Archive for August, 2013

A Worthy Response

14 August 2013

I received this response from a dear, much-respected missionary friend just now and thought it was well worth passing on to all of you, particularly for the sake of those who may have been discouraged by the rather one-sided perspective in my recent post. I believe that what I said is true, but it would be a tragedy to lose sight of the other side of this. I know all too well the despair of self-focus, even (if not especially!) in the effort to please God. Praise the Lord for godly friends with the love and courage to speak up, balancing us out and ultimately helping us to think more biblically.

Elizabeth Owens

Dear Ellie,

Thanks for sharing what you’ve been through! I love you and am praying for you.

At the risk of sounding like a frilly ladies’ Bible study . . . one thing that strikes me is the fact that though you’re right about our need to deal with all the sinful thoughts and ugly inclinations of our wicked hearts, it’s also most definitely true and needs to be emphasized just as much (if not even more) to your heart at a time like this, how great and unchanging is your Father’s love.

My experiences on the field have been very different from yours — but I also passed through some pretty tumultuous times spiritually, and one of my greatest helps in finding stable ground to stand on again is the counsel I’ve received to rest in my Father’s love. I was facing my sinfulness head-on — and I was trying hard to deal with it, calling it what God called it. But when I focus on my sinfulness, it floods me out. Despite my ugliness, weakness, foolishness, unworthiness, and everything else, His love is deep and unchanging. And though you’re right that God doesn’t just tell us that we’re wonderful when we’re not, it is also true that we are IN CHRIST — who IS wonderful, worthy, beautiful, delightful to His Father! One of my supporting pastors one day encouraged me that day not to think of my love for God’s, but of His for me. That is a helpful thing sometimes! Looking at me is discouraging and black and really depressing — but when I can focus on my beautiful Savior, my Father’s constant, deep, and unchanging love — my world can be beautiful and joyful — and I love Him more than I ever could by worrying about how far short my love for Him is falling! So let me give you the same encouragement, dear one — I agree that we have to deal with sin upfront, call it what God calls it, hate it like He hates it — but sometimes you just need to look away, look up, and rest in your Father’s love for you.

Encouragement

7 August 2013

Dear praying friends,

Thank you for praying for me over these weeks and months of silence. I have been busy, obviously, adjusting to a new baby and life on the road, but I’ve also had what I think is probably a fairly significant struggle with postpartum depression. I’ve battled with some of the blackest, most selfish and wicked thoughts imaginable, and I’m so glad that I finally seem to be past that awful stage. But I’m also unspeakably thankful for the many things God has taught me and want to share some of them with you in hopes of perhaps being used of the Lord to help someone else. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) This is just one of the many benefits of hard times that really does make them so precious.

I have always been leery of women’s ministry classes, Bible studies, etc because they usually turn out seeming frilly and even harmful to me because I sense that there’s something wrong in the unspoken thinking behind them. As I’ve thought about it I think the issue is that we women generally want a sort of teddy bear God who will feel sorry for us, kiss away our problems and tell us how much He loves us and that we’re wonderful, beautiful, etc etc etc ad nauseum! (Kind of like we sometimes expect our husbands to always be doing-not that they never should, but that it would be terribly unloving and unhelpful to do only that!) So we like to pick out verses along those lines and develop entire classes that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which actually caters to our problem rather than confronting it. I think it’s a perfect illustration of what God really tells us: our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, and our problems are not usually external or unique but come mostly from that seething wickedness within us. Instead of ignoring that evil and making us feel good about ourselves, He gives us a sword, His Word, to hack through our deceitful, incredibly selfish thinking and instead think on things that are true, honest, pure, clean, and lovely. And it’s incredibly loving of Him, because “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). Victory of this sort over wrong thinking is so much sweeter because it doesn’t carry with it that awful creeping guilt that has to be continually shoved back into a corner.

So what God has taught me to do is, when a wicked thought or reaction pops into my head, think, What a wicked, selfish/mean/jealous/absolutely ridiculous/whatever-it-is thing to think! (Call it what it is and agree with what God has to say about it.) I am God’s child, and I don’t have to think like that– and I won’t! “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is FAITHFUL, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). “And God is able to make ALL GRACE ABOUND toward you, that ye, ALWAYS having ALL SUFFICIENCY in ALL things, may ABOUND to EVERY good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). And then pray to the Lord and confess my sin and ask His forgiveness, and then leave it and purposefully turn my thoughts to something else – – a good choice is to rehearse whatever Scripture passage I’m currently memorizing, because after all, it’s God’s Word that is my sword and the key to victory in this fight!

God has comforted me with many Psalms, like 40 and 51. Over and over I have prayed the prayer in Ps. 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” I know this is His will, and I really believe He is answering!

Please pray for me and all your missionaries, that we will never give up the fight for godly thinking.

Elizabeth Owens