Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Your Ultimate Fear

I'm still going through this book called Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp. It has been one of the most challenging things I have read with such continual focus on sin and the need for grace. Meditation 32 is called 'Your Ultimate Fear.' The title captured me right away. I live with way more worry and fear in my life than I should. I say that I trust that God is in control, yet continually try to do my own thing. I would like to just give a cliff notes version of this reading:

"Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me." -Psalm 51:11 This should be our greatest fear in all of life, but is it?

She had it all and maybe that's why she was so afraid. Everything she had was nicer than she ever thought would be hers. But morning after morning she'd sit there and worry. She'd worry about her marriage, finances, children, and health. She even worried about natural disasters.

Something very significant had happened to her, and she didn't even know it. The very things for which she'd been so grateful, the very things she once though she didn't deserve, had morphed into things that she was convinced she couldn't live without. What she had once greeted with surprised gratitude were now the sources of major anxiety. The things that had once seemed out of place in her life had become the very things that defined her life. And so she lived with fear. 

Something else had changed. The thing that was meant to define her life, and that once did, no longer defined her. There had been a time when everything in her life was defined and evaluated by her relationship with God. There was time when she greeted God's grace with a surprised gratefulness. Now these thoughts were no longer center stage. No longer would she identify herself as a sinner, rescued by grace. No longer did she get her meaning, purpose, and sense of well-being from the Lord. That once heartfelt and wholesome question, "Where would I be without the Lord?" had been replaced by the question of how she'd cope with the loss of any one item in her personal catalog of material things. 

But I didn't think long about David or about my friend, because my mind turned to me. What is the thing in the world for which I'm the most thankful? The loss of what thing do I fear the most? The existence of what in my life gives me meaning, purpose, and that inner sense of well-being?"

Questions to ponder:
1. Be honest: what is it that brings the most fear into your heart?
2. What things in your life are you convinced that you cannot live without? Pray for a heart that is so fully satisfied with God that you are able to be content with what He has placed in your life. 

These words have to cut to my heart these past couple of days. I've been thinking about some of the resolutions I made for 2011. One of them was this - I desired to learn what it means to be content with God and what He has provided. So often during 2011, I have failed in being satisfied in God. I was challenged with one of my favorite verses of Scripture over the weekend, "You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11). Oh that my greatest fear would be to not experience the fullness of joy that comes from His presence! I need it and want to be fully satisfied in Him alone. 

“The enjoyment of God is our highest happiness, and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.”
― Jonathan Edwards

Friday, December 09, 2011

Where Your Treasure Is...

Today is my Mom's birthday. She would have been 67 years old. A little over 3 years ago, God chose to allow my Mom to enjoy the continual celebration and joy of Heaven. Who needs a birthday there, right? 3 years ago this day was so hard, but today, it is not so much. I miss Mom, but I do not miss cancer and seeing her suffer. I can only imagine that she is so much better off than she ever was here on earth. As I think of her, my thoughts normally go to what she taught me (or how I failed to learn more cooking skills from her.)
One of her favorite verses was found in Matthew 6. Verse 21 says this, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." It helps to back up a few verses to see this short verse in a little more context, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21). My family did not have a lot when I was growing up. We were fed, clean, and taken care of, but did not have money for extras or fancy things. As my brothers and I like to talk about, we ate the generic brand of most foods along with a lot of hot dogs and mac 'n cheese. We were loved by two parents and cared for, so I am thinking the extra stuff didn't matter too much and I would say that we had a great childhood!
On more than one occasion as Mom was teaching truth from God's Word, she would make sure to say that she was more concerned about storing up treasure in Heaven than here on this earth. She wanted her kids to know about Jesus, she wanted the students she taught to know about God's love for them, and even the many people that she encountered in her Tupperware business knew about Mom's relationship with the Lord and had probably heard the Gospel from her. She spent a LOT of time talking to people. (I get my love for talking on the phone from her.) I think her heart was better focused on eternal things than most people I have encountered, although I believe she did a pretty good job living in the moments that God blessed her with here. 
As Mom neared death, we saw even more clearly and frequently where her treasure really was. We knew she loved us and cared deeply for her family, but she knew she was going to see Jesus. The things that she had worked hard to accomplish in life paled in comparison to her relationship with Jesus and wanting to make sure those she loved knew Him. She talked to so many people in those last few days. She was going to see Jesus. He was truly her treasure! 
I am unsure of what all Mom had accomplished for the Kingdom in her life, God knows. I am so thankful for her example. I know that I am challenged, especially around Christmas time, to not dwell so much on the things that "moth and rust destroy" or what thieves desire to steal. I'm sure that Heaven's greatest treasure will be experiencing Jesus for all eternity. For now, I pray that God will give me opportunities to further His kingdom and store up treasures in Heaven. I don't want my heart clinging to the things of this world, when what God has promised is so much greater!

What can I do
How can I live
To show my world
The treasure of Jesus
What will it take
What could I give
So they can know
The treasure He is

And if I can sing
Let my songs be full of His glory
If I can speak
Let my words be full of His grace
And if I should live or die
Let me be found pursuing this prize
The One that alone satisfies
The treasure of Jesus
-Treasure of Jesus, Steven Curtis Chapman