The only way I can think of to explain my lack of "thinking" posts lately is writers block. It's not that a million thoughts and insights don't flood my mind and heart every day, it's just that it takes energy and time to get them on "paper", both of which are in short supply lately for obvious reasons. Tonight, Travis is at our men's life group, so I've got some time to myself. I probably should be soaking my aching hips in a sea salt bath at the moment, but I just need to get this out, so no more excuses!
I've been thinking a lot lately about where God has me right now. It's a good place, a really good place, but a place that needs nurturing to grow into an even better place. I feel like my twenties were spent in a whirlwind of change and learning new roles. First homemaker, then wife, then mother. As I learned (and continue to learn mind you) God's best for me in these roles, there was a lot of insecurity, looking over my shoulder or across the street for some sort of affirmation that I am doing it right. I'll admit, comparison is an easy temptation to fall into for me. Sometimes it's easier for me to look at someone I admire in one area or another and try to do things like them instead of looking to God's Word first. The slippery slope to this approach is when I feel that I can never measure up to those people I admire, that somehow they've got it more figured out than me, that they must have a stronger direct line to God infusing them for better success than I seem to have. But that's where it all comes apart, comparing ourselves to each other in areas of Christian freedom and self-imposed legalisms. In those moments, I hear God nearly shouting at me, "but what does MY word say?!" And "apart from ME you can do nothing!" and " you are justified by faith alone!" But those whispers of the evil one can be relentless, it really is a spiritual battle at times to believe the truth rather than the lies. I've been reading in Romans lately, about how obedience to the Law never justified, but only pointed us to our need for God by revealing our sinfulness. And yet, how easily we think that if we just do this or that, or do this or that better, or more like so and so, surely then we will be more pleasing to God. Do we so easily forget that NOTHING we can do can add to what we've already been freely given by Christ? We were all wretched in our sin, deserving of death and eternal separation from a Holy God and yet in His great and incomprehensible love for us, He came down in flesh, to take the punishment for us and to give us the gift of eternal life with Him if we would just trust in what He did as our only hope for salvation. If we think there is anything we can do to add to what He did, we arrogantly and disgracefully proclaim it was not enough.
And that's what brings me to my most recent insight. As I strive, empowered only by Him, to live in obedience to His Word, to live a life that is pleasing to Him, I have to remember that it is for two reasons alone. One, because I am eternally grateful for what He did and I want to live my life as an offering of praise to Him and two, because plain and simple, He deserves it! Not because it's going to earn me any favor with Him, I already have it thanks ONLY to Christ, which is clear in scripture, and not because I'm trying to measure up to so and so, because so and so is not the measure of Godliness, only a measure of God's grace for a sinner just like me. I believe God is challenging me to be comfortable in my own skin, to praise Him for the strengths He has given others rather than seeing them through the eyes of envy and despair at how I measure up. Being comfortable in my own skin does NOT mean being unteachable, in fact I think it means quite the opposite. I think God has far better access to our hearts when we're not so busy feeling inferior to those around us. Our insecurities often lead us to defensiveness, to places of trying to justify to ourselves why we're just fine and there's actually something wrong with that other person. And the bottom line? God's Word is our compass, it is the place we should go to seek the truth, God's best for us, not someone else's definition of it. Being comfortable in our own skin means not seeing ourselves as better or more arrived than others and not seeing others as better or more arrived than us, but rather focusing on God, His perfection and majesty and living our lives in humble adoration of Him, jaw-dropping, speechless adoration! It's about keeping a vertical rather than a horizontal focus. It's about laying our lives down for His use, however that may look. Whether we are used in big or small ways, ways that bring us glory or ways that give all the glory to Him. Because being comfortable in our own skin means realizing that our lives are not our own, that it's not about us, it's about HIM! Insecurities keep us self-focused when God wants us to be others-focused...meaning loving and serving others, considering others as more important than ourselves.
So thirties, let's settle in to this skin of ours and lay it down at the throne of Grace. Shape me, mold me Father, into all you've created me to be! I praise you, for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, for their strengths and callings, and I praise you for mine as well. Use us to sharpen and challenge each other Father, but let us not fall into the trap of legalistic comparison. Fix our eyes on You and Your Word, pour your mercy fresh on us each morning and refine us for your glory! You are great and greatly to be praised! Amen