Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Believe it. Live it.

James and I have been spending much time together. So much so, I ripped a page of his letter while turning back and forth so much. And if I did that to my Bible, can you imagine what those words are doing to my heart?!



And it's just what I needed, even though it's not easy.

Consider trials joy. Persevere. 

Be slow to anger. Be quick to listen. Be slow to become angry. Do what the word of God says. {Oh, goodness, is that ever some truth my life needs.}

Don't show favoritism. Show mercy. 

What is faith without deeds?

Tame my tongue because where it goes, the rest of me goes.

Be wise, and wise people are peacemakers.

Draw near to God. Be humble. Realize we're not in control.

Be patient.

Basically, James reminds me {and that's putting it nicely!} that God wants me to live out my faith with my hands and my feet and my words and my actions and my attitudes and my relationships and my decisions and my whole entire life. Believe it. And then do it. Every day, regardless of what circumstances come my way. 

OK, that's all true and good. And life happens. And that's where it's hard.

But that's where I am. I'm trying to let God change my heart while I do laundry, make dinner, support my husband, train my kids, play with my kids, live in community with my friends, run errands, and clean my house.

I feel like I'm on the brink of changing, but then right as I begin to take a step forward, I stumble backward. I let my frustrations with Greg come out as harsh words. I let my frustrations with my kids come out in a tone I want to take back. I speak my opinions too quickly. I set my expectations too high.

Yet I keep reading James and thinking about how these truths he has written apply to my life. And then devotions and blog posts and conversations are keeping my mind there, in truths that will change my life. Without a doubt, God is stirring something in me, and I'm trying to hang on to get there. With Him. I know I'll be better off for it. And so will the people around me.

Speaking of the people around me, part of my thought process has been with mothering. It's hard work, this training and teaching and mothering and caring and preparing and repeating and nurturing. I'm exactly where I want to be and where I believe God wants me to be, but that doesn't take the work out of it.

Thankfully, just when I was ready to cry out my inadequacies and failures, I was reminded that this work isn't meaningless and it's part of a process. James talks about perfection, not in our please-everyone, clean-everything, always-succeed way, but rather perfection as a process to made mature and complete by God's standards.
"So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." {1 Corinthians 15:58}

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." {Philippians 1:6}
That's James' friend Paul talking to a couple Greek churches and, ultimately, us. Paul preaches much about grace. And while James seems to be caught up in works, they two men from the early church really complement each other. This life we're living is meant to glorify God. We'll never be perfect but we are being perfected. This faith we have is meant to be shared and acted upon.  
"James' concept of Christian wholeness is also firmly rooted in the One God. To live a life of perfection is not to make all A's or to never miss a Sunday at church; rather, it is to live a life true to our identity as children of an utterly untemptable God who never changes, shows no partiality, and has no darkness in Him at all." {Melissa Fitzpatrick in "James: Mercy Triumphs" by Beth Moore}
 So believe it. And live it. {I'm telling myself this and letting you listen in!}

Live it even on the days when your 2 1/2-year-old son accidentally locks himself in his bedroom just before you need to walk out of the house to get to the Bible study on James on time. {And, really, by "your" I mean "mine," but I guess I'm hoping I'm not alone in these moments!} Then when I do make it to the van with both my kids, I realize Ben has put his shoes on himself. Hooray for independence! Perfection is coming!

Live it when just as you're exchanging high fives with the same boy because he peed in the potty for the first time, he then pees larger amounts all over the rug as soon as he steps foot back on the floor.

Live it when the same sweet boy squeezes a nearly full tube of expensive scar reduction cream all over his legs. Granted, his left thigh is one of the places that needs said cream. But, still, the excessive one-time application isn't what I intended.

Live it when the adventurous, fearless boy {last Ben-induced example ...} takes apart the air conditioning vent and some loses/hides the vent cover, leaving an open air duct large enough to house plenty of small toys.

Live it when plans change and when loved one disappoint and when strangers don't move fast enough and when milk spills and when you're ready for a new day. I'm learning those new days always come, but God is with us before they do. And, really, he wants us to come out of the day changed so we can be more aware of the people around us because to believe in God and his words is to live those words out.


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