On August 9, 2012 I was praying for some answers regarding some things which had been going on in our life recently. Here is the path I took that morning in discovering how the Lord was using a difficult time to help me walk in contentment regardless of my circumstances...
First I read Matthew 12:50, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (NIV, 1984) I thought of Paul talking about spiritual milk and solid food, so I found that passage and began reading 1 Corinthians 3.
Paul is chastising the church body at Corinth for needing milk instead of solid food. Why? Because they are arguing among themselves as to who belongs to Paul and who to Apollos (verses 1-4). For this, Paul says, they are showing themselves to be of the flesh, unspiritual, “under the control of ordinary impulses” (verse 3), behaving “like mere unchanged men.” Verse 5 asks what is Paul and Apollos - the answer follows:
“Ministering servants [not heads of parties] through whom you believed, even as the Lord appointed to each his task: I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was making it grow and [He] gave the increase. So neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters, but [only] God Who makes it grow and become greater. He who plants and he who waters are equal (one in aim, of the same importance and esteem), yet each shall receive his own reward (wages), according to his own labor. For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God; you are God's garden and vineyard and field under cultivation, [you are] God's building.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Amplified
Here I stopped and read Isaiah 61:1-3, as verse 3 was referenced after 1 Corinthians 3:9. Here is the passage from Isaiah, as it seems appropriate on this eve of 2013.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3, Amplified
I also thought of Paul's words in verse 6. I mused about whether we were being planted, needing to be watered, doing some planting, or a combination of the three. I wondered about what kind of solid food we might be in need of. It all boils down to trust. Whatever the reason for the unexpected turn our lives were taking, I continued to write, “I trust You, Jesus, as we enter an entirely new season in our lives.”
You, Lord, seem to be reorganizing our lives in many areas...all at once. I feel like a shaker, turned over and shaken hard - as things come out which are dead and useless, room is made for the new things You have planned for us! I also trust that it is You who will be making us grow - whether we're being watered, planting, watering, or still being planted in some way. May I keep my eyes fixed on You as You continue to show me the difference between “wants” and “needs.”
Like a closed fist, I hold on tight to things. Yet You, in Your love and mercy, are gently pulling them open, one finger at a time as You whisper, “Tanya, you don't need that. Here is something better.” Oh, Jesus as You refine me, I want the lessons to stick - I don't want to go back to old ways.
Once I thought I needed:
a dryer. But I lived without one for 5 1/2 weeks and learned to depend more on You. I had to wait for the weather to be right in order to do laundry, and then I had to focus on it so that the day wouldn't be wasted! I saw the blessing of being done with laundry by sunset - more rest!
a dishwasher. After using it for a few days, we noticed a residue on the dishes. Not knowing whether it was soap or hard water deposits, we began to do all of the dishes by hand. After a month or so, I found it takes just about the same time to wash by hand. There's something soothing in hand washing dishes, especially when Ken dries and we get a chance to talk.
a large island. Our other house had a huge island, kind of triangular shaped with sides “a” and “b” about 4 feet. Our farmhouse island is about 24 inches by 30 inches. In fact, it's the first thing my family commented on when we sent them a link to the listing after we had made an offer. However, the small one we have is still large enough to work at. AND it makes us keep the clutter away or there would be NO ROOM to work! A large island that's cluttered gives little work space and more stress!
air conditioning. It did not work when we turned it on in early June. We had two mortgages, two electric bills, two water bills, you get the idea. We decided that paying for a repair and then the electric bill from running it was not worth the limited resources in our emergency fund. We lived without it the whole summer and have seen, again, how You care for us. We depend on You for cool nights, cool mornings and cool breezes (though we did buy 3 fans).
We've learned the benefit of the natural diurnal cycle You set in order and appreciate it so! We actually cool off overnight as the air comes in the open windows - except, of course, when there is a heat burst and the temperatures go up overnight instead of down! The first cold front of the season was so much sweeter this year, as we opened the windows during the day - Saturday, August 4th. We praised You as the temperatures dropped with sunshine and a north wind in Kansas!
a gas stove. The farmhouse has an electric stove. I MUCH prefer a gas stove. We had a line put in for a gas stove when we first moved in...and that's where we're at. But I have learned to be content with an electric stove - cooking, baking, and cleaning it!
As I wrote the list above, I thought of Paul writing how he learned to be content in all things. Here is the passage from the Amplified translation.
Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.
I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.
I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
Philippians 4:11-13, Amplified
If you read the post “A Tale of Two Thermometers and An Abundant Life,” you know that we are now using our wood stove to heat our home. As we burn wood that we did not chop, I am reminded of the Lord's warning to the Israelites when they finally reached the Promised Land. He told them that when they lived in houses and cities they did not build and ate from vineyards and olive groves they did not plant or tend to be sure NOT to forget the Lord their God who gave them all of those good things (Deuteronomy 6). We have their example of what happens when we forget Him (think exile)! In light of that, I often thank Him for the blessing of those who chopped the wood that keeps our home warm. For it was not our hands which did the work.
As 2012 draws to a close, I wonder what 2013 will bring to our family. What other adventures does the Lord have in store for us? For indeed, it has been an adventure! One new thing we're preparing for is keeping bees. A friend ordered them for us and we ought to get them in April, the Lord willing! Oh, the sweet taste of honey...but there is something sweeter yet...
O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good!
Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8, Amplified