Last Resort

Struggle. No one wants to do it. It’s difficult and no fun, but a guarantee in this life. We have no choice in the matter unfortunately. We’re gonna go through seasons of it. I’m going through a season of my own. I’ll spare you the gory details (I wouldn’t care to share myself; it’s only that others involved in my imbroglio might not feel so keen). I finally reached out to my pastor this week and set up a counseling session to discuss it with him. I am hoping he will offer a fresh perspective because I am all out of ideas. I’ve honestly been feeling as though my situation has been DOA the past few months. I’ve really lost hope.

All of this makes me think about Jairus and his daughter, and the bleeding woman. I’ve thought about him in particular this past week. Matthew tells us that he was a synagogue leader. That means he was involved with all of the adminstrative tasks that concerned running the place of worship; He looked after the building and ran the school housed there through the week. He also supervised worship and scheduled rabbis to speak on the Sabbath.  He was a planner, an organized person. He had to be in order to do his job. But what strikes me most about Jarius is that his focus and all of his day revolved around serving God and his house. So why did he wait until his daughter was dead before he sought out Jesus? Why did he come to Jesus when it seemed all was lost?

I do this all the time. I wait and wait and wait until a situation is the worst it can get. I allow God to be a last resort much of the time instead of my first line of defense. Sure I pray about it, but I’m disgusted to admit that during these times of desperation, my prayers come out sounding like an almighty wish list instead of loving communication with my Almighty Father. And then when I take into account everything He has already done for me, I feel like a whiny adolescent and that telling God about my problems is the equivalent of complaining about having to do my chores or go to school.

I don’t want to be Jarius or the bleeding woman. I don’t want to wait until it’s too late or suffer for years before I take my problem to God. I’d rather be Jehoshaphat, facing down a massive army and the surety of annihilation with a prayer. I pray that God will help me anchor my life on Him instead of my own strength. I can’t do it on my own. After all, I mess things up time and time again. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself.

Jarius and the bleeding woman give me hope though. The bleeding woman had been sick for twelve years before Jesus healed her. This woman was probably in a pretty dismal place, thinking that she would live her life being considered unclean and untouchable, until she placed her faith in Christ. It just goes to show you that God can heal situations or people that have not changed for a really long time.  And Jarius. It was too late for him, but Jesus raised his daughter from the dead.  God can restore what is broken and save what is lost. I knew this already, of course, because he saved me, but I’ve been spectacularly failing at living this truth. It’s funny how we trust God to save our eternal soul, but we won’t trust Him with our problems and our tomorrows.

I am learning.

The Beauty of Real

My husband and I got rid of cable TV almost as soon as the Roku hit the market. We have a lot of scorn for our previous provider, who charges outrageous rates because they are the only company in the area (yes, I live out in the country, but not quite as far out as you might think). Switching over to the Roku has been a blessing in more ways than one though. It’s helped the budget in a gigantic way. I’m talking cutting our bill by more than half. We also love that the shows we enjoy are now “on demand” for us. It’s nice to come home and be able to watch whenever we like. Even for shows that come on weekly through suscription services like Hulu or Starz, we wait until the season is over and then binge watch. If it’s a suscription service that we don’t use regularly, we also have the added benefit of only having to pay for it for a month instead of the length of the show’s season.  The biggest benefit of cutting out cable for me, however, has been no commercials, and probably not for the reason that you think.

See, I struggle with feelings of inadequacy and I am particularly susceptible to the sins of seeking the approval of man and covetousness (I am not afraid to get gritty and raw with you. When we share our brokenness and need for Christ with others, they can recognize their own). Coming to know the Savior has shown me that I have value that is not based on the approval of others, but I still struggle occasionally and try to avoid certain triggers that may cause me to sin in this area. What this means for me is that I avoid certain stores and I never, ever look at magazines. Here lately it has also meant a Facebook break. I may end up deleting Facebook altogether. I am still praying about this. What I didn’t realize until they were gone, is that commercials make me feel the same way that these things do.

This may seem crazy, but think about it. Commercials and advertisements are hardwired to make us feel inadequate. Their core message is that our life is not complete without their product or service. We will never be attractive. We will never be good parents. Our children will miss out. We will never be happy. Unless we buy what they are selling. If that’s not a recipe for temptation, I’m a raccoon (albeit a cute, chubby one). What’s more, is that the images and ideas that they try to sell us are not real. Stainless steel pots and pans, leather furniture, expensive make up, hip clothing, and the most high tech gadgets on the market will not satisfy us or make us beautiful.

Only Jesus can do that. He’s enough.

So what exactly is true beauty? What’s true joy? Only the work of Lord in us: A quiet and gentle spirit. Meekness. Humility. Servanthood. Thankfulness. Obedience. Compassion. A heart bent on loving others no matter the cost. These things are of eternal value, and do not fade away with the passing of time. Now that’s real. And beautiful.