anger, bear, challenge, Christ, Christian, Christianity, complaining, cross, crucify, difficulty, endurance, endure, faith, faithful, God, heart, Israelites, journey, marriage, perseverance, persevere, pride, sacrifice, sin, struggle, trust
Have you ever struggled with something? Well, I’ve been struggling. It’s the same battle I’ve struggled with since I got married and had our daughter. I’m struggling between selfishness and sacrifice. Between knowing what’s right to do and wanting to throw in the towel and do what you want to do. It’s the classic battle: your flesh vs. the Spirit of God within you.
Here’s the situation: When my husband and I got married, we knew that we had debt (pretty much student loans) to pay off plus our two cars. So, the plan was to pay off everything within the first 3 years, and have kids, and move on with life. Well well well, that didn’t seem to happen. We had our daughter within our first year of marriage, and we’re living on a single income now because we believe it is absolutely important to disciple our children in the Lord. So, that’s what we’re doing. We’ve made all kinds of sacrifices…edging down our food budget each month until we were only eating beans and rice for dinner for four months. We’ve eaten tons of ramen, tuna fish, rice….trust me, the last ten months have been no cakewalk for us. We didn’t have furniture for several months, and the furniture we do have cost less than $30 each, with the exception of a futon to sit on. Yet, we did it so that we could pay our bills on time, make sure our daughter had what she needed, and that we could basically survive. So, I’ve seen God give us an enormous amount of grace to be able to go through that. We moved at the start of the year to a cheaper apartment, and that has helped us tremendously.
But now, we are moving to Charleston, SC. And you know what? I AM TIRED OF IT ALL!!!! Honestly, I don’t know how my husband does this. I mean, we are so alike in a lot of ways, but we differ sometimes too. It can be in the upper 80s, and he will be perfectly okay with not turning the AC on just to keep our electricity bill reasonable this summer. On the other hand, I’m burning up and trying to make sure my conversion is real even when I’m unbearably hot! LOL! It’s funny, but ahhhhh it’s so not sometimes. Now with this upcoming move, we’re trying to move laterally….meaning that we’re trying to find a place equivalent to what we have now so that we can continue to pay our debt off. If we succeed, we can pay off a car this year, the second one by early spring, and then snowball those payments into loan payments. It’s a great goal, and I’m on board. My husband calls me his “ride or die chick” (that’s such an old joke), and I’m trying to hang in there, but I’ve been tired lately.
Honestly, it’s felt like we aren’t going to make it at all for me personally. We haven’t touched a credit card, and the pile of debt has increased by absolutely unforeseen circumstances. And you know, it’s hard to be upbeat all the time. It’s been difficult to be encouraging and even difficult to be steadfast in my devotion to God. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been weary and felt like quitting dozens of times. And my husband just continues the walk, not upset, not depressed, but just focused and walking. And I feel like if we were actually walking down a road together, he would be steadily walking, and I’d be the one mumbling and complaining, bringing up the rear but ready to quit at any moment.
So, we had Bible study last night, and we’re going through the book of Hebrews now. This is an excerpt from chapter 3 that we read last night:
Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.'”
So, my husband is leading the discussion, and put forth the question: What does it mean when it says they hardened their hearts? Now, I encourage you to think about that personally, but I didn’t immediately know. I eventually said that they ignored God and constantly complained about Him (as I felt conviction fluttering through my own heart). And my husband added that this hardening came about because they did not trust God. Though God had been visibly with them throughout the wilderness, they hung on to the belief that they would never reach the promised life and that God was just trying to kill them. Hanging on to these beliefs, they grew weary in their journey, were full of complaints, and murmured against God constantly, regardless of how much Moses told them to trust in the promises of God. And what was the result of their actions? God was angry with them, and He made sure that they would never have the rest He promised them.
So, I’m sure you can see how fully convicted I was by the end of his discussion on this part, and even today, that conviction is still resonating. It’s nothing but pride that makes me stand at distance from the story of the children of Israel throughout the Old Testament. It’s nothing but pride that causes me to say, “I have no idea how they do not trust God after all He’s done for them”, shaking my head in confusion at their lack of faithfulness to such a faithful God.
And alas, my pride has been called out. My sin is revealed in the piercing light of the truth of God’s Word. I am that rebellious and sinful Israelite. I am that murmuring, complaining, faithless person that is presently hardening my heart because I don’t think that I’m going to make it. Make it where? Make it to the place that God said that He would bring me. Now, it didn’t appear like that at first glance, but it is. God said that He would conform me into the image of His Son, and He has chosen this path (this life that I’m living) to get me to that eternal destination. But all of my shirking and complaining and trying to quit is essentially rebellion against Him. It is all me trying to harden my heart, though His faithfulness surrounds me and keeps me daily, my observation of my present circumstances has made it all seem bleak and of no profit. That I just won’t make it.
So, I’m sitting here now, just thinking about all these things. God is so faithful. Why am I so unfaithful? The road is always hard, but why do I act like it is impossible with God? My mind went back to one of my friends at our Colorado church, who I deemed my personal hero. This lady lived in a RV for nine years with her husband and two sons, and was pregnant with their third child towards the end. Now, this was no luxury RV at all, but she patiently endured. She endured it so well that I had absolutely no idea that that was the situation she had been dealing with for all these years. She was so excited last year because she finally got to announce that they were building a home, after they had saved enough and settled their debts. I was so excited for her, and just marveled at her faithfulness. I mean, who can live like that for 9 years???
Well, I’m thanking God that He hasn’t steered our path that far, but we are going to have to endure some things for a long while until our debts are paid. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get my dream kitchen or nice furniture. I’m not even sure if we will ever live in a real house, but I know that God is faithful. I know that His grace is sufficient, especially if I humble myself to receive it. I know that it doesn’t profit me to harden my heart because His will and His word will be accomplished in my life. Regardless of my sins here in not wanting to have to endure or live a life of sacrifice or even be uncomfortable, I know enough to repent of my sins, to seek His mercy, and to accept the grace He offers me daily to walk this life with my husband for His glory alone.
It’s hard to crucify that flesh and bear your cross daily. It does get really hard sometimes, but we have the perfect example of Jesus Christ to look to. And until I have to endure the wrath of God while being tacked up onto a cross, I’m not going through nearly as much as He went through on my behalf. I’m praying that I am more watchful of myself to make sure that I am not hardening my heart against God because of the difficulty and having to endure some unspecified amount of time. And I pray that if you’re enduring through something, that you also will be watchful of yourself to make sure that you aren’t hardening your heart against God too. Truly, His grace is sufficient for all of our needs.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” – Hebrews 12:1-4