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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"And the days keep rollin', rollin, rollin', rollin'..." Maxwell, Week 4

Well, two days ago officially signifies four weeks in Montgomery, Al… And wow, have we both learned a lot: About life, about marriage, about each other, about ourselves, about the world, about others, and about the Lord. I might even dare to claim that it’s been the richest (and the most humbling) time in my life. It’s amazing the things God reveals to your heart once you have left your comfort zone. The times that have been the roughest have also been the most life impacting. Andrew and I have just learned how to live with each other in a way that humbly serves the other…. Not in our own efforts (I am always bound to fail if that’s the case), but through constant prayer and crying out to the Lord. The more we do this, the more we see just how weak we really are, totally dependent on the Lord’s lead in our life/relationship. Honestly, my flesh has tried to persuade me that I’m just a failure and just need to end this pursuit of being Christ-like. BUT the gospel has never failed to preach truth to me. God has used Andrew hard card to preach this truth to me—I’m incredibly thankful for the gift God has given to me through him. Yet it’s only when I’m humble enough to realize that my own efforts to be ‘white’ and my efforts to be Christ-like and share the gospel are pointless and vain that I can allow this penetrating truth to affect my heart. I am so incredibly thankful for the literature Andrew has encouraged me to read (obviously scripture)—especially ‘10 questions to keep you spiritually healthy’ and ‘The Gospel Primer’. I can’t tell you just how much these books have ministered to my heart! What a gift these author’s works have been to my heart.

Recently, I have really been struggling with being gentle--- just gentleness in general has been difficult to me: In my thoughts, my words AND, especially, my actions. To my shame, it’s directly affected Andrew physically most of all. When I feel that I must sustain this cookie-cutter mold of a wife and a believer, I try to struggle through the vastness of my sin by myself, thus making me become closed off and distant towards Andrew, not desiring to be touched or talked to even though I never voice it. I knew this was sin (the Holy Spirit revealed this to me), yet I tried to find the origin of the root in my personal history book somewhere instead of just focusing on how to resolve sin in the glory of our only hope: the gospel. In my own efforts, I got nowhere… but it’s amazing what a little bit of faith, trust and A LOT of prayer will do for your confusion. In fact, it was in church today that the Lord had allowed me to see how to resolve this continuing issue: communication. It’s so simple right? Every couple you will talk to will emphasize the importance of this skill; it’s a part of every pre-marital counsel session, it’s a chapter of every book on marriage… but why is it so hard to actually carry out this requirement to a healthy marriage??? Why? Because our human pride makes it harder said than done. You cannot prepare for it without actually following through to practice it as well. It will become nothing to you but good retained knowledge… and that’s it. I can testify to this truth because I have fit these shoes of error well for the last couple of weeks. It’s been a tough battle to get out of this war with myself, but it’s been worth every tear and every tower that has crashed as a result of this struggle. I have hope that the Lord is still at work at this area of my life, for Andrew’s sake and for my relationship with Christ.

The blessings have also continued to pour out even more so than all the struggles! Praise God! Fellowship has continued to become stronger by the day as God strengthens our heart daily (Lam. 3:21-24) and He has given us so many people in our daily lives that have blessed our walk with encouragement or ways that have challenged our hearts to live more for Him as our primary concern rather letting other concerns rule over us (this is why Jesus gave us Matthew 6:30).

Currently, we are driving back from Atlanta where we had just spent the weekend with 2 couples from our flight and visiting some friends/family (Travis and Lorato Lester, David Ash and Justin Lowry). Even in this time, God has poured out more blessings on us and our marriage. The time we stayed with the Lesters was a very encouraging time where Lo and Travis just encouraged us merely by their example to host and love us and our accompanying couples, making the four of them feel at home and comfortable. They did such a great job of adorning the gospel by completely opening their house and hospitality to our stay. It was such a refreshing moment for me, for this was a goal that I had set for our own house, but because I spend more time focusing on the lack of instead of being thankful for the blessed of, it had been lost in the game of dissatisfaction. However, let me just tell you how faithful God is! Through answered prayer, the church message given at Buckhead Church in Atlanta Georgia was exactly what God wanted our hearts to know as far as what to be discontent about and how to perceive true worth/gain. It was unbelievable! The message was given by Andy Stanley and it was entirely refreshing. It encouraged us to hear something so lined up with God’s word about the way we live…. Especially, financially. This has been the biggest struggle in our marriage thus far. What a God we serve: He gives us so many resources to lessen our troubles in this world so we might rather be more focused on him!
God’s faithfulness to our pursuit to becoming the person He has planned us to become has been taking new turns and twists, progressing only when we remember how we are to approach our positions in life: through lots and LOTS of prayer, trusting only in the cross and leaning on it as our only source of hope. It’s really made us refocus our prayer life and life concerns a lot… and the benefit of that (knowing Christ better) has been worth every life alteration! Just recently, God has convicted me to refocus my prayer life to be worth of the gospel, asking to know the Redeemer, rather than for rescue from trials and hardships. Paul was the reason for this heart change; his statement in 1 Corinthians 1:17 has really ministered to my heart: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” Paul saw that this one passion blotted all others out, accepting heartbreaks and tribulation which kept him devoted to the Lord. It keeps me aware to the fact that I am servant and my heart should always be content in every circumstance the Lord puts me in and takes me to, for it is His will that I am there. Thus, I now want to pray I am ‘separated unto the gospel’ (Oswald Chambers commenting on 1 Corinthians 9) so I can carry out the will of God in His way, being mindful not of my own comforts I may be lacking in my circumstances. May my heart always cry out 1 Corinthians 9:16 all my life lest I become disqualified in the race that I run!!

The Lord has also done a lot of work in Andrew’s heart lately. It’s been amazing to see his renewed awareness of his leadership responsibilities, measuring the weight of this burden and then carrying out his duty to be the leader still in our relationship… despite his many job responsibilities and busyness! It’s been so encouraging to be able to see him daily turn his ear from his heart’s preferences and instead attack the task that lay ahead, trusting God will bless him in his efforts. If you look at the leadership qualities that Paul commends Timothy for within 2 Tim. 1 and 2, you will also read about traits my husband has been faithfully living out: sincere faith, a spirit of love and self control, shared sufferer in my sins as well, guarding the word that has been entrusted to his knowledge, strength and peace from the Lord, great self-discipline to endure trials and hardships, care that produces my full trust in my Andrew, faithfulness, and mentoring me in the gospel truths that remind me where to put all my hope. He has done a great job about encouraging me to stay on track without being deceived by the world’s concerns/opinions/influences just by the way he lives. It’s refreshing to have someone like that in my life to follow and imitate in example!

I think the greatest thing he’s done for our relationship lately is encouraging me in this time I struggle with (my calling to resume my job as a wife) to make more of my free time time to run to the Lord, listening to his word and crying out to him with the cares on my heart. Any anxiety that could have overridden my focus on Christ has become nothing in light of who He is. The more I learn about the Lord, the more the struggle with anxiety lessens and my heart becomes content in where I stand in my present circumstances. I rejoice and give praise for my life is found in Him!! What a joy my walk has become because of the Lord’s kindness and mercy in giving me a husband that knows what’s worth worrying about in life: Knowing God.

Thus, this week I look forward to learning more about the Lord, being captivated more by him than anything else, making my lips want to talk about nothing more BUT the Lord that saved my sinner’s heart! What a joy!! I encourage you today to look at how you are viewing the gospel, how you’re viewing Christ’s position in your life. Are you letting your pride keep you from becoming all the Lord has intended you to become for his name’s sake (1 Cor. 4:13)? Are you allowing the reality of Redemption ‘separate you unto the gospel’ for Christ’s name to be spread alone or are you holding on to your own personal sanctification, leaving others to themselves so to avoid complications with your relationship with them? Is your life for or against God and his gospel? Are you by-passion your own comforts so to ensure the gospel is proclaimed? The Lord has, like Paul, separated us from the world to reveal His son in us, and not for any other reason but. Be encouraged as you think about that! Christ has empowered us in Himself to do the work that He has called us to…. Make some time to allow that truth to sink into the depths of your heart; make some time to talk with the Savior today.

1 comment:

  1. Katie I'm so upset that you never told me you were blogging, and the sad part is Bongi was to one who called me to tell me. I'm so glad that you're doing this because I'll get to really see how you two are doing. We loved having all of you over this weekend and I'm just so thankful that God is at work in your marriage. Hearing how dependent you two are on the Lord really encourages me. I know in the beginning I was just questioning God's plan. It took me months to see how He was at work in my marriage. I guess writing really can help. Well, sweet girl it was great seeing you two and I'll be praying for the next couple of weeks!