I am working on a devotional for adopting moms. My husband and I started a ministry to serve internationally adopting families. We left all our stuff behind to “follow God” to Nicaragua, all the while singing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”
That all sounds pretty “Christian,” right?
And yet some days I want to scream obscenities at the sky (or my poor husband). Full disclosure: some days I actually do (like recently)! Now, how does that fit into the nice little picture I created in the first paragraph? The reality is that, for most of us, our lives are filled with a jumbled mix of stuff… resulting in some pretty messy Christianity.
“In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
I have gotten quite adept at focusing on the first part of that verse. Trouble, tribulation, trials… whichever version you read, it all stinks the same. I often like to probe God, “Hey, I didn’t ask for any of this! I am trying to just be obedient and follow You. So why is it this hard? Can’t you cut us a break here?”
Nothing seems to be working right; I can’t seem to get this ministry fully funded (meanwhile our ministry partner’s house flooded); we’ve all been sick or injured… and cranky (really cranky). There is a family stuck here in the adoption process so long that they have lost their jobs back in the States… and that is just the “local” stuff. It doesn’t even count all the horrid atrocities I’m hearing about worldwide.
After all this word vomit, I thought I’d feel better! But I don’t.
So I sit and ruminate for a while, spending a ridiculous amount of time complaining about my inability to communicate with the outside world from my house. “I can’t believe I have to drive somewhere to get Internet, and as if that weren’t enough of a problem, our car is in the shop so I can’t even drive anywhere!”
This little light of mine?
But then something funny happens. My habits or instincts, or whatever you want to call them, take over. Suddenly I stop my tirade and switch gears. The last time I had downloaded my email, I received another week of devotions from one of my writers. I found it open already on my computer and finally started to read through the words of a dear friend.
“When I start focusing on all the things I cannot control, my hope begins to fade. Once my hope begins to fade, so does my endurance. In Romans 12:12 Paul reminds us to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be in constant prayer. We were about five weeks into our fostering period in Nicaragua when I became frustrated with unanswered prayers. I was not being patient, nor was I allowing God to carry me during the trials I was facing. The sad part was that I had been there before in so many circumstances in life… maybe you have too?”
And I laugh.
Until my laughter turns to tears.
This book is supposed to be for adopting moms, and yet I have found myself deeply moved by so many of the women, as they pour out their hearts onto the page. It is as if God knew what I’d be going through and prompted each writer to turn in their week exactly when I needed to read it most.
The topic of this week? Endurance.
Before that there were weeks on Fear and Worry, Hope and Joy, just to name a few. And I needed each one. Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I believe in the Almighty God who created me and deeply loves me. Yes, I am trying to obey my Christ Jesus. But I am also human. I curse at stuff. I get cranky (sorry, dear husband). I mess up (a lot). That’s to be expected because I live amidst the trouble of this world.
Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine…
Jesus knows all about my mess, and He loves me anyway. I don’t have to hide it from him… or from those trusted friends who are wading through it with me. Thank you, God!
And here’s what else: I know the end of the story. I know Who ultimately wins this battle. I know He holds me in the palm of His hand, until He can safely deliver me into his Kingdom.
I’m learning to quit praying for the trial to end, and instead ask for strength to withstand the duration.
It’s OK. Because I’m [still] not there yet.
Are you hiding behind a facade to give the impression you are mess-free? Don’t hide. We all have junk. We all have mess.
Sometimes I think God works best when we allow him unfettered access to that mess, to do with it what He pleases.
If you haven’t done so already, find a trusted friend (particularly someone who has already shown you glimpses of her own glorious mess) and get rid of the bushel, girl!