Aug 18, 2012

Trusting God from my "empty nest"

(published in Cordele Dispatch, Aug.16, 2012)
Life as I know it is about to change.  I am now entering the phase of life known as “the empty nest”.  
For 18 years, I have had the privilege of doing all the things that a mama would do to ensure my son grows up to be a responsible, law abiding citizen with a kind heart and concern for others.  More importantly than that, my goal as a Christian mother has been to ensure that my son knows the Lord and has a personal relationship with Him.  Like many others, I have spent countless hours in prayer for my child.  When he became a pre-teen, I found one prayer repeatedly on my lips – that my son would know who he is in Christ above all else. 
When we know who we are in Christ, we can know that we are accepted.  John 1:12 tells us, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”.  As a child of God, we have direct access to him.  We are never alone and we can know that we have a friend in Jesus. 
Knowing who we are in Christ also gives us a sense of security.  As God’s children, we can be secure in who we are and be confident that God will work in all of life’s circumstances to bring about good for us.  Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. 
God’s children can not only feel accepted and secure, but we can know that we are significant.  We have been chosen for a purpose.  God has a plan for each of us.  He wants to use us to bring glory and honor to himself and to reach others for His Kingdom.  Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. 
My prayer that my son would know who he is in Christ has continuously been at the forefront of my mind as I’ve watched him become the young man he is today.  I have seen a timid little boy takes the necessary steps through the years to grow into a talented, determined, young man with the gentleness of a lamb and the heart of a lion. 
I am excited about the new changes he is about to experience, yet at the same time, I have had to battle the fear of a mother having to let go.  I have to remind myself that God is in complete control and walking ahead of my son as he departs home for college.  I will no longer be able to see with my own eyes that he is safe and secure at all times, but I know by faith that he will always be under God’s watchful eye and never beyond God’s reach.  As my son and I enter this new stage of life, we can both be confident in Christ and trust that He knows what is best for each of us. 
There is one thing we can count on in life – and that is the fact that life is constantly changing.  We can, however, take comfort in the fact that God never changes.   He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Lynn Langford

I'm sharing this post at Imparting Grace this week

Aug 1, 2012

What do you do with disappointment?

(published in Cordele Dispatch, August 2, 2012)

Have you ever wanted something so badly, only to have your hopes crushed with disappointment?  I’m sure this is something that we can all relate to on one level or another. 
As children, many of us may have been disappointed about a gift we didn’t receive at Christmas.  Maybe a parent couldn’t make our ball game and didn’t see the home run that we hit. 
As teenagers, disappointment takes on another level as we enter the stage of peer pressure and wanting to “fit in”.  Maybe you didn’t have a date for the Homecoming dance or you weren’t able to graduate at the top of your class. 
Disappointments don’t go away simply because we reach adulthood.  Adults can experience all types of disappointments as well.  Maybe you didn’t get that job you applied for or a friend betrayed your confidence.  Maybe you continue to struggle with your weight no matter how hard you try. 
Being a Christian certainly doesn’t make us immune to disappointment.  Sometimes our plans for ministry fall through.  Sometimes God chooses not to allow us to sing that song perfectly in front of hundreds of people.
We will all face disappointment in various forms throughout our lives, but it’s what we do with that disappointment that really matters. 
When I find myself whining to God or even to others about my disappointments, I’m reminded of the children of Israel and how much they whined and complained in the desert on their way to the land God had promised them. 
I think we can all get a little judgmental toward them at times and wonder why they thought they had the right to complain so much when God miraculously cared for them in such visible ways.  If I had a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night to help me follow God, I think I’d be a little more faithful and obedient.  The Israelites seemed to forget so quickly all that God had done for them.  But don’t we do that as well? 
A recent disappointment that I experienced caused me to pause and think about the story of the Israelites and how not only God, but Moses had to listen to their whining and complaining so much.  God reminded me that I was acting just like the Israelites and that I needed to trust in His provision and His timing.
I also heard His gentle reminder of the importance of obedience through the story of Moses in the book of Numbers.  No matter how faithful Moses had been to lead the Israelites out of captivity, all it took was one act of disobedience against God to cause him to lose the blessing of entering the Promised Land. 
In Numbers 20, we find that after the Israelites entered the Desert of Zin, at Kadesh, there was no water for them.  Again they gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and complained that God had only led them there to die.  Moses and Aaron went before the Lord with this need and God instructed Moses to gather the people together.  He was to take his staff and speak to a rock before their eyes and water would come forth.  But by this time, Moses was still so aggravated with the children of Israel and their whining and complaining that he strikes the rock instead of just speaking to it.  And to really show his aggravation, he hits it twice!  That one single act of disobedience kept Moses from walking into the Promised Land that he had been leading these whining and complaining Israelites to.  In verse 12, God says, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them”.
What is your Promised Land today?  Is there a dream that God gave you long ago that you are waiting for him to bring to fruition?  Do others seem to be standing in your way of that dream or causing you to doubt God or allow disappointment and discouragement to set in? 
Let’s not let our pride and anger with others at times keep us from being faithful to carry out what Christ has for us to do.  He has specific appointments for each of us along the way.  The journey to our Promised Land, which is ultimately heaven, is full of hope and inspiration to counter any disappointment we may incur. 
Sometimes we long for things that aren’t in his will.  That can lead to disappoint too, but it will only be temporary if we will set our sights on him and trust him to bless us through our earthly disappointments.  Everything is in God’s perfect timing.  Sometimes we have to wait, but let’s worship while we wait and not let disappointment and discouragement set in and keep us from reaching the Promised Land and receiving all the blessings God has in store for us.
Lynn Langford

I'm sharing this article at Grace at Home