Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Humbly Waiting

I am about to risk losing many of you by bringing up one of the most "male-ish" things I know, but stick with me, because I will get to my point in a minute.

David had a lousy call made against him the other night at his softball game. Even I, who know very little about the game, could see it was a horrible call, that's how bad it was. The call ended the inning and David's team had to take to the field. But instead, most of the players began grumbling and many even began to argue with the ref. I sat and watched as all these men, who had nothing to do with the play yelled and complained. David said not a word. He calmly and quietly walked to the dug out, picked up his glove, walked through the throng of arguers at home plate and silently took his place at third base. In the next instant, he was forcibly brought into the "discussion" when the opposing team began yelling at him from their dugout (which was right next to third base). From what I could gather, they were accusing him of having intentionally shoved one of their players and were essentially threatening him. David calmly replied, both denying and apologizing simultaneously. They egged him on, seemingly looking for a fight. David apologized again and turned his back to them to start the inning.

Initially, my spirit soared with respect and honor of my husband. His behavior after the bad call was in such stark contrast to those around him. I was so humbled by his submission to the ref's authority, regardless of the injustice. As I swelled with pride for his integrity (and conviction for my own shortcomings), my mood shifted drastically when the opposing team began antagonizing my man. My pulse raced as I watched from the stands, fighting the compulsion to defend David's honor. (A ridiculous notion, I know, but my "Momma Bear" was on the prowl!) As angry voices screamed in my head and in the dug out, and as I watched David remain soft-spoken, polite, calm and humble; the quiet voice of God miraculously penetrated it all.

"What you see here and how you feel about David and these men is nothing compared to how things were for Christ's followers when they watched the religious leaders and guards mistreat My Son."

How incensed must Jesus' followers have been to watch their beloved Messiah, who consistently behaved with such integrity and gentleness, be completely mocked and reviled, without defending himself or without God striking the aggressors dead? For the first time, it dawned on me that Peter's defense of Jesus in the garden probably wasn't the only time one of the disciples wanted to do something to defend their friend. But because Jesus made it clear they were not to intervene in any way, they had to keep their thoughts to themselves and depend on Christ to handle the situation. Can you imagine what went through their minds as Jesus "handled it?" Thanks to our brief softball game experience, I feel like I caught a glimpse.

Even though I knew David was doing the right thing, and was proud of his humility and gentleness, even though I could see what he was choosing was the Spirit-filled path (Gal 5:25), I still struggled with wanting him to get into it with these guys! I wanted to see my man defend himself. I wanted to see him serve justice to the ref and the "men" who were yelling at him. I wanted to jump up and down in the stands screaming, "GO honey! Kick his ____!"

Now, don't you suppose the disciples fought against the very same thing? I do. I think God put in all of us a longing for justice that reflects our desire to see the last be first and the meek inherit the earth and all that. But we want to see that happen NOW. Sometimes it can be pretty frustrating, but we are the ones called to consistently be last and to remain meek. It is God's job to administer justice and God's job to fight the battles, in His way and in His time. God calls us to simply walk in the ways of Christ, staying in step with the Spirit, possessing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness and self-control. David probably wouldn't see it this way, but he did exactly that the other night before those two teams of men. And I was all the more humbled and convicted because of it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Despicable Me*

I have a confession to make.  I've been happily married for almost 15 years to my soulmate and best friend.  I have been taught from a very young age about biblical marriage and have read countless times Ephesians 5:22-33 regarding how wives and husbands should act in marriage towards each other and the highly controversial issue of submission. I've read books such as Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More than to Make Us Happy? and come away wholeheartedly believing in the thoughts behind the message of marriage being a training ground for us in innumerable ways.  If you had asked me what I thought about submitting to my husband and obeying him, I'd have told you I was for it.  I have no excuse.  Yet I'm embarrassed to admit I just now got it.  By that, I don't mean I've arrived to a complete understanding and state of perfection in my attitude and actions in marriage.  I mean that it just sunk in. 

I have had no major complaints in my marriage and have always thought it was a marriage made in heaven.  My husband is handsome, easy-going, humorous and altogether wonderful.  Our arguments, which are very few and far between, are typically delivered in a rational, logical manner and are resolved fairly quickly.  Our faults are not highlighted by each other and for the most part easily forgiven.  We sincerely enjoy each other's company and look forward to growing old together.  But all that was right in my marriage could not erase the wrong in my heart.  After all these many years of blissful matrimony, I find myself back at square one realizing I've had it all wrong.  It was all about ME!!!  It was ME being trained to be a better wife, ME learning how to be a better parent, ME realizing what a good Christian is, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME!!!!!!!!1 

The last few years have found me struggling with my own pride.  I spent almost two years earnestly praying for God to deal with my pride (but gently please!) and teach me how to not be so prideful.  I literally didn't even know how to kill my own pride!  The Lord taught me the key was in turning my eyes outward.  When I was focused solely on myself, vital lessons were only "learned" internally.  I have found a lesson is worth nothing if it can't be seen and acted on outwardly.
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  I Corinthians 13:1-3

Marriage and parenthood can certainly teach us amazing lessons in humility, sacrifice, love and submission, IF one lets it.  Most Christians are aware of the concept of all that we do, doing it unto the Lord.  Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. ~Colossians 3:22-24

It's easy to think of working at our jobs, staying committed in our marriage, raising our children and cleaning our house for the Lord.  But my questions is, c an we do it for our husbands?  Are we willing to actually accomplish these tasks set before us for the sake of our husbands?  This is what submission is to me: doing my utmost best in everything set before me for the sake and love of my husband and setting everything of mine (including my work, ministry, duty, etc.) under his authority/control.  I'm ashamed to say this never occurred to me.  To do it for the Lord?  Sure!  To do it for myself?  Of course!  But to do it for my husband??  What?! 
I have found a renewed energy and motivation in doing what I need to do in my marriage, in parenting and in my homemaking.  When I can do what I do for my husband (and not for myself), I am doing it for the Lord.  My shocking revelation (though it really shouldn't be shocking to me) is this: unless I know how to submit to my husband, it is quite impossible to submit myself to the Lord. 

* Not associated with the movie of the same name but fitting for my post's title. :)
1. Another post where I've struggled about ME was here.

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