Hope and the Adventure of Motherhood
Sometimes we live without really living, don't we? It doesn't always take a major blow like divorce, death, infertility or infidelity to steal our passion and joy. Daily life can overwhelm us with never-ending tasks, our unreasonable expectations for ourselves, others and our circumstances can keep us from enjoying each moment. When we focus on all the things that threaten to consume us, we fail to see and appreciate what has been given to us.
Imagine a winding cluster of concrete walkways. In the midst of harsh, gray, a tiny purple flower spring through a crack in the cement. We quite easily see the concrete jungle - it dominates the scene. But to discover the little bit of life, pushing its way up in the midst of such opposition, is indeed inspiring.
* Think about your life. If this scene were a reflection of your life, what would the concrete and flower represent?
* What do you choose to see on a daily basis? Does the concrete dominate your vision, or do you allow yourself to be inspired by the flower?
Whether you look for the flower amidst the concrete, or are so overwhelmed you can't see anything at all, Jesus wants to open our eyes to a more beautiful and hopeful reality.
Read Mark 8:22-26
The Healing of a Blind Man at Bethsaida
22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
24He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."
25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, "Don't go into the village.[a]"
* How did the blind man find Jesus? (v. 22)
* Jesus healed the blind man in an unusual way. What was the very first thing that Jesus did? (v. 23)
* In some ways, we are all blind. What do you think it means for Jesus to lead you away to restore your sight?
* What was the next unusual thing Jesus did to the blind man's eyes and what did He ask the blind man? (v. 23)
* What was the blind man's response? (v. 24)
* How did God respond to the blind man's honesty? (v. 25)
* What do you think the Lord wants to do for you? (v. 25)
"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him." - Isaiah 64:4
"If our waiting begins by quieting the activities of daily life, and being still before God; if we bow and seek to see God in His universal and almighty operation; if we yield to Him in the assurance that He is working and will work in us; if we maintain the place of humility and stillness and surrender until God's Spirit has stirred up in us confidence that He will perfect His work, our waiting will indeed become the strength and the joy of the soul." - Andrew Murray, The Believer's Secret of Waiting on God
In our fast-paced, "microwave society, waiting seems entirely out of date and a waste of time. The dictionary gives some interesting definitions for the word wait. It comes from the Old English word to watch, which according to Webster's has these meanings: to stay in place in expectation of; to look forward expectantly; to be ready and available; to remain temporarily neglected or unrealized. Waiting on God and hoping in Him are strong biblical principles and very important in understanding how I am to live my life according to God's ways. If I want His purpose accomplished in my life, than I will learn the discipline of waiting on God and experience the joy that only hope can bring.
* Read the following Psalms and discover the benefits of waiting and, what the psalmist was waiting for the Lord to do.
Psalms 25: 3-5
No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 33: 16-22
16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God [a] ;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
To wait and hope are closely related and often interchangeable in Scriptures. Waiting seems to be a measure of our hope. While in captivity Jeremiah wrote some wonderful words in Lamentations 3:21-25
". . . my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD'S great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail, They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him. The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him.'"
As Andrew Murray said in the quote God wants us to "maintain the place of humility and stillness and surrender" in the place we find ourselves on a daily basis. What other way could God encourage us and teach us to totally depend on His guidance, His way, His timing? How else could we really learn that our hope was in Him and not just our abilities.
The waiting on God to reveal His purposes in us is so essential to comprehending His purpose for us. The reality of God's presence is not dependent on any place we are in at any given day, but only dependent upon our determination to set the Lord always before us.
We don't need to know exactly where we are going - just whom we are following.
"The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley . . . It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God - that is where our faithfulness is revealed." - Oswald Chambers: My Utmost for His Highest
Attributes: 1. To think of as belonging to, produced by, resulting from or Originating in.
2. To ascribe as a quality or characteristic peculiar to one person
Ascribe: To assign or regard as belonging or coming from someone.
Quality: 1. Any of the features that make something what it is.
Fear: (Hebrew word also means 'reverance')
The fear of God can be for several reasons:
1. Superstitious - result of ignorance
2. Servile - leads to abstaining from sin for fear of punishment
3. Felial - which springs from love and prompts one to care about Offending God with a strong desire to please Him in all things.
Fear of the Lord - dreads God's displeasure, desires His favor, reveres His holiness
Submits cheerfully to His will, knowing He has our best interest in mind.
Used to worship God
Fear and Love must co-exist in us in order that either passion may be healthy and in Balance so we might please God and rightly serve Him.
Fear of Man - is the dread of opinions and the harm someone can do to us.
Protection or Preparation for our Children
There is a story written about a young soldier fighting in the trenches who kept raising his arm up to check his watch every time a flare or volley was shot his way. His buddy was lying out in the field near by. His friend, hiding in the trenches with him, and waiting for an opportunity to go rescue their fellow soldier, asked him what he was doing checking his watch every few minutes by the light of those flares. He replied that he was waiting for 9:00 to go out to rescue his fellow soldier because that's when he knew his mom would be praying for him, like she did every day for as long as he could remember. She had promised that she would continue to pray for his protection at the same time every day until he returned home. He knew he would have God's protection thru her prayers if waited for that exact time.
How do we raise children to have such confidence in God and prayer so they will be prepared for the challenges of this life?
A small child asks, "What is God like? The mother answers, "Well, God is kind of like . . . well . . ."
The best preparation and protection we can give our children is a correct view of God that will see them thru whatever this world presents. God has revealed Himself thru His Word. We need to know Him in order to prepare them.
If someone asked you "What is your husband like?" you might describe his character like . . . he is patient, kind, calm, stable but you know he isn't a list of characteristics, yet characteristics give clues to what is like. The Bible teaches us something of God's 'attributes' in order to know what we can expect from Him.
The Bible reveals the amazing effect the knowledge of God will have on our lives. In the following verses, discover what characteristics will increasingly become true of us as we come to know God.
What will become true of one who knows God?
With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. - Daniel 11:32
What is another effect the knowledge of God has on a life?
Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you. - Job 22:21
You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you. - Isaiah 26:3
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,- Ephesians 2:14
According to these verses, is it possible for you to have peace? How?
In what circumstances do you lack peace for yourself or your children?
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. - Proverbs 9:10
This verse states another important reason we need to know God. What does this verse reveal?
Where do we find correct answers to our questions concerning what God is like?
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. - Psalm 19:1
You diligently study[a] the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me - John 5:39
Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? - John 14:9
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. - 2 Corinthians 4:6
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. - Colossians 1:15
The Attributes of God
What is an "attribute" of God?
In each of the following references, what do you discover about God?
a. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands - Deuteronomy 7:9
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23
b. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all. - 1 Chronicles 29:11-12
c. One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong, - Psalm 62:11
d. Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. - Psalm 90:2
The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemy before you,
saying, 'Destroy him!' - Deuteronomy 33:27
e. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever. - Psalm 136:1
f. You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD. - Psalm 139:2-4
The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. - John 21:17
g. Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence? - Psalm 139:7
h. All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: "What have you done? - Daniel 4:35
"O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. - 2 Chronicles 20:6
i. I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. - Malachi 3:6
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8
j. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:16
After reading these verses, which describes some of the attributes of God, do you feel you could trust a God like this? Why?
Knowing God is essential for biblical faith, and faith is necessary for life as a Christian. Faith is not a warm, positive feeling you need to "get". It is giving mental assent to something and making a decision to trust, lean, or depend upon someone or something. How you perceive the object of our faith will determine your actions. To consistently lean on God alone, we must know Him. Nothing could be more vital and practical to your Christian life and your children's preparedness and protection than the personal discoveries and application of what God has revealed concerning Himself in His Word.
We mothers (especially as Christian mothers) labor under the weighty realization that, to a certain extent, the future of our children depends on our ability to counter the culture in which they live and breathe. We can't . . . . but we can be transformed and help our children be prepared, despite the culture they live in, by learning to trust in the wonderful characteristics of the God presented in the Bible and learning to depend on the power of prayer in a close and intimate relationship with Him.
How does if affect you when the people you care for value you?