Sometimes I Just Can’t Keep Up

Things sometimes move so fast it’s hard to keep up.  This week I was thinking about all the changes in the works within my family.  With 7 sons to keep up with, the challenge can be overwhelming at times.

So I have been feeling a little overwhelmed lately and after thinking about it, I realized it wasn’t surprising at all.

Here is a brief summary of what is happening with the Maxeys.

One son just got a new job, one will turn 18 in a couple of weeks, another is buying his first home, another is moving to a new apartment.  One is getting a new job, another is getting married soon and another is moving out of state.  It’s no wonder I feel a bit overwhelmed! There’s so much going on, so many changes, so much growing on their part. But for me? The mom?

I think it’s a little like labor pains all over again.  Something new is being birthed in all of them at the same time.  I can do nothing but watch and pray.

Although my parenting job is coming to an end, as a parent, I will always be available for advice, (when asked!) and definitely for prayer.  I am blessed by the number of times my boys come to me and just ask me to pray. They are learning to figure out their own lives but are wise enough to know they can’t succeed without God’s input.

As for me being overwhelmed, I only have to stop and remember that God isn’t surprised by any of it.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned raising these sons, it’s that the job has ALWAYS been bigger than I can handle on my own.

When our kids are grown, we graduate from being a parent in the technical sense. But our influence and wisdom can still be of use to our kids.  And that verse that we all know so well from Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” says it clearly. We invest what we can and then trust that God will help them take it the rest of the way.  The key word in that verse is a little one. It’s the word “go” and that is exactly what they do. They are with us for a while and then they go. Off to experience life on their own.

If you are a parent, in any stage of the process, be encouraged that God has your kids in his sight. Pray for each one today, that they would walk with God.  Even when they are out of your sight, they are never out of His.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.  Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.   Isaiah 54:13 (ESV)

 

 

Listen, Consider, Act

We’ve all been on the receiving end of unrequested advice. Our response says a lot about us. Here are 3 ways to respond to such advice.

One way is to be offended and react with a prideful “I don’t need your help. I’ve got this.”  A second way to respond is to be so insecure that you take everyone’s advice and act on it immediately because surely they all know more than you.

Neither of those will be useful to you.  The third way to respond is to listen to what is being said with an open mind and heart and then decide if it is the wise thing to do.

Recently I heard a talk by Andy Stanley called Ask It.  It was about learning to ask this question: “In light of my past experience, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?”

If we approach every decision and lifestyle choice with that question we would make far fewer dumb decisions. Plain and simple. That one question would make us wiser instantly.

So what about all that advice we didn’t ask for?  If we can learn to ask the question we can filter out what is good from all the rest.  And we should remember, most people in our lives give us advice because they care about us.  If we react with pride we  will miss the blessing God may be trying to show us. And, if we act without wisdom, just following others advice blindly, we are being foolish.

So, the best method I’ve found is to listen, consider and then act.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. – Proverbs 12:15 (ESV

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety– Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)

The Most Difficult Task of All

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44 (HCSB)

Years ago I did a series of word studies from key verses in the New Testament. This particular verse from the book of Matthew is one that stands out as the definition of the ultimate difference between being a Christ-follower and a follower of all other religions.

When you look up just two words in this passage (enemies and persecute) in the dictionary you see the picture clearly. Webster’s dictionary defines these two words as follows:

Enemy – “one that is antagonistic to another; especially: one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent.”

Persecute – “to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically: to cause to suffer because of belief” AND “to annoy with persistent or urgent approaches (as attacks, pleas, or importunities): pester.”

What Jesus is asking us to do is completely contrary to everything we encounter in the world. Wherever we see hatred and revenge condoned, we also see Christ challenging us to love and bless instead. How is that possible?  Only with the strength Jesus promises to give us. I believer that this is the most difficult test of our love for Christ in that we love those HE loves.

Look again at the definition of persecute. It says, “to annoy with persistent or urgent approaches.” Are there people in your life who constantly annoy you? We are called to pray for them. Our prayers may be the very thing that the Lord uses to change their lives for all eternity.  But again, we can only do this in the power of Christ.

Today, ask God to bring to mind those people He would have you love and pray for in spite of their actions or words toward you. Then ask Him for His power to do it.

If You Really Want Wisdom Do These Things

My oldest son, Andrew, is a true technology geek. He knows how to find any information he needs, usually  in a matter of seconds.  Often, when one of his brothers asks for information or wonders aloud about something, Andrew can be heard to say, “You have all the knowledge in the world at your fingertips and you’re asking me?” At this point he holds up his phone with a silly grin on his face.

This actually ties in with a longtime family joke.  As a homeschool family we were all about instilling a love of learning.  I can remember many times we would be sitting at the dinner table and one of the boys would ask a question. My husbands quick answer was always the same. “That would make a good homeschool project.”

Both  of these examples point to the same principle.  If you want to learn something you have to be willing to search for the answer.

It’s no different with the study of the Bible. All through the scriptures there is this theme of gaining understanding and knowledge but no where is it more prevalent than in the Proverbs.

I have been asking God for wisdom for many years. I’ve learned that it isn’t like asking a genie for a wish and it suddenly appears. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”  But the five verses preceding verse 6 give us some insight into how that happens.

Verses 1-5 use words like receive, treasure, be attentive, incline, cry , seek, search, and discover.  Those verses tell me that asking for wisdom isn’t a passive request . I don’t just make the request and then sit back and watch God deliver.

In order to gain wisdom from the Lord I have to be willing to take action. I have to want it enough to go after it.  I can start with one of those action words from the verses in Proverbs 2.  I have to choose to sit in God’s presence and allow Him to impart His gift of wisdom to me day after day. It takes perseverance,  but just gaining the wisdom isn’t the end of the story.You have to DO something with what you learn to make it truly valuable.  To have the wisdom of God, to be able to speak wisdom into situations, to make right decisions, to help find solutions for yourself and others is well worth the effort.

Having wisdom and knowledge but not using it is as bad as not having it in the first place.

How blessed is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding. -Proverbs 3:13 (HCSB)

 

 

Stop Asking the Wrong Question

A couple of weeks ago we said good bye to a good friend we’ve know for over 4 decades.  He was a brilliant man. He did incredible things like reciting Psalm 103 every morning in Hebrew and memorizing entire books of the Bible. Eighteen months ago he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  He fought hard but finally his battle ended.  At his memorial service someone told how they had never heard him ask “why?”  He had only asked “Where is Jesus in this?” He was always looking for Jesus.

Several years ago we lost another friend and mentor to throat cancer. She was gifted in speaking and had life-changing impact on so many lives but spent her final days unable to speak.  No one asked why, they just asked where Jesus was in the situation.

Just last week a man named Dan Hall spoke at our church. Through an accident in his hotel room, he is now paralyzed from the neck down.  He also chose not to ask God why.  He chose to ask instead, that his circumstances would be used to bring God glory. You can listen to his powerful message here.

As my husband and I have tried to adjust to the future with his diagnosis of cirrhosis we have tried very hard to follow the example of those who have had influence in our lives.  We have tried to seek what God is doing in each new turn in the path instead of asking God why it’s all happening.  It isn’t always easy.

Many times we are faced with a situation that seems unfair or unbelievably difficult and our first reaction is to ask “Why me?”  We have somehow come to believe that we don’t deserve to suffer or struggle with difficulties.  We think that for some reason, we should be spared.

Jesus wasn’t spared. He experienced the most unfair, unbelievably difficult, kind of suffering we could ever imagine. A level of suffering that none of us will ever face. He took our sin and suffered the consequences that we deserved and he never asked, “why me?”

Perhaps it’s time we stopped asking the wrong question and began asking the right one.  When was the last time you faced  something hard and asked to see Jesus in the midst of it?  To see God get the glory instead of seeking the answer to the “Why?”

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” –  Romans 8:18 (ESV)