Sanctification through novels

2 Comments

Stepping Heavenward I downloaded the Kindle version of this book a few weeks ago.  It’s the last reading I do before turning out the light.  My bedtime routine is to check Instagram, read John Piper’s Solid Joys on my phone and then close out my waking thoughts with a few minutes in a Christian book.  God increasingly seems to make good use of those final 2 activities.

Twice now, the journal entries of this 19th century fictional gal have chided me gently, as though I were she, a Christian who is growing in fits and starts.   Most recently ‘Katy’ detailed the frustrations of a day filled with unexpected interruptions.

Annoying visitors, an incompetent kitchen maid, boisterous children and fatigue battle for her peace of mind.  Her goal this particular day is to prepare a special dessert for her overworked doctor husband.

Almost abandoning the dessert because distractions have eaten away most of the day, the Holy Spirit gently redirects her thoughts from self-pity and complaining to persevering. A grateful, loving and very tired husband rewards her sweetly when he finally arrives home to enjoy dinner and dessert.  As she reflects on all the frustrations, the Holy Spirit reveals to her just how He uses these precise types of circumstances to grow her more like Jesus.

As I read through this particular journal entry the Holy Spirit immediately opened my eyes to see the same thing in my life. So often I complain à la ‘Martha’ who wanted her sister Mary to relieve the burden of hosting Jesus.  I indulge a feeling of being overwhelmed by all there is to do and the seeming inadequate time to accomplish them (and have some Maria-time left over, truth be told!).

But that night in bed, the yeast of insight began to work its way into my conscious thoughts as I fell asleep. The Holy Spirit continued the process the next morning while listening to a John Piper sermon.

My teaching days that feel so packed are exactly what the Great Physician has prescribed.  I KNOW He desires me to REST in the assurance of His provisioning grace for all the good works He calls me to do.  And if I do them my own way, depending on my own resources, I usually start to tighten up and feel burdened.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

But like Katy in this novel, I sometimes have to learn the hard way.  And because our Father is wise as well as loving, He lets me ‘kick against’ the burdens on my own.  But not for too long.

If you haven’t read this book, I recommend it.  It’s charming AND sanctifying.

‘The Big Fall’ into sin – again!

Leave a comment

I noticed the contradiction for a couple of days and named it. Preached it, even.
Then I fell for it.  And sinned big.  (Like in those days before I had heard about God’s biblical plan for wives.)
But back to truth.  Here’s the insight:
“It makes NO sense to believe in the sovereignty of God over every molecule AND worry about how I want my day to go.”  That is irrational and stupid.
But it’s been that kind of week.  I’m going out of town on Monday and the days were filling up.  I WANTED to do X, Y and Z and I saw only limited windows of time open for me to take care of those ‘important’ things on my list.  And I panicked.  Even though I know better.  Even though God patiently sets up this lesson time and time again so I can trust Him.
This past Wednesday, the day of THE BIG FALL, I even comforted myself remembering that God has ALWAYS provided in the past.  Without fail.
Not enough time
And yet…the banner over me was NOT ENOUGH TIME, so I grimmed up and grew hard.  Our conversation through dinner prep and on into the meal took on a combative edge.
That was when I found myself dishing back to him in like manner, feeling fully justified.  Just like during all those selfish years, when I would rationalize – “If he’s allowed to play the dramatic, then I should as well!”  But you know how THAT always ends.
Sin is a shortcut to what SEEMS like a good idea in the moment.  But it never satisfies.  Emotion short-circuits clear thinking. Praying to God didn’t occur to me in the midst of feeling sorry for myself.
So, how did it all end?  My husband chose the ‘mature’ card of love and softness toward me.  Having put as many chores as I could between my eventually wanting to absorb the cool mountain air of an evening in the Smokies I sat down next to him in silence.  He let no more than a minute go by before turning to me. His question drew me out, back to the truth of how much we love each other.  The humble features and pleading eyes showed me how much his heart has grown Christ-like since our last ‘raise your own barricades’ skirmish.
That glimpse and the remedial lesson in trusting God’s provision were worth the pain!
1 Corinthians 13: 7 (Love ….. )  always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

The power of wives and wrong decisions

6 Comments

I almost pulled an ‘Eve’ on my husband. 

Eve and the apple

Standing in front of a cage at Sarge’s Animal Rescue, Mike held Jason, the kitten he had previewed earlier in the week.  This orange tabby had been brought in with his litter brother a few weeks earlier. We had made the rational decision to seek just one kitten to bring home to lonely Luther.  In the space of 3 months, Luther had lost Leia, our feline matriarch AND Calvin, his brother from whom he had not been apart in 8 1/2 years.

For the past 2 months, Luther has cried and cried and cried.  (Mike works from home, so he has been the one to witness this constant plaintive and ‘annoying’ expression of cat grief.)

We’ve had the pattern of adopting cats in pairs, but had arrived at the conclusion that we should bring home only one kitty this time.  Money considerations as well as a fear of overwhelming poor Luther were good reasons.

But when I stood in front of that cage and thought of the poor little gray kitten who would soon be left behind, I put Mike on the spot by asking, “Are you sure it’s the right decision to adopt only one? We’d be separating the brothers.”

And Mike reacted like Adam, “I’ll let you make the decision”  (aka:  whatever makes you happy)

Now maybe a husband who just wants to please his wife sounds ideal to some women.  But it’s wrong if it’s used as an across-the-board principle.  What SCARES me is that I came really close to letting an emotional reaction arbitrate and replace a rational decision we had made together.  What ALSO is frightening is the degree of power we wives have available to us, vis à vis our husbands.  Women know how to play on a husband’s antipathy to standing up to possible emotional pressure from us.  They call it, ‘pleasing their wives‘.  Of course men are to be considerate and love their wives, but that doesn’t mean ALWAYS giving in. Men are called to be wise but firm leaders.  And that can be painful as men have to weather female drama.

In the end, an ever so slight whisper from the Holy Spirit pushed me away from the brink and I came back to my senses and said, “No, we made the decision just to select one. And this little one seems the calmer of the two.  He’ll be a better fit for Luther.”  I then turned to the volunteer hovering to help us.  “Will Jason’s brother be adopted soon, do you think?”

“Without a doubt,” came the reply, “kittens go quickly.”   And with a sigh of relief, I felt affirmed in sticking to our original decision.

I pray that next time, if I am tempted to push Mike in a similar situation, I’ll flee before I even flirt with that apple, no matter how tasty it looks.

Jason on the sofa - 8 Mar

%d bloggers like this: