I don’t know about you, but I’m amazed how quickly my calendar fills up. As I look at the days and weeks ahead of me, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, to wish for some extra free time and to want what isn’t. Discontentment can creep in so quickly and frustration can build. In times like these, I know that my thinking needs to change if my attitude is going to change, and Paul’s words in Acts 20:24 are a great place to begin to renew my mind:
“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
I’ve come to realize that I don’t do “process” well. I’m an “event” kind of gal. I like to plan, execute and then check it off my list. Done. I have always seen this as just the reality of being a bit of a “Type A” or a “go get ’em” personality. I didn’t see it as necessarily a weakness, and I certainly didn’t see how it could negatively effect my parenting…but now I know that it can, and in all transparency, it does.
“Surely I spoke about things I don’t understand, things too wonderful for me to know…therefore, I reject my words and am sorry for them.” Job 42:3b, 6
In the final chapters of the book of Job, he openly spoke about his innocence, and because of that, he couldn’t make sense of what God was doing in his life. His confusion gave way to a level of accusation against God for what his life had become. In chapters 38-41, God responds to Job by proclaiming in detail His sovereignty and absolute control and care of everything He has made…from hailstones and lightening to deer and donkeys. When God gets done talking, Job is completely humbled. Part of his response is the verses above.
"I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream." Amos 5:21-24
Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday, it is an expression of gratitude. It’s not just something we do, it’s who we are. It is a word that shapes character, reveals the heart and colors our every word and action. In all our conduct, we either display a spirit of joyful thanksgiving or discontented grumbling.
"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." John 21:25
As a book lover, this verse always puts a smile on my face. It shows the mind-blowing depth of the riches that are found in our Lord and is a sweet reminder to my own heart that there will never be a day that I can’t keep learning about the greatness, the majesty and the glory of Jesus Christ….both now and forevermore!
I was interviewed on a podcast in July, and at the end I was asked if I had any book recommendations for women. I think I could have spent another podcast just sharing a variety of books, how they have encouraged my heart, and why I would love to see other women pick them up and read. In many ways, though these authors do not know me, they have taught me, discipled me, counseled me and caused me to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord” (2 Peter 3:18).
Dependent Discipline…these two words often come to mind and, for me, are extra helpful to think on as we all begin to approach another school year. They remind me of Colossians 1:29 “For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works in me.” Within that verse hangs the balance of the Christian life…living a life of discipline while living it completely dependent on the Lord. As Paul says in Acts 17:28 “In Him we live and move and have our being” and Jesus says in John 15:5, “Apart from me you can do nothing”.
“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” Psalm 18:35
David said these words about and to the Lord, and they should be words we echo in praise, as well. By means of application, we should also pray that we are found faithful in living this out before our kids…that we might be ambassadors of this truth in their lives. After all, as parents we are called to be ambassadors of gospel living and represent a picture of Christ to our children.
“Lord, I don’t know what to do.”
How many of us have spoken these words with a level of exasperation in the past couple of months? In most homes, life is looking a bit different and while there may be many gifts found in our new reality, change to routines and plans can also cause turmoil in our hearts. Maybe you’ve uttered the words, “Lord, I don’t know what to do” as you watch your parenting seem to fall on deaf ears; or you are realizing, for the first time, just how hard-hearted one of your kids really is and you are not sure how to shepherd a heart that doesn’t want shepherding. Maybe you have said these words after another argument with your husband over something unimportant, as you waved an accusatory finger of rightness while all the while, it was over little more than a difference of opinion…the very thing that makes you such a good team when you work together. But you keep forgetting that and are repeating a cycle you haven't been in for a long time. You are struggling to find a way to break this sinful behavior.
Maybe these words have whispered past your lips in a spirit of discouragement, as you watch the plans you made go up in smoke or fall like heavy rain. Or maybe this is the sentence that echoes over and over in your mind throughout the day as you watch your business struggle, your income shrink, or a loved one battle for life due to this very real virus. Your heart is prone to fear, not unlike the man who uttered these words in the pages of Scripture some 6,000 years ago…King Jehoshaphat.
2 Chronicles 20 begins with a daunting picture. Several nations, the Bible calls them a “vast multitude”, joined together to fight against Judah. King Jehoshaphat was afraid. Yet in that fear, he didn’t panic. He didn’t begin to strategize with the leaders of the land. He didn’t turn to the corrupt king of Israel for help. He didn’t try to negotiate with the evil kings that were coming against him. He didn’t grumble and complain or give up.
The Bible says he “resolved to seek the Lord”. (vs. 3,12)
“We do not know what to do, but we look to you.” 2 Chron. 20:12
He meditated on the character of God.
“Lord God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You.” 20:6
He obeyed the words that God commanded.
“You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” 20:17
He praised God in the midst of the storm before he was even delivered from it.
“Then he…appointed some to sing for the Lord and some to praise the splendor of His holiness. When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His faithful love endures forever.” 20:21
And when he, and all the assembly with him, brought their need before the Lord, fixed their eyes on Him, meditated on who God is, obeyed the words of the Lord by standing firm on His promises, and as they exalted His glorious name…they had a front row seat to His magnificent salvation. God turned the nations that had come against Judah on each other, and the Bible says they completely destroyed one another till all that was left were corpses, and there was so much plunder it took three days to gather it all in. Who could have imagined an outcome like that?
And He is the same God we serve, love and cling to today. While we may not always understand His ways, His ways are not without purpose.
“Lord, I don’t know what to do.”
Whether it’s been said in a moment of exasperation, discouragement, fear or uncertainty, as children of God, our Heavenly Father loves to bring us to the place of total dependence on Him. He loves to help us see that He is enough for every moment and situation of our lives. May we follow King Jehoshaphat’s example and resolve to seek the Lord. And as we meditate on His character and obey His righteous commands, we will find our hearts at rest and filled with praise, even though the storm may not have passed. God loves to display His saving power in our lives that the world around us might see His greatness, as we stand firm on His truth and cling to Him. He displayed this truth through King Jehoshaphat and He’s still displaying this truth today through you and me!
“Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for I take refuge in you. I will seek refuge in the shadow of your wings until danger passes. I call to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me. He reaches down from heaven and saves me, challenging the one who tramples me. God sends His faithful love and truth…For your faithful love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens; let your glory be over the whole earth.” Psalms 57:1-3, 10-11
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Kristin Pichura has been married to her husband for twenty-two years and has been a pastor’s wife for almost just as long. The Lord has blessed Bryan and Kristin with 7 children: one whose home is in Heaven, two whose beginnings were in Ethiopia and all claim the title “teenager” right now. She has a heart for discipleship and encouraging women to pursue Christ through being women of the Word. You can find more of her writing at www.justtheclay.com.