Sunday, March 15, 2015

Commit Your Way to the Lord

About five years ago, my children were getting ready to enter school.  While I had worked a couple days a week since they were born, I spent most of my days with them.  These treasured yet exhausting days were somehow coming to an end.  It seemed in the moments that those exhausting days of early childhood will never end, and how will I make it through.  Yet somehow that was exactly what was happening.

Since the birth of my first child, my hearts utmost desire was that my children would love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  As little babies I would rock them and sing songs of Jesus.  Reading Bible stories of all kinds and all versions, praying constantly over them, these were actions from my heart to teach them of Jesus.

As the days of school were approaching, I was struggling with sending them to our public school. All kinds of fears and concerns filled my heart.  Things like how can they know Jesus in the midst of a school wear He is not taught?  Or how will the influences of all those around them affect their understanding of who God is?  Will they be able to see the world through a Jesus point of view?

For me the answer was homeschool.  Homeschooling is and was all around me.  From my small group Bible study leader to many families in my church, homeschooling was a very good and valid option for my family.  Even I had been homeschooled in third and fourth grade. The problem was that my husband and I had talked about this before we were married.  Our plan was that our kids would attend the public schools, and have the opportunities and education provided through those schools.  While my heart was changing and leaning toward keeping my kids home, my husband's heart was not.  He felt and feels very strongly that for us, we are meant to be out in the community. We are to share the love of Jesus with those around us through school and sports and everywhere that our family goes.

There were weeks and nights that I begged my husband to agree with me in homeschooling our kids. I showed him all the research on how good it was for our kids, and how they could become confident, athletic women who love the Lord through homeschool.  My gracious husband was gentle and compassionate yet firm on his belief that our kids would do best in the public school system.  He respected the decision and calling of those who homeschool, but his belief was that it was not for us.

Being the planning, driven woman that I am, I pursued him with more articles and more conversations.  All of this was beginning to take a toll on our marriage.  It became more than a conversation. A conflict and seeds of resentment were sneaking into our marriage.  A wall and distance between us was beginning to grow.  I would beg the Lord to change his heart and show him that this was what we needed to do.  Yet that never happened.

Yet in those moments of seeking the Lord, the Lord would not give me the assurance of homeschool.  Instead He would constantly ask me "Dawn, do you trust me"?  I would reply, "Lord, of course I trust you, that is why I need to homeschool".  I would show the Lord verses such as those in Deuteronomy 6 telling us to teach His ways to our children and talk about them when we eat and when we rise.  I would say Isn't this what I need to do?"  He would say to my heart, "Yes, but you don't need to homeschool to do this".  His reply over the next several months was something along these lines, "Dawn, do you trust me to guide your steps and the steps of your family?  Do you think I can only guide your children if they are homeschooled?  I am a big God and I am faithful to my promises.  I tell you to trust me with all your heart even when you don't understand why things are the way they are.  So will you trust me?  Will you let this go and just follow me?

It is so hard to let go.  Yet He was faithful to meet me daily right where I was at.  He reassured me that I could trust Him.  He gave me Psalm 37: 3-7 which became my word of peace.
Trust, Delight, Commit, Be Still.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart's desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust Him and He will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for Him to act.

Trust, Delight, Commit, and Be Still became my motto.  I struggled over the next few years giving it all to the Lord.  I still had my moments of fear and worry, yet He was helping me see His faithfulness to my children.  He was reminding me to trust Him and delight in Him and He will take care of the rest.  He was teaching me to lean on Him and not on me!

Our school system has been a huge blessing to my kids.  I have seen them excel in so many ways.  We have our hard moments, yet I see the Lord speaking to the kids hearts and carrying them through.  I see my children's trust in Him growing, and I am now more confidently trusting Him, knowing He has this.  Whatever we do, commit it to the Lord and He promises to help you and make you shine!

Last year, my oldest daughter sang "Count Your Rainbows" from One Girl Nation in a talent show at school.  She was admittedly a little nervous singing a "God Song" at school, but she wanted to sing a song of encouragement.  She did great and received a huge round of applause from all of her classmates.  I was so proud of her and so blessed by what God is doing through my kids and how He is guiding them.  We still have a long way to go, but I know and am confident in all His promises!   There will be good moments and hard moments, but He is worthy of all my trust and continues to prove it to me over and over again.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Create In Me a Clean Heart

Psalm 51:7
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Can you feel it in your heart.  Those areas that are black.  Those corners that are so hard to let go off. No matter how hard we try, we cannot get rid of them.  I find myself praying Lord, help me forgive this person and guess what comes into my heart - a sense of pride.  A puffing up of my heart because I am praying to forgive.  You see, I am praying to forgive, but in that act itself I am sinning because my heart wants to forgive to make myself look better, to be proud that I am doing the right thing. Such a wretched heart I have.  Can you picture those black areas that are so hidden from even our own sight at times.  We are utterly helpless against sin.  It spreads and takes over like an uncontrollable virus.  Even in our good deeds and apparent righteous acts, sin leaks in and seeks to destroy the good.

Search your heart.  Can you find the offenses?  Can you find the areas we need grace?  The deepest parts of our beings that we think are okay because most of the rest of it is good (or maybe none of it is good)!  The Psalmist writes "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life" Psalm 139: 23-24.

Psalm 51:7-12
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me-
now let me rejoice.
Don't keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
And don't take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.

The "joy of your salvation"!  How can we find that joy with hearts that are so black and dirty.  I think of this past Wednesday when we put ashes on our head - a sign of that dirtiness inside of us.  A picture of the blackness that lives and dwells in our hearts.

And then......

I picture Jesus wiping it off!  Jesus taking a cloth and blotting out the stains!  Jesus taking a vacuum and vacuuming out the soot and dirt in the corners of my heart!  He knows my heart.  He knows the sins that I don't even know are there.  He knows how to lead me in the way of everlasting life.  He alone can clean my heart and make it white as snow!  He can give me joy only because of His salvation.  He can fill me with His Spirit to lead me in ways that are righteous and help me obey Him. None of this I can do on my own.  I am helpless and weak yet in my weakness He is strong!  2 Corinthians 12:8 ..."My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness".

Lord, clean our hearts today!  Renew our Spirit.  Work your power in our weakness.  Thank you for the cross.  Thank you for dying for us that we may find the joy of your salvation.  Help us live under the cross and all that it means for us today.