Archive for May, 2010
Hubby’s sermon this past Sunday was entitled “Going Beyond One Mile” and was taken from Matt 5:38-42: You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
This passage is tough to deal with no matter how you approach it. No one wants to suffer treatment that they feel is unjust. We are all quick to seek or at least desire revenge. Be that as it may, I had an “aha” moment as hubby was preaching.
He focused on the last portion of the text for much of his sermon (which is kind of obvious from the title I guess!). There was a law in the Roman Empire than any citizen of an occupied territory could be made to carry a Roman citizen’s burden one mile. Jesus is telling his followers to go farther than the law demands. In one of his illustrations of what “second mile” behavior would look like, he made this statement – I need to be willing to sacrifice “my rights” for Jesus. In other words, stop focusing on me and what “my rights” are and seek to show a behavior that is NOT focused on revenge or even self-preservation.
The more I think about the concept of “my rights”, the more I am struck by the fact that an attitude of “looking out for number one” is probably at the core of every relational conflict I have ever experienced. I don’t like it when I have to do more work around the house than my family members, I certainly don’t like it when hubby gets to go have fun with friends (usually on a golf course) while I stay at home cleaning/doing laundry/being responsible. After all, I have my rights! Wow. If I could just get my focus off of myself and what I feel my rights are, if I could start looking at each dish that is washed, each floor that is swept, as an act of love and service – as a “second mile” response – I might find myself being far less touchy and defensive. And I know my heavenly Father would be pleased with “second mile” behavior that ministers to those he has placed in my home!
If only the lesson were as easy to apply as it is to think about! I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to another one of those things I have to commit to each and every day! A magic pill would be so much easier!
Earlier today, I was thinking back to a conversation I had with a friend during a theater production we were doing together. This man does not attend church and frankly feels no desire to do so. I tell you that only to emphasize the fact that his statement was not coming from a religious/faith-based background. During a discussion about relationships and the troubles they face, he looked and me and said the following –
“Forgive me if this sounds sexist, but the feminist movement has not done you ladies any favors when it comes to relationships.” He went on to assure me that he was all for things like equal pay for equal work, etc., and that he believed women were equal to men in intelligence, ability, and the like. When I asked him to explain what he meant, he had this to say: “Feminism encourages you to play down the very thing that we men find so appealing. You lose all of your power when you put aside your femininity. It doesn’t make you weak when you are softer or more “girly” – it makes us want to move mountains for you! Why can’t women understand that our need to protect you is not an indication of how weak and useless we think you are, but an indication of how valuable you are to us?”
Ironically, after a few decades of trying to beat men down and prove to everyone how worthless and flawed men are, there seems to be a movement back to more “old-fashioned” roles. The book entitled “The Surrendered Wife”, which talks about a return to more “traditional” roles in the marital relationship, was NOT written from a faith-based or religious perspective but rather from the point of view that men and women have needs that are unique to their genders and we get along better when we celebrate those differences and work together lovingly rather than trying to deny the differences exist. I’ve met a number of women both in person and via the internet who are looking at what is happening to the state of marriage in our nation and saying “enough”.
I’m going to share with you an acrostic that I found in a book entitled “Love and Respect”. This acrostic helps me remember the needs that are most vital to my husband and focuses my attention on meeting those needs. (Warning: I do recommend the book I just mentioned but only if you are SERIOUS about being confronted!)
Here’s the acrostic:
C – Conquest (in other words, he wants to “slay dragons” for you!)
H – Hierarchy (to be “first among peers”)
A – Authority
I – Insight
R – Relationship (but not in the way we think, ladies!)
S – Sexuality
I won’t attempt to go into these in-depth. I wouldn’t do the book justice. But if I can focus on protecting these areas in my relationship with my husband and let him know that I see and appreciate his efforts, he feels respected and I have helped build him up.
As much as I may not like it, the purpose of marriage is not to make me happy. I am called to focus on meeting my husband’s needs. It’s taken far longer to get here than I would have liked. But I’m going to make sure he is taken care of and trust God to see that my needs are met.
Just off of my kitchen is the master suite. This creates an “L” shape to the back of the house and the builders placed a deck right in the corner of that L. Just to the left of the door that leads onto the deck is a light which I can see from the window above my kitchen sink. Truth be told, that door and light are just around the corner from the kitchen sink so I have a pretty detailed view of the light.
So what’s the big deal about a light? Earlier this Spring, a Robin began building a nest right on top of that light. I watched her build it and, since I teach two afternoons at a Christian school that is literally just out my back gate, I have been guilty more than a few times of spooking her from the nest when I would leave the house by the back door. Yesterday, she didn’t leave when I went out. She got a little agitated and I think she thought about leaving, but she just ruffled her feathers and settled back into the nest as soon as I was off the deck. As I returned home a few hours later, I looked up at the nest and saw a little head, beak wide open, wobbling just above the edge of the nest! It was all pink, no sign of a feather anywhere, and I was more than a little excited. I jumped on the internet to do a little digging and my best guess is that the babies were born at some point yesterday. Over the course of the last 24 hours, I’ve had the chance to see them peek their little heads up a time or two and even seen a couple of feedings.
Why my sudden obssession with these birds? I’ll be honest – I’m not what you would call a nature lover. I have tent camped and about a week without a bed and a real kitchen is all I can handle! I’m not a pet lover and do not miss having them in my house. But I’ve been drawn to watch over these dumb birds! When I don’t see mama or daddy bird around, I worry that the babies are not going to stay warm enough (although the nest gets quite a bit of sun so they are probably fine!). I almost experience a sense of relief when I see that they are being fed. For some reason, it matters to me that these little guys (or girls) make it.
As I’ve watched the bird family on my back deck, the Lord has brought to mind Luke 12:24 – “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds!” I come from a long line of worriers and, though I know all that the Scriptures have to say about worrying, I still struggle to keep those whispers of anxiety at bay. But I’m coming to the realization that worrying really exhibits a lack of faith in the goodness of God. I am valuable to him – of course he’s going to take care of me! Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t plan and prepare for events. I’m not saying that we should simply let life happen and deal with the fall out. Either of those would make us poor stewards of the resources God has blessed us with. But there is a difference between preparing and losing sleep over factors one cannot control.
As I sit here typing this, I am struck by the fact that something as simple as a bird’s nest with new babies – something happening in numerous places all over the world – could strike me as “profound”. It’s just one more piece of evidence that God really does place lessons in front of us that will resonate most clearly with the way he designed us – yet one more example of how well he takes care of those he values!
Have you ever had a sermon that stuck with you for days? I mean, no matter how hard you might try, something from the sermon just kept coming back into your mind over and over again? That’s been my week. Granted, it’s only Tuesday so to say that I’m still mulling over the sermon from two days ago may not seem like a big thing. Bear with me.
Hubby’s sermon this past Sunday was a continuation of his current trek through the Sermon on the Mount. In it, he shared the story of a Pastor who was new to town. The Pastor got on a city bus and paid his fare. Once he had taken his seat, he discovered that the bus driver had given him a quarter extra in change. There was the typical depate with self – it’s only a quarter, who would ever know? – but the Pastor returned the extra quarter when he got to his stop. The bus driver said, “You’re the new Pastor in town aren’t you? I’ve been thinking about coming to church but I want to know that I can trust the Pastor I’m listening to. I want to know that he’s an honest man. I’ll see you Sunday, Pastor.” The Pastor got off the bus, a little weak in the knees, and leaned against a nearby lamppost where he whispered a quick prayer – “Forgive me, Father. I almost sold out your Son for a quarter!”
I’ve heard it said that everyone has a price and for some people, it’s pathetically low. So I’ve been wondering – what’s my price? What would it take to convince me to “just coast”? To simply get through each day and not think about the example I’m setting?
It’s no secret that I’ve been working through what the Bible has to say about marriage. As I think about what “my price” is, I can’t help but look at the question from my position as a wife and mother. What would it take to get me to focus on my own needs and ignore what my husband and family need? What is my price for being a disrespectful, rebellious woman? Proverbs 14:1 tells us “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” So what is my price? What would it take to get me to tear my own house down?
There are those in the world that would actually encourage the kind of thinking that would tear my house down. After all, my husband and I are equals, right? I should have the right to make decisions and point out every time that he is wrong. Before any die-hard feminists put together a lynch mob, hear me out. Yes, scripture teaches that all people are equal in the eyes of God – Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” But scripture also tells me that God intends for my husband to be the final authority in the home, not me: “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:23-24)”
So what’s my price? Simple: the ability to indulge my own self-centeredness. I would sell out my God-given responsibilities to submit to my husband, to show him respect, and to set an example for the young ladies living in my household for the ability to be self-indulgent. Coddle my selfish nature and I will sell out. I would give up eternal blessings, peace in my home, and the ability to grow spiritually simply for the chance to be selfish. How pathetic! I have a price and it’s not very high!
I wish I could find the secret to making this whole thing easy. I wish I could simply “flip a switch” or read the right book that would make submitting and surrendering easy. But nothing worth having or doing every comes easily. Each day, I must purpose in my heart that, with the help of my Heavenly Father, I will choose to submit, choose to show respect for the man that blesses my life in so many ways, and live a life that pleases my Abba. There is no way to do this except to take one day, or even just one step, at a time.
Obedience is hard. Before you rush down to the “add comment” button and type in “DUH!”, let me explain why I make such an obvious statement. The Holy Spirit has really been hammering on this topic in one particular are of my life – my relationship with my husband. The scriptures are very clear on a few things when it comes to a marriage relationship –
Eph. 5:22 says: Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. (This command also shows up again in Eph. 5:24 and Col. 3:18)
And Eph. 5: 33 reads: However, each one of you must also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (emphasis mine).
Argue with it, claim it’s sexist, tell me that there are “hidden meanings” – whatever. All I know is, my Heavenly Father has commanded me to submit to my husband and to show him UNCONDITIONAL respect. I see no clauses, no exceptions and I’ve decided to stop looking for them. But why is it still so hard to obey these commands?
Simple. A lack of faith combined with a severe case of selfishness. I don’t like admitting that. I’m a pastor’s wife, after all. I’m not supposed to have a weak faith! But if I believe that God gives good things to his children, if I believe that my Heavenly Father has put commands in place that will bless my life and not curse it, shouldn’t I want to obey? The fact is, I struggle most with these commands when I begin to worry about who is going to see that my needs get met. My husband needs my respect and he needs to know that I trust his position of authority in our home. When I focus on obeying my Father and meeting my husband’s need, there is peace! I cannot say that my needs are always perfectly met but I know that my Father is pleased with my behavior.
I am renewing a commitment to be submissive and respectful. Not because my husband is perfect, not out of a desire to get him to meet my needs, not even so other wives will think I’m self-sacrificing. I want to be obedient. What about you?