Ornament of Grace

Ornament of Grace
August 9, 2017

Changes

Recently, I heard someone say “Life is a series of adjustments.” It’s true. Yesterday is gone. I am only a part of today. I do not know what tomorrow holds because I have never been there. Actually, if the truth be told, I would rather tomorrow not be much different than today, because…I really don’t like change! Change can easily translate into fear! Since I don’t know what’s around the corner, I usually prefer things to stay the same. I guess it makes me feel less vulnerable and more in control! My Heavenly Father’s promise, “I am the LORD, I change not!” is so comforting to my easily troubled heart.

Life is complex. Every stage involves change, and also requires adjustments. The right perspective helps us see the blessings, along with the trials and setbacks. There is no need to stress, fret, or worry! Our God is the perfect Father Who “doeth all things well.” He loves us unconditionally. He has the power to work all things for our good, and He desires to bless His children! Under His control, the changes He brings will build our lives. The challenge we all face is daily submission to His Plan.

There will always be a work in us that only God can do! That great work is called salvation! Christ died for us and His blood alone, atones for the sins of fallen man. Our self-proclaimed “good works” have absolutely NO power to transport us to the realms of heaven when we draw our last breath!

While we can do nothing to help “save” ourselves, there are some things in the Christian life that we must do. In II Peter, chapter one, the apostle Peter admonishes saints to give diligence, and work hard, “to add to your faith virtue.” Virtue refers to moral restraint; however, a broader meaning of the word is simply “right action and right thinking.” As new creatures in Christ, we begin to experience godly desires, and we must also be willing to work to develop further godliness in our lives. It takes discipline and self-denial to have our personal lives under the control of the Holy Spirit.

I believe God’s Word is practical. Biblical principles apply to everyday living. God created us. He knows what makes us “tick.” His Word is a practical and attainable blueprint for human relations. God instilled in us the need for human companionships. Relationships give deeper meaning and add greater joy to life! However, we’ve all experienced times when our flesh gets in the way and ruins the beauty in those special moments! Harsh words, selfishness, or a resentful, unforgiving spirit can ruin an evening, and potentially sour a relationship. All of us need the Holy Spirit’s presence and control to balance out our human weaknesses.

Whether women are ready for it or not, the physical and emotional changes of fluctuating hormones, loneliness, child-bearing, post-partum blues, child- rearing, menopause, etc. occur. Whether we attribute our struggles to moods, hormonal imbalances, or simply circumstances, the fact is, our flesh can take us on some pretty wild, irrational rides, at times! Our feelings are unpredictable, but oh, so powerful, are they not? In these situations, Holy Spirit control is most needed, but often least apparent. Let us examine some possible “real-life” situations …

Some women make emotionally charged decisions, and thereby inject painful, life-altering changes into their lives! I know young ladies who allowed their fear of never getting married to cause them to let go of their morals and long held godly principles. Seemingly out of the blue, they dropped everything to move halfway across the country (or the world), to “shack up” with a man they met in an internet “chat room,” somewhere! Stories like this always sound shocking and abrupt, but if examined, are quite the contrary. Every action results from thoughts. Too often, thoughts are rooted in emotions. Single lady, guard your heart! Give your desires, needs and emotions to your Heavenly Father for safe-keeping. Never be foolish enough to think your flesh is incapable of making these same destructive choices.

A young wife has a different set of challenges. Daily in the throes of raising a family, she may feel sorry for herself, lamenting the loss of personal freedoms. Sleepless nights and rising early can take a toll. Of course, she loves her children, but secretly, she may not always be thrilled with the changes that have taken over her life! These can be draining; they can bring out the worst in us. This wife and mother may be tempted to harbor a rebellious or unforgiving spirit toward her children or her husband. Be aware of the subtlety of developing a negative underlying tone in your family.

I still remember the challenge of being patient with my young children, when I was sleep deprived or half sick! Going to bed early to sleep it off was usually not an option! I also recall my tendency to dream of carrying on a decent conversation without having to stop and say things like, “Don’t climb on that!” “Sit still!” “Don’t do that to your brother!” and so on.

In the midst of this demanding phase of life, your dear husband can become just one more person with needs. Because of endless responsibilities, the charming things that drew you to him may go unnoticed while you struggle through your days. Be careful to guard your heart against discontentment, ingratitude and a critical spirit. It takes God’s power to speak sweetly when you feel grouchy and short-tempered! Work hard not to let go of the daily discipline of “plugging into that power source,” if only for a scarce few minutes! Remember, you need that connection, and your children need to see your example!

All children, at times, can be annoying, rude, and offensive. Every child’s sin nature is robust and fully functioning. It is a parent’s job to instill character and discipline the child, thereby saving his soul from hell, according to Proverbs 23:14. Parents must be personally disciplined to best administer discipline to their offspring. Some mothers have such a weak posture, coming across as a “push-over,” that they do not command respect. They may be just plain too soft- hearted! They feel mean when they spank their child and are inclined to talk themselves out of the need to administer the board of correction to the seat of learning! “It is just too hard,” you say? Instead, you want to let the offense go by, and not deal with the problem? You argue with yourself, looking for ways to let your child “off the hook”?

Dear mother, you need to look at the big picture! First, stop focusing on your needs instead of your child’s needs. Next, stop second-guessing yourself, and start embracing your God-given role as trainer of your children. Determine, with God’s help, to consistently add virtue to their lives by obeying Scripture. The old saying is, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” While the good training of children is hard work, “A child left to himself,” bringing his mother to shame (Prov. 29:15) is also hard. That scenario is actually very, very hard. In fact, anything of real value is hard. As a young mother, the disciplinary decisions I made, I live with to this day. I chose my “hard.” Which one will you choose?

Years pass. Children become more independent. They grow up, whether we as moms are ready or not. With each passing day, life continues to change, and we must adjust. If we insist on resisting these changes, either inwardly or outwardly, we will only create problems in our relationships. Personally, I found this phase of life to be one of my biggest challenges. How much do you “let go,” and when? It can be different with each child. Extra prayer and communication within the family helps a lot. Soon come the days of driver’s licenses, first jobs, graduations, college, perhaps weddings, and before you know it, you turn around twice to find yourself and your husband living in the proverbial “empty nest!”

Finally, at long last, “personal time” is available, but for some reason, it feels slightly weird. The house is too quiet. Once again, you are comforted by the One Who never changes and has guided you through all the other phases of your life. He is still there, still the same, and ready to help you make the necessary emotional adjustments. Be advised, you may encounter some unexpected struggles to work through, as this stage of life can be a bit bittersweet. No need to worry, however. God in His Grace and Goodness designed some very special gifts that come along to balance out the low spots in our hearts! These charming little blessings are called grandchildren, and trust me, they are the most amazing, adorable little people ever! Just keep in mind, if you need or want to, you can always send them home at the end of the day!

At this point in life, I remind myself often to count my blessings. The desires of my heart have been granted, as I see my adult children honoring the Lord and being examples others can follow. I am in the stage of reaping from the investments I made years ago. As is its nature, life continues to change, presenting the need for ongoing adjustments. Patience, flexibility, and thankfulness are daily necessities. I am more convinced than ever that loving Christ, surrendering to His Will and giving my life unselfishly for the good of others, solves every problem!

I still have daily choices to make that require Holy Spirit control to keep me “on track” in my personal life. Some of my current challenges are harder than any I have ever faced. I hate stagnation, so I’ve made the decision to keep growing, changing, and allowing the Lord to use me in new and different ways. Life will never be easy, but I have nothing to fear. I know my ever faithful, unchanging Guide will be with me every step of the way.