Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Week Seventeen - You Cannot

No one wants to hear, "You cannot." When I hear those words, they sound like a challenge. That has gotten me into some sticky spots! But Charles Stanley used these words in a devotion from his book, God's Purpose for Your Life, saying, "Stop to consider the truth of these statements - 

You cannot make another person love you.
You cannot always have your way in every situation.
You cannot own everything you want to.
You cannot do everything perfectly every time.
You cannot persuade everybody to think the way you do."

I sat staring at this list for a while.  Then, my mind began turning the statements around.

I cannot make another person love me, but I can still be loving toward them.
I cannot always have my way in every situation, but I can yield every situation to God's will.
I cannot own everything I want, but I can be content with what I have.
I cannot do everything perfectly every time, but I can learn and grow.
I cannot persuade everybody to think the way I do, but I can maintain my integrity and respect their opinion.

It's all a matter of perspective. Then, I thought -

Would I want to be able to make people love me? NO! I want love to come freely.
Would I want to have my way in every situation? NO! I'm glad God directs my steps because I make too many mistakes. 
Would I want to be able to do everything perfectly every time? Sounds good, but no! Where would be the challenge and adventure?
Would I want everyone thinking exactly as I do? Probably not. That sounds boring. What would we talk about if there were only one opinion on every subject?

You cannot? Here's a portion of my list.

You cannot outgive God.
You cannot begin to mine the depth of Christ's love for you.
You cannot know the day or hour of His return.
You cannot take responsibility for the decisions of others.
You cannot imagine the beauty of heaven awaiting.
You cannot keep the Ten Commandments.
You cannot control the future.

And that's all okay because I have a God who cannot lie and cannot fail. I cannot, but He can. How wonderful!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Week Sixteen - When Fledglings Flop

When the mother bird pushes her fledglings out of the next, she takes a terrible risk. They might not fly! They might fall to their death. She has no assurance. She just knows it is time for them to leave.
   Human mothers take a similar risk. We might not push our children from a height to see if they hit the bottom and live, but we let them go outside the safe walls of home and into the cold, hard world while we pray we have instilled the strength and wisdom they need to navigate. Sometimes they fly, sometimes they flop. I've not found a sure-fire way to determine the outcome.
   My five fledglings have flown home. Some of them landed safely, but not without a few bumps and scrapes. Two bombed out big time. As I watched their struggle, I kept them before the Lord in prayer, spoke words of comfort, assurance, and gentle instruction. I felt my heart sinking with each story, and yet, I knew they were in the hands of a good, good Father, a parent much better than I, so I entrusted them to Him.
   Did I lose hope? Yes, sometimes, but the heavenly Parent was there by my side as well. He kept introducing me to others who gave testimony of running away from the Lord only to be called back, of making poor life decisions, and seeing God heal. Their stories restored my faith, helping me to hand my worry back to God.
   What kept me sane? Well, I made myself a few boundaries.

1.  When I worried, I moved instantly into prayer. The struggling child had come to my mind for a purpose; a spiritual prompt, if you will. I needed to be faithful and obedient in prayer, not worry.

2. I gave them to the Lord when they were small, and I considered them to be His. I believed God was at work in their lives, even if they didn't see it.

3. I resolved not to say, or do anything I would regret or that would injure their spirits or push them away. I held my tongue and extended grace.

4. I kept the home fires burning and the door open. They knew I did not approve of their decisions, but they also knew home was waiting for them. Let me add here that this is the reason we need to be so attentive in how we raise our children and the atmosphere of our homes. Children grow up to go away from home, that is the nature of things, but a struggling child finds it harder to return if their childhood memories and experiences were negative.

5. I loved them anyway. We are all sinners. My worry, anger, and frustration were just as much a sin as their life choices. I knew God would forgive me; I had to believe God would forgive them as well, so love was the choice I made.

6. When I had to speak directly about a situation, I bathed my words in prayer and controlled my emotions. At the same time, I spoke directly and scripturally, not necessarily quoting Scripture at them, but pointing them to principles from God's word and tried to plant hope in their hearts.

How did that work? Well, before I tell you the end of the story, let me say that two of my fledglings experienced some hard stuff. One was sleeping rough, one suffered abortion and divorce, both of them ran from the Lord. Life was difficult and full of disappointments. I cried with them because I knew the way of the transgressor is hard. (Proverbs 13:15) Rebellion never leads to happiness. I knew their path, and I knew they knew they were wrong. I didn't have to tell them; I needed to love them and wait for the Lord to work in their hearts.
   One of the most precious days in any parent's life is when kids return and say thank you for their upbringing. Gratefully, I can say that both of these little birds made their way back to the Lord and expressed their thankfulness for the patience and wisdom of their parents. Today, all my children are leaders with solid Christian homes.
   If your young one is struggling and you are panicking, have a gentle, open talk. Assure them of your love, and calmly point them to principles that would help them guide their lives, but ultimately, show them your confidence in the Lord's ability.
   Stop looking for a shortcut. There are no promises and no methods that will pull them back. They must make that decision. You need to give them that much respect. They will reap what they sow. That is an unchangeable face of life. Do not take their consequences upon yourself. You are only answerable to God for your life. Above all, show them your love of the Lord, make your home a safe and welcoming place with good memories, don't nag, just love.
   Then, stand faithfully looking, as did the father of the prodigal son, and be prepared for their return.

P.S. Dear friend, Your current parenting situation may be very hard. Please don't think, "Well, if I do what she has written, it will all work out." There is no such promise. But remember, when you stand before the Lord, He will not ask you about your child's decision. He will ask you about yours. Choose faith. Choose love. Let the rest be in the hands of the Greatest Parent of all and may you find peace within His arms.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Week Fifteen - The Biggest Piece of Pie

My sister and I were born fifteen months apart. Raising us proved quite a challenge for my mother as we each vied for attention and first place. I remember her saying things like,

"Always give the other person the bigger slice."
"The bigger person will sit in the back seat."
"Take your turn, don't push others aside."

All these instructions were to keep the peace between us, but they also taught us to consider others' feelings and needs ahead of our own.

You know what? When I started sitting in the back seat, I grew to appreciate it. I had more space, and Mom didn't ask me to look for the road signs. It became my little haven. And, when I let my sister go first, I saw the outcome. Maybe I didn't want to jump out of the barn loft once I saw how she landed! And, I learned that parents reward good behavior.

Anyway, I hope, young parent, that you are teaching similar things to your children. To be sure, society is not. When you read the slogans, the idea of grabbing all you can, not letting anyone hold you back, and loving yourself first drive home a different message.

As I thought more about this, the teaching of James surfaced. You know the passage? A person looks into the glass and sees himself, then heads out, forgetting what he looks like. Well, I thought, sometimes folks get so enamored by the image in the mirror that they forget to look at anything else. They are so self-focused, so in love with themselves, they do not see or consider others. (James 1:22-24)

This is the idea behind the warning, "Perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves" in 2 Timothy 3:1,2. And what comes from this self-caressing attitude?  Covetousness, boasting, pride, disobedience, ingratitude, unholiness, sexual perversion, lying, violence, and hate, just to name a few of the things listed in 2 Timothy 3. 

So, what are we to do? Well, we could stop looking so long into the mirror. Put our self-image down, and change our view. When Jesus noticed this same attitude in the disciples, he told them to lift up their eyes and look on the fields - the needy souls coming toward them. Instead of focusing on your needs, look for, and do a good deed for someone else. You'll be much happier. Such actions create a stronger society and serve our Saviour's example.

John wrote, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30) He's saying, "Let Jesus have first place." That is the greatest commandment--to love God first. The second great commandment is to love others as we love ourselves, and the Golden Rule instructs us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. That is the message of Christ, a message to those in love with themselves, "Love others first." God knows we love ourselves, but he wants to see us loving others in the same way he loves them. 

The epistle of Philippians puts it this way, "In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Such is the mind of Christ. Is it ours?

If we continue striving to get the biggest piece of pie, sit in the front seat, or trample over others to get what we want, we are not exhibiting Christ. We are vying for ourselves. Saints who stare at the mirror fail to see the peril of the lost, the need of others, and the eyes of the  Saviour. We are to be reflecting Christ. To do that, we must put down the mirror of self-love.

I challenge you to examine your motives, beliefs, and actions. Are you in love with yourself? Are you too proud, stubborn, or grasping to yield to others? Who do you think about first? Who gets the biggest piece of pie?

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Week Thirteen/Fourteen - Georgia Time

Last week this would not post. Today, it will!

I am writing to you from my son’s home in Georgia. Our time in Missouri has passed, and we are looking to fly back to England on Friday. We must first pass the Covid test and get all the other regulations in order. Lord willing, we will land in London on Saturday morning, just before Easter, ready for the next chapter of missionary life.

As I rest, pray, and study this morning, I am reminded how futile it is to race through life as if I were in control. The lyrics from an old song play in my head, “One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that all I’m asking of you. Give me the strength to take every day, one day at a time.”

Over the years, the Lord repeatedly reminds me of this truth. We are to measure our days, to count them, and to use them wisely. How wasteful when we fret over tomorrow or mourn over the past while we fail to enjoy today.

The Lord also reminds me that my future is completely in His skillful hands. I can only do what I can do today. He decides the outcome. He gives the increase. So how I choose to live today, how I choose to spend my time, expend my energy, or set my thoughts upon greatly affect how He can bless. If I keep taking one step forward by faith, He will direct those steps, He will continue to light the way.

On our way from Missouri to Georgia, we stopped at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield, Missouri. It was there as I read about Laura's life that the Lord started these thoughts. Mrs. Wilder did not begin writing until she was 65 years old. Even then, her daughter, Rose, was the encourager and the editor. Laura never dreamed she would be an author, but God directed her steps and brought her exactly to the place where her life’s true purpose came to fruition. Imagine--she was retirement age before this part of God’s plan for her life began.

Friend, we have all sorts of ideas about what our life should be, what we are becoming, and where we will end up, but God might have a vastly different path. I think that is why it is wise to take that one day at a time, to fill it with beauty, and have faith that our journey is not complete until the Lord says so.

This time of pandemic just might be the time when God turns your path. It might be the time when you see things differently or new avenues open. When the Lord is directing your path, it is always an adventure. God works in amazing ways His wonders to perform. Following Him means keeping up!

For me, and it might sound a bit like a commercial – please forgive me, but God has been opening doors, and I am challenged to keep up. 2020 saw the publication of the fourth book in my Reba and Katherine series of children’s books and sixty devotional videos onYouTube, which led to four devotion books published.  It was a full year. You can check them all out on my website http://www.gailgritts.com.

2021 started with these three precious months home with friends and family. Friday, we return to the ministry in England, and I am excited to see what God has in store. But today, there are two little Georgia grandboys wanting to play games and a few more days with family, time to love, cherish and create happy memories.

Join me today. Let’s be doing what should be done and leave tomorrow to His will and care.


P.S.  We did arrive home safely in England on Saturday and are doing our ten days of isolation. Thank you for all the prayers and messages of support. Please subscribe to the blog and feel free to share! Leave me a message if you want. I’d love to hear from you.