We’re all waiting for the cold and snow to blow away and spring to come in its place. This, too, is what our family has waited for, for quite a while. It has been just like this winter, a back and forth of hope and discouragement – maybe it is going to be winter? No, it’s going to be 50 degrees out! No, it’s actually winter. 🙂 But God has opened the door to a new season of ministry together, and we couldn’t be more excited. True, there are other emotions swirling, as we pinch ourselves and wonder if it’s really true. The prayers we’ve all been praying have been answered! As I reflect on where God is taking us, I’ve been thinking, too, of the Gospel.
I tend to fall in the ‘do this and you’ll get this’ mindset, as my natural mode of default, if I am not careful to run to Christ and His Word. It’s a dangerous place, this formulaic approach to life that ultimately brings death and not life. I’m finding it sneak up as we enter this new season, both in ministry and parenting. First let me say, we did not ‘do all the right things’ for God to open up this door, or give us a sweet little boy. I have to keep reminding myself of that. Suffering well honors God, but it does not guarantee His blessing. There are no guarantees. So I’ve been reminded as we move forward that there will still be challenges, ups and downs, and hard days. A blessing does not mean the struggles of life go away completely. Nor does it mean we have ‘figured life out’.
That is what the Gospel reminds us – to celebrate the good, but also rejoice during the hard (James 1). Celebration is good and right. We celebrate this new ministry opportunity, after years of prayer for the right door to open. We celebrate our sweet little P, after waiting, loss, and struggle. And we go back to the Lord and thank Him for what He did not have to give. But had He not given these gifts, the Gospel reminds us that we can still celebrate. It is a painful grace to walk hand in hand with God, through the painful spots, and find Him faithful. For those lessons of grace, I am ever grateful. I often struggled with jealously as others ‘moved on’ to buying houses, having babies, and living out their calling with joy. But a quote from this book reminds me that we can, in a sense, be jealous of those who have not been blessed with the gifts we have. Theirs is the joy of walking with Christ in His sufferings. The eternal hope that has been forged into our souls during this season is a great gift. So too, do I see this as I study 1 Peter. We are called to suffer for good; we are told we as believers we will suffer, and not to be surprised by this.
I’m also starting to see this a + b = c mentality sneak into my parenting. When I rejoice for having parented well, or despair when P disobeys, my heart is convicted that the salvation of his soul, and decision to live in obedience to God or not, is not ultimately in my hands. It is God that saves, not my good efforts at parenting. Yours either. This book is reminding me that Gospel-centered thinking must undergird all we do, not legalistic thinking and parenting. I’m entering into a phase where my sweet boy is developing his own opinions and requires direction and correction. This is requiring new grace for me, and for him. We are both covered by the grace found in the Gospel, and God disciplines me, even as I learn to correct Him in grace-filled, Gospel-centered ways.
All this being said, we are beyond grateful to be moving from a very hard, hard season of multiple trials, to one we anticipate will bring much joy and delight, as we serve this body of believers and grow together. We are praising the Giver of good gifts, who knows exactly what we need and when. Thanking God for many of you, too, who have fought for us in the dark times. What a Great God we serve!