Last week a friend told me of her struggles to control circumstances concerning her children.
Yesterday a friend described how her joy had seeped out over of a period of time without her realizing it.
Today a four year old girl named Riley will be told her daddy is dead.
Life and death. What is it all about? What’s the purpose?
I asked that question many times in my teens up through my late thirties. Now in my forties, I’m getting a glimpse of the real meaning of this life. My understanding is probably equivalent to Riley’s understanding her daddy’s death. But whether I understand it or not doesn’t change the facts. Death is the absence of life and Jesus is Life.
My biggest spiritual (and therefore emotional which leads also to physical) struggle plays out in my thoughts.
Sometimes it is a struggle to control circumstances.
The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" *
When things aren’t going the way I want them to go, I can easily come up with a plan to let someone else know the thoughts that are feeding my actions. This verse reminds me that my response to this world is much more satisfying if I allow God to feed my thoughts and actions like a mother bird feeding her young.
Sometimes the struggle is in my expectations of others.
"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" *
Leadership in any area is exhausting – including the leadership role of “Mom.” I often forget that God is giving me the opportunity to work with him. It’s not about getting others to work with me. An example of this is in watching my head-strong son try to take on the role of parent in the neighborhood then expect me to support him when the other child or their parent strikes back.
The most recurring battle in my mind is the desire to just enjoy a comfortable life.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"*
Sometimes I just want to enjoy the whole spectrum of pleasures available in this world. But the truth is this world and its physical pleasures do not last forever. Whether I choose to live it as if I own it or hide from the worldly pleasures as if they don’t exist, people are leaving this world without the thrill of worshiping the Lord your God and serving him only.
God is continually reminding me that I experience life by trusting him. He is perfect love. Life is all about experiencing his love. Sometimes love hurts terribly when imperfect people are involved. God knows that pain too.
That pain makes us want to take control of the circumstance, other people, and the pleasure of life. But when we do that, we’re not experiencing life any more. We experience death and that hurts worse than love ever will.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Eph 3:19
* From Matthew 4:1-11