I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20, English Standard Version).
Welcome back, friends! I admit that this week has been a doozy. I’m buried in papers that need to be graded. I’m time-crunched to finish a report for work that could lead to a much needed raise. I’m inundated with mid-day appointments that I’ve had scheduled for weeks. I’m stressed about getting this blog post finished in time for review and publication. I’m struggling to parent at all, much less parent well. You get the picture, yes?
Gratefully (because there is always something to be grateful for, Amen?), I know I’m not alone in the battle of busyness. Yes, I know that God is with me always, but I also know that some of you, maybe even most of you, experience the same cray-cray from time-to-time (or for some of you, most of the time, unfortunately). Anyway, there’s comfort in numbers.
BUT…a blog post on how I can make my crazy life a little less crazy is not where the Lord has led me today. The theme is Around the Table, so why don’t you grab a cup of coffee, a mug of hot cocoa, or a glass of sweet tea (if you live in a Southern state where the temperature is still well over 70), and pull a chair up to my table. Just dust off the crumbs left over from last night’s vegetable soup and crackers and settle in.
Honestly, friends, I’ve had trouble figuring out what I’m supposed to say in this blog post. Normally, creating a Faith-Full Friday post begins with a song. A song comes to mind and for several weeks I listen to it over and over and over and over and over, all the while developing my post in my mind.
But as I’m typing this, I’m still not 100% committed to a song.
Roughly 4 years ago I recommitted my life to Christ. I’m not sure my motivation for recommitting my life was…honorable(?) considering it was based on my own selfish wants and desires (or that using variations of the term “recommit” is appropriate since I had to have been committed to then recommit, yes?), but I know God has used my questionable motivation to get me where He needs me to be for one of my callings in life—writing with likeminded Christians I dearly love, respect, and admire, and then sharing our writing around our blog “table” with you.
I was blessed to have a mature Christian mentor who helped guide me after my recommitment. One day I went into her office boo-hooing my little heart out. I slumped into a seat and when I eventually managed to express my confusion and frustration with the fact that my recommitment to Christ wasn’t automatically followed by a less stressful and easier life (by my own selfish, worldly standards mind you), she patted my knee and said, “Oh, Honey. You thought that? That’s so sweet.”
I naïvely didn’t know how difficult it could be to no longer be a casual consumer Christian, a CCC. An “attend church on Christmas and Easter” Christian. An “I don’t need to read my Bible because it’s so outdated” Christian. A “pray when life is hard and you need something” Christian. An “I have to be careful about talking about my spiritual beliefs because I don’t want to offend anybody” Christian. An “I had my child baptized but then didn’t uphold my promise to serve God and instead served myself” Christian. An “At least I’ve never _____” Christian. A “thank you for dying on the Cross for my sins, Jesus. Now I’m going to keep living my sinful life as is” Christian. An “I’m not even sure I should be called a Christian (follower of Christ)” Christian.
But…praise the Lord for this wise woman, Sandy, my mentor, a sure-fire God-send, who encouraged me that a Christian path may not be the easier path, but it IS the RIGHT path.
So that selfish motivation that I was talking about earlier that spurred my recommitment was my desire for a better marriage with my husband (or more accurately, my desire for a marriage that would be better for me).
Shortly after the recommitment, I read Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, PhD, and I felt really convicted. I knew that I was not showing my husband the respect that he needed and that God commanded me to give in Ephesians 5:33, so I devoted myself to being a more respectful wife. David may disagree, but I think I was more respectful for a while…right up until I realized that being a more respectful wife didn’t mean that David would be more loving to me, and even worse, that being a more respectful wife did mean that I would need to submit to my husband as the God-appointed leader of our home….
Submission (shudder). It felt like a dirty word that I shouldn’t be saying, at least not in front of the children….
(Acknowledgement here that the biblical “wives submit to your husbands” is not derogatory and does not suggest husbands are more important than wives and that wives should have no say in the household).
Really though, friends, how could I submit to my husband when I couldn’t even submit to God?
I mean let’s face it. I’ve mostly always wanted to be a Christian on my own terms, not God’s (initially even after my recommitment), which is why I lived my CCC life that didn’t require much commitment (“Hey, God, I’m going to trust you with my life”), or submission (“Hey, God, because I trust you and to show you that I trust you, I’m going to do my best to do whatever you want me to do, even if it’s not easy, even if I don’t agree with it, even if I don’t understand it”) on my part.
Obviously something changed, right, because I’m now not only reading my Bible, I’m studying it, and more importantly, applying it to my 21st century life. And I’m not just getting the Word from the Good Book itself, I’m hearing it at the various weekly church services I attend and through other media outlets like YouTube. I’m meeting with friends to talk about God and to get advice and guidance on how I can grow in my faith. I’m searching my past and allowing God to use my pain for His glory. I’m sharing all the wonderful blessings God has given me to others who may be a CCC or a NAAC (Not at All Christian). I’m talking to my boys about God and the importance of having an intimate relationship with him. Along with David, I’m determining what changes need to be made in our home so that it aligns with the Word of God. I’m not comparing my sins to others’ sins and I’m not excusing my sins because they’re not as bad as someone else’s. And I’m asking God to Search me…and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts (Psalm 139: 23, ESV), to refine me and to change me to be more like Jesus.
So what changed? How did I come to [t]rust in the Lord with all [my] heart, and…not lean on [my] own understanding and [i]n all [my] ways acknowledge him, [so] he [would] make straight [my] paths? (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV).
Sure I had gone to see Passion of the Christ when it came out in theaters in 2004 and I cried so hard after the movie that I couldn’t speak, but at that time I just couldn’t wrap my mind around God’s truth that Jesus willingly suffered and died on the Cross for me, a CCC who had turned her back on him time and time again and who definitely was not living a life that reflected she was saved.
I couldn’t understand why He allowed himself, through the ultimate act of submission and obedience to his Father, creator of ev-ry-thing, to be mocked, to be beaten and flogged so brutally that he no longer looked like a man. (We don’t see that in movies, do we?).
I didn’t even know (because I had never bothered to read the story of the Crucifixion myself) that Jesus, by his own free will, was more than just separated from his Father as He bore MY sins on that Cross, he was completely abandoned by him.
And yet, despite all the pain and suffering and separation and abandonment, friends, he still begged for God’s forgiveness for the ones who put him on that Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34, ESV).
Friends, I finally realized the greatness of God’s sacrifice, the sheer magnitude of Jesus’s submission to his Heavenly Father for ME, and I invited Jesus to be the guiding force in my life.
If God so loved me that he gave his only Son so that I could have everlasting life couldn’t I, shouldn’t I …in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him? (Colossians 3:17, ESV).
If before he was arrested and crucified Jesus was able to pray, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done, (Luke 22:42, ESV) couldn’t I, shouldn’t I put off [my] old self, which belongs to [my] former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires and follow Him? (Ephesians 4:22, ESV).
If God [f]or [my] sake…made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [I] might become the righteousness of God, (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV) couldn’t I, shouldn’t I present [my] bod[y] as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [my] spiritual worship? (Romans 12:1, ESV).
The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES! that I would shout from the top of the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building given the chance. YES I COULD AND YES I SHOULD!
Friends, four years ago, I stood up from my CCC table and committed and submitted to God because I realized that I needed to give something back to Jesus because of ALL He had given for me. I gave him me because I decided that HE is WORTHY of my commitment and submission.
A few weeks ago I was reading the story of Jesus’s crucifixion to Caleb who is so enamored by the story that he requested a Jesus-and-the-Cross-themed party for his 4th birthday.
As I was reading, I started crying. When Caleb asked me what was wrong, I told him, “Sometimes Mommy gets sad when she reads about Jesus on the Cross.” As my sweet Caleb wiped my tears away with the shirttail of his PJ Mask pajamas, he reminded me, “But, Mommy, Jesus isn’t on the Cross anymore. Remember?”
Friends, I do remember that Jesus didn’t remain on the Cross, but I don’t ever want to forget that for a time He did hang on it.
If you haven’t already, won’t you join me at the table for former CCCs because He hung on that Cross for you, too?
Pray with me.
Thank you for not send[ing] [your] Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:17, ESV). Thank you for making us worthy of your grace and mercy by the blood Jesus shed for our sins. Help us keep stamped on our hearts a remembrance of all that He gave so that we can live a life that reflects our commitment to glorify Him.
In Jesus’s Name,
So I finally committed to a song. Yay! Have a great weekend and don’t forget to come back on Monday to read Jamie’s Around the Table Monday Mayhem post.