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BY VICTORINA HOLDING

 

January 25, 1967 was one of the milder days in the Philippines. It was also my fifth birthday. Fragmented memories of neighbors who came to celebrate over some food and ice cream still dance in my mind; but one vivid image always comes into focus: my father with a plate of equally-divided slices of red apples – a treat for the most-privileged!

Until just recently, growing apples in the Philippines has been considered impossible mainly due to the fact that the three seasons (hot, hotter, and hottest) could not provide the proper climate for one of the most-coveted fruits. Imported apples were rare treats even for families who could afford them. I remember being discovered by one of my older sisters for sneaking a whole apple to myself. She tied me to one of our banana trees for my thievery. I felt avenged when my parents scolded her fiercely for mistreating the baby girl in the family, but the “apple lesson at the banana tree” has kept me from taking anything without permission from that day forward.

In my young mind, my father’s serving apple slices on my fifth birthday could not be outperformed, but the second and the third celebrations the following two days became like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Prov.25:11). Three days after my birthday, the greatest father in the entire world died in a hospital bed where he had been confined a week prior (a fact I would find out years later). It’s still unclear if he was ever given permission to leave the hospital on three separate occasions to attend an extended birthday party.

As I got older, my siblings and relatives made sure I knew what has always been evidently clear: my father was referring to me whenever he said, “the apple of my eye.” Perhaps it was because I was conceived in my parents’ older years, or because I was a sickly child who spent more days with a personal nanny than with another child. Intrigued by the appellation, I studied what the Psalmist meant when he prayed, “Keep me as the apple of the eye. Hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Ps.17:8). What a privilege, indeed, to be the object of our Heavenly Father’s love; yea, even to be the favored object of our Savior’s gracious and merciful gaze!

What a privilege, indeed, to be the object of our Heavenly Father’s love; yea, even to be the favored object of our Savior’s gracious and merciful gaze!

My father was my very first hero. Although he died when I was only five, I still see him taking the whole family to a concert at the park. Once in a while he would bring his own violin, and would join the orchestra right there and then. He was an accomplished musician – a gift from God, really. His parents were wise to grant their only boy’s wish for his fourth birthday – a violin he spotted in a store window. I believe he never stopped playing ever since.

My father remains to be my favorite model teacher. He inspired love for both learning and teaching. I can still hear him warning us against a heedless mind as we watch a poor moth’s demise for hovering too close to our study table’s gas lamp. My father could have chosen to pursue a more lucrative career in music, but he was first a teacher. Our trips to the province and the seaside were not merely for our weak respiratory systems but also for much learning about nature, people, and all the poems that can be written from watching God’s creation do His bidding.

Saturday afternoons in our home were as predictable as my father’s obsession with cleanliness and orderliness. He would line us up from oldest to youngest for final inspection before the Lord’s Day the following morning. Hair and nails that needed trimming were met with intention and precision. Dirty ears did not go unnoticed. Our Sunday clothes and shoes were all laid out to avoid delays the next day, reminding us that Sundays may never be taken lightly. I loved the routine and the seriousness of the moment, and I still think back on those days with fondness.

I am convinced that each one of his children was the apple of my father’s eye. I believe my father’s jealous gaze over my siblings and me served its intended purpose during his forty-seven short years on earth. I learned early on that, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous” (Ps.34:15); and I have held on to the promise that, “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye” (Zech.2:8). To this day, I slice up an apple slowly and thoughtfully. Seemingly ceremonial and irrational, the act has become a memorial to my earthly father’s extravagant love for his family and to Jesus Christ’s perfect love to a fallen humanity. Though my mind now wanders back to the Garden of Eden and its forbidden fruit, the images quickly take me to the Cross where a better Adam offered full atonement for my sin. Here I am brought into the presence of the Great I Am, the One who has kept me as the apple of His eye. I remain in childlike wonder: “How can it be?”


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BY VICTORINA HOLDING

 

Bro. Jake Taube’s analogy of help stations for marathon runners to those “stations” God has provided along life’s race steered my thoughts back to an adventure in which my husband and I took part on August 19, 2000. Donned in layers of light clothing and a pair of hiking boots, I excitedly joined our church group as we started our trip to Mt. Fuji in the Shizuoka prefecture, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Yokota Air Base, Japan. As our car pulled out of sight, I could still hear my teenage son pleading with tears: “Mom, please don’t do this. You won’t make it! It is not a hike at the park. It’s so hard! Please, Dad, don’t let Mom go!” He was speaking from experience. He, along with a few of our young people from church, climbed the massive height the previous summer. Determined and defiant, my sense of conquest for the sake of teaching from first-hand account left my poor boy defeated.

Our group’s trek started from one of the four ascending trails near the 5th station, approximately 7,545 feet above sea level. My personal cargo included a CamelBak, a small canister of portable oxygen, a few Tylenol, and an assortment of protein snacks. I was ready to conquer Fuji-san – a monstrous wonder that the Japanese people have held sacred through generations! My passion for learning would soon be tested, but not on a piece of paper.

Similar to the beginning of my Christian walk, the climb to the 6th station was a journey filled with abundant conversations and fellowship. Topics varied yet fluid, meaningful, and full of praise to God whose foundation is in the holy mountains (Ps.87:1). I was with brothers and sisters in Christ, heading toward the same summit – the 10th station. In the meantime, I had talked my husband into buying me a walking stick that would boast etched markings from each station in this supreme climb. Proud of my accomplishment thus far, I continued to trudge higher.

Then the test changed categories.

As the climb progressed, the familiar faces grew smaller and thinner. The general pace seemed to have increased while the atmosphere thickened. Our church group started to scatter according to individual strides. I was ready for my umpteenth break, and my husband and I hadn’t even seen the 7th station. I wanted to cry, but my pride held back the tears when I realized that a number of elderly Japanese men and women were passing us by on their way up. Added to the wound was the sight of very young children climbing ever so gracefully – like a walk in the park that my son mentioned earlier. Yet there I was, struggling to keep up. I wanted to quit!

Resolved not to make a quitter out of me and lose my credibility among my students for violating my own counsel, my husband found another rare flat-surfaced rock where I could sit and rest. He started to point out an obvious descending trail that any climber could follow if he chooses to turn around and go back. To my great surprise, it was not teeming with more quitters as I had expected. Then looking up, he drew my attention to our goal – the tip of Mount Fuji’s height, which, from the 7th station, was still quite a blur. With a pep talk that only a military leader could effect on my now-exhausted frame, my husband managed to walk me (most of the time carry me) all the way to the summit. Our friends had been waiting up there for the past four hours. By now they had already had their fill of soba soup or ramen of their choice, plus a good amount of rest for the pending descent.

Atop this mountain peak at 12,395 feet, a parade of clouds patted my head and caressed my face. With hardly any effort at all, I offered my hands to catch the wispy clouds while I mused on the truth of Hebrews 12:1 – “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…” All the climbers that day were witnesses: some to completion, others to resignation; but all of us to the undeniable fact that there is indeed a Creator, a Grand Designer and Sustainer of the entire universe. Here, the grueling eight-hour climb became the answer, not the test. The stations along the trail offered relief to those who would stop and avail themselves of help. To me, it was a reminder of my frailty and a test in humility. The mountain, the climb, the stations, the witnesses: all punctuated the laying aside of every weight and sin and the running with patience the race that is set before us. “To what end?” I mused. Ah, to see the face of my Savior, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”! (Heb.12:2a). In His presence, even Fuji-san bows down.


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BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 

My Father

It had been at least 22 years since both Carlos and I had seen our father. We arrived in Spain, met new family, drove to a strange city, and staked out where we thought we might find our father. We waited for a day and a half, and finally, we saw our father drive by us. The shock of the moment cannot be expressed in a short blog post, but that moment was the convergence of many factors that could not have been mere coincidence. We were able to enjoy a short, all-be-it nice visit with our father and were able to speak with him about his soul and eternal destiny. 

While our Lord graciously provided me and my brother a wonderful grandfather who filled the role of a father in our lives, we still were raised in what may be considered a non-traditional way. A traditional, biblical home would have a father in whom the children could trust—a father who provided and was dependable.

A Patriarch Father

While mine and my brother’s story is interesting, believe it or not, there is a historical account of a father-son duo that is even more fascinating for several reasons. Jacob had fathered twelve boys, and one of them was a favored boy. Though Joseph was a favorite, he did not manifest any of the pompous, privileged, stuck-up maladies one would expect. Joseph trusted his father, and he showed this trust through obedience to his father’s request, on a given day, to journey and check on the other brothers. The brothers saw Joseph coming and out of hatred for him, the boys conspired against him, sold him into slavery, and lied to their father about what happened to him. The brothers led Jacob to believe that Joseph had been attacked and killed by a wild animal.

A Father’s Inevitable Reversal

It would be 20 plus years before Jacob would actually learn the truth about what happened to Joseph. After Joseph had been betrayed by his brethren, he spent the better part of 13 years in slavery and prison. After the 13 years in prison, there was a radical turn of events. Through a series of miraculous happenings, Joseph was actually promoted to Governor of the most successful country of the known world at that time. What made his country so appealing is that the world was having a shortage of food, and Joseph’s country—the one over which he was in charge—had plenty. Consequently, the very brothers who betrayed Joseph were forced to go and stand before him to request food for survival. Even though the brethren did not recognize Joseph at first, Joseph did reveal himself to them. You can imagine the shock of the moment. 

What ultimately took place is what I am calling an inevitable reversal. Though Joseph, as a boy, trusted in the will of his father Jacob, he was wrongly treated and disposed of by his brethren. By the end of the story, it is not Joseph who has confidence or trust in his father Jacob, but Jacob is actually dependent upon Joseph. Joseph would later provide food and lodging for all of his family. The family, including the father, had to trust that Joseph would sustain them. Do you see it? The reversal. It is not the son trusting in the father, but the father trusting in the son. You can read about this amazing story in Genesis 37-50.

Do you see it? The reversal. It is not the son trusting in the father, but the father trusting in the son.

A Call to All Fathers

So, this Father’s Day, I am calling all fathers to confront several realities. First, you are not invincible though your children may momentarily think that you are. I am not saying that Jacob feigned himself invincible, but that the dire circumstances forced him to look for and find help from his own son.

Second, don’t wait until life or circumstances force you to humble yourself. Fathers, please be careful that pride does not lead to your demise—especially an eternal demise.

Lastly, I am not calling you to place confidence in your biological son. Rather, consider carefully who the historical Joseph points us to—the Son Jesus Christ.

You see, the sin of Joseph’s brothers is a real reflection of our condition before a righteous God. Indeed, we are all sinners, but God has lovingly responded to our sin. God did NOT send Joseph for this purpose per se, but God sent Jesus Christ, who lived, was betrayed, beaten, crucified, raised, and exalted. All that Jesus endured was to call us to dependence, to trust, to faith in Jesus alone for eternal life.

What will you do with the Son?

 


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BY JIM TAUBE

 

Father’s Day is always a special day for me—thankful for being a father and for the children God has blessed me with.

I think back to how my life changed when our first son was born. Our home changed because I had a new life for whom I was responsible. Life expanded to outside of myself and extended to my son. That felt like a huge responsibility, and I sensed the gravity of taking care of his every need. This makes me think of how Christ takes care of our every need.

Despite the times that I’ve failed as a father, Jesus has been faithful in answering my prayers for our family and forgiving my failures. His grace has supplied answers when I didn’t know how things were going to work out. Growing my faith, He has provided solutions far above what I could ever imagine for my family.

Despite the times that I’ve failed as a father, Jesus has been faithful in answering my prayers for our family and forgiving my failures.

Father’s Day makes me think of our heavenly Father and the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus was totally obedient to God and sacrificial to the point of going to the cross. He gave Himself completely for saving the world. That’s an example for me to give myself like Christ did—for family, for church, and for witnessing to others who need the Lord. It also reminds me of how I am to be the leader of our family, in serving Christ and being the spiritual leader of our home.

God’s Word shows the most important paternal relationship—God the Father with Jesus His Son. I know that through my faith in Jesus and Him sacrificing His life on my behalf, I become a son of the one true God and joint heir with Jesus. I can rest in the fact that through that faith in Christ, I have a heavenly home waiting for me and will spend eternity worshiping the Lord and heavenly Father.


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BY GARY LEWIS

 

As I think about Father’s Day and the stage that I’m at now, it’s much easier to look back with some clarity and yes, pick out all of the many mistakes, but also by God’s graciousness, see growth in my role as a husband/father. I’m reminded that countless numbers of men have looked into a newborn’s face and wondered, “What in the world am I going to teach this kid?…Am I good enough? Nope! Am I smart enough? Ego aside, the answer is still nope! Do we make enough to feed three people (or four)? Not a chance. Then how are we going to make this work?” You see, when our boys were born, I didn’t truly know my Savior. Of course I knew things about Him, and I had gone to church some, but I hadn’t trusted Him with my life. Thankfully Terri knew Jesus from a young age and, praise God, she was patient. But at that moment…with this little boy bundled up beside us in the hospital bed, I was wondering if I could be the husband she needed and ultimately the father he needed.

But God has a plan that slowly became clearer with time. From a biblical perspective, this is like the scales being removed from our eyes: “Whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). Little by little, I could see better. The fog was still there, sometimes close by and at others, farther off. But not gone. Truth is, I don’t think it’s ever gone. This is how I understand my continual need for growth, for trust in Him…to be sanctified by Him, through Him. I needed something other than the talents my parents had bestowed upon me. I needed knowledge, wisdom, and training that wasn’t found in your typical textbook. I needed the Jesus of the Bible. And so, almost six years later, with our boys now five and three years old and me being thirty-four, I tossed my ego aside long enough to admit I needed Jesus as my Savior. I repented of my sins and trusted Jesus’ payment (His death, burial, resurrection) as the final payment for my sins. I didn’t have to be the best dad, or the smartest, or the richest. Jesus was! What I needed was to be obedient to God and teach my boys to love God. Now I wanted them to know Him the way I knew Him, and that became my goal. Being able to see this changed my approach to being a father.

I didn’t have to be the best dad, or the smartest, or the richest. Jesus was! What I needed was to be obedient to God and teach my boys to love God.

It is true that this is the best decision anyone can ever make, but it wasn’t easy. It is incredibly scary to have a perfect God show you your faults. But oh, what joy when we finally learn He doesn’t want us to stay in that condition. He wants us to be just like His own Son! He has the biggest and best plans for us if we will only humble ourselves and be obedient to Him. For most of my early life, I didn’t understand this. I would have told you I was good. I knew how to behave; I respected people; I worked hard, and I was driven (note the number of times the personal pronoun “I” is used in that sentence). Slowly and patiently, God pointed me (sometimes it felt like an actual nudge) down His path and away from what I always thought was my path. I would wrestle with God and try to “sneak in” my own willful thoughts. Like Jacob wrestled with God but to a lesser degree. Surely my way is better in this case?? Nope. And so this process continues, repeating daily like any routine we have…wash, rinse, dry, repeat. Fail, repent, learn, repeat. I’m secure in my salvation, and secure in the knowledge of Christ’s continuing work in my life. So goes fatherhood…so goes life. I am not yet who I should be, but praise God, I’m not who I was!

I’m secure in my salvation, and secure in the knowledge of Christ’s continuing work in my life. So goes fatherhood…so goes life. I am not yet who I should be, but praise God, I’m not who I was!

God’s way: constant, unchanging, rewarding beyond words. And now, at this stage, I think I see true peace, God’s peace through the fog.


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BY JIM WINTERS

 

It has been close to 50 years ago that I became a father. Now in our present day, there are numerous opinions as to when this event actually takes place. I, however, can remember the moment as if it were yesterday, when my wife uttered these immortal words: “Congratulations, Daddy.” I have to admit, it took a few moments for those two previously unheard words to sink into my 21-year-old, somewhat naïve brain for digestion. Having searched the Scriptures, I believe a baby’s life begins at the moment of conception, develops in the womb, then enters this strange new world at God’s appointed time.

Nine months after the life-changing news was given, my wife delivered our first child, a living soul. From that very moment at 10:52, Sunday night, December 26, 1971, I became a full-fledged father, responsible to provide for, and to lead that beautiful, little bundle of life in the ways of the Lord. My daughter’s eternal destinywas at stake, and I was the one now responsible for leading her by my direction, example, and leadership; she was going to be influenced by dear ol’ Dad. And incidentally, that awesome privilege has never changed even after 51 ½ years.

Dads, you have a tremendous challenge before you, as you realize God has given you an everlasting soul to love, guide, train, protect, and lead in the paths of righteousness. Remember those little eyes will follow you wherever you lead them.

What a privilege to call the Creator of this universe, the Savior of the whole world, the Redeemer of all who will receive Him, our “Father.” There are too many situations of which we are all aware that a father figure is missing in the home, and a solid role model is nowhere to be found. You see, one can become a dad, but not all dads are true fathers. Gentlemen, let’s be bold, faithful, and true.

The good news is that God has provided a magnificent and perfect plan for all mankind to enter into His family. John 1:12 tells us, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Wow! By accepting what Christ did on the cross paying our sin debt (in full) with the shedding of His own sinless blood, believing that He was buried and rose three days later from that grave, and calling on Him to enter our hearts as our personal Savior, we can call him “FATHER” for all eternity!

Who is your Father?

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.


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BY MARK ALLEN

 

I was married at a young age and became a father when only 20 years old. I was a raised in a religious home but didn’t know Christ as my Savior. I was working hard, as taught by my Dad, to provide for my wife. When I came home from work and heard we would soon be a family, my reply to her was, “I need to be promoted and get a raise!” I then realized how little I knew about fatherhood.

I was searching for a church, and we began to attend Grove Bible Church in St. Johns, Michigan. Shortly after attending, I discovered I needed Christ (John 3:16) and asked Him into my heart. We attended a young couples’ class on family and were taught biblical principles on raising children. Realizing how little I knew, I also went to the men’s Bible study class. Any time the Church was open, we were there.

“Train up a child” (Proverbs 22:6) became important as we realized we wanted our family to be raised on biblical principles, and the Bible was no longer taught in the schools. After much prayer, we were blessed with a good Christian school and a principal who challenged me to trust God for the ability to provide! Provide He did, as I was learning to give my children, wife, and job by faith to Him. I prayed daily for His wisdom and guidance in my heart and grew in the ability to hear God through His Holy Spirit as He guided us.

The Pastor, Barb, and the Christian teachers were all sounding boards as my children grew and were saved at Grove Bible Church. We had devotions daily and read Christian authors like Tim La Haye and James Dobson to understand the training up of each child, as God had given each one a different character and spirit. The Lord gave Barb great insight into each child’s life; she was a godly mother who prayed for her family. Both of us relied on the Lord to show us their needs and bents. We have five children and now twelve grandchildren whom we continue to guide and pray for daily.

We continue to pray for our two unsaved grandchildren to be drawn to the Lord, and for the others to keep God first in their lives. Family gatherings and holidays always give me opportunities to pray and read Scripture. Pray for our oldest son, as he has walked away from our God. Once a father, always their father. I still walk in faith praying God will intervene and draw him back to Himself.

As a father and grandfather, I realize I need Christ more each day. Dear God, please continue to guide my life with Your Holy Spirit and for Your Glory!


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BY LAURA WAREING

 

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

REST. What mom doesn’t long for this wonderful state of quietness, peace and refreshment? But as a mom, rest can seem so elusive. Each season of motherhood often brings with it deep exhaustion—whether it be from meeting the never-ending physical demands of your precious infant, constantly training and retraining your non-compliant toddler, consistently pointing your elementary-aged child’s heart upward as they navigate school and fickle friendships, listening to and exhorting your teen as they grapple with deep spiritual questions and amped up hormones, or counseling and praying with your adult child as they make their own life choices. All of this motherhood stuff can be so heavy, can’t it? Life-crushing, heart-wrenching, back-breaking heavy. Can you feel it? Can you feel the heart weight? It is exhausting. We can’t do it. We can’t be the perfect mom. Our dreams of having our praises sung on a gilded Mother’s Day card fall flat because we know the words would be hypocritical at best. We can’t control our children’s hearts. We can’t fix their problems and give them joy. We can’t eradicate rebellion from their wandering hearts. We can’t even truly fulfill our role as mother well because of our own pride and selfishness. We need rest. We need life-giving, heart-healing, peace-filling rest. But where are we to find this REST?

Can you feel it? Can you feel the heart weight? It is exhausting. We can’t do it. We can’t be the perfect mom … We need life-giving, heart-healing, peace-filling rest.

“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” Genesis 2:2

For the mom who is a child of God, we can better understand where to find this rest by looking back to the story of our salvation. There was a time when we recognized that it was impossible to perfectly keep the laws that a holy God rightfully required of us. We wanted to keep them. We tried to keep them. And when we couldn’t keep them, we tried to at least look like we were keeping them. But they were too heavy. The law was heavy: life-crushing, heart-pressing, soul-breaking heavy. But CHRIST, the God of the universe came to this earth as a man to live the life that we could not possibly live. He fulfilled the law in every point. Matthew 5:17 tells us, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Jesus kept the law for us, paid the sin debt we owed with his substitutionary death on the cross, and rose again from the dead making it possible for us to have true REST, to cease from our never-ending pursuit of trying to earn God’s favor. You see, our REST really is a person, and that person is Jesus, our Sabbath.

Now, Mama, it follows that, if Christ is our REST for salvation, he is also our REST in life. Is the burden of Motherhood too heavy? Are you longing for true REST? Look up. Look to Christ. Just as it is impossible for you to be perfect to obtain salvation, so it is impossible for you to be the perfect mom or the perfect anything for that matter. It’s too heavy. It’s too much. Good news! Christ is our perfection. He has freed you from the power of sin so that you can now worship Him by loving and serving others including your children. When your children make choices that break your heart, and you feel that you can’t carry the burden, look up. Find REST in the God who CAN change the heart of your child and who loves your child far more than you can ever love them. “Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). When the mundane and usually messy responsibilities of motherhood bombard you relentlessly, and you find yourself physically exhausted, look up. Find REST in the presence of the only One who can truly give you soul-refreshment. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul:” (Psalm 23:1-3a).

Just as it is impossible for you to be perfect to obtain salvation, so it is impossible for you to be the perfect mom or the perfect anything for that matter. It’s too heavy. It’s too much. Good news! Christ is our perfection.

So, Mama, do you find yourself exhausted today, pressed down, burdened in your calling as a mother? Let me encourage you that true REST is possible, and it is not dependent on time, money, or trying harder. Rest doesn’t look like an hour of peace and quiet spent in a luxurious bubble bath. It doesn’t look like a stress-free week spent on a tropical beach somewhere. It doesn’t even look like perfectly behaved children that garner you praise as a godly mother. True REST is available anytime, anywhere. It is found when we acknowledge and spend time in the presence of Christ. True REST is a person, and His name is Jesus.

True REST is a person, and His name is Jesus.


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BY KRISTA BARNETT

 

Being a mother was something I had longed for many years before the Lord blessed us with children. It truly was one of the greatest longings of my heart. But becoming a mother was more difficult than I had expected. With all the joys that motherhood would bring, it also brought moments of great loss, disappointment, exhaustion, and many times it stretched me more than I could have ever imagined. When circumstances came that crushed my spirit, this once longed for blessing sometimes left me feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, anxious, and many times fearing things that were totally out of my control. In these times, my sinful heart was revealed. No matter how hard I tried to be the “perfect mom” or the “perfect wife,” I could never fully measure up.

But growing in my understanding of the gospel has changed the way I understand and view motherhood, and really life itself. I realized that I was putting more faith in trying to “do it all right” without fully relying on Christ to be my strength. You see, Christ is not only sufficient in salvation, but for each and every day. Christ is SUFFICIENT for my every need, but I must submit my will to His will. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Psalm 56: 3-4 says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” God has chosen me, with all my inadequacies, to be the mother of our children. He has given me the opportunity to be used as an instrument of his grace and demonstrate Christ and His sufficiency, not my own. Truly understanding this was freeing.

God has chosen me, with all my inadequacies, to be the mother of our children. He has given me the opportunity to be used as an instrument of his grace and demonstrate Christ and His sufficiency, not my own.

At the age of 9, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I realized I was a sinner and incapable of perfection. I needed a SAVIOR that could do for me what I could not do for myself. I praise God for this! But, I also need HIM and His Word each and every day. Through developing a closer relationship with my Savior, I am renewed in my faith daily. Without His transforming work in my life, I have nothing to give.  Only as I yield myself to Christ am I able to pour His love, His grace, and His mercy into the hearts of those I love. As I am reminded of what He did for me on the cross, I am humbled and strengthened to offer this same grace, love, and forgiveness to my children, my husband, and those around me. The gospel reminds me of MY constant daily need for His forgiveness of sin. Even though I was nine years old when I accepted him as my Savior (well over 30 years ago!), I need His daily sanctification until I’m 109!  When life’s storms come and I’m tempted to be anxious of the unknown, when my sin is ever before me, when I’m impatient or unkind in my words or actions, He graciously offers His forgiveness again and again as I humbly repent of sin. As my daily need of Christ is displayed to my family, he uses this to show them how He offers this grace to them as well.

As my daily need of Christ is displayed to my family, he uses this to show them how He offers this grace to them as well.

Through growth in my understanding of the gospel, I have become aware of my need to daily submit my will to His will. It has caused me to realize that my “perfect-made” plans may be different from what His best is for my life, or for my family. Because of sin, there will always be challenges and circumstances that I would rather avoid, but in dying to self daily, I find peace and new life in Christ. Each and every day He offers me His new mercies. God’s Word tells us in Lamentations 3:22-23, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness”. God is merciful, He is kind, and He is forgiving. He can take our mistakes and make something beautiful out of them. I can find rest and joy in motherhood because of the hope I have in Jesus Christ. God does not ask for my perfection, or the perfection of the ones I love; that is why He sent His Son, Jesus, to do what I could not do! These imperfections point me to my great need of the Perfect One, Jesus Christ! Understanding these truths, allows me to die to my own will and be submitted to His.

This understanding helped me to realize my mission in motherhood is focused on the eternal – to point those that I love to Jesus Christ.  As I seek Him, trust His Word, ponder His faithfulness, and repent of my sin, only then can I minister to the spiritual and physical needs of my children, my husband, and those around me. Only then can I look at even the everyday, mundane tasks and allow God to use them for His glory. Only then, can I experience true peace and true joy as I place my faith and my hope in my Savior. Fully realizing this was life-changing for me! Even though I still struggle to remind myself daily of the gospel, I find freedom from the burden of navigating motherhood in my own strength.

As we anticipate Mother’s Day, if you have never accepted Christ as your Savior, trust HIM as your Savior today.  It is the greatest decision you will ever make that is eternal. It is the greatest gift you can give to your family. If you are a believer, praise Him for what HE has done for you and find joy in all the seasons of motherhood by loving your Savior and fixing your eyes upon Him. And when the tough seasons come, when your hopes and dreams are not in line with what is happening, when the everyday, mundane tasks seem too hard and exhaustion is more than you can bear, realize Christ is sufficient for your every need! As moms, or other ladies who have the privilege to invest in others’ lives, realize you can only find strength, hope, and “rest” at the feet of Jesus.  The Lord has specifically given you the privilege, not to be “perfect,” but to point those you love to the PERFECT SAVIOR!

And when the tough seasons come, when your hopes and dreams are not in line with what is happening, when the everyday, mundane tasks seem too hard and exhaustion is more than you can bear, realize Christ is sufficient for your every need!


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BY MARGARET SEMENOV

 

Have you ever read a passage of scripture and skimmed over profound words because they are written with seeming nonchalance?   It’s easy to do.  For example, in Acts 7 when Luke is giving a dynamic yet succinct history of the Hebrew people, he talks about how Moses was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter “and when he was full forty years old” (vs 23) he decided to visit his Israelite brethren.  Now when I was forty, I felt like I had lived a mighty long time already.  For forty years, Moses had been living and being trained by the Egyptians – 40 years!  That’s a long time in life’s economy.  But wait, there’s more!  After killing the Egyptian, he flees and lives in Midian, gets married, has two sons, then the Bible says, “when forty years were expired” he saw the burning bush.  What?  Forty more years?  That’s right.  These are the details I think it is easy to miss.  At 80 years old, God calls Moses on a rescue op of massive proportions!  No wonder he was reticent at first.  It’s easy to miss, however, because the Bible speaks of it as a matter of course – 40 years here, 40 years there, but think about it in terms of your life…I’d be in Midian right now.

One such passage struck me recently as I was reading Hebrews 10:32-34:

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.  (KJV)

The italicized section has also been translated, “and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (ESV).  This is written without fireworks or fanfare, but I have to stop and wonder how I would feel if the police or military showed up at my door and plundered my property because I was a Christian.  The word “joyful” honestly does not pop into my mind at that scenario.  It is so easy to read through that passage and not truly grasp what is being said.  It seems so “out there” to most of us to think about such atrocities.

Something easier to comprehend and therefore a good example would be a house fire. For me to talk about a house fire is a very different thing than my friend who lost her house to a fire a few years back.  For me, it is just an idea of what it might be like. For her, there are mental pictures, smells, and vivid memories attached with the words “house fire.” Likewise, I can only surmise what the plundering of my property would be like. However, there are places in the world even today where this plundering is not out of the realm of possibility. I’ve spoken to Christians from other places in the world in which this was their reality, but for me it seems so hard to grasp and therefore is easy to read over quickly without comprehending the weight of the words that the Hebrews likely felt.

This small part of scripture, however, does expose my priorities.  Why were the original readers of Hebrews known for their response of taking these abuses with joyfulness? Because they understood that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance, a better possession and an abiding one. Endurance is not founded in the temporary. It is founded in that which is better and abiding, that which cannot be taken away. It is founded in Jesus.

Endurance is not founded in the temporary. It is founded in that which is better and abiding, that which cannot be taken away. It is founded in Jesus.

This brings to mind Matthew 5-7. Jesus is preaching and turning everything upside down for the listeners as He introduces the Kingdom of God. Everything they thought they knew, He was challenging.  In the midst of that sermon, He speaks of where we should place value because that reveals where we place our hearts.  We should place value on heavenly things, not on earthly things.  The believers of Hebrews seemed to have taken that teaching to heart. Have we?  How loosely do we hold our worldly possessions?  Are they grasped loosely enough that God can remove them or use them at will?

When I read, “and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one,”  I picture the Hebrew believers standing aside as their possessions are being plundered with a glint in their eyes thinking I know something you don’t….these are not my most valuable possessions. You can have these paltry things. My most valuable things you cannot touch. I want to live that life knowing that these earthly things are simply temporary. At best, they are tools for the Lord’s use. At worst, they weigh us down and shackle us in servitude to inanimate things, dead things which cannot give life.  Let’s instead cling to the Life-Giver, enduring because we have a “better possession and an abiding one.”  As we continue to study, take note of the details. Ponder passages that are easily missed. It will enrich and even change your life.

I want to live that life knowing that these earthly things are simply temporary. At best, they are tools for the Lord’s use.


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