It is a rainy Sabbath afternoon. Christopher is asleep (exhausted after a long day of church followed by a luncheon with a Christopher-imposed early start at 5am!) the older two are reading as is Daddy and I have a moment with the Lap Top! I had a little light bulb moment in church this morning that I wanted to share. It wasn't a completely new concept, but it put into words something I have been thinking about for a while. Bear with me, I can get long winded whilst pondering.
Over the years I have met many women who WORK at keeping their salvation. The attitude of many of these women, to be frank, stinks. I've met "submissive" head covering women who daily undermine or even outright defy their husband's leadership in front of their children. I've met women who hold a 'quiver full conviction' (that is, they believe in allowing God to control the spacing and number of their children by not using birth control) who refuse their husband's sexual advances because they don't want to fall pregnant. I've met homeschooling mothers who talk long about Deuteronomy 6:7, then banish their children outside or to another room for days on end so they can research their latest homeschooling project on the 'net. I've met women who work hard at being 'quiet' by not speaking to much or too loud, but their manner of being is CONTINUALLY stormy and anxious and their whole presence when they enter a room, drowns out all else without them uttering a word.
And yes, I have been one of these women myself. I've spent hours designing schedules and setting goals for Bible study and scripture memorisation with the children without once getting on my knees to give this time to God. I went through a stage of praying for (read complaining to God and prayer partners about) my husband's 'lack of leadership' in comparison to other men who preach to their families daily, completely missing the fact that he was patiently, quietly leading our family with more strength, dignity and purpose than any other man I have met of our generation. There have been more moments than I would care to admit over the years where my actions have been 'right' and my attitude has stunk worse than a post-baked-bean-nappy.
The problem: starting backwards. The light bulb moment I had this morning was when the pastor put Romans 12:3 up on the overhead screen. He was using the New Living Translation which says:
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is."
How often I have had the first part of this verse quoted to me! The King James states it as: "Be not conformed to this world..." I have heard that used to argue against going to the movies, wearing pants, eating junk food, owning a TV, wearing make-up and jewelry etc. The part that jumped out and hit me was the second half of that sentence: "...but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Hang on, who is going to do the transforming in this sentence? GOD. So God is going to make me stop doing bad stuff? No, he is going to start by CHANGING THE WAY I THINK. He is going to give me an attitude adjustment. The DOING stuff comes as a natural consequence. In the King James it says he will "renew my mind". WOW! Big Job there Lord. I know you created all in 7 days, but changing my mind? Renewing it? Changing it to the point where I really know, I really UNDERSTAND, how good and pleasing and perfect YOUR will is? Where I start to loose the urge to go my own way because I really REALLY get that your way is better? You have your work cut out for you Lord.
So what do I need to do Lord? How about I make a list off all the stuff I am doing that is 'wrong' and then I set small attainable goals to gradually transform myself........ No, that would be ME transforming me. This promise I am reading, that says you'll do it. Good thing really, I ruined the steak that I was cooking last night, if I can't handle transforming raw meat to cooked, what hope have I got with my attitude? So, what do I do? Ahhhh, I see, back a verse. Romans 12:1, I offer myself as a 'living sacrifice'. So when I sing that hymn "I surrender all" I guess I really have to mean it now huh? Each and every day, I need to surrender myself to Him, to His will. Not by changing my outside, but by offering Him my everything. I need to stop doing 'stuff' because I think in my head that it is what God wants, but start doing what is right because I really, REALLY, get that it is His Will and His Will is good and pleasing and perfect.
I need to come to God with my 'real' attitude (as opposed to the attitude that I pretend to myself and others that I have) and ask Him to change it. Rather than throwing out the 'un-Godly' DVD with gritted teeth in order to make myself more holy, I need to get on my knees and ask for a renewed mind, a renewed heart, that sees things from HIS perspective. Instead of doing what my husband asks with a surly, muttering attitude, and counting THAT as submission (hey, I DID it didn't I??!!), I need to ask for an attitude adjustment so I can submit to hubby 'as unto the Lord'. There is nothing wrong, and many things right, with the actions taken by the women I mentioned, but it needs to start from within (read Romans 12 through, it is all about attitude, sincerity and a goodness that overflows from within).
When we 'subdue the flesh' and 'conform not to the world' it needs to start from the inside, start with a change in our selves. When James said that faith without works is dead, he didn't mean that we should work harder to show we have faith - he meant that once the works stop, faith is dead already. As we submit to God, He starts to change us, to TRANSFORM us, from that moment. Our 'works' need to overflow from the transformation taking place within.
So, as for me, I will surrender. I will sing "Little by little, everyday, little by little in every way JESUS is changing me" and stop trying to do everything in my own power. I will recognise that while God does not give me more that I can bear, He FREQUENTLY gives me more than I can bear in my own strength, and I will borrow His.
Anyway, the older two are jumping around in their room now and Christopher is discussing the trickiness of making a coffee while holding a baby with Daddy so I had better rescue one of them.