3.22.2016

A letter to a friend.

Have you ever written a letter to someone, and felt like you should have addressed it, "Dear SELF?"
That happened to me yesterday.
I am studying I John with a friend, and chapters four and five really cut us to the core.
God is clear: If you obey Me, you belong to Me. If you don't obey Me, you do not know Me.
And to drive it further home: If you do not love your brother, you do not love Me.
Ack!
At the end of her response to the opening verses of chapter five, my friend said, "Please, encourage me, rebuke me, or tell me SOMEthing that will help me!"
Her plea made my heart ache - because it sounded like my own.
I wrote immediately, feeling like I had to throw out a life ring or she would be pulled out to sea. The enemy was NOT going to drown my friend! Not on my watch!
I sent the letter.
She responded.
And because I never remember what I write, I decided to re-read the letter. As my eyes scanned the page, I realized ... I was writing to myself.
I thought, "If she needs encouragement, and I need encouragement - someone else must need it too!"
I asked her permission to post the letter, and she agreed.
So, here it is. A personal letter, copied and pasted with the hope that the words and truth of Scripture will find their way to another struggling sister or brother who need to be reminded that they are not alone - and they are loved and adored and redeemed by a holy and perfect God.
                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sister!

What are you doing drowning over there - ALONE?
You need to get in front of people.
You need to be encouraged and edified and LOVED.
The enemy knows how to suck you into his vortex of doom, so you need others to grab your legs and pull you OUT.

Remember, the Lord CONVICTS - the enemy CONDEMNS.
Try to figure out which one is really taking place. And if both - which parts are LIES that need to be destroyed?

Scripture definitely convicts - and I John is brutal.

God knows we cannot actually meet His standard. That is why He sent His Son! Jesus creates the bridge that gets us to God because we would never, ever be able to jump the chasm ourselves.

We will never love perfectly.
Serve perfectly.
Forgive, speak, behave perfectly.
That doesn't mean we are not saved. It doesn't mean we don't love God.
It DOES mean we need to get on our knees, bury our face in Scripture, confess, repent, and ask the Lord to clearly show us where He wants us, what He wants us to do, and who He wants us to serve.
There are dozens of "good things" we can do as believers - but we need to find the BEST of the good, and focus on that.

And right now, you ARE serving the Lord!
You serve your husband and your children.
Often, those don't feel like they are "enough" because we do not receive perpetual praise or acknowledgment to affirm that we are, in fact, accomplishing anything.
But, sister - we ARE!

Every time you hug your boys - every time you make a meal - every time you read a book - every time you smile at your husband - every time you wash clothes ... you are being obedient to the Lord!
Our husbands and children may not notice or care, but God DOES.
He sees every action.
He hears every word of encouragement and "I love you."
He knows your heart.
Is there selfishness and sin lurking there? Of course. But it is HIS JOB to come in and clean out all of the filth and ugliness. He CHOOSES to do so. He WANTS to do it!
Our part? Letting Him.

There is a lot to be done in the world, this is true. There are not enough people to solve the problems or save the hurting.
But there is also a lot to be done in our own homes - starting with our own hearts.
When we let the Lord have at us - we will be matured and sanctified. It may be a long, ugly process, but when He is done we will be ready, willing, and able to do whatever He calls us to do.
And you know what? Sometimes He calls us BEFORE we are ready - and equips us in the process. 
Moses was not ready. Peter was not ready. Esther was not ready.
But when the moment that mattered arrived, God intervened and used them DESPITE their sinful foolishness. That is the God we serve!

Seeing your husband and children as your "lepers" is not as glamorous and exciting as caring for real lepers, but they need you just as much. Their sin and depravity are just as great. Their need for kindness, affection, compassion, and love is just as real. And God has chosen YOU to deliver it. You! No one else.
There was no mistake.
There was only PURPOSE.

Is your family perfect? Of course not.
Is mine? Not even close.
Do either of us have enough wisdom, patience, grace, forgiveness, empathy, or mercy to love our husbands and children as God commands? Nope.
But God promises to give us all of those things, through the Holy Spirit, because HE is the One who is at work in us, and it is HIS strength that makes us able to accomplish His will.
"Apart from Me you can do NOTHING." John 15
Nothing, sister!
He knows we are inept, so He did not leave us alone.
He left us with His Spirit - His POWER - to accomplish what concerns us - today.

Both of us have the tendency to focus on the WHOLE - and see our 127 failings within that whole.
So perhaps we need to start looking at the individual pieces of the whole.
One single piece at a time.
Capture improper, untrue, sinful thoughts, emotions, words, attitudes right when they happen. Stop. Focus on the sin of that moment. Repent immediately. Pray. And then move forward, "forgetting what lies behind ... " so we do not give the enemy the chance to slither in and attack. He WANTS us to feel defeated. He WANTS us to see every failure and ignore every success. He WANTS us to focus on self and list every flaw because when we do our focus is on self, and not on the Savior - where it belongs.
We have to fight, sister!
And when we don't have enough strength to wield our sword alone, we have to ask our sisters to swing their swords until we are able to stand up again, and start swinging our own.

We are not perfect.
But we are not FAILURES.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1
One of the most beautiful sentences in all of Scripture!

God's mercies are new every morning because He knows we cannot go one day without needing them!

Sort through your thoughts and emotions to define which are condemnations of the accuser - and which are convictions of the Lord. And then pray through the convictions, asking the Lord to reveal why He is convicting you in that area, and what He wants you to do about it.

He knows your thoughts - He knows your struggles - He knows your heart.
Nothing is hidden from Him.
Nothing surprises Him.
Lay everything at His feet - surrender every tiny piece - and let Him take care of the details.
Don't worry about the "what ifs" and the fears and all of the obstacles that appear to loom between you and your desires. "Nothing is too difficult for the Lord." Trust Him. And then, sit back and watch Him work.

You are not alone, sister.
It may feel like it because our human nature is to "compare and despair," and we are usually comparing with a very inaccurate and warped picture of reality.
But if we are always looking UP - we cannot see what everyone else is doing. We only see the Savior. 
And He - is enough!

I love you.
Michelle

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