Bold-roast truths--of the necessity of the church being identified by love and a culture of discipleship--were fresh-ground, steeping in my soul. Rehearsing the sermons to Alan was something akin to rightly timed, slow, smooth French-press coffee pouring into our cups.
"Discipleship is investing ourselves in others so that they come to know Christ and become more and more like Him."
"We're all in process!"
And "we're all part of the process!"
And those twin truths set at ease my bipolar dichotomy of feeling like "Here, let me help you!" and "Ah! I need help!" "We're all in process" and "We're all part of the process" unifies those "helper" vs. "hairy" moments. Because the reality is, there are those I need to be coming alongside and discipling; and I need others coming alongside me, discipling me.
After lunch and some family time, Alan left for the Q&A with Andy. And I set about to tackling dishes, setting up one child to listen to Andy's morning message already uploaded to sermonaudio.com, and stealing away for some quiet reading while the little two still slept.
And I actually finished chapter 7, "The Means of Providence," in Dr. Layton Talbert's phenomenal Not by Chance: Learning to Trust a Sovereign God.
One of the things I love about this book is how the Lord has already begun a work in my heart through so many of the passages that Dr. Talbert addresses. As if making homemade bread, God has stirred together the ingredients and kneaded truth into my life experience, then let it rest and rise for a certain amount of time before working it again.
- In chapter 2, Talbert did some extensive working through Psalm 104, which is the focus text for my second Bible study book No Matter What (the one with the upside-down turtle on the cover).
- And then, here, in chapter 7, he quotes Cowper's "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" (a precious balm God used specifically after our miscarriage);
- and several of the scenarios he covers are from the first part of 2 Kings, passages I worked through for my historical novel Voice of a Servant, which tells the story of Naaman and its surrounding passages through 3 VP characters (Cassia, the little maid from Israel; Marcus, Naaman's attendant; and, of course, Gehazi, servant to Elisha). I really can't wait to share this story with you, but...
All that to say, God's worked me over on these truths before. They're not necessarily new concepts. But ... they're needful, and so helpful, to rehearse (again).
So that you can read what I read, here are two quotes (and the underlining is mine):
2 Kings 3:9-20. "The kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom faced a severe situation. Having joined together to put down the rebellion of Moab, their forces faced an impending battle in the midst of a drought that threatened man and beast. Elisha was called on to inquire of the Lord for them. Through him, God directed them to dig ditches through the valley--a seemingly pointless task in the dry dirt. What a foolish thing to do, wasting their precious energies and resources on such an absurd exercise...of faith. But the next day 'there came water by the way of Edom,' apparently from the nearby mountains. Drought problem solved!"...He used those same ditches to solve their battle problem as well..." (Talbert, Not by Chance, 109).
After finishing a chapter, I like to go back to what I've underlined, reflect, and apply.
2 Kings 3:21-25. "...The rays of the early morning sun reflecting on the groundwater in the ditches looked to the Moabites like blood. Thinking that the armies of the three kings had fallen to fighting among themselves, Moab flew heedlessly upon the spoil--so they thought. They didn't realize their error until it was too late, and their disarray was their downfall" (Talbert, Not by Chance, 112). [Victory for God's people.]
When I looked back at page 109, where it said,
"God directed them to dig ditches through the valley--a seemingly pointless task...wasting their precious energies and resources on such an absurd exercise...of faith."I had to ask:
"What has God asked me to do that seems pointless, a waste of energy and resources?"
And the Matchbox cars strewn around the room need picked up (again).
And the laundry sometimes gets thrown back into the dirty clothes hamper it was just cleansed from, instead of going neatly into the designated drawers.
And the dishes.
And the diapers.
And discipling. "It's hard," Andy said, "Really, really hard. Because it's an investment, and it takes so much energy and time."
But it's what God's called me to do.
And His Spirit brings to remembrance Titus 2 and what He has called me to in this phase of life--to loving my husband, loving my children, managing our home. And He underscores the significance to my obedience by pointing out that neglecting these things could make room for a reviling/blaspheming of the Word.
They dug the ditches...by faith. And God shined and showed off His "infinite imagination and unlimited resources" (Talbert, Not by Chance, 112). They obeyed. And He worked.
And how many children have turned to Christ because of a faithful mother? (Think Augustine.)
How many men have radically amputated an addiction to lust because of a forgiving, loving wife? (And I've witnessed this amazing grace in the lives of dear friends, the power of love to restore and heal and make all things new.)
How many husbands have been successful in the work God has called them to because of a supportive, encouraging wife? ("Her husband is known in the gates." Proverbs 31)
How many women have been encouraged to be faithful servants because of another woman doing well what God has given her too? (And I am so thankful for so many of you who have been this for me!)
Is it exhausting? Yes.
Repetitive? Yes. Repetitive? Yes. Repetitive? ... ;) Yes.
Dirty? Often, yes.
Absurd? (Um, I have three boys.) At times, Yes, quite absurd!
But is it worth it?
Because in the morning, when God shines His light on it all--that glorious light that's getting progressively brighter (Proverbs 4)--"it will be worth it all!"
So let's not lose heart and be overwhelmed by the "sweeping up lost Cheerios that got away!"
Let's roll up our sleeves.
To the work!
For "[our] labor is not in vain in the Lord."
If it's what He's asked us to do, it's worth doing!
Because God works wonders in the random, ridiculous, and repetitious things He calls us to.
Grace and peace,