From my Bible study with Ted this morning (complete with coffee sans sweetener, for my fellow sugar detoxers!), the passage below stood out to me. We have been doing an in-depth study of the book of Isaiah, and now more than ever it seems to reflect the reality of what is happening in our own time and place. Truly the Word of God is timeless!
For those who call themselves followers of Christ, I urge you to pray for our country. This is not a red or blue matter: this is literally a life-or-death issue, a matter of where we will spend eternity. Repentance is at the heart of change. And it MUST begin in our own hearts--not pointing at folks across the aisle and shouting for THEM to change. No, we must look inward, find and acknowledge the depths of the sin in our own hearts, confess, and turn away from that sin.
Repentance and revival: this is the cry of our hearts. I rest in God's sovereignty even as I have strong opinions about government's role in our society. "Truth has stumbled in the streets," as the verse says, and THAT, my friends, is the REASON our nation is unrecognizable as the United States of America.
For our offenses are many in your sight,
and our sins testify against us.
Our offenses are ever with us,
and we acknowledge our iniquities:
rebellion and treachery against the Lord,
turning our backs on our God,
inciting revolt and oppression,
uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
So justice is driven back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
honesty cannot enter.
Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
If you watched the debate last week, you likely came away feeling anything but positive about the state of politics no matter which side of the fence you're on. And if you read articles or listened to commentary on said debate, you may have felt your blood pressure rise just a wee bit. (Or maybe it was just me?! No, probably not...)
I'm not here to debate policies or defend either of the candidates, but since I've been pondering a few thoughts related to the latest theatrics from Washington, I figured I'd share.
1. Where does your hope lie? My friend, if you're placing your hope and trust in whether [insert candidate's name here] gets elected, I'm afraid you will be severely disenchanted. I have no insight into which candidate will claim victory—but I do know that no matter which party has the White House come November 4, 5, or 6 (or whatever date all the votes are finally counted), that individual will always disappoint. He's human, after all (as are all of his advisors), and history shows even the best leaders make mistakes—whether purposefully or unintentionally.
2. With whose purposes do you align? If your plans and dreams hinge on whether a certain political platform receives a "mandate," again...I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. For those who call themselves Christians, we are to be about our Father's business. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). Policies may change; executive orders can be overturned. But right and wrong will NOT be changed, no matter how would-be wordsmiths try to change definitions. In unsettled times, it's comforting to know that "the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations" (Psalm 33:11). God's purposes are the only ones that will never be thwarted—and since He is sovereign, we can trust that He will make all things right in His perfect timing.
3. Where do YOU stand on the REAL issue? Ultimately, this world is passing away...and not because of climate change! The real issue is, do you have a relationship with Jesus? Where will you spend eternity? It's tempting to think we're better than [insert politician we aren't voting for here] because we believe this, or we would "never" do or say that, but when all is stripped away—we've all sinned. We are all in desperate need of a Savior. Are we willing to admit we've gone against a holy God? Do we see our transgressions for what they are—the reason Jesus suffered and died on the cross?
Our country is facing desperate times. Wildfires and wild behavior rage out of control. Media outlets by and large opt for click-bait headlines over the hard work of investigative journalism. Civil discourse has been trampled and forgotten. We can shake our heads. We can shake our fists. Or we can fall on our knees, praying first of all for our own hearts to be made pure before the God who holds all people accountable.
And then we can pray, pray, pray for our nation—its people AND its leaders.
We are finishing our 15th "official" year of homeschooling! It's hard to believe, and yet, as my daughter hangs up her freshly steamed wedding gown in the room next to me, I realize that it's true...I'm actually one of those seasoned homeschool moms who has been doing this so long it's "easy."
HAHAHA!! Who am I kidding?! I remember, when I was a mama of three kiddos three and under, looking at moms in their second or even third decade of homeschooling and being in AWE of how they seemed to have everything all together. Their homes ran like clockwork; they had systems in place; their children were well-mannered and looked adults in the eye while having an intelligent conversation with them. These moms had a patient, gentle spirit and wise words for any question I threw at them.
I couldn't wait to someday "have it all together" the way these moms obviously did.
Let's just pause a moment, shall we, and have a good laugh together?!
Because now...I know better! NO ONE "has it all together." (My apologies to the moms I put on a pedestal all those years ago, but I think they'd be the first to agree.) I believe years of experience allow us as parents to recognize what is truly important, to focus on the eternal rather than the daily check list. We have the opportunity to play to our children's strengths as well as to slow down and take time to work on their weaknesses. And I'm talking about spiritual formation and character development, not just academics and life skills.
Oh...that spiritual formation and character development? I should clarify...
I'm talking about me!
OK, maybe my kids, too. But this homeschooling journey isn't easy, and as many families have realized during these last few months of COVID-19 lockdown, it's not for everyone. (I do believe it's for more people than may want to admit it, though!)
I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be "schooled" by my kids, who are unwitting vessels of God's grace, clearly used by the Lord to teach me my own daily lessons! Praise Him!
(Picture notes: The above photo is from 2013. We were living in Naples, Italy, and I was pregnant with our 7th child. The kids loved piling on our bed for our read-aloud time in the evenings, often done after the little ones were tucked in bed. The photos below show our oldest daughter from early in her homeschool journey to her graduation celebration two years ago.)
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet up with my husband, who was leaving work a bit early. I had to drop off two teenage boys for a hike with friends (extra important given the recent lockdown). Since their meeting place was near my husband's route, and since my other children were well cared for (our nurse with Verity, our special-needs daughter, and teenage daughters watching the youngers), I thought it would be a good opportunity to grab a quick "date" with Ted.
We met in the Costco parking lot with nary a coffee shop in sight.
And we needed milk, eggs, lettuce, and...
And so...we ended up speeding through Costco (wearing masks and socially distancing, of course), checking out in record time, even purchasing toilet paper! (Perhaps life really IS returning to normal after all?!)
Our time was limited, and now we had perishable groceries to put away. So...we got in our separate vehicles and drove home.
What just happened?! A date is rare these days...why didn't we take advantage of the time alone to find a place to sit and talk? We let practicality win out. It takes time and effort to get to Costco from where we live, and since we were close...well, why NOT get our cartful of groceries and call it a day?!
This rambling post could focus on the importance of dating your spouse...which is certainly a worthy topic. I love dating my husband, and I'm all too aware that we desperately need to make that more of a priority, especially in this season of life when we have kids getting married and going to college as well as littles who still suck the life force out of us most days. I cherish time we can spend together, even if it's a simple walk in the neighborhood.
But God gave me an analogy last night as I was closing my eyes that burned into my brain so vividly I was still thinking about it when I went for a walk early this morning...
Maybe I don't exactly "date" God, but I do have an intimate relationship with Him, and I do make my time with Him a daily priority. Yet my prayer life often feels disjointed and scattered. All too often I intend to have a "coffee date" with my Lord and Savior (a relaxed time of praying, praising, and listening), only to find myself mentally rushing off to "Costco" (going over my to-do list)!
What is that phrase? The tyranny of the urgent? Why is it so hard to slow down, stop even, and listen? This is something I must continue working on. For my mental, emotional, and certainly spiritual health, I NEED those "coffee dates" with Jesus. I need to stop running mental errands and instead quiet my heart and mind.
Costco can wait.
Psalm 46:10..."Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth."