to lose my voice and power in the marriage (Part 2)
  • I feel so lonely. (Part 3)
  • I don’t know how to say things respectfully to my husband, so I am just not saying anything at all. (Part 3)
  • My husband isn’t changing at all.  Respect doesn’t work on my husband. (Part 4)
  • My husband doesn’t love me and is not on board with this marriage. (Part 4)
  • But I’m right! (Part 5)
  • I’m so scared to give up control!  I am the better leader.  I should be in charge! (Part 5)
  • He doesn’t deserve my respect! (Part 6)
  • Why can’t HE change first?  Why do I have to change when he’s the one who is so far from God and so unloving? (Part 7)
  • Wives who have been on this journey for awhile – please share your wisdom with the wives who are at the beginning of the trail.  I may anonymously share your comments in another post, too, if that is ok. 🙂

1. This seems like more than I can handle.

YES!  If you feel that way – that is a GOOD THING.  It means that you realize that you can’t do this on your own – that it is IMPOSSIBLE to be the godly woman God commands you to be in your own power.  That is a critical first step because it is only through the power of God’s Spirit filling you up and giving you supernatural power that you can be the wife of His dreams.  You can’t do this without Him.  In your own power, all you can do is have the sinful nature in control.

The results of the sinful nature being in control are predictable and written for us in Galatians 5:19-21:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The thing to realize is that if I have ANY of these things going on in my life and mind and soul – I am being powered by the sinful nature.

When God’s Spirit is in charge, the results are also predictable and are written for us in Galatians 5:22-25:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

If I don’t have all of the fruit of the Spirit growing in us on an increasing basis pretty much daily – something is SERIOUSLY wrong with my walk with Christ Jesus.

Either:

1. I never actually received Him as my Savior and Lord – accepting His gift of His death for me in my place as payment for all of my sins against God and giving my life completely to Him for Him to now be in charge.

2. I am not living with Him as Lord and am cherishing sin in my heart.  Often, the biggest ones are

  • PRIDE – thinking I know best and I know better than God and His Word doesn’t apply to me, I am justified in not obeying His Word
  • idolatry  – making something else most important in my life – I MUST HAVE THIS THING to be happy.  If that thing I must have to be content is not Jesus – I am in sin.
  • unforgiveness – If I refuse to forgive others when they sin against me, Jesus says God will not forgive me – Matthew 6.

If I have grieved the Spirit of God – I don’t have His power blasting through my soul and empowering me to do things that I cannot do on my own.

I need to:

  • admit my sin is wrong and offends God’s holiness. (I John 1:9)
  • ask for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus that He shed for me.  He paid for all of my sin as if He had committed the wrongs I have done.  He bore the full wrath of God that I deserved in my place so that I can be made right with God by His goodness.  He puts His holiness and righteousness (right standing before God) in my account and He puts my sin in His account when I trust Him and put my full faith in Him.  He took my death and punishment and when I receive this gift He gives me, He gives me His life with God and the spiritual riches of heaven.  I don’t deserve this.  I deserve hell.  I can’t earn God’s favor.  I can’t earn God’s pleasure with me on my own.  But Jesus can give me a new heart and soul and I can stand before God with the righteousness of Jesus as my robe – so that when God sees me – He sees His perfect Son.  I don’t understand how all that happens.  But I am SURE THANKFUL He is able to do that for me!  WHAT GREAT NEWS!
  • turn away from my sin 180 degrees and stop doing it and turn to God.
  • die to my old sinful self – nail it to the cross to die and be buried with Christ – then I can  put on my new self in Christ. (Galatians 5:24)
  • seek to obey God in EVERYTHING and allow His Spirit to fill me daily. (Ephesians 5:18)
  • have my only goals in life to be to know God, to desire to please Him, to obey Him, to do His will and to bring Him the greatest glory
  • give myself as a living sacrifice to Jesus daily.  I lay down my rights, my wisdom, my plans, my life, my desires, my possessions, my future, my family, my marriage, my everything.  Then I pick up His wisdom, His plans, His desires, His power, His strength, His holiness, His will and I seek His glory alone.
  • focus on the good things God has done for me and given to me and have a thankful heart. (Ephesians 5:20, Philippians 4:8)
  • do not worry or trust SELF anymore, but trust God with all my heart. (Philippians 4:4-8)

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves Me, He will obey My teaching.  My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love Me will not obey My teaching.”  John 14:23-24a

If Jesus is my LORD – my answer to Him is always, “Yes!!!”  There is NOTHING He can ask me to do that I won’t do.

2. When Does the Peaceful Part Start?

You actually control a lot of the speed of this process.

Becoming a peaceful wife has NOTHING to do with our husbands or our marriages – it has EVERYTHING to do with our relationship with Christ.

If you cling to sin and cherish it more than you cherish obeying Jesus and being full of His Spirit and repenting of sin – you will have a long time of pain, frustration and struggling.

The beginning of this journey is PAINFUL.  It is hard to give up idols and face our sin!  And it is terrifying to stop trusting self and seeking to feel loved and to learn to trust God if we have not done that before.

The sooner you learn to trust God and put all your faith in Him and the sooner you embrace His wisdom and repent of your sin – the sooner you will experience His supernatural peace and joy.

  • I must be willing to give up EVERYTHING that offends God.  Every single thing.
  • I must be willing to obey Christ and make Him LORD of everything in my life.
  • I must submit 100% of myself and my life to Jesus.  I have to wrestle with my fears and beliefs and God’s Word until I can get to the point that I can honestly say, “Not my will but Yours be done, Jesus.”
  • I must be willing to obey Him no matter what the personal cost to myself.

When your sinful nature is no longer in control – but you have died to your old sinful self – and God’s Spirit is in control and you are walking in obedience to His Word – the peace will come automatically.  God gives His spiritual gifts to those who live by faith, who trust Him completely and who obey Him, even when there is suffering and hardship.

  • It was really shocking to me at first when I began to experience it.  I usually had worry and anxiety and fears running constantly through my head all the time.  But when I finally repented of all my sin and idols and unforgiveness – I realized one day that that voice wasn’t going all the time.  Things were still and calm in my head.  That was WEIRD and DIFFERENT. Then it dawned on me that this strange feeling was PEACE.

Wow!

It felt SO GREAT!!!!!

Let me warn  you – God’s peace is SUPER addictive.  Once you experience it-  you will be willing to do anything to have it again if you lose it. 🙂

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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:12-13

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Isaiah 26:3

SOME OTHER WIVES SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES:

1. Angelique:

I have been on this journey for 17 months and it does take a while! I, too, am so glad you are on this journey. It takes so much courage and strength to do this. There are days that are so hard and days that are so wonderful. I tell April all the time, “I hated you and loved you at the same time.” I hated that my old self had to die to its old ways of wanting to be pleased all the time but then I loved her because of the truth she was fueling me with. The truth has truly changed me and my marriage.

So don’t give up and if you feel like you want to, just reach out and we are all here on this journey with you. Trust in God’s perfect plan. The Bible says, He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

The one thing I learned early on was – I had made my husband an idol in my heart. I had to learn to replace Jesus as my one and only God. That was extremely hard for me because I had my whole identity wrapped up in how my husband made me feel. So if I didn’t get the warm and fuzzies from him that day then chances were, I was having a crummy-feeling day.

I had to learn how God felt about me. I had to daily and moment by moment remember God’s intense love for me – that I was uniquely and wonderfully made. That He had a great plan for my life. That I was beautiful and precious to Him. When I knew that, like really knew that, there was this overwhelming peace and joy that flooded my heart. Sure, I still wished my husband would be romantic and pursue me more ,but my world didn’t get shaken when he didn’t.
I also had to notice the ways my husbands was showing his love or trying to be romantic. Some times I needed a magnifying glass to actually see them, but I delighted in each one.

The more I began to focus on God, the happier and more peaceful I became. The less I controlled him and nagged my husband, the lighter I felt. The more I focused on my sin, the more gracious I became.

Then somehow like magic, my husband started to miss me and wanted to be with me more. And the more I invested into my husband’s life as an act of love (not wrong motives…you have to be careful with that) the more intrigued I became with this person I married. God gave me a window into my husband’s heart and I began to see things and learn things about him I never knew after 8 years of marriage. Now I truly delight in just being with him, even if its watching him build things in the garage. Sometimes he invests back into me and sometimes he doesn’t. I’m okay with that! God knows the desires of my heart and I fully trust God with them!

I am so glad you are here and working on improving your marriage. I know God is pleased you are trying to honor Him by being a godly wife.

2. A Fellow Wife

We all have down days.

There is a sadness in realizing that things are not going to be like you thought they would. But I promise you, there is true peace in this path. I have been on this journey for 13 months but things really just started clicking into place for me 2 months ago. It takes time. And you can do this.

Realize this – God’s plan is good. It may not feel good at the moment but some day you will look back and see that His plan is so much better than what you originally thought you wanted in marriage.

I once heard this in a marriage seminar and it has helped me tremendously. God does not tell us to submit to our husbands because he thinks we are inferior. He is giving us the KEY to our husbands heart by telling us to submit. Our soft, submissive behavior draws our husbands to us and makes them respond in ways that we have long dreamed they would. They don’t always do it exactly when we want them to. But it does happen.

You can certainly tell your husband things you want in your marriage. But letting him decide when to give you these things is giving him the ability to give you a very sweet gift that you will savor and treasure. Instead of him giving it to you because you are demanding it, he is giving it to you – when he chooses to do so – as a gift from his heart.

Yes, you are a sheep but that does not mean you are not infinitely precious to God. Do you know that God has your very name written in the palm of his hand? (Isaiah 49:16) If you were the only one on earth, He still would have sent His Son for you. Don’t doubt your worth. God’s Word also says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

I do this when I am feeling down. Write down 10 wonderful things about your husband. Things like he is affectionate or he tells you he loves you daily. Whatever they are. Even going to work for your family makes the list- that is a huge thing and how most men feel is a way they can show love the best. Making a list like this always makes me feel better and reminds me how blessed I am to have my husband.

Coming to that place where you decide you can be okay either way is HARD. There is no getting around that fact. I had some real days of grieving when I realized that I had to give every hope and dream into God’s hands to see what He would do.

But He has not failed me. I did this with no expectation of return. BUT my husband has actually done some very sweet and unexpected things since that time to show his love for me. Are they things on my time table? Nope. Are they exactly what I would have ‘ordered’ him to give me? Nope. But they are honestly much, much sweeter.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE

We’ll look at the other questions from the top of this article in the next few posts.

OTHER RESOURCES:

Nina Roesner wrote a post about the normal stages that wives go through on this journey.

My YOUTUBE CHANNEL – “April Cassidy”

“Can I ‘Have It All’?”

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From a wife and sister in the Lord, Veronica Alejar, from the Philippines – with her permission:

I used to think that I “had it all”. I was a TV news anchor/mother of 3/wife/businesswoman-baker, etc. etc. People always stopped to ask how I could multi-task and well, have it all!

I thought that I was glorifying God by being so busy.

After all, it was Him who gave me all these talents, right? I can sing, dance, act, do newscasts, bake/decorate, etc… and I felt that everybody wanted a piece of me. And I gave it my all to all, which made for a “spread-too-thin” woman. Thing is, I think I was able to fulfill all roles to the max, as in 110 percent. But I knew for sure, something or somebody was suffering amidst all that busy-ness.

But, weirdly enough, it is now that I have given up my career in broadcasting and am focusing on our 4 kids including an infant, and submitting to my husband, that I feel most at peace and dare I say it, happy and fulfilled.

I am not closing doors to going back to a career in broadcasting. But I have lost my desire to be a “superstar.” Praise God! I  have realized my deepest fear before was to be deemed “a nobody“. Being that busy in my career made me feel like “somebody.” But that was a fluke. That’s a deception by the devil. That was my idol — pride in self disguised as low self esteeem —  adding onto the self to make me feel that I mattered. 

I know now that I don’t need to add onto myself any accolade or achievement. I mattered simply for the mere fact that I am a Child of God. 🙂

My journey is just beginning and already I am reaping the benefits of following God’s lovely Design for Marriage! I feel so loved by my husband. I feel so protected under his leadership. I feel so peaceful. 🙂

Guess what? I have barely been practicing submission for two months, but just yesterday, while hubby and I were shopping for furniture for our new home, he said out of the blue,

I want you to blog about your journey. Write your own version of the Peacefulwife’s blog for the Philippines. Our country is in dire need of role models to follow. I am sick and tired too of hearing about husbands and fathers saying that the worst thing that can happen to a man is to get married and have kids. Why do most men feel that way? Shouldn’t we feel happy that we got married and have children?

He also said something that made my heart leap. 😀

“I am enjoying this, whatever it is you are doing. I am reaping all its benefits. I wish for more married couples to experience this.”

Praise God!!!!! April!
My husband is enjoying my submissive spirit, to the point that he wants me — ex-controlling, scared-to-death of the submissive journey, but obedient daughter of God, to minister to the women in our country through the net! Like you!

I am still discerning this, April, but I will follow my husband when I am ready to start writing. All this is sooooooo new and alien to me, I am daunted to be honest, to write anything about it, but if the Lord so wills (after much prayer), I will have to do it. Please pray for me too, okay, sis? 🙂

Your posts are truly a rich find and not just written for the sake of writing. They are well thought of, discerned, and full of love.

God bless you dear sister in Christ. You are a joy to us wives. 🙂 God surely is pleased with your ministry.

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FROM PEACEFULWIFE – A FEW THOUGHTS:

It’s important for us to look at the messages we have been consuming all our lives and question them in light of God’s Word before we just swallow what we hear and build our lives on ungodly premises – which is what I did for a long time, sadly.

The truth is  – it can be almost IMPOSSIBLE to do all of these things well all at the same time – being a wife, a mom, work a full time job, take care of a home and have any kind of quality of life and enjoyment.  That can be an extremely difficult balance to try to achieve.

Younger ladies, before you go down this path – talk to some women in their 40s or 50s who tried to have it all and see where they ended up.  There is only so much time in the week and in each day.   If you are working 8-9 hours/day, then you actually only have supper and bedtime with your children (if you work from 9am-5pm on week days).  You will be rushing ALL the time.

  • You rush in the morning to get yourself ready for work, your children ready for school.
  • You rush home and try to handle supper as quickly as possible.   When you have young children, many of them go to bed by 7pm.  So you have to get them fed, bathed and put down for bed right away.
  • Time becomes the priority in preparing meals, not nutrition, enjoying each other’s company or keeping costs down.
  • You rush through supper (if you even sit down as a family together at all- many families eat fast food in the car on the way to the next sporting activity or musical lesson).
  • Then you try to get the children to rush through their homework.
  • You rush the children through getting ready for bed and then rush them to sleep.
  • You rush through trying to catch up with all the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, bill-paying and chores once the children are in bed because there is no other time to handle all of this

Relationships and intimacy require TIME.

THE FIRST THINGS TO GO

A woman who works full time or even part time, who is a believer in Christ, who is married, who has children and a home to take care of has to let things go somewhere.  She cannot do everything.

Usually here is what goes:

  • patience – when we are rushing – we are NOT our best selves for anyone.
  • time with God – We say God is our priority.  But relationship with Him takes TIME.  Serious time.  We can’t spiritually starve ourselves, never talk to Him and never be still and calm and quiet and listen to Him and have a strong, intimate, dynamic, powerful, Spirit-filled relationship with Jesus.  But “the tyranny of the urgent” takes over and all the urgent things that need to be done so quickly consume our time at the expense of our greatest priority in life.
  • time with our husbands – we are so exhausted and stressed that we are up late helping kids with homework, finishing chores, walking the dog, cleaning up from supper, ironing the clothes for tomorrow – that we collapse exhausted into bed at 10:00 or 11:00 or 12:00 at night and have ZERO energy left to give our husbands.  We don’t have time to hear about his day.  We don’t have time to hear about what he wants in his life or about his dreams.  We don’t have time to connect emotionally – and then because we are so exhausted and don’t have time to connect emotionally – we would rather sleep than connect sexually.  And we miss out on building those times of spiritual, emotional and sexual intimacy that keep our marriage going strong.
  • time with our children – (Working moms – if you are not able to change your situation right now – please do not read this next part – I am targeting women who have not had children yet so that hopefully they can think about these things before having children – I don’t want to add an ounce of guilt to women who are working and already struggling with balance and don’t feel there is a choice for them right now.)   When we are working full time or even part time – there are so many little precious moments that we miss out on because we aren’t there.  That first smile, the baby’s first steps, her first word, his first tooth, her first wave.  But we miss out on more than just the milestones.  We miss out on that daily interaction, reading together more, going on walks, going to the zoo, cuddling, talking about God, teaching our children to love God’s Word, singing together, making forts together, building train tracks together, discovering the Robin’s nest on the front porch together, talking about what the bully said at school, visiting her at lunch each week, the ride home from school when he is most likely to share all the details about his day.  We also miss out on monitoring friendships and priorities and hurt feelings and misunderstandings in our children’s hearts.   We aren’t there and it is much harder to control the worldly influences they are exposed to after school before we get home.  It’s super easy for working moms to feel overwhelming guilt.  Our children grow up so quickly.  We don’t get another chance at this life.  This is our one shot.
  • time for friends – When we are so crazy busy – we lose touch with godly girlfriends and even our own mothers and sisters and extended family.
  • time for self –  Another thing that is very difficult to fit in when we are working a lot is time to exercise.  Time to just relax.  TIME TO SLEEP!  Time to eat healthy meals.  Time to savor nature.  Time to enjoy a book.  Time to do a hobby.  We miss out on these self-nurturing, important things that replenish and rejuvenate our hearts, minds, souls and bodies.

When our time is limited because we are working so much – we cannot give everything we want to give to our jobs, our children, our husbands, God or ourselves.  We end up spreading ourselves VERY, VERY thin.

Sometimes we don’t have a choice.  We just have to do the best with what we have.  God is able to use that – even if it is a painful time – for our ultimate good. He is sovereign – even over situations we don’t want to happen that we can’t change.

But sometimes – maybe we have more choices than we think we do.

Or – maybe God might be able to open doors or change circumstances in ways we never imagined if we begin to pray for His will in all of these important areas and seek His power to move our lives according to His desires, His priorities and His greatest glory.

My husband didn’t want me to stop working 24 hours/week part time as a pharmacist in 2009.  I wanted to be home more with our children.   Three days before Christmas that year (and 1 week before our daughter’s birthday and 2 weeks before our son’s birthday) – Walgreens cut my hours from 24/week to 8/week without warning.  Then last April, my 12 hour/week job at an independent pharmacy suddenly got cut to 3 hours/week.  Soon my job will be back to 12 hours per week and my husband is very thankful.

God is sovereign.  

I can trust Him.  I want to seek His will – even when things look impossible or I can’t see what the answer might be.  He will move mountains when we put all our faith in Him and seek to obey and honor Him and submit to Him in everything.  And even if our circumstances don’t change, He will change US.  Sometimes that is the most important thing.

My part as a disciple of Christ is – am I willing to lay it all down and be content in Him no matter what happens in my circumstances?

If you are interested, I will add a little bit in the comment section about how God tested my greatest fear when I began to submit to Greg’s leadership.  My greatest fear was that Greg would want me to work more.  I believed God wanted me to be home – ALL the time.  I didn’t think Greg would listen to God back then.  Every month for the first 6 months or so that I was committed to honoring Greg’s leadership, I got a new job offer for more hours out of the blue – that I didn’t want or ask for!  If you’d like to hear what happened-  let me know and I’ll give you the details.  It was pretty interesting!  And terrifying for me at first.  But God tested me to see if I would trust Him to lead me through Greg or not.  And He tested me again… and again… and again…  Eventually, I learned to live in His peace even in uncertainty.  I am sure I will have many opportunities to do more of that in the future!

WHAT IS IMPORTANT?

The truth is – wives and moms NEED time to spend with God, time with their husbands to relax, time with girlfriends, time to exercise, time to sleep, time to take good care of their own spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health!  That’s just how we are made.  We are NOT above the limitations of our bodies.  If we ignore our needs and don’t take good care of ourselves, we’ll run ourselves into the ground and be pretty useless to everyone!

***  Younger ladies, please keep in  mind that your body is designed to be most fertile to have babies in your 20s and early 30s.  If you decide to have your career first and think you’ll have time for babies after you are 35, you may be set up for huge heartbreak!  I pray that believing women might work with their biology when making plans!

WHAT WILL YOUR DECISIONS LOOK LIKE?

I am definitely not in any position to tell you what God wants you to do with your life. 

My desire is for each woman to seek God and be in the center of His will for her life.  As believers in Christ, it is our job to lay every part of our lives and ourselves before Him in total submission and surrender – allowing Him to lead us however He thinks is best.  He is our LORD.  He is in charge now, not us.  It is about what He wants now, not what we want.  We die to self and seek His priorities and His honor and pleasure now.  That means, we seek what God wants even if it is unpopular or weird or anti-cultural or not politically correct.  If He is Lord – only His opinion matters to me.

  • If God wants you to work full-time – awesome!  Be in the center of His will for you and bring glory to Him there and in your marriage and family!
  • If He wants you part-time – wonderful!  Be in the center of His will for you and bring glory to Him there, in your marriage and family!
  • If He wants you home all the time – terrific!  Be in the center of His will for you and bring glory to Him there!

No matter where He calls us to be – the key is what HE wants – not what we want.

These are things that each woman and each married couple must hash out with God and between themselves.

When I was making career choices and decisions about what I would want in the future as a young woman, I didn’t see much information out there about how to prioritize and strive for balance and keep the important things central.  I see God use me in the pharmacy to minister and bless people.  My husband wants me to work 1-2 days per week – so I do.  I’m thankful for my job and I am thankful for the chance to be home so much with my children.

I pray that you will be able to find just the right balance and fulfillment in your life that will most honor Christ and most bless your husband, children, marriage, and those in your sphere of influence.

Much love to each of you, my precious sisters in Christ!

RESOURCES:

The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhahn is a GREAT book about seeing God’s will for His people, for women in particular and then for us as individuals and about how to keep our priorities truly our priorities in practice in our lifestyle.  I HIGHLY recommend this book to ALL women – single and married.

God’s Spiritual Authority Structure

She Who Has Been Forgiven Much, Loves Much

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This week we have seen that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) – that women and men are equally sinful and equally in desperate need of the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

We took a look at how I thought I was such a “good person” or “good Christian” for so many years – and then how God revealed to me the depths of my own sin and depravity in December of 2008 when I read the book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a]you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  James 8:2-11

I have broken many of God’s commands – too many times to even count.  I am a law-breaker.

Today – we look at Jesus’ incredible mercy, grace and forgiveness that He offers freely to all who put their faith completely in Him as both Savior AND Lord.  And we look at the only proper response to Him.

LUKE 7 – A parable of Jesus:

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty.42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?

43 Simon (the pharisee) replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

FROM PEACEFULWIFE :

I used to think that this parable of Jesus meant that I would never be able to love Him as much as, say, a murderer, a thief, an adulterer – you know – a REALLY AWFUL sinner.  I figured that those kinds of people would be able to love Jesus a lot once they repented and turned to Him because they had been horrible sinners.  But I would never be able to love Him that deeply because I was “not a really awful sinner.”

Then God showed me the depths of my sin (yesterday’s post).

Suddenly, I saw that I, April Cassidy, am a wretched sinner.  Not just a bit of a sinner – but a wretched sinner.  I realized that there is no human on earth who has more sin than I do in the sight of my holy God.  I realized for the first time the MASSIVE sin debt I owed to God.  I didn’t just owe Him a few thousand bucks.  I owed Him billions.  Me.  And I had no way to repay Him.

I wanted to run away and live in a cave for the rest of my life.

  • For the first time, I realized just how spiritually impoverished I was.  For the first time I realized that there truly was NO GOOD in me at all.  Jesus calls this being “poor in spirit” – and He blesses this posture of humility in the beatitudes.
  • For the first time, I realized just how much Jesus paid for on my behalf on the cross – how much I deserved that punishment and God’s wrath on my wickedness.
  • For the first time, I saw the depths of the grace, love, mercy and forgiveness of Christ.
  • For the first time, I realized that I had been forgiven MUCH.

Then I began to love Jesus MUCH.

MY RESPONSE

I became willing to:

  • fall on my face in the deepest mourning and weeping over my sin – repent and turn to Christ
  • give up anything for Jesus – anything He calls sin – I want it GONE.
  • surrender my life to Jesus daily, being His servant, His slave – I owe Him EVERYTHING!  How could I do anything less than sacrifice all that I am, all that I have and all that I might ever be?  He is so worthy!
  • throw out everything my culture had taught me that was against the Word of God, even if it meant I looked crazy to the world.  I didn’t care.
  • seek to please Jesus and honor Him no matter the cost.
  • grant Him total access to my heart and my life, holding nothing back.
  • die to myself, nail my sinful nature to the cross (as often as it takes) – then give up my wisdom, my understanding, my culture, my political correctness, my feminist and worldly mindset, my materialism, my selfishness, my pride, my desires, my plans, my hopes, my rights and my dreams
  • live for Christ – pick up my cross and embrace His wisdom, His understanding, His desires, His plans, His Word, His will, His dreams and seek His glory alone.
  • make Jesus truly LORD of my life and keep Him as THE FOCUS and PURPOSE of my life.
  • seek His face, desire to know Him more, have the deepest hunger to read His Word, hear His voice and be in His presence.
  • praise Him in my heart all day long every day.
  • develop a thankful, grateful heart for all He has done for me.
  • give up seeking the approval of other people.
  • give up every idol – my pride, my desire for control, my feelings of being loved – and to see my idols as poison.
  • wait on God – as long as it takes – but I refused to run ahead and try to take control anymore.  I decided I would wait right where I was until I was 80 years old if I had to – but I was not going to run ahead of God or my husband’s leadership any more.
  • become a sincere disciple of Christ with total devotion to Him.
  • face my deepest fears and take a leap of faith, trusting Christ Jesus to be strong enough and wise enough to lead me.
  • trash my understanding of godliness, Christianity, femininity, masculinity, marriage, family, God, Jesus, God’s Word and build completely from scratch on the foundation of Christ and His Word alone.  Even if I was the only one who chose this path.  Nothing mattered anymore but Jesus, knowing and loving Him, serving Him, pleasing Him and bringing Him glory and praise.
  • find my contentment completely in Christ alone – no matter what my circumstances may be.

Finding Healing for Hopelessness

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Some of you are feeling extremely depressed, lost, broken, hopeless, worthless and like there is no purpose for your lives.  Some of you were cruelly abused as children by your own parents, friends or family members.  Some of  you have been abused by your own husband who is supposed to provide for  you, protect you, pray for you and love you humbly and selflessly with the love of Christ.   Some of you believe the enemy’s lies that you deserved to be mistreated, abused, neglected, abandoned or hated.  Some of you are feeling hopeless because of choices you made that you are paying very dearly for now.
If that is you, how I wish I could hug your neck!!!!!!!  My beautiful and precious sister in Christ!!!!!!!!!!
My heart just breaks for you.
I wish so much that NO one EVER EVER EVER had to live in a family that was destructive.  That is not what God intended family to be.  If your mother, father, care-giver, friend, pastor, husband or anyone called you horrible names, insulted you, hated you, beat you, molested you or abused you emotionally/spiritually/sexually/mentally/physically – please hear this:

What they did to you was WRONG.  That was sin – and whoever mistreated you will answer to God for it.  NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ABUSED!!!!!!!!

You did nothing to deserve that awful treatment!  It is NOT your fault.  A mother and father’s sin always causes pain for them and even more so for their children.  A husband’s sin can create incredible suffering for his wife – just like a wife’s sin can deeply wound and afflict her husband.  If those you love and trust choose to live in disobedience to God’s Word – you will also pay a steep price.  Sin hurts people  – and it deeply grieves the heart of God.
Thankfully, our God can “repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.”  Joel 2:25
GOD’S WILL FOR YOU GROWING UP:
God’s will was for your parents to love Him with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength and for them to love each other and be married and united as one spiritually/emotionally/physically.  God’s will was for them to set a godly example of marriage and faith in Christ for their children.  God’s will was for them to love, nurture, protect, provide for and carefully discipline their children for the children’s good – that their children might grow up to be godly, mature, responsible, healthy adults with healthy marriages and families of their own one day. God’s will was for your parents to love Him and to love you and to teach you God’s Word and His wisdom and how to love and trust Him.  If you were abused, neglected, mistreated, abandoned, molested or wronged – your parents failed you.  God did not want them to do those things.  His heart is GREATLY grieved over what you have suffered.
GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR MARRIAGE:
God’s will for your marriage  is that your husband would love you tenderly, gently, completely, unconditionally and that he might sacrifice himself for your best interests. God’s will for your marriage is that your husband would be faithful to Him and to you, that your husband would live in obedience to His Word.  God’s will for your marriage is that your husband would not sin against you or your children and that your husband would provide for you, protect you, lead you in godliness and be a living example of the humble, selfless love of Christ because your husband loves and submits to God.
God’s will for your marriage is that you would respect your husband and honor his God-given leadership (unless he asks you to sin) because you trust and reverence and submit to Christ.  God’s will is that you would not sin against your husband or children.  God does not tempt us with evil.  He wants us to be holy as He is holy – and if we are filled with His Spirit – He can empower us to obey Him in everything!  God’s will is for you to be a living example – by His grace alone – of the joy, trust, cooperation, reverence, faith and intimacy that the church has with Christ.

God’s will is that your marriage would bring Him great glory, praise and honor and that it would draw your children and many others to faith in Christ!

I HAVE A SECRET TO SHARE WITH YOU!
Our God is SO HUGE, MIGHTY, LOVING, POWERFUL and SOVEREIGN  – that He wants to take all of this pain and suffering you have endured unfairly, and even the pain you have endured because of your own sin (things you have done wrong that wound God’s heart) –  and use it to do something extremely beautiful in your life that will bless you and many other people and bring great honor and glory to Himself!
Thankfully – what people mean for evil against us – God can use for great good.
Read the story of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37, 39-45 to see how Joseph’s brothers intended to harm him out of jealousy, but God intended God towards Joseph – even though he suffered as a slave and a prisoner for 14 years.  And of course, God used the evil that Satan did and that people did against Christ to provide a way of salvation for us all.  Our God loves to bring beauty from ashes.  He loves to turn mourning into joy.  He can heal your heart and soul and fill you with His peace, love, joy, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. He can transform your mind with the power of His Word.  He can bring you abundant life when you seek Him with all your heart and long to know Him more than anything else.
NONE OF US ARE WORTHY OF GOD’S LOVE
All people are evil on our own. We are all wretched sinners.  Isaiah in the Old Testament says that God says our attempts at being good are like “filthy, bloody menstrual rags” in His sight.  BUT – when we accept Jesus’ death to pay for our sins and all that we have done that offended God – and we turn our lives over to Him completely  as LORD of our lives, loving Him with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength – then God looks at us and sees the holiness of Jesus.  We can’t make ourselves right with God.  But we can put all of our faith and trust in Jesus’ blood shed for us to make us right with God.

Our sins can be washed completely away – not because we were good enough, but because Jesus was good enough.

None of us deserve good things because we are all sinful people.  But Jesus’ love for us was SO HUGE that He wanted us to be able to be right with Him and with God, even though we didn’t deserve it and couldn’t earn a relationship with Him.  So it is by grace that we come to God, through faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross – there is nothing we can do to impress God or to pay for our own sinfulness to be able to be with God.  The penalty for sin is death.  I either have to pay for my sins – suffering punishment in hell, being away from God after I die – or I can accept the gift Jesus gives me, allowing Him to pay completely for all I have done wrong.   It is His blood that can cover our hearts if we accept Him and then He pays our sin debt, even though we owe “billions of dollars” to God – and He gives us His own heavenly bank account that can never be depleted.
You can’t be good on your own.  None of us can. According to Jesus Himself, only God is good. But when you allow Christ to live in you, to change you, to renew your heart and mind with His Word, and you seek Him and love Him more than anything else in life – God can produce much good in you.
YOUR LIFE HAS PURPOSE AND MEANING IN CHRIST
He has good plans and purposes for you when you seek Him with all your heart.  (Jeremiah 29:11-13) I can’t promise you that there won’t be suffering.  In fact, the Bible promises over and over that believers in Christ WILL suffer.  But He promises that His Spirit will be with us and that He will use suffering for our ultimate good and for His glory.  (Romans 8:28)

God’s purpose for you is that you be an image bearer of God – that you worship and love Him with all that you are and all that you have – and that you share and spread His glory in the world, bringing the hope and light of Christ to those who are in darkness.

Would you like to know something even more amazing?  Most likely, God is going to take the things that caused you the most pain and create a ministry for you to help others in similar situations.  That is how God works.
He is now using my sin for those first 14.5 years of my marriage – and the pain of my loneliness in my marriage during that time – to reach thousands of women around the world for His kingdom and to teach His design for marriage.  Nothing is wasted in God’s economy!
So I know that God can use the sin of your parents, your husband or others against you and all the loneliness and the feelings of unworthiness, unacceptance, fear, pain and grief to birth in you a ministry to greatly bless others one day.  I trust Him to show you each step of the way.
First He is going to heal you and draw you closer and closer to His heart.  But then when you are strong in Christ and empowered by Him, He will send you out to share His hope, comfort, truth, peace, joy and freedom with many others who are trapped and imprisoned and they will listen to you because you have been where they are.  
TODAY CAN BE A NEW CHAPTER, A NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
Please allow Jesus to lift your chin.  Look into His eyes blazing with love for you – and take His hand that was pierced on the cross for you – give up your life, your dreams, your plans, your wisdom, your ideas, your pain, your isolation, the lies you have believed, your past, your hurt, the abuse you suffered, lay it at the foot of the cross.  Your old self needs to be nailed to the cross with Jesus.  Then you are free to pick up your cross and follow Him.  You will pick up His dreams, His wisdom, His truth, His healing, His plans, His will and His greatest glory.
Your prison door is open now, my friend!  Jesus has unlocked it.  I’m standing right outside the dungeon holding my hand out to you.  Take my hand, we will run together out of that dark prison of the enemy and we will burst into the light, freedom, peace, joy, hope, purpose and strength of Christ together!
Here is truth from God’s Word about how Christ sees you:
  • You are deeply loved and fully known by God – more than you could ever fathom.  There is nothing you can do to change that.
  • You are totally accepted by God when you accept Jesus’ gift of salvation and make Him the LORD of your life.  Then when God looks at you, He sees the holiness of His Son, your sins are erased – and you are in right standing with Him.  You can have peace with God through the blood of Jesus.
  • You can be 100% emotionally and spiritually healed.
Jesus loves you!  He died for you.  God raised Him from the dead.  You can have His new life in you if you ask Him!  He can forgive you for all of your sins.  He can heal you from the abuse you suffered.  That power that raised Jesus from the dead – you can have that same power in you! Stop looking for your worth from sinful people, my dear girl!

Look to Christ alone to find your worth, your acceptance, your strength, your hope, your purpose, your LIFE, your joy…

I sure do want to hug you and pray with you, and how I wish I could be there to see the glow on your face when you accept all that Jesus has done for you and the new life He offers you, leaving that old life in the grave.
I’m here.  Leave me a comment. (I try to get back to people within a day, sometimes it may be 2 days depending on my work schedule – if you need help now, please find a Christian pastor/counselor or go to the hospital – see below ***)  We will walk this road together.  I can’t do the hard work for you.  But I will do my best to point you to Christ and His Word and to love you and share God’s truth with you.  I care deeply about you.  I want to see you thrive and be close to God, full of His love and power!
If you are not reading something in God’s Word this week already, please read Romans,  Especially Romans chapter 8!  This is what God says about you!
Much love to you, my precious sister!
***  If you are in danger of harming yourself – please IMMEDIATELY seek help!  Go to the hospital.  Call 911.  See your Christian pastor or counselor right away.  Call your doctor.
***  If you are on many anti-depressants or anti-psychotics, stopping them quickly or the first few weeks you start on them can cause suicidal thoughts.  Go to your doctor or the ER immediately if you are in danger!!!
RELATED POSTS:
Desiring God by John Piper – He Who Has the Son Has Life
Radical – by David Platt
Desiring God by John Piper – The Joyful Duty of Man
John Piper – The Danger: Perishing
Check out my Youtube Channel “April Cassidy”

A Widow's Pain

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** Check out my Peacefulwife Blog FB page today for more discussion on godly femininity and physical intimacy

I heard from a dear woman who has been in such deep spiritual pain since her husband died 7 years ago.  She has very graciously allowed me to share my correspondence with her.  God has been at work this past week mightily in her life.  It is the most amazing thing to watch Him lift her chin to see His eyes blazing with love for her – and to see the hope and faith begin to flood her soul again after years of barren spiritual drought and grief.

PART OF HER EMAIL TO ME:

Does God really talk to his people? Does he really care?  I lost my husband and had to put my (disabled) child in a home and my family literally broke apart.  I am lifeless, I have no joy and no desires for anything.  I am not depressed, I have been like this for years. My light died.  I function but without a purpose.  I would like to have God restore my life, have a mate to enjoy life with, I try my best to have a great attitude, try by best to be obedient, submit to His will but what is that?
When I try to move forward in faith, it is met with disappointments and it puts me further into darkness, how can I trust God?  I truly thought that a family was a Bible-based thing only to find that it has been destroyed.

I hear so many people say, “God has a plan for your life.” So what’s the plan? If I am breathing right now, why doesn’t God reveal the plan? Are we to wait until the plan unfolds to begin living?  I’ve been in a holding pattern waiting for God to answer for the past seven years.  Isn’t that a long time?

PART OF MY RESPONSE:

You have obviously been through an incredibly difficult situation in losing your husband.  I am SO, SO sorry for your loss. 🙁   I  don’t have the answers about all the reasons why God allowed that to happen and why you are still here and why you haven’t found another man yet.
I can tell you that God showed me some things in my life about when I didn’t have joy that may be helpful here.
Galatians 5:22 is the fruit of the Spirit.  This is what we will have in our lives automatically when the Spirit of God has full reign in our lives.
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control.
 
What I didn’t fully appreciate years ago was that if the Spirit is in control, I will have ALL of these in increasing measure on a daily basis – with a few exceptions when I stumble.
 
Galatians 5:19-20 describes the fruit of the sinful nature.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions

What I didn’t get about this list years ago – was that if I am doing ANY of these things frequently – I am controlled by the sinful nature, not God’s Spirit.  I easily looked at the things like witchcraft, drunkenness and orgies and said, “I don’t do those things!  So I’m fine.”  But I ignored the fact that I had resentment, hatred, unforgiveness, selfishness, idolatry, discord, gossip, PRIDE and other sins listed as heinous in God’s sight on a daily basis. 🙁

 
I know that Joseph had to suffer as a slave and in prison undeservedly for 14 years before he got to see God’s ultimate plans for him materialize.  But God was at work the whole time, planning things perfectly.  God’s timing is often MUCH, MUCH, MUCH slower than ours.  Moses waited until he was 80 years old to lead the people out of Israel.  God was preparing him that whole time – 40 years in Egypt with royalty and 40 years in the dessert as a shepherd.  Abraham waited until he was 100  years old to have the child of the promise- Isaac.  The people of Israel waited in captivity for 480 years or so before God delivered them in His perfect timing, by His power, for His glory to accomplish His purposes. He used Egypt as an incubator to grow the baby nation into a huge nation of millions.
God’s ways are not are ways.  His wisdom is much higher than ours.  We can’t see what He is doing or what His plans are – but I do know He has good plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11-14.)  I don’t know if His plans include another husband for you or not.  Only He knows that.  But His plans DEFINITELY include you being VERY close to Him, trusting Him, living by faith, being full of His Spirit, peace, joy and abundant life as you bring glory to His Name.
I think you need God to open your eyes to whatever it is that has His Spirit bottlenecked and is keeping it from flowing like Niagra Falls in your life.  He can help you see it.  I can’t.  And when you do, and you are broken before Him – THAT is when things will start to happen.  He will change YOU.  He will change your heart and mind.  He will change your desires.  And then you will be able to lay all that You want before Him and sacrifice your dreams, wisdom, pain, goals, plans and purposes to Him and be willing to pick up His purposes, His will, His wisdom, His strength, His desires – no matter what they might be – sight unseen.  Then I believe that the joy and peace will begin to flood your soul again.
A BIT OF HER EMAIL:

I realize it now, you nailed it. I do have an idol. I do put the want of a mate in front of God.

MY RESPONSE:

You know – desiring a husband is a good thing.  Desiring to feel loved is good.  Desiring to be in a family is good.  It is not the desire in and of itself that is a problem.  I think it is even a God-given desire.  The issue comes when I set my heart on that thing instead of on Jesus.  Then it is an idol  -and then I will NEVER find contentment.

God will not allow me to find contentment and the fruit of His Spirit through idols.  He will force me to come to Him alone to find my greatest purpose, love, strength and joy to find His spiritual abundant life.

Is it possible you may be bitter at God?  A little root of bitterness can be extremely destructive.  And it can also shut out God’s Spirit from your heart.
I believe that God wants to change you before He can take you another step.  I think you are going to sit right here in the wilderness, if necessary, for 40 years – until you are able to trust Him again – regardless of the results.
Our God most certainly CAN and DOES heal.  He can heal you!  I don’t know the reasons why He has chosen certain things to happen in your life or mine.  But I do know that this is not His choice – for you to live in misery, fear and hopelessness.
God’s peace, love, joy, hope, gentleness, goodness… all of His spiritual riches are completely available to you, my precious sister.  It is a Niagra Falls rushing beside you, and you don’t believe that He can fill up your little tea cup.  But He CAN and He will.  It all depends on you.  YOU are the one that has the controls over how much of the Holy Spirit can flow into your life.  Right now it is a tiny trickle.  But it can be a huge flood.  That is up to  you and your faith.  You can’t afford not to trust God.  Not trusting him only leads to death.  His perfect love will drive out all fear.
I KNOW I will be tested.  That is a guarantee.   I used to live in constant fear and worry, trying to figure out how I was going to make everything work out and keep bad things from happening.  But it was me picturing everything WITHOUT God’s Spirit helping me because I didn’t have Him in control of my life and didn’t even realize it.
I decided a few years ago that I trusted God’s sovereignty and that IF He decided to allow something to happen, He would surely use it for His greatest glory and my ultimate good and He might use it to bring many to Himself.  Who am I to say that if God thinks a tragedy might bring glory to Him that I won’t cooperate with that?  Why am I exempt from difficulties or suffering?  God uses suffering to test our faith and show us what we are truly made of.   God even counts suffering for Him to be a blessing.
Untested faith is not faith.
I expect trials.  I expect tragedy at times.  And I am at peace about it.  I decided that I wanted God’s glory in my life more than anything else.  At any cost.  And I trust Him to provide for me and my family. And I hold all things loosely except for Jesus – knowing that He can give and take away at any time.  Now I am able to really live –  because I am not afraid.  If something bad happens, I know I can trust God’s loving hands and that He will be with me and His Spirit will support me.  If I have Him, I know I will be ok.
PART OF HER EMAIL:
I was on the train today. As I looked out of the window, I saw a tall chimney stack, blowing out dirty dark steam. I wondered if that’s how I look and smell to God. Still on the train, I past a park. I remembered how on one hot summer day, the spinklers were on and no one was under it. I was remindered that the blessings of God are there, one just needs to be under it.  I recalled a sermon, actually, the only thing I remembered was one line. That line was “so do you plan to miss God’s plan for your life” that minister grinned and shook his head. That line has been ebedded into my mind and has haunted me for years and it still does.
Who wants to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, Am I insane?  Do I really want to throw my life away?  Of course not. 
April, I love God, not because I want something from Him but because I do.   I asked God, to make me relentless until I find Him, ( Not a man, but God, Ha!)  Pray for me so that this journey won’t flip flop.
Pray for me, For God did tell me to look for him after my husband died but I allowed the bitterness to settle in. I have gone thru a process, a cleaning process of other things but the trace of bitterness still lingers. Help me extinguish it.
Pray for me as I will pray for you.  For God has given you a gift, to speak the truth to people’s heart, don’t ever stop. Let the Spirit of the Lord guide you to help others.
So let’s see where MY Journey begins.
 

God, You Owe Me!

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I was thinking about Kayla’s guest post from the other day.  You can read it here – about Wives’ #1 Fear about Respect and Submission.

And I was thinking about some of the emails I get from women who are beyond discouraged in their marriages and their lives.    How my heart breaks with them for the suffering they have endured and are enduring.

And it hit me.

That fear that wives have about respecting and submitting to their husbands – the fear that we will do all that hard work and that our husbands won’t repay us in kind with love –  or that we will go to all that trouble to meet their needs and they won’t lift a finger to meet our needs – that we’ll put in all the effort and they will do nothing…  or, in my case, that if I do all that stuff, what if I still can’t have what I want?  What if I can’t control my husband with respect and submission?

Those are the fears we have with our men.

But aren’t those the very same fears we have with God?????

I KNOW I used to subconsciously think things like:

  • if I obey You, You will owe me.
  • look what a GREAT Christian wife I am!  I love my husband and constantly think of him and try to help him all the time and want to connect with him – even though he doesn’t seem to love me at all. I am so much better at this than he is.  God, you HAVE to change him.  He’s not in your will at all.  If he wasn’t spending all his time doing worldly things, maybe he’d have time for You and me.  You need to change him TODAY.
  • if I spend 4 hours praying for my husband to pray with me a few days per week – You HAVE to answer my prayer.  I prayed Your will, after all!  And I prayed so long and so fervently.  So now You have to give me what I want – regardless of how prideful and self-righteous I was as I looked down my nose at my husband in my prayers.
  • If I read my Bible for 30 minutes per day – I’ll be close to you and I will get to have the desires of my heart, even if I am putting those desires above my desire for You.
  • if I do what You say – then You have to say yes to me.
  • if I am nice to You – You have to reward me in ways I want to be rewarded.

See – I used to actually try to control GOD, too.

I used to think that if I was a”good enough” Christian – God would have to do X, Y and Z for me.  He would be obligated.

“God,  You owe me a wonderful life, free from burdens and suffering – full of amazing relationships, fun, health, comfort, pleasure, feelings of being loved, feeling romanced, feeling like my husband is a really godly man and strong leader that I can easily respect, healthy children, a long life, no tragedies, no big problems, no tests or challenges to my faith”.

I was actually quite disrespectful towards God in my prayers.  I was demanding.  I was controlling.  I disrespected my husband’s God-given authority and tried to skirt around his authority and complained about him constantly to God.  I told God all about how unspiritual and carnal my husband was.  I told him all about how ungodly, unloving, selfish, unplugged and uninvolved my husband was and how much he needed God to change him.  I told God what a horrible spiritual leader my husband was – and meanwhile… I refused to follow when he tried to lead.  And I was being disrespectful to my husband.  I was being controlling.  I was being PRIDEFUL. I was resentful, unforgiving and bitter.  I was looking down my nose at my husband and I was acting just like the Pharisees did.  And I didn’t even see it.

That is exactly the mindset we wives often have when we start to learn about respect and biblical submission:

“Oh!  If I do these things, then my husband has to do what I want!”  And we really think that this is a way that we can control our husbands and make them do what we want.

WRONG.

THE TRUTH

  • I can’t control God.
  • I can’t control my husband.
  • God is sovereign and is able to work things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
  • God uses suffering to make us stronger and more mature, to test us and to expose our weaknesses and sin so that we might grow.

I am SO THANKFUL that I can’t control either of them!  If I could – I would never see my own sin and I would never realize what a wretched sinner I am and how much Jesus has paid for me on the cross and I would never see the heights of grace and the depths of mercy God has for me.  I wouldn’t need God’s Spirit.  I would think I could handle everything on my own.  PRAISE GOD He doesn’t let me control Him or my husband!  What a blessing!

MOTIVES

My motives matter to God.  I have to do the right thing for the right reason.

  • If I do the wrong thing for the wrong reason.  That is sin.  i.e.: Steal money to get things for myself that I want and covet.
  • If I do the wrong thing for the right reason.  That is sin.  ie: Steal money to give to the poor.
  • If I do the right thing for the wrong reason.  That is sin.  ie: give to the poor so that others will be really impressed with my generosity
  • I must do the right thing for the right reason to please God.  ie: give to the poor because I love God and love people and want to obey God.

I must respect and submit to my husband in the right way and for the right reason.  And the right reason is because I love God with all my heart and because I reverence Him so much that I want to obey Him and please Him regardless of the results.  If I am obeying God to try to get what I selfishly want.  It won’t work!  I won’t experience God’s Spirit filling me.  I obey God’s Word because I love God and want to be close to Him and because I want His Spirit filling me and I want to share His love with others – and I leave the results up to Him.  I obey Him without knowing what the end result will be.  That’s faith!  I lay down my own will and desires and plans and I seek God’s will, desires and plans.  I die to myself.  And I live for Christ.  I lay down my wisdom and pick up His wisdom.  That is the path to abundant life, my friends!

Lord,

Help us to treat You with the utmost respect.  You alone deserve all glory, honor, praise and respect.  Help us to see our sin and humble ourselves before You.  Break us.  Let us mourn over our sin.  Let us seek to know You more than anything.  Let us desire Your presence.  Let us seek Your will and Your glory – not our own.  Your will, not mine, be done!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

“My grace is sufficient for you. For My power is made perfect in weakness.” II Cor 12:9

For more on God’s purposes in suffering and trials, read:

James 1

I Peter

Romans 5:3

Romans 12:9-21

Hebrews 2

 

Be Still, My Bitter Heart

Today’s post is a guest post by my dear sister in Christ, Selena, at www.joyfullysubmitted.com.  Thank you, Selena, for allowing me to share this post!  I pray that it will bless and edify many for the glory of God.

For the past week, some friends and I have been experiencing what it feels like to have our hearts turned inside out and upside down.  The Lord has used the isolated experience of one as an amazing tool to cleanse the hearts of us all, of some known, but mostly unknown and unrepented of bitterness and ghastly unforgiveness!  We have had the sinful contents of our bitter hearts, ever so gently shaken loose, so that we could choose to either acknowledge the presence of sin and repent of it, or continue to ignore its contents and go on growing more and more removed from God.  For some of us, the existence of bitterness was no shock! We had a moderate awareness on some level of its existence.  But for others, this revelation broke our hearts, and brought agony to our souls as these evils were revealed under the all illuminating light of God’s Word…

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For most of the week, I have remained silent…reading the emails that have gone back and forth as one thing after another was revealed or exposed…as one realization after another pierced the hearts of those of us impacted.  What God revealed to one, He revealed to another, and with each revelation of the depth of the darkness still lurking in our hearts, we prayed all the more…and with each prayer came another level of confession and repentance… and the more we confessed and repented, the more healing took place.

UNEARTHING BITTERNESS

The biggest hurt/most humbling thing for me was realizing that I had NOT forgiven as I thought I had.  Or rather, that I had not forgiven at all.  And that bitterness is just the tip of a very evil, ugly iceberg!  The root of bitterness is unforgiveness…and the root of unforgiveness is and has ALWAYS  BEEN PRIIIIIDE!!!!!! (That was me yelling at myself) Foolish pride. Evil pride. Ugly pride. God offending pride.  And after all of the years that I have known the Lord, it is still found in me… in my heart.  Some may ask why is this such a big deal, after all, we’re only human right. Wrong! We are women of faith! And not just a faith but THE faith. We have placed our faith in the One True and Living God and in His Son Jesus the Christ! We have been changed … trans-formed! (This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor.5:17)  Because we are His we no longer desire the things of this world!!! We no longer want to be like the world!!! And we no longer are ok with the world being in us!!! We want it out!! Out of our hearts!!! Out of our minds!!! Out of our families!!! When speaking of people of the same Faith that we profess, the Book of Hebrews said the following;

“How much more do I need to say? … They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” Hebrews 11:32-40

This experience…this full recognition of the evil pride that repeatedly spawns bitterness in the hearts of Gods people everywhere, including in my own heart, has worked to revive the fight in me.  Hebrews has reminded me of the spiritual stock that we all come from…of the cloth that we’re cut from.  We are ‘more than conquerors’ (Romans 8:37), and that means that we can, by the power of the life-giving Spirit that now abides in us, conquer even bitterness…pride… envy…jealousy…and all of their ugly relatives!!!!

The healing that began in the hearts of our small prayer group is just the beginning!!! We are able to overcome bitterness, and through our testimonies, help others to overcome and experience healing too!!! God’s mercy has empowered us to not “just pretend to love others. [but to] Really love them. [to really]Hate what is wrong. [to truly]Hold tightly to what is good. [to] Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other… [to] Bless those who persecute [us]. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think [we] know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead,“If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:9-21)

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BITTERNESS YIELDS POISONED FRUIT

You see, pride says that I deserve better…in my case, that I deserved to be treated better than they treated me, 20 years ago as well as off and on throughout the years. Unforgiveness sets in because I want God to punish them and to do it quickly and visibly, where I can see that they got ‘in trouble’ for wronging wonderful me!! Bitterness sets in over time when the punishment never seems to come, and the wrong never seems to be made right.

Over time these evil emotions begin to feel normal, and comfortable, and we begin to feel justified, and pride begins to grow and gain strength.  And eventually, our refusal to forgive becomes justifiable, and bitterness becomes our friend. We don’t even realize that we are now living in a prison of our own making, and while pride has convinced us that we are right, its true evil is camouflaged…hidden from our view, and the absolute distortion of the image of Christ being perfected in us is now all that is visible. Bitterness makes us unattractive…it manipulates us, our responses or reactions.  Where we should be acting in the love of God and displaying His mercy, when bitterness takes our hearts captive, we become the puppets of the enemy of our souls.  And the name of our God is defamed….

“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

CHRIST WON’T LEAVE US IN OUR SIN

I am going to wrap this up with one more thing that I was reminded of this week; Ephesians 5 tells us that Christ not only loved the church, but that he

“gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” 

This past week my beautiful prayer sisters and I experienced that ‘washing of water by the word’, and it was painfully glorious!!! Bitterness no longer reigns in the most holy place of our hearts! We now know what it looks like and smells like and sounds like…and how it feels!!! And we know most of all that it is an overwhelming offense to the presence of our merciful, forgiving and gracious God.  More than ANYTHING we want to honor Him!!!! More than ANYTHING we want our lives to bring Him glory!!! More than ANYTHING we want to hear Him say ‘Well done!’!!!!! We are choosing daily to forgive. we are choosing daily to love. We are FIGHTING MINUTE BY MINUTE to remain humble.  And by the power of His life-giving Spirit we will be VICTORIOUS!!! Won’t you join us??? Forgive today…resist the self-imposed prison of bitterness that the enemy is trying to sneak into your hearts under the guise of justifiable anger or wisdom…choose today to love with Gods love, and let it heal our hearts together….