Fearful or Faithful by Nancy Wilson

I am again grateful to have my dear friend Nancy Wilson on the blog. Today she brings to us, older women, much needed words of encouragement. I trust that this good charge will yield good fruit in our lives.

IMG_8479Fearful or Faithful
by Nancy Wilson

During these troublesome days, we should consider how we can best turn a profit on our time in our homes while we wait for life to return to normal. Remember the ultimate purpose of trials in the Christian’s life is to bring glory to God by stewarding the trial with faith and obedience. Trials reveal how we are doing. Is your faith strong or weak? Are you fearful or faithful? Is your faith suffering from its own coronavirus? Has it gotten a little sickly? Or are you standing firm, undaunted and joyful in these trying circumstances? Would your husband describe you as fearful or faithful? Do you shrink back in fear or do you trust God and trust your husband to lead you through uncertain times?

Older women can either drift into fearfulness or they can grow into more and more faithfulness. We have the tendency of excusing fearfulness (in ourselves or in other older women) because of age or situation or health conditions. But our faith is not based on our own resources, situation, or condition. Our faith is based on the unchanging character of our Maker.

We all know that as we age, we grow physically weaker. We gradually get flabby and weak. There were those decades where we could coast on our youthful stamina and strength, but those days are behind us. No more coasting.

But there is another kind of weakness which can commonly come with age, another kind of flabbiness as we grow old, and that is spiritual flabbiness. If we are not being pressed to apply the Scriptures to our lives, if we are not being diligent to be obedient Christians, our faith and our obedience weaken. Much like our beauty, our zeal fades. We can indulge in a little cowardice or give our husbands less respect and sloppy obedience. If life gets too cushy, too comfortable, too easy, we become squishy soft. We can coast. We can spend too much time tracking our physical ailments and miss the signs of an ailing faith. This softness leads to fearfulness, and fearfulness leads to anxiety, and anxiety leads to faithlessness and compromise. A soft fearful faith is a hard heart. So God sends us some trials to wake us up and strengthen our walk with Him.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). There is no reason for us to allow our spirits to decay like our bodies do! Paul says we are being renewed every day, so there is no sense in losing heart, even if our bodies are falling apart. The important thing is that our faith can grow and flourish, even in our old age.

In Romans 5:3-4 has the encouragement we need. “But we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.“ When a trial comes, we must choose to glory in it. We must choose to rejoice in the opportunity God is giving us to trust Him. We know it is from His hand, no matter who brought it to us. And as we do this, God blesses us with the fruit of patience. We learn to endure trouble. And that gives us something money can’t buy: character. And with character comes hope. Verse 5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy spirit who was given to us.”

All our troubles and trials are working on our behalf because God is behind it all, pouring out His love into our hearts and causing us to become women of faith. We must cooperate with what He is doing, and we must have an eager expectation of how He is going to use it all to His glory in our lives. Our husbands should be able to call us faithful women. They should be able to benefit firsthand from our cheerful obedience to God’s Word.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely doth trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Prov. 31:10-12).

A note in my Geneva Study Bible says a virtuous wife is literally a wife of valor. Are you a wife of valor, willing to face danger with courage? A virtuous wife does not shrink back in fear. She goes forward by faith, not trusting in her own resources, but trusting the Lord. We may be physically weak, we may feel very weak, but in Christ we are strong. We should pray that God will increase our strength and increase our faith.

This is the kind of older women the church needs. Think of how our children and grandchildren will benefit if we are women of valor! So let’s determine to pray for boldness and wisdom. Let’s demonstrate faithful and cheerful obedience to God. Pandemic or not, let’s lift our voices and sing hymns.

Faithful Obedience by Noai Meyer

I am grateful for the gift of having Noai sharing with us in the series on Faithful Obedience. Noai has walked through a very hard road with much joy and unwavering trust in the Lord. Her life is an example of faithful obedience.

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Being Faithful with the Illness God Has Called You To

Psalm 84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

In 2018, shortly after the birth of my second daughter, we had the privilege of having my Multiple Scleroses come back with a scary vengeance. My vision was affected, my gait was affected, my arms and hands, and many other muscles and nerves. I remember one day sitting on the couch and crying because I had trouble even holding my newborn daughter. I did not feel so privileged at the time. But, through much prayer from the saints, and crying out to God, we look back on it now and can honestly say we wouldn’t have it any other way. It is good for me to have MS.

I think the biggest lie that we buy into all the time boils down to “God is not good.” We fear that He will take our child, or we fear that what we eat is killing us slowly, or we fear that we won’t find the right thing to help our bodies heal. Another lie is “I deserve something better”. I found myself thinking, “I just want to be normal!” Or I would think “but I want be a normal mom who can walk, all the other moms can walk!” I deserved to be like everyone else.
I was plenty able to walk; I just was projecting into the future…not a good idea. God’s grace and goodness were supplying my needs now, why should I go to a spot where He wasn’t? If I get there some day, He will be there and it will be good, and He will provide.

We so often forget that we don’t deserve any of this. Not even the opportunity to do dishes! I disliked doing dishes, and when God took that gift away, I realized even work was a gift. Every minute of every day is a gift and yet we brazenly complain when we don’t get the life we want. Many times I have cried out to God that He would heal me, and several times I have felt the answer to be “..for He knew what was in the heart of man” (John 2:25), or “You lust and do not have…that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3). Did I really want God more than healing? Did I put Him as my “chief end” and goal? Or, was I wanting healing so I could go back to my “normal” life and spend it on my desires? Healing is great and God loves to give those kinds of good gifts, but He will always give good gifts, and sometimes that looks like MS. We must stop listening to the lies that health is good without God, or life is good without God.

God will do whatever it takes to draw you to Himself. He gives each of us unique trials that are fit just for us. As His children, He doesn’t withhold any good thing from us. If we have a chronic illness, it is because it is good. If He chooses not to heal us, it is good. It is so comforting to know that all of this is a part of God’s plan. We are under the skillful Surgeon’s knife, as T. S. Elliot put it. It is wonderful that “our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). What could be better than God Himself?

“Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will deliver us” (2 Corinthians 9-10). He has “delivered us from so great a death”, what more could we ask for? And, of course he will deliver us!

Don’t ask, “What can I do to get out of this trial?” Instead ask, “How is God using this trial to bring me closer to Him?” Sometimes rampant fear and unbelief in God sneak in when we research how to get better. I often fell into this. I told myself, “I’m just trying to figure things out.” It is easy to find peace in activity instead of in God. The truth was I felt it was up to me to control my life. I couldn’t trust God to do it right. When we think like that, we lose that precious opportunity to throw ourselves on God and humble ourselves before Him “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:6-7). There is nothing wrong with researching how to get better, just be aware that fear easily creeps in the back door at the same time. Stress and anxiety are good indicators of when you are putting your trust in the wrong things.

Trials tend to be great purging grounds for the dross of God’s people. They kick all your props out from under you, revealing what foundation you are really on. We are so easily distracted and subtly tempted from our first love. But God is merciful to teach us and lead us in just the way we need so that we might gain Him. Once those props have been knocked out, and your lack of faith revealed, start shifting your weight to the foundation of God’s promises.

So how can we be faithful with the time of illness God has given us? First, I think we need to recognize those lies that creep in easily when we are sick. Then we must run to Scripture and begin steeping ourselves and saturating ourselves with God’s promises. My husband counseled me not just to do this when the hard times hit, but especially when things are going well, because we all receive trials at some point if we are God’s children. Clothed in His armor we will be able to stand. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6: 13).

I love promises about His promises: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19). This was just after Balak tried getting Balaam to curse God’s people and he couldn’t. There is nothing that can touch us that hasn’t been permitted by God. Another promise on promises is: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). You can and must put your trust in His promises.

Another good tactic for battling the fears is to get counsel or read books by Christians who have gone before us and conquered in these things. Some of the books that really blessed me during the hardest times were, “The Clouds Ye So Much Dread” by Hannah Grieser; “God is the Gospel” by John Piper, and “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” by Jeremiah Burroughs.

In the end, what do we really want? Do we want to see Jesus? “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). And, can we say with David, “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). Because this is his desire, David can say at the beginning of the psalm, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

If God is good, and He is, what do we have to fear? “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:18-19). God’s loving hands are the ones that perfectly crafted your illness for you. He will complete His work in you (Philippians 1:6) and use whatever is necessary to give you what is truly good. Lean into the flame that consumes the dross.

Noai Meyer


You can find the index to the articles for this series at the bottom of the introductory post.

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Be Hospitable, Love the Body of Christ, Look Up -Pursuing the Intentional Life-

I am enjoying this series of letters on pursuing the intentional life so much. I pray you will be encouraged to make a commitment to live an intentional life, to start counting your days, to live fully in Him and for Him.

You can now read Melissa’s response here…

 

Have a blessed day,

Becky

Letters On Pursuing the Intentional Life (part 1)

Our dear friend Trisha recommended us a book that I read with much gusto. Jean Fleming’s words are exactly what I needed in this season of my life.

And because we are on the same season, but in totally different circumstances, my friends, Trisha, Melissa, and I thought that it would be wonderful to write each other letters to converse about this book.

Would you like to join us? Please, go ahead and read Trisha’s introduction and first letter here.

 

Becky

A Poem by Jean Fleming

“At ninety-seven, will I be able to write a poem capturing the scaffold of my life? How would I want it to read?”

 

Vermeer, The Kitchenmaid Commons

 

Old woman, keeper of a house,
Keeper of her heart,
Lover of one man.
Her life a scaffold of discipline and creativity:
Morning after morning: Jesus.
Her heart Bible-bent.
Prayers rise.
Every day an offering of various-sameness:
One hour of exercise (Oh, I wish!),
Dishes washed, laundry hung,
Generations welcomed,
Fed.
A good book, read.
Art made life,
Life made art.
Preparation made forever.

Praying that we will live well the week ahead of us,

Blessings,

Becky

Prayer and Battles

I just finished reading -again- Douglas Wilson’s book, Standing on the Promises: A Handbook on Biblical Childrearing, and I have to say that this is the one book I most recommend on the subject. In one of the last chapters Douglas Wilson writes about parenting teenagers, and says that we need to pick our battles carefully and prayerfully.

Now, that is a phrase that struck me, because it is not only true when we are talking about childrearing. It is true about every battle we face.

As Christians we face many opportunities every day to pick battles not only in our home, but with our brothers and sisters in Christ, our close friends, and our fellow believers in social media: these are battles that call us to stand for the Truth, to say the right thing, to do the right thing, to expose lies, to confront sin, to ask the hard questions, etc. But we must learn that the fact that there are many opportunities for us to pick a battle every hour doesn’t mean that we are responsible to fight every battle.

We must learn to carefully and prayerfully (that is the key word!) discern when when are we supposed to do or say something. We must resist the temptation to react before praying to see if we are indeed called to do something more than praying for that particular person or situation. have you considered why do we so easily forget -in a very practical way- that the effectual prayer of the righteous man availeth much (Jas. 5:16)?

Some other women may face the temptation of never picking up any kind of battles, they never leave their comfort zone, and are always afraid to stand for the Truth, they are never willing to do and say the right thing, to expose sin, to deal with it. This exhortation is also for them. We all need to learn to pick our battles carefully and prayerfully. We all need to learn to live this.

Picking up our battles carefully and prayerfully will help us grow into more mature Christian women who can rest knowing that the Lord is Sovereign and uses pastors, elders, deacons, parents, professors, husbands, etc. to keep His people from going astray and make the Church even more beautiful.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky