When the Christian Life is Easier Said Than Done

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Yesterday I went over to a friend’s place to visit. What I’ve always appreciated about this friend is her authenticity when it comes to her struggles in raising three children.

Her husband walked in the door as I was attempting to round up my kids. The three of us got into a good, unexpected conversation about hearing vs. actually doing God’s Word.

“We were inspired by our pastor’s sermon on Sunday. We were encouraged to do God’s will. We were convicted in areas that need change…” my friend said.

“Then we got home,” she sighed.

“The kids were horrible. Things felt chaotic. We exploded a lot and were so discouraged because just a few minutes ago we were so on fire to live for the Lord. It’s as if we forgot everything we’d just heard…”

I continued to listen to her story and couldn’t help but think how she was articulating exactly how I’d felt so many times. Especially on Sundays!

Just the other morning I got up early to read my Bible and journal while my husband did his quiet time. It had been well over a week or more since I had been in the Word. The kids weren’t up and I was savoring the alone time. I thought for sure it would be a good day but within the hour it was as if the house erupted. Or shall I say, Momma erupted.

If you took a peep into my window you wouldn’t have found a gentle, godly woman who had just been with Jesus. Anger exploded out of me toward my kids and I felt overwhelmed by all the change that’s happening with our move, graduation, and new baby. Sadly, I’d forgotten all that I had read.

Shortly after, I was reminded of the verses in James:

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it- not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it- they will be blessed in what they do. – James 1:23-25

That evening before bed, I prayed and begged God to help me in the areas of my life where I not only fail but fail big time. In that time of soul searching, He showed me how much I need His grace and that this Christian life is a process- a process of sanctification that doesn’t come over night.

And that “doing” the Christian life is pretty much impossible apart from His truth and guidance. Doing good-outward-acts can’t be mistaken for a heart that’s truly been changed by Christ.

His Word has been given to me as a gift so that I would know how to live, but I can’t be changed if I’m not “looking intently into the perfect law that gives freedom.”

I’m thankful that regardless of my imperfections and weaknesses, God is still at work in me. He’s always pursuing me to come back to Him for the healing I need so badly. He knows I’m a work in progress.

And I think more times than not, I need to celebrate and remember the times where He has allowed me to be victorious in the struggles against sin, rather than focusing so much on failures and falling short.

His divine power has given us all that we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3)- even in the challenging times of raising little ones. So as for today, it’s time to shake the dust off, confess & repent of sin, accept His forgiveness & love, and continue living by faith in his son.

Remember Your Creator

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” — before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain. – Ecclesiastes 12:1-2

I was reading these verses last night before bed and I was struck by the incredible wisdom is King Solomon’s words.

A friend of mine in college had told me once how as the years passed by in her mom’s life, her love and passion for God faded away. She told me how her mom was once “on fire” for God, but how that fire was extinguished because “life just happened.”

I remember thinking, Oh I don’t want that to ever happen to me. How sad.

Little did I know as a college student just how much life would happen… to me. As I got older, I started to understand and sympathize with my friend’s mom. I’m seven years out of college and I’ve gone through my share of suffering, trouble, trials, and pain. Life has squeezed me in ways I never thought it could and at times I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel in following God’s ways.

As I read these verses I realize that I’m still in my youth so to say. I’m healthy (as far as I know), just about to reach 30, have young kids, and I’m able to draw upon the Lord whenever I want. God has given me the strength emotionally, spiritually, and physically to do so.

But Solomon reminds me that there will be a day when it might not be easy to call upon God. “Days of trouble” will happen. That could mean old age, a disability, sickness, handicap- anything that is a barrier to enjoying life to its fullest. Solomon is saying to enjoy God in your youthful years, when your strength is still available to do so.

He pleads for us not to waste our life on evil or meaningless things that can cause our hearts to harden. These could be things that are good, that we find great pleasure in, but can turn into idols. These can also be things that can distance us from God.

Solomon pleads with us to focus on the Eternal, rather than the temporal, worldly pleasures that beckon us in our youth. The pleasures that try to snag and pull us away from God.

The bottom line is that there is no room for excuses, no matter how hard life can get. Loving and knowing God begins right now, while I have been given the strength and everything I need to pursue Him.

Don’t Tell Me To Be Patient

“I want to ride bikes, Mommy!”

My three-year-old pleads with me as we’re riding the elevator up to our apartment.

“Not right now, John. We have to put the groceries away.”

“Noooo! I want to ride bikes now!” He screams a little more and throws himself on the floor.

After a few minutes, the fact that we won’t be riding bikes settles in. He whines, gets up, and follows me into our place.

Even from infancy, patience isn’t a word that we quite understand. It’s not a practice that comes naturally. If anything, no matter how old we are, we often detest the very word and act itself.

I didn’t set any specific New Year’s resolutions this year (surprisingly because I’m typically very goal oriented), but I knew in the back of my mind that I needed to work on practicing patience in my life- simply because I feel like this is one of the hardest virtues and spiritual disciplines to live out.

I need the person standing in front of me to move out of the way because I have two screaming children and need to check out

I want God to lead and guide our family, right now, to the perfect neighborhood after our lease is up in seminary housing

I want my friendships to grow on a deeper level, now.

I want to see the physical results immediately from my strength training class I take every week

I need God to heal the broken and sinful areas in my heart, right now. Why does sanctification have to be such a process?

I want all my dreams to be fulfilled now because time is of the essence. Besides, I turn 30 this year and I’m not getting any younger!

Our concept of time is so different from God’s. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Timing doesn’t thwart His plans or throw him off schedule. Thankfully, He’s told us a lot about patience in His Word, one being that we have to put it on. He knew that patience wouldn’t exactly be a part of our everyday wardrobe.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… Col. 3:12

There it is. A command that we must follow and obey. And we are His children.

Holy. Chosen. Beloved.

He is taking care of me and I don’t need to fret about the things I can’t see clearly or the prayers that have been left unanswered. If I’m to put on patience, then that means I must take off any impatience, anxious thoughts, pride, irritability, anger, and more. Any sin that hinders me from living the life God intends.

In the book Faith That Does Not Falter, Elisabeth Elliot writes:

We want answers now, right now, but we are required at times to walk in darkness.

If God requires me to walk in seasons of darkness, then I know that eventually His light will shine through and prayers will be answered according to His good and perfect will.

Why Your Failures Don’t Define You

Last week, I sat down on the couch to find something to watch with my three year old. The only station he would sit still to watch was the Alpine skiing championships.

As I watched each skier take off and head down the mountain, I was amazed by their speed, precision, and intensity to beat the clock no matter what.

Obviously, these skiers trained like crazy and had worked their way to the top. But what stood out to me the most was when one happened to fall or his foot would slip, he’d get back up and keep going. He would plan on making up for lost time further down the slope.

He didn’t let an unexpected fall interfere with his ultimate goal of crossing the finish line.

How true it is in our faith that we often let a stumbling block, failure or mistake keep us down on the ground. We focus so hard on the fact that we slipped, that we don’t shake the dust (or snow) off our shoes and move on. We forget what Scripture says:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Gal. 6:9

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. – James 1:2-3

God knows that we fall at times. He knows we want to give up in the battle against sin. He knows that we doubt if he will carry us through the really tough and testing times in our faith.

Maybe you set some New Year’s resolutions and you’ve already failed at them. Maybe you set some goals spiritually, physically, or in your relationships and marriage but you’ve fallen short. And you didn’t plan on that happening exactly. And you’re down because it’s only January!

The good news is that the next step for you is to get back up and keep pressing on.

But trust me. You will be tempted to let the failure define you or to let it replay in your mind over and over. Don’t let it.

Christ defines you. He is your identity. He is your hope in the fight against sin. He is the one who gives you the grace and strength to make it through.

So whatever it is that you’re struggling with, don’t lose heart. Because Christ has already promised if you do not give up, you will reap a harvest in due time. And your persevering will be totally worth it.

Do you ever struggle with allowing some kind of slip to define you?

 

 

New Article: The First Argument on StartMarriageRight.com

Our honeymoon had been perfect so far. My husband of four days had blown me away with his romantic surprises. We were giddy about being on the breathtaking Hawaiian island, Kauai, and it seemed like every minute we were relishing in our new love together. But suddenly as we walked along the shore near our cabana, the tides in our relationship changed…

Continue reading over on Start Marriage Right & feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

When You Struggle to See the Light

Yesterday while we were playing on the floor, I stood Rebekah up so she could grab on to the couch and balance herself. She had this big grin on her face as she stared at the wall. She was gazing at the painting we have above our couch of The Last Supper. The light from the sunset shined through our window reflecting on Jesus’ face- not any of the disciples sitting at the table, but just Jesus alone.

It was the sweetest thing. Rebekah looked up at the painting another time and smiled again. And it convicted me.

That beautiful moment reminded me how Jesus’ light shines among the darkness. His light shines into my sinful heart. The sinful heart I’ve had for what seems like… all week- unfortunately! I’d prefer not to have to admit that.

I’ve been angry, impatient, irritable, difficult to live with (just ask my husband), and unable to control my emotions with broken sleep. Did I mention I don’t do well off little sleep?! I’m in a season of struggle spiritually. My time in God’s word has been minimal due to laziness, exhaustion, and my own excuses. I’ve been struggling in this season of motherhood with the demands of a two-year-old and 7 month old, among other challenges.

I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck in a deep pit. And I’ve wanted out!

Well on Monday, I was able to get in the Word after the kids were down and read the first two chapters in James. And on Tuesday, I read the third chapter. And on Wednesday, I prayed that God would keep moving and give me the desire to be in His presence even when I don’t feel like it and even when I struggle.

It’s often that my pride says I need to be perfect and have it all together spiritually or else I can’t come to Jesus. But I’m realizing that’s a lie. The biggest lie there ever was.

We struggle and that’s why we need Jesus. We need him desperately and even when we’re ashamed and try to hide our own darkness, we need only to look to the Light. And to keep looking again, and again, and again so that He can do something great and life-changing within us that we can’t do on our own.

Thankfully, the last two days have been perfect nights of sleep for us. I’m starting to see hope again. I pray that whatever struggle or trial you’re facing (small or large), that you will run fast to the Light and cling to Jesus in your struggles.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7

Submit a Post: Win a Signed Copy of Lazarus Awakening

Recently, I had dinner with best-selling author Joanna Weaver. You may be familiar with one of her books, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. Joanna was a delight to meet and get to know. Her newest book (brand new in fact) by Waterbrook Press is called Lazarus Awakening. Here’s what it’s about:

You believe that God loves the world… but sometimes you wonder if He truly loves you. For many of us, moving the truth of God’s love from our heads to our hearts is a lifelong process. As we consider our inadequacies or grieve our shattered dreams, we find it difficult to believe that God cares for us personally.

In this life-giving book, Joanna Weaver shows you how to embrace the truth that Jesus loves you apart from anything you accomplish, apart from anything you bring. Just as He called Lazarus forth to new life, Jesus wants to free you to live fully in the light of His love, unbound from the graveclothes of fear, regret, and self-condemnation. Love is calling your name.

I thought it would be fun for us to try a little contest, so here it goes. To win a signed copy of Lazarus Awakening:

  • Write a blog post on how love has changed you by this Friday, Feb. 11 (until midnight)
  • Must be less than 500 words
  • Submit as a Word doc to:  samantha [at] samanthakrieger [dot] [com]  Subject: Love Post
  • The winner’s entry will be published as a guest post on this blog Monday, Feb. 14- Valentine’s Day, in addition to receiving the signed book
  • All other entries will be considered as future guest posts

I can’t wait to see your submissions!

Oh me of little faith

Heart’s racing. Knees weak. Stuttered words. What will they think of me? Will I be rejected? Laughed at?

Sharing my faith with other people isn’t always easy.

I fear and worry still today even when the last time I tried to get things going spiritually, everything went fine. My waiter was receptive. It was an awesome conversation. The last time I had the opportunity at my eye doctor’s office, I didn’t take it. I had a hard time transitioning into spiritual matters. I think most of all, I feared what the admin. assistant would think of me.

I’ve been really thinking though- what is the worse thing that could happen when we share our faith? The worse thing that has happened to me so far is that my husband was fired for sharing his faith on the job three months into our marriage. You can hear more about our story in this 3 minute video.

I remember in high school being called “religious” at times. I’ve had people change a spiritual conversation on me really fast. I’m guessing I’ve been made fun of for my facebook status updates that are about God. And I’m guessing someone may have chosen not to be around me because I love and talk about Jesus. But I can’t pinpoint anything (as of yet) where people cussed me out or just hated me after loving on them and sharing my story of grace.

And even if they did, that’s okay. I’ve been commanded not to be silent. Heaven and hell are at stake. I know, no one talks about hell anymore. But it’s the hard truth. It’s okay if our heart races a little and we feel like we’re going to fall over and die! Because God is the one who cultivates. Convicts. Redeems. Restores. He is the only one with the ability to raise a life up from the dead.

He just chooses to use us in his plan. I’m so thankful he does despite all my crazy, ridiculous fears.

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