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3.15.2009

Perseverance In The Home Stretch

I found myself awake this morning, at 5:50 am, after Travis kissed me good-bye on his way to Church.  Usually I can just roll over and go right back to sleep, but these days, sleep is hard to come by and interruptions even harder to overcome.  But I always ask Travis to wake me before he leaves, so I wasn't unhappy about it this morning :)  In a way, I needed to be up early.  I know for a fact that I couldn't sleep because the Lord really needed my attention.  I fought it for a little while, but after tossing and turning and worrying and thinking, I decided I might as well face the music and sit down with Him.  We've been needing to talk...

I can honestly tell you that this past week has been one I'm glad to see go.  I have lost more sleep over more things and been riddled with stress day after day.  Sure there have been some good moments, but for the most part it's just been a heavy week.  You know what I mean, the kind that makes you stop dead in your tracks and wonder if you are crazy or the only one seeing the elephant in the room.  A week that makes you look up because you're convinced the ceiling is about to cave in at any moment.  One of THOSE weeks.  

For the last 6 weeks, I have been memorizing the first chapter of James as we walk through it in Church.  I've shared with you before about how the Lord has really impressed my heart this year with the need to memorize and meditate and absorb His word above all else.  Not just so I can say that I did it or be able to "cross it off my list" but so that I can really "get it" and be impacted by it, so that I can live it and walk in obedience to it.

I share this with you not to make myself look or feel better, but instead to testify to the power of it.  I can't even begin to describe what a blessing it has been.  Focusing on a chunk of scripture, just a few verses at time, has freed me up in a variety of ways.  It's allowed me to digest and marinate in His Word and to soak up His truth like never before.  It's eliminated that need to "perform" and make sure I "fill in all the blanks, have all the answers, read the book faster, concentrate harder, add another chapter" etc, etc.  I have received so much peace from just coming to His Word simply and then reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading until those Words have become hidden in my heart.  I've wrestled with them, broken them down, examined them, and thought about them.  I've been able to follow the insight from our Pastor as he preaches straight from the text, word for word each week.  And can I tell you what a life-saver it has been?  God has been faithful to show me the rewards of being obedient and devoted to knowing Him more.  In situation after situation those Words have been the first thought that has come to mind and in case after case, it's been those Words that have brought the exact  answer I need.  They've also kept me from "blowing it" in several instances that could have brought serious regret and consequences.  I love that.  I know that means God is using it to accomplish exactly what He wants to in me.  He is literally working me over through it.  

Now, has it been easy?  No!  Let me say that again, NO!!!  In fact, as I've worked James 1 out, it's been downright painful.  I probably should have seen it coming, as the 2nd verse reads like this:

"Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its' work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything."

I am here to tell you that this past week has been defined by trials of many kinds.  One after another.  And I don't mean breaking a pinky toe or waiting too long in line.  I mean serious trials that have caused Travis and I to experience a range of emotion.  Trials.  The testing of our faith.  Stuff nobody likes to face.  

But it's been our week for it.  And just like God promises, He's been very faithful to give us the wisdom we asked for, the answers we sought and the peace we so desperately needed. It's been painful.  But I can say that we've also been able to lay our heads down in peace, knowing we did what the Lord asked and we answer only to Him.  We can see the purity and joy that comes from obedience because we know that with each trial this week, our perseverance was being developed.  God was able to test our faith and use that test to continue to refine us and mature us.  We didn't get magical answers to every problem or even satisfaction in the way some of them worked out.  But we did gain something that was worth more than the sleeplessness or the stress.  We grew in obedience and in perseverance.  And God's word tells us that perseverance will only make us more mature and complete, not lacking in anything, so that God will be glorified and not us.  

And so on the brink of a new week, I find myself in need of the very perseverance God's Word has been teaching me about.  Today we reach 36 weeks in my pregnancy.  In other words, the home stretch.  36 weeks is an important milestone because it means essentially that she is just about full term.  If I go in to labor at any point now, my doctor most likely wouldn't stop it because she's ready to be here!  Obviously we have no guarantee about when she'll make her big debut or how many days and weeks we have left.   But I feel differently now.  I'm very, very tired.  Eating is not much fun and neither is working.  I'm having trouble sleeping.  We all know I'm having trouble walking!  The end is in sight and yet there is still a ways to go.  Perseverance is key.  And so, although I'm glad last week is over, I know it had a purpose.  And because I'm feasting on the simple truths of James 1, I can consider this journey in obedience, pure joy.  I'm hanging in there and putting one foot in front of the other.  I'm getting out of bed when I don't want to and I'm putting a smile on my face because God is with me every step of the way.  

I hope this is an encouragement for you to join me in hiding God's Word in your heart.  Believe it, drink it in, obey it, and watch what the Lord does.  His word does not return void, it always accomplishes what it sets out to do.  If you need some perseverance today, ask the Lord for it and then be prepared for the way you might get it :)  It's a brand new week and tomorrow will be a brand new day.  

 Our God is always good and very faithful to those who love Him.  
No matter the circumstance, no matter the outcome.  
He is Worthy of our obedience in all things. 

Happy Sunday to you : ) Be blessed!!


  

10 comments:

Jenna said...

Stephanie, thank you SO much for sharing this! It is so what I need to hear and the verse from James you shared. I love it when God does that. :-) Happy Sunday!

amy said...

Hey Steph! What a great post... James is such an amazing book, full of Godly insight. Justin and I are praying for you and Travis... and the next 4 weeks to come! I vividly remember the range of emotions that hit me like a wave in my last month with Abby & Josiah. Praying that your hearts will be prepared for the greatest job ever... we love you guys!

MissHeather said...

Thank you for this Stephanie! Thank you thank you thank you!

Rebecca Jo said...

Oh... I LOVE James! And its funny, at my Bible Study Group Friday - we were doing this same verse & what got me is how it says, "preseverance MUST FINISH ITS WORK"... that part really hit me this week... its not our call when its finished!!! God's call! WOW!

Lots of good stuff there in that little book!

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now but have never commented before. I just want to say thank you for this post, as reading it just now really helps me finish out my day at a job that I hate so much. I know God has something heading my way and I need to persevere through this rough time and keep focused on him. I will keep you and your family in my prayers and even though I don't even know you I thank you for helping turn my dy around!!
May God bless you!!

Heather said...

This was so encouraging to me....I just love your posts and your writing...always have- ever since the first post I read of yours. I am praying for you as you persevere these last four weeks. Thanks for being the light of Christ to so many!

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna go read old James tonight! I've been trying to memorize Psalm 51:1&2, 10-12 as my beginning prayer time. Ron has polyurethaned the crib and it needs to get good, hard finish before we wrap in bubble wrap and he's building a crate for it. Soon, promise! Peggy

Joyce said...

What a great post...thanks for sharing. It's amazing how God really does use His word to speak to us in our everyday life if we are just obedient to be in it.

Blessings in the countdown to your big day.

sheltonfamily said...

Awesome! I feel like you in my home stretch and I have 2 1/2 months. I think when you chase two toddlers etc... you almost forget that you are preggo. However, at night my body reminds me by exhaustion.I know you will persevere and how awesome to have the scripture memorized in times of trial. Love you!

petrii said...

Heather,
I am so far behind on my blog reading with being in your neck of the woods and all, but wow am I ever glad I took the time to read this entry. This was food for my soul. I LOVE memorizing Scripture as well. It has kept me from falling many times as well, as God reminds of His Word hidden in me. It is truly a beautiful thing.

And you, dear one, are the sweetest little pregnant woman going. How cute are you and that Ava Page belly.

Have a Blessed evening,
Dawn