Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Creative Counterpart - God's Game Plan

In this second installment of our walk through Linda Dillow's book, Creative Counterpart, we look at Chapter 3, "God's Game Plan."

So, then, how does one go about becoming the "wife, woman and mother you've always longed to be?" Is there a 12-step program to follow? If I do A, B and C will I automatically be the Proverbs 31 woman?

We all know the answer to that is no. How do we know? Because we've already tried it all. And nothing changed in the long run. Why?

Or maybe you haven't tried everything. Maybe you are trusting in God to make you into the woman He wants you to be. After all, we don't have the ability to produce good works in ourselves - it all comes from God, right? So why hasn't He done it yet?

The answer is that this is a partnership. God is willing to do His part, but you must also be willing to do yours. If we try to do something in our own strength we will eventually burn out and fail because, yes, all meaningful change comes from the Holy Spirit. However, we can't just sit back and wait, not making any effort of our own.

Have you ever heard that marriage is a 50-50 proposition? That each partner in a marriage needs to give equally to make it work?

That is a lie from the pit of hell, my friends.

Marriage, along with our walk with God, isn't 50-50. It's 100-100. Each side needs to give 100 percent of their best effort.

So whether you have been the woman who tries to "do it all," then fails because you're, well, human, then feels guilty or whether you've been the woman who is all spiritual talk and no roll-up-your-sleeves-and-work action, knowing that your "talk" doesn't match your "walk" there is hope for you.

That hope comes in the form of this little verse:

"You must be even more careful to do the good things that result from being saved, obeing God with deep reverence, shrinking back from all that might displease Him. For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey Him, and then helping you do what he wants."

(Phillipians 2:12-13 TLB)

The most amazing part is when we consider who our partner in this endeavor is - God Himself!! We know that He can't fail us. Consider what He has already done for us:

1) He's given us a new position - We are now justified by our faith in Christ. Nothing we can do will make Him love us less. Nothing we can do will make Him love us more. If we suddenly became as thin and beautiful as a supermodel, as creative and organized as Martha Stewart in the home, as talented in the kitchen as Julia Child, as great a mom as SuperNanny would be (if she had kids of her own!), and as kind and loving as Mother Theresa, God would still hold us in the same regard He does right now. As His children. His love for us is not based on our merits, but on the basis of Christ's merits.

2) He's given us a new nature - Paul tells us that we are new creations in Christ. As Mrs. Dillow puts it, "God has given each of us a new nature, resulting in a new motivation toward godliness. This is proved by the very fact of your desire to understand what God wants you to understand about being His woman in the home." As we grow in Christ, we become more and more driven to be the woman God wants us to be in every area of our life.

3) He's given us new power - Just as God helped the Israelites in miraculous ways during their exodus from Egyptian slavery, He has worked miracles in your life. Perhaps not as dramatically, but miracles nonetheless. How abour your salvation? What about the peace He has given you during difficult times? What about the changes you have already seen in you as a wife?

Mrs. Dillow suggests that during difficult times in our marriages, we take time to write down a list of God's faithfulness in our marriages and of all the things we are thankful for. This helps us to keep our focus in the right place and off our own circumstances.

4) He's given us new promises - We have to claim these promises as our own, not just know them intellectualy.

He will never leave us - God promises to be with us, no matter what, regardless of the situation.

He will make us Christlike - According to Romans 8:28-29, God is working through all things, the good and the bad, to develop us into who He wants us to be. And what is that exactly? He wants to make us Christ-like. Very often we resist those things which God wants to use in our lives to develop that within us. They may be difficult, even painful, but they are tools in the Master's hands.

There is no temptation too great - Sometimes it seems that there is just no way we can obey God. Your husband isn't saved, or is an alcoholic, or addicted to porn. You are too far in debt. Your children are out of control. You are right - I don't know what goes on in your house. But God does and He promises that no problem you face is beyond His help. Nothing you are dealing with will He not be there, right by your side, to help you.

He will take on our concerns - Now this is something we all know. But like little children, we grab things back from Him because of our own fear and worry. Make it a constant decision of your will that you will "re-gift" your concerns to God. When you realize that you are worried about something, give it back to God. Tell Him that you know it's too big for you and ask Him to deal with it. He's your daddy and He wants to take care of you.

So what is our part? It's actually so simple in concept, yet sometimes so difficult in practice. Trust and obey. Do you know that old hymn? It's so sweet.

  • Trust and obey
  • For there's no other way
  • To be happy in Jesus
  • But to trust and obey

Trust - When we cling to the knowledge of the above promises, we can trust that God is always working things for our God. That irritating neighbor, the difficulties in your marriage, your rebellious teenager? All of them are a means to an end for God. It's only through struggling out of the cocoon that a butterfly is able to strengthen itself enough to fly away. Trust in the Lord that He is using those painful things for your edification.

Lift up your cares and concerns to God - and then step back and let Him carry them. Remember that He will not take you where you aren't able to stand. An excellent book on this is Hind's Feet on High Places. By reading this book, you will gain such an understanding of the way God works through painful things in our lives.

Obey - When our children were younger, we taught them the concept of "first time obedience." If they didn't obey immediately, it was disobedience. This has served us well. God offers much more grace to us, but still expects, and deserves, us to obey the first time. When you read something in the Scripture, or hear God speaking to you through a sermon, a book or any other means, choose to obey. I look at the example of the disciples. Jesus said, "Come" and they dropped what they were doing and followed Him.

If we truly trust, we can wholeheartedly obey, knowing that whatever He's asking of us is for His glory and our edification.

Step forward in faith, do what He says and let Him do the rest. If you take up your part of the battle to become a godly woman (and believe me, some days it is indeed a battle!) He will do His part. Don't worry about trying to be someone you aren't - like the Proverbs 31 woman. He wants you to be you, but His version of you. You just do your part and let Him worry about the big picture. Elizabeth Elliot has a great point when she says, "Do the next thing." Do the dishes need washed? Laundry waiting to be folded? Do what needs to be done next. Over time, that small choice will result in the formation of your character into the woman you desire to be.


Karen said...

Okay, I have no posts ready to go because of the eons we have spent without power. (a slight overstatement but still...) I am hoping to have my post ready this evening or tomorrow. Depending on what the city is doing. And my refrigerator and so forth. I'll let you know when I put it up!

Scott and Jillian said...

Thanks for reading my blog! I know you have a lot on your plate.

I really enjoyed this post of yours. I have been thinking about that a lot lately, and your post really hit home for me. It IS hard to accept help, admit that you need to rely on the Lord and obey, even though it seems simple.


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