Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Strangers in the World

So I recently joined a women's Bible study on Wednesday mornings. I'm really enjoying it, especally since as a new mom, taking time to study God's word seems like an impossibility with an eight month old who wants my contant attention. And it turns out...most of the women in my group are tenured moms or grandmothers, so I feel like I am surrounded by fountains of wisdom!!! God knew I needed this study!

We are studying 1 Peter. As I was doing my lesson for the week, sitting on a plane next to my husband, flying back from Seattle after a much-appreciated 4 day weekend get-away, just the two of us, without our precious little boy (my mom watched Marshall-GO MOM!), I came to this passage on suffering and actually cringed as I read it:

"In this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:6-7

That day, my gut reaction to that passage was a fearful one: "Lord, what kind of suffering are you going to send my way? Will I be able to handle it?"

Now, let me just say, I'm not a fearful person. My friends and family can attest to that, knowing my history of skydiving, bull runs, hang gliding, you name it. I actually used to pray: "Lord, if you are calling me to a poor, malaria-infested, dangerous area of the world for the sake of the gospel, I will go! If it means suffering for the sake of the gospel, let me do it!" I idealized suffering, thinking it was heroic and even "super spiritual."

But then, I became a mom. As I read those verses with my "mommy lens," I felt AFRAID. What if the form of suffering God is going to use to teach me has to do with Marshall...what if something bad will happen to him, like a freak accident? What if he gets really sick? Or worse of all, dies??? Fear washed over me as I sat on that plane and let my mind run through every possible dangerous or deadly scenario that could happen before we got home to him. I felt anxious and queasy.

I had to keep whispering to myself, "Fear is not from the Lord" over and over again. My sweet hubby noticed my anxious state and graciously talked me through it, reminding me to "take every thought captive to Christ."

Later, I prayed God would point out an aspect of truth from the passage to combat my fear.

A short, simple phrase, "strangers in the world" jumped out at me from the page. I had heard the saying before, "this is not our home." Admittedly, I thought it was a little trite the way Christians would say, "Remember, this place is only temporary." Try telling that to a mother who has lost her child! But something about the phrase spoke to me this time.

What does it mean to be strangers here? It means we don't belong. It means we are outsiders. It means we are on a temporary journey, a long trip. We will have good times and bad, sweet times and hard ones. It means when we do leave this world, we will finally be HOME, where we BELONG. Just as I was on that plane, eager to get home to see my little boy and hug and kiss his neck, so are we to LONG to be in God's presence, to be reunited with Him.

I shared my reflections in my morning Bible study. A few sweet ladies sympathized with my fear and shared fears of their own. Two of them had even experienced the very thing I fear, loss of their child. Each of those lovely women, despite their suffering, had their hopes set on the glorious future of being with our Lord. Yes, they were HOPEFUL, not fearful and defeated. That's the kind of hope I want to have!

I don't know what tomorrow brings. I do know I will face sufferings and trials of many kinds in this world. I still battle with fearful thoughts about Marshall on a daily basis. But I am trying to take them captive and remind myself: I am a stranger here. This is not my home. And when I do go home, I know that being in the presence of my Lord and Savior will be worth it ALL.

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