Heart issues

Freely PhotosSo there have been a few things in the news this week.

And, can I be honest with you? All I want to do with this blog post is tell you how I feel about all of them. Why? Because I have thoughts. And you guys don’t all share my thoughts. But I consider myself a smart, well-reasoned person and I want the opportunity to convince you all that you’re wrong and I’m right.

Which is… not sharing the gospel.

Last Sunday, our pastor was preaching out of Proverbs and talking about guarding our hearts. He told us about a time when one of his kids was clearly having a bad day and through sitting down together and talking about it they were able to get to the root of the issue — what his son was holding dear to his heart in that situation.

I’ve been thinking about this as I considered my own dilemma. Every time I opened up social media, everyone I knew was airing an opinion and I wanted nothing more to engage. But why? Why do I have this pathological need to opine on things? And after a lot of consideration, I don’t have a desire to engage thoughtfully in conversation (even though I want to thoughtfully converse, generally) so much as I’m plagued by a desire to explain my viewpoint in the hopes that it might be accepted.

This is totally natural. Everyone wants to feel accepted. And these days, when the Wrong Opinion on certain issues gets you branded as a bigot, a racist, a Nazi… you know, I feel somewhat justified in my desire to be not labeled those things. Especially by friends and church family.

This begs the question, by whom do I ultimately need to be justified?

And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. — Psalm 9:8

But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another. — Psalm 75:7

Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations. — Psalm 82:8

Right.

And how am I ultimately justified before God? Certainly not by the approval numbers of my various opinions.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. — Ephesians 2:1-10

I’m justified before God by Christ’s acceptable sacrifice on my behalf.

On Sunday our pastor also talked a bit about keeping it in our minds that our decisions have eternal, not momentary, consequences. I might give into my “cravings of the flesh” in an attempt to gain worldly approval for a time, but would that worldly approval come at the cost of my soul?

Now, definitely, there are things Christians have to stand for and against. And getting into political issues on social media isn’t an issue of salvation, per se. But what I’m saying is that why I’ve been tempted to engage on these issues is a matter of salvation. It’s a heart issue. It’s where I’m finding my treasure. And ultimately my treasure isn’t found here. So I need to leave it behind.

I’m so thankful for a God who has been working these truths out in me, proving my need of Him all the time!

THAT ALL BEING SAID…

I would like to share a video about sharing the Gospel in situations like this one. A lot has been said over the last few weeks about what the Bible has to say about immigrants and how they are treated. People who might not actually be Christians are talking about the Bible (!!), and this is such a good opportunity to turn the conversation to the Gospel. In this video, Voddie Baucham (seriously, look him up) talks about an episode of The West Wing which uses a Biblical argument to tear down the use of the Old Testament to justify opposition to same-sex marriage. Obviously the topic at hand is a little different, but the general principle remains the same. Give it a listen.

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Costly love

Our third wedding anniversary was June 6. I’m a little late in posting because a cousin got married in the same place we did just a few days before our anniversary, so we took the opportunity to travel for a bit of a vacation. Being in the same place at about the same time for a wedding was a delicious reminder of our wedding week. If I could relive any day of my life it would be our wedding day. It is still, by far, the best day of my life (I honestly cannot remember much of the day our daughter was born — but that’s another story for another day).

When I thought about this post I first thought about sharing three things I’ve learned over three years of marriage, but upon further reflection I decided what I ought to be thinking about is what God has been revealing to me about himself in marriage. And the first thing that came to my mind was the costliness of God’s love:

“And he said to them all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.'” (Luke 9:23-24)

When Jack and I were introduced to one another, it was long-distance. He was here in the Midwest and I was in Washington, D.C.. We were both comfortable where we were. We were both considering that God might be calling us to marriage and going on dates. But we were wholly unprepared for the whirlwind that God actually had in store for us. Jack is very up front about the fact that he knew not very long into our communication that he wanted to marry me. And it showed; he thrust himself out of his comfort zone to pursue me. He’d never been in a plane before we started talking. But he took his first flight to see me. He sacrificed vacation time and resources to fly out to see me as frequently as we could manage because his schedule was more flexible than mine. When we finally got married, he continued these sacrifices to let me continue to do a job I loved in Washington. But long-distance wasn’t ever going to be a sustainable long-term option, we knew. One of us was going to have to give up our world so that we could be together. That person was me.

After a few months of long-distance marriage we were able to find a house here in the Midwest. We purchased the home, and I gave my office a few months’ notice that I was leaving. My last day at the Capitol was horrible. I walked through the building one last time laying my hands on all the walls, crying as I went (which was very assuring to the Capitol Police, I’m sure…), knowing I’d never walk through that beautiful, historic building unescorted ever again. I handed over all of my work to my successor and gave up any worldly importance I had (real or perceived). I said goodbye to all of my friends — many of whom were the first true Christian friends I ever had — and walked away from my community to start all over again somewhere else.

I remember the New Year’s before our daughter was born, I turned to my husband and said, “We’re going to have a baby in three months. Our lives are over, Jack.”

Jack responded, “Well, they were over on June 6, 2015.”

(He’s so smart!)

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Yes. We died to ourselves that day. And every day after.

Marriage isn’t a status, it’s a vocation. And like any other vocation, its something to which God calls specific people. He asks us to follow after him into it, and by doing so we lose ourselves. He asks those called into marriage to do this as a specific illustration of His salvation. Each of us gives up our individual identity to be part of this marriage — to be one flesh. I’m so blessed to be married to a man who shows me Christ-like, sacrificial love every day. He lays down his life for me in so many ways, and I know it’s hard work for him. You’d think, recognizing all he does for me, submission would be easy, but it’s not. It’s hard work to die to myself daily. This has gotten to be more of a conscious effort for both of us as we’ve become parents. We had to do a lot of dying to self when our daughter was born. In a funny way it made us better spouses, I think.

I’m so thankful for God’s work in our marriage. I’m beyond thankful that I have a husband who shows me costly love every day. I’m blessed to be able to try to return it. And I am so glad God is showing these things to us.