Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why Do We Want More?

We are never satisfied, you know that? It's a sad, sinful fact of human nature, and one of the main reasons Christ had to die for us.

God gave Adam and Eve all they could want and more...and what happened?

They wanted more.

The Pharisees were respected, privileged members of Jewish society...and what happened?

They wanted more. More power than Christ, even. They were so green with jealousy that they essentially killed the Jewish Messiah, whose coming was foretold throughout the Old Testament.

Make no mistake...they knew, and they didn't care. (They didn't know he was the Son of God...just that he was the Messiah.)

Wanting more is evil. Let's call a spade a spade.

Dear God, forgive us.

We are Adam and Eve and the Pharisees. We want more and more, even though You promise to provide. We want more things, more recognition, more power, more security, more of just about anything that feels good.

Why? Why does the serpent have such an easy time tempting us? Do we not count our blessings enough? Do we fail to say thank you? Do we fail to enjoy your presence often enough?

Yes, all of the above.

Dear God, forgive us. Fill us with gratitude so we're thirsty for you, not for more. May we rise above this wretched earth in our thoughts and emotions, and may we bathe in the security of heaven.

The only answer is Thank you. Our response to the Gospel needs to be a heartfelt Thank You. Thank you for dying for us. Thank you for loving us while we were still sinners.

My homeschooling friend and I were sharing that over the years, we've felt elated when the tax refund finally came, because in our one-income lifestyles we desperately needed it every time. Soon, repairs and necessary purchases eat it up. It's all gone and we're deflated. No more cushion. No more security. Back to living by faith, payday to payday.

Why the sadness over the loss of a cushion? God always provides, cushion or no. Yet his faithfulness is not enough for us. We want more than He provides. More of what we don't need, but merely want for our own glory.

I wish I could excise this from my life once and for all, but I can't. I can only recognize it sooner and ask for forgiveness sooner.

I will never stop needing the Gospel, and I can never stop thanking Him for it.

1 Timothy 6: 6-8 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Proverbs 11:24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Learning Something Big

There are a lot of upsetting things happening and I haven't had the heart to write. I can't tie these upsetting things into a nice, neat bow, and say that God's grace is ever-present and it's all okay. His grace is still there, but it isn't okay. I keep looking for normalcy to return, but I'm not sure it will. We might be adjusting to a new normal.

Our son Peter is extremely difficult to deal with on a daily basis. His OCD is still pretty bad, and with it comes rages. This is not uncommon with OCD, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. I'm on Amazon looking for anger management books for teens...I'm praying and counseling and trying to hope, but he seems so selfish, so self-absorbed, so angry, so ill. I know he's suffering, but somehow I think the rest of us are always suffering more, at his hands.

There have been major plumbing issues and other home maintenance issues plaguing us for weeks, so every day brings something different. Some days, I'm not sure plumbing is a blessing. It gets pretty complicated and suddenly carrying water indoors seems easier.

Any disruption of routine is always a huge factor in the worsening of both OCD an ADHD, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised at how awful life feels right now.

Last week my 93-year-old father-in-law fell on his driveway while checking his mail, so my husband is in Florida, having arrived the day after his father's partial hip replacement, which was a high risk surgery due to congestive heart failure. My father-in-law made it through the surgery with a steady heart rate throughout, which was a big answer to prayer.

The sad thing is, he only behaved decently to my husband for about the first three hours of their visit. Now my husband is stuck there until Wednesday with a incredibly cranky, insulting father, who just can't be nice for anything. My heart is so sad for my husband. I've prayed that my FIL would tell his children that he loved them just once before he died, but it looks like things are getting worse with his attitude, not better.

My FIL knows he cannot continue to care for himself, which is huge. Last time he fell, he went against medical advice and moved back into his home, after defiantly leaving the rehab center. He refused all medications and now, nearly three years later, his heart is functioning at 20% to 30%, depending on which doctor is talking. He is dying of congestive heart failure, but there is no massive swelling, so I don't think he is in the final stage.

My husband is looking at rehab/nursing homes, and trying to get his dad to cooperate with decision making. All this with little help from my sister in law. Her dad has treated her so badly, she doesn't want to spend any time with him, though earlier this week she called him for the first time in seven years. He was on a lot of morphine at that time, so the conversation wasn't that painful.

I understand why she made the decision not to visit her father. I know from my own experience that a parent can inflict surprisingly deep pain, and at some point you have to stay away to stop the internal bleeding it causes in the heart.

And you know what? I think God understands this. I don't blame anyone for abandoning, so to speak, an abusive parent. Abusing someone is sin, and we don't have to participate in someone's sin. Sometimes mental illness brings on the abuse and maybe that should be handled differently--perhaps not seen as a choice--but even then, I don't blame someone who needs to get away from the bleed.

I will try to go to my mother when she is near death, but I won't go expecting anything miraculous. I will go because end of life is just that...the end. We need to say I love you once again. We need to say thank you for being my mother (father) and taking care of me when I was young. At the end of our abusive parent's life, the wounds they've caused won't disappear, but they'll be tied off at the ends, hopefully.

Forgiveness is an ongoing exercise, and you're successful at it if you just keep going forward, even if a couple steps back occur occasionally.

When I think of my FIL's life, I am so saddened for my husband and his sister, and for their dad as well. Here is a man who was faithful to God as a Christian in many ways, and yet he couldn't love. He never had a model of love growing up, and suffers from some kind of attachment disorder from having been raised by a mentally challenged mother and no father. Then, too, there was the OCD, which clouded his vision of Christ's love.

As soon as his two children took their first breath, they were destined for pain at the hands of their father. Life is beautiful and tragic all at once.

I keep looking for God to redeem the tragedy of the story here, but it isn't happening. It's a good thing the Bible teaches us that life here is fleeting.

For all my little troubles (yes, I know they are little), I can't help but learn something big.

Sometimes, things remain ugly and untidy here on earth. Ashes don't always morph into beauty, even with Jesus on the job. They stay ugly and grey and hopeless. It's hard to accept, but don't be taken by surprise if it happens to you or someone you know.

But we can still rejoice because of...


Heaven redeems all pain. Our peace here often depends on how high we can get our thoughts. Can we get them up into heaven, where there is no more mourning, no more pain?

God asks this of us. He allows trials because of this. A glimpse of our final resting place is available for us even here. We just have to get our thoughts high enough, far enough above the fray.

Working on it, friends. I'm working on it....