Monday, November 25, 2013

Embracing the Gospel

Recently I received a precious note from a mom like you and I.  I believe that it is something that many of us can relate to in the struggles of  trying to live life as a mom who abides in Christ and bears much fruit rather than a ‘supermom’ who strives to be the ‘perfect’ mom in this world. (You can view the chart on this blog). I am thankful for her honesty in sharing her struggle, and it has spurred me on to post some things that the Lord has been ministering to my soul and wanting me to share.  This post is long, but hopefully will bless you if you read it through! J 

Here is the note I received…

“First let me thank you both for writing and for posting your super mom vs.
abiding mom comparison chart. I read it and am challenged by it often.

Personally, I find myself only in the "super mom" category and I desperately
want to see more of myself in the "abiding mom" category. But all of my
efforts in doing so seem to plunge me further into being a super mom. It has
been a discouraging journey.

I'm wondering if you might be willing to write a post on your
experiences/process of moving from one category to the other. It would be a
great encouragement to myself, and if know it would be for others as well.”

I am so blessed by this question about the supermom vs. abiding mom chart!  This dear mom
has so clearly expressed a need that is so relevant to every one of us, and I am
excited to respond to it.  It is something that the Lord has been
deeply integrating into my life over the past few years, and I am eager  to share it! 

When the Lord spoke the truths to me in supermom vs. abiding mom,
He was ministering to my heart because I had been discouraged as well.  I
wanted desperately to please Him.  To do what was right. To be the best mom
and wife in every way.  To always be kind, sweet, patient and loving...  And
yet I found myself failing in my expectations for myself every day.  Then
the Lord captured my heart with John 15:5.  It states that the only way to
bear fruit in our lives is to abide in the vine (Jesus).  And so I began to
focus on what it means to 'abide in Jesus.'    I began to focus more on my
relationship with Jesus rather than my performance.  This was the beginning
of a magnificent time of growth the Lord is still working out in my life!

Though I had been a Christian for a very long time, and I knew and believed
the gospel of Jesus Christ -- that I was a sinner in need of a Savior, and
that by surrendering my life to Jesus Christ I would be forgiven of my sins
and given eternal life --  I too often unknowingly considered the gospel as
a way to 'get saved' rather than a way to live victoriously and joyfully
every day in a new identity.  It is clear in scripture that we bring nothing
to salvation; that it is Christ's work on the cross that saves us, not our
own works.  (Eph 2:8)  Yet after salvation, so many of us then try to earn
favor from God by our good works, or feel we have lost His favor because of
our failures.  What I realized, was that over and over in scripture I see
that the Lord's love and favor for me is because of the work He's done, not
the work I've done!  You see, Christ took away my sin and shame and replaced
it with His righteousness.  I walk through each day covered by His
righteousness.  God is pleased with me because I carry the righteousness of
His Son, not because of whether or not I am the 'perfect' woman.
Thankfully, His view of me does not vary with my 'good' days and 'bad' days.

So I've been learning that the gospel is more relevant to me with each
passing day.  When I fail in some way, or when I am discouraged, rejected,
incapable, frustrated... it reminds me of my Savior who loves me
passionately and unconditionally.  I look to the cross and find my Savior --
and the lover of my soul!  A focus on His love shown to me at the cross
moves me more quickly to repentance when necessary, and to acceptance of His
love and grace in a fresh new way so I can move on in the truth of  who I am
in Christ rather than dwell in my failures.  It gives me joy and victory in
the everyday battles because I know that I am filled with the Spirit of God
who gives me the power to live free from the bondage of sin.  It reminds me
why I can trust Him with my life and not be anxious.  It encourages the
depth of my soul to remember that His love for me is steadfast and
unchanging.  When my focus is on these truths, my heart is changed.  When my
heart is changed, my words and actions change.  When I focus on this good
news of the gospel and apply it to each passing moment, it draws me closer
to Christ --abiding in Him -- which will result in good fruit.

As we are affected and changed by the knowledge of His love for us, we will
begin to walk in the good works he has planned for each of us.  No longer
will the focus be on our performance, but on His.  We know that we cannot do
anything apart from Him.  It is a place of great freedom to stop trying to
'be perfect' for God (and myself, or others) and instead strive to be transformed by
knowing God and His love.  Keeping my eyes on the gospel - what Christ has
done for me at the cross - changes my perspective, and then the good fruit
follows.  My 'good works' come as an outpouring of love for the Lord who
loves me.  When I realize His love I want to respond in love, rather than
just trying to do good works because I need to be a 'good Christian' or to
please God, or even to please others.  It takes us from a legalistic way of
living to a love-based relationship which leads to much greater joy and good
authentic fruit!  This gospel-centered approach to living has given me much
victory, as well as freedom from condemnation and discouragement.

For each and every woman out there, my heart and prayer is that you would be reminded of  the
passionate love Christ has for you.  That you would grow deeper and deeper
in the knowledge of His love like you never have before. That "he may grant
you to be strengthened with power through His spirit in your inner being, so
that Christ may dwell in your heart[s] through faith - that you, being
rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the
saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the
love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the
fullness of God." (Eph 3:16-19)  As you grow in the knowledge of Christ's
love, it will overflow out of you like Living Water!  That's the kind of
fruit that comes with abiding in Christ, and what I desire to see grow in
each of us!

May we cease striving, and embrace the gospel - abiding in Jesus, the lover of our souls! 
“Cease striving and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10