If the LORD had not been on our side

WomanPraising

If the LORD had not been on our side- let Israel say- If the LORD had not been on our side.  Psalm 124:1-2

 Pause with me for a moment and consider what might have been, what could have happened, where we might have ended up- had God not been on our side. I can think about each member of our family- and imagine a completely different outcome in several of our most difficult situations- if the LORD had not been on our side.

It’s a little scary- well, actually, downright frightening- to imagine the pain and loss and tragedy the enemy may have wreaked in our lives- or we may have wreaked in our lives ourselves.

There are several scenarios the Psalmist considers:

“When men attacked us” (v.2)- The attacks of men take many forms- criticism, rejection, slander, or “anger flaring against us” (v. 3). Knowing the LORD is on our side, we are able to stand strong on truth, trusting that it is not men who define us but the God who created the universe. We are able to “take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the enemy.” (Ephesians 6:16). And ultimately, we are able to find healing from the hurt, and freedom found in forgiveness. The attacks of men leave deep wounds- but God protects us from hopelessness and provides for healing and even reconciliation.

“The flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away” (v. 4-5)- The storms of this fallen world beat against us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet, how often can we proclaim, “this could have been so much worse”? We see God sparing us from total ruin and disaster, even in the hardest circumstances.

Paul writes of these near-death trials:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed.  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

 We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  2 Corinthians 1:8-9

 Continuing in Psalm 124, a third scenario is described like this:

“Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.” (v. 6-7)- A predator has captured it’s prey, ready to devour it. But the snare is broken, and the prey escapes. Our predator is Satan himself, and just when He was set to devour us, His snare was broken.

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?  1 Corinthians 15:55

 Praise the LORD!  The death and resurrection of the Son of God and Son of Man, Jesus Christ Himself, broke the snare of Satan’s grasp on humanity. He died and rose again, breaking the power of sin and death- setting us free to live in all the fullness of the abundant life He gives.

If the LORD had not been on my side, I would still be striving hard after the approval of man. I would be struggling to find significance and meaning in this world. I would be seeking after my own glory- trampling on others all along the way. And I truly don’t know what I would have done in the countless tragedies that we have faced. I fear I would be lost in the hopelessness and despair, totally unaware that God is working all things for my good.

If the LORD had not been on my side, I don’t think I would have many friends, and I know I would make a pretty awful wife and mother. And maybe more than anything, I would be stuck in the shallow perspective of living only for this world, unable to see the greater blessings of an eternal outlook.

Praise the LORD! God Himself has been on our side. Let us all resound as we consider the what-might-have-been’s. Let us cling to Him and trust in Him and seek His glory in all we do.

What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? …Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  Romans 8:31-37

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Only a Mom

mothersdayflowers

On most days my first born little girl woke up happy. We would hear her in her crib just talking to herself and singing away, waiting for one of us to get up and start her day. But I remember one morning when I heard a different sound.  It wasn’t all the way to a cry, but it was definitely a sound of distress. As I approached the door, the smell announced that something was definitely wrong. And when I opened the door, there stood my fussing child absolutely covered in vomit- along with the crib, the wall, and the surrounding carpet. I’ll never forget her pitiful little voice telling me, “Mama, I had big burp!”

I will also never forget the great motherhood revelation I had that morning. As I looked on the mess, while taking in the awful smell, I had two thoughts. First, “Where’s my mom when I need her?” My mother can take on anything, and has rescued me from many of the messes I’ve faced in life. But she lives a thousand miles away. So my next thought was, “Do you realize there is no one else on the planet who can clean up this mess?” I could hear a voice prodding me on with the thought that only a mom could handle this mess, and I was the only mom this poor child had. I had to clean it up!

The revelation that morning has stuck with me- the great privilege and challenge that there is no one else on the planet who can be the mother of my children. That realization should guide my priorities and greatly impact how I choose to spend my days. Motherhood is one of my primary roles- a role that only I can play. Along with motherhood of course is my marriage, and also my other family relationships. Only I can be a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter. Secondary roles are those responsibilities that I have been called to, like my role with my job or at my church. It is an important role, but it is a role that another person could serve. (Someone else served it before me, and someone else will serve it after me). Keeping primary roles primary, and secondary roles secondary is the great challenge for all moms.

There has been a gradual, but major shift in our culture in the last 50 years devaluing the role of motherhood. Perhaps through the rise of feminism (when women demanded equality with men), or the legalizing of abortion (when motherhood became optional), motherhood no longer was held in such high regard. While progress has brought many more opportunities for women to be successful outside of the home, being successful inside the home has become progressively less important. I know this shift has impacted me, and my prayer is that I can strive to honor God first in my home, and second in the outside-of-home places He’s called me to serve. I’m the only mom my kiddos have, and that role has great value.

Motherhood is challenging, rewarding, confusing, fun and exhausting.

Motherhood is a great joy, yet brings great sorrows.

Motherhood is an adventure, always bringing something new.

Motherhood is a gift.

As we honor mothers this week, I am thankful for the woman who has served that primary role in my life. Only my mom has been there in my darkest moments and in my greatest joys. Only my mom has a sixth sense that tells her exactly when to call in a time of crisis. Only my mom would greatly love my husband and children, and encourage me to be the strong, loving mom for them that she has been to me.

May we greater value our roles as moms. May we see motherhood as the high calling which it is, with eternal rewards that far outweigh the messes we must clean along the way.  May we raise our little girls to look forward to and anticipate their roles as moms.  And may we pause at each day’s end to hear the voice, “Well done, good and faithful mom.”

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive your reward. You are serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians. 3:23-24