Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Have Enough

“And Esau said, I have enough, my brother;…”

A couple of weeks ago, I was staying in the home of some members of my church in Oklahoma. They leave early to go to work, and the lady assured me that I could enjoy the peace and quiet of their home all morning. I didn’t have to leave until noon, and I was relaxed, and looking forward to a long morning alone. At 8:45 my phone rang. “Mrs. Sloan.” It was the sweet voice of our Canadian secretary. “Would you be able to come and teach our Bible college girls during split chapel? It starts at 10:00.” Now my friends’ house is a thirty-five minute drive from our church. I wasn’t dressed. I hadn’t fixed my hair. I get up early and shower, but I like to spend time praying and reading my Bible before I get ready for the day. I couldn’t believe my ears, when I replied: “Of course, I’ll try to be on time.” When I hung up, I thought, “What am I going to teach? How on earth will I get out the door on time?” This lesson came to my mind, and I decided to put it into practice. I began to say to myself, “I have enough time. I have enough time. I have enough time.”

The story of Jacob and Esau is one of the saddest stories in the Bible. It’s a story of deception. But one of these twins, Esau, taught me a lesson that I’d like to share with you…the same lesson I taught those young ladies in chapel. Jacob and Esau were twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was the older. The birthright belonged to him…the special inheritance from his father. But one day when Esau returned from the field, he was very hungry. In a moment of weakness, he made a rash decision: he sold his birthright to his brother for a bowl of pottage (stew). Jacob took advantage of his brother. Genesis 25:27-34.

On another occasion, Jacob deceived his brother, when he stole the blessing of their father that rightly belonged to Esau. If you read the sad story in Genesis 27:1-40, you’ll see how Rebekah helped Jacob deceive his father. And in verses 41-46, Jacob runs away from his brother for fear that he would kill him, once Isaac died.

We can observe so many things in this story…the preference of one son over the other. Jacob was the favorite of his mother, Rebekah, and Isaac’s favorite was Esau.

In verse 41, we’re told that these brothers even hated each other.

But in Genesis 31:3, our story takes a turn. God told Jacob to return to the land of his father. After many years, there would be an encounter between these two brothers. Jacob feared Esau would take revenge, and he took several measures of precaution. Sin gives us a guilt complex. Jacob knew he had sinned against his brother twice. Besides taking precaution, Jacob also prepared presents for his brother. In chapter 33, when Esau saw all the animals, he said, “What do all these presents mean?” Jacob responded, “I hope to find grace in your eyes.” Jacob wanted to make up for all his deceit and wrong toward his brother with animals. But that wasn’t possible. What was Esau’s reaction? Did he get angry? Did he try to kill his brother?

I’m not sure if we should use Esau as an example, but at least on this occasion, he responded in a very noble fashion. He told his brother in verse 9, “I have enough.” And Esau’s response to his brother Jacob, inspired me, and I thought, “I also have enough. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

1. I have enough money. I never thought the day would come when I could say, “I have enough money.” When I think of all the things I can’t do, and all the things I don’t have, it doesn’t seem like I have enough money. But according to Philippians 4:19, if I don’t have something because of the lack of money, it’s because I don’t need it. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” I have been a widow now for over five years. Many times since then, I’ve had to make decisions that I didn’t have to make when my husband was here. One of those decisions had to do with money, our purchases. Now that he’s gone, I’m the one who has to decide how I’m going to spend my money, after taking care of my commitments to the Lord, and paying my bills. I’ve found a wonderful rule for the use of my money: when I think I need something, and I’ve asked God for direction, if He doesn’t supply the money, obviously I don’t need it, according to Philippians 4:19. If God doesn’t supply it, I don’t need it. Strange, but the lack of money has been a blessing to me. It’s my guide. Thank the Lord, I have all the money I need. If I don’t have it, I don’t need it.

2. I have enough time. The next time you feel pressured for time, do what I’ve learned to do, and what I did that morning when I had little time to get ready to teach those young ladies. Repeat this phrase, “I have enough time; I have enough time.” That morning, I told the Lord, “Father, You know I got up early, and I was looking forward to a morning alone with You, studying and working. You knew what was in store for me today. I always give You my day every morning. Now, You provide the time I need.” And He did. I arrived at 10:05, while they were still singing, and I enjoyed a wonderful time teaching those girls how God provides time for everything, like He says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

3. I have enough strength. I’m going to share with you an application that I’ve learned from Isaiah 40:31. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” So why do we get tired? Why is it that sometimes we don’t want to get up in the morning, after a sleepless night when we’ve been up with a baby? I believe the comfort of this verse, the key comes from the words, “they that WAIT upon the Lord.” The fact that you got up means you had the strength to put your feet on the floor. That’s all the strength you needed to get up. You don’t need strength to fix breakfast until you get to the kitchen. But before you get up, you’re already in the kitchen, when the Lord is still beside your bed. Don’t get ahead of Him. WAIT on the Lord. Walk WITH Him, at His pace. This past month, I’ve done a lot of traveling. I’ve spent many hours alone. I’ve driven hundreds of miles in my car, and at times I’ve thought, “Lord, I don’t think I can lug my luggage (so that’s where we get that word!) from my car one more time. I don’t think I can pump one more drop of gas into my car.” I’m already at the hotel, when the Lord is still traveling; He’s just giving me the strength to sit behind the wheel and stay awake, and to enjoy fellowshipping with Him. I’m already fifty miles down the road at a gas station, when He’s enjoying time alone with me.” And He says, “Wait for Me. I’m not giving you strength to do something you don’t need to do now.” This is a precious truth that I’ve learned these past few weeks, and it’s changed my life. It gives me rest when I’m tired, because I have enough strength…to do what I have to do moment by moment.

4. I have enough wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” I believe we could apply to all these verses this principle: “If I don’t have it, I don’t need it.” Last week, I felt like I needed to make a decision. I didn’t know what to do. So I asked God to give me wisdom to make the right decision. He didn’t do it. Know what I did? Nothing. I didn’t do anything. My husband always said, “If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.” And I took his advice. God gave me the wisdom to decide to do nothing. I didn’t do anything. If we would only learn to live according to this principle: “I have enough,” it would help us to make right decisions: You don’t have enough time to do something? You don’t have to do it. You don’t have enough money to buy something? You can live without it. You don’t have the strength to wash the dinner dishes? Go to bed. Simple. Most of the mistakes we make we make because we buy things we can’t afford…we work beyond the strength God gives us, in our own strength, in the flesh. We make decisions without the wisdom God gives us, like Esau did when he sold his birthright. If you lack wisdom, ask God for it. If He doesn’t give it to you liberally, you don’t need it. Give your pretty little head a rest, my friend.

5. I have enough grace. “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Do you know what’s wrong with us women? We worry too much. We can’t sleep, for thinking about what’s going to happen tomorrow…or what’s not going to happen tomorrow. I’m telling you this, because it happens to me all the time. “What if I don’t make it to my plane on time? What if my plane is delayed, and I don’t make my connection? What will I say if the pastor asks me to give my testimony? Will I faint? Who’ll call my children? Which one of the eight will come for me?” Guess what! I’ve found myself in all those situations, and God gave me grace to go through them all. I’ve never fainted while giving my testimony, and God gave me a lovely place to stay when my flight was canceled in New York City…in the Holiday Inn, and although I slept in the lobby, I slept, and God protected me. Last night when I went to bed, I knew that today held an enormous challenge for me. You know why? Were they going to amputate my leg? No. Did I have an appointment at the White House? No. Was I going to be thrown into a den of lions? No. My son in law asked me keep their four children while he and my daughter went out. Now, my husband and I raised eight children. I loved being a mother, washing clothes, and dirty faces, and dishes. But now that those children have children, the biggest challenge I face comes when I’m asked to baby sit my grandchildren. I knew my daughter really needed some time away from the children, so I answered, “Sure, I’d be glad to stay with them.” Did I say glad? This morning when I woke up, the first thought that entered my sleepy mind was, “You’re keeping your grandchildren today…four of them…ALL day. Go back to sleep. Don’t get up until they come and pull you out of bed.” It is now 6:00 in the evening, and guess what! I have spent a wonderful day with my grandchildren. I’ve laughed until my side hurt, and my granddaughters and I learned a lesson in forgiveness, and I’ve hugged and kissed I don’t know how many times. And those little ones that God gave to my children have been a blessing beyond words to me. They even helped me with this lesson. I know this sounds ugly, but God gave me the grace to care for my grandchildren today. I didn’t need that grace last night, or when I woke up this morning. And God didn’t give it to me. But when my children drove out of the gate to spend a special day together, at that moment, God gave me the grace to spend an unforgettable day with my grandchildren. If you’re an older person, you probably spend at least a little time wondering about your death. “Will I die of a terminal illness? Will someone have to take care of me, like I used to take care of my babies? Will my insurance take care of my medical expenses..or my burial?” I don’t know the answer to all those questions. But I’m sure of one thing: God will give me the grace to die when that time comes. I’m one hundred percent sure that when I die, I’ll go to Heaven. If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Savior you have a reason to worry. Grace is for those of us who have put our trust only in the Lord to take us to Heaven. A few weeks ago, I told a dear lady, “Not one of my good works can take me to Heaven; but neither can one of my sins condemn me to hell, since I accepted Jesus as my Savior 58 years ago.” I can rest, and enjoy the life God has given me, because I know one day when He calls me into His presence, He’ll give me grace enough to die. Oh, and I also have enough grace to enjoy an abundant life.

What do you need? Patience? Courage? Power over some sin? Victory over temptation? I’m going to assign you some homework: Look up passages in the Bible that promise you enough…enough patience, enough courage, enough power over your sin, enough victory over temptation. And when you’re through, and as you put into practice this principle: “I have enough,” you’ll renew your strength; you’ll mount up with wings as eagles. You’ll run and not be weary, and you’ll walk and not faint, because He is Sufficient.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MY KIDS AND ME (preface)

A book in the making, entitled "My Kids and Me" that I will be sharing with you as I write...

I am not a mother goat, so my children are not kids. I never like to refer to the eight precious children the Lord gave my husband and me, as kids. But for the sake of title, I’ll use that term.

Strangely enough, this story starts with the birth of my second child, Joel. It must have been the day after his birth. I remember the nurse handing him to me, and this thought came to me: “He’s so perfect. The only blotch he will ever have will be put there by me.”

Of course, that wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now: he wasn’t perfect, and I would not be the only blotcher in his life.

What is this innate quality that we mothers are “born” with…the day our first child is born? This paranoia of having the destiny of our child, and hence the destiny of mankind in our hands? Why this feeling of needing to be perfect?...everything from bath time schedules to feeding techniques to story-telling time. If everything doesn’t go on schedule and exactly right, he might not turn out to be the person he was destined to be.

When I use the pronoun, he, I use it in the generic sense, because I also have four girls, as well as four boys.

I am fixing to celebrate my 39th Mother’s Day, and I will, as I do every year, evaluate my performance of the past year. Where did I go wrong? What did I do right? What do I need to change?

So I think the purpose of this book, is not to flaunt my abilities as a mother, and certainly not to flaunt my children. Sinners have no business flaunting in the first place, because sin is a shame.

The purpose of this book is to encourage mothers like me. I’m well past the training era in my life. I have four daughters in law, and four sons in law. They, too, have already been trained. This book is written, not only for them and for all the young parents in the world, but it’s written for the grandmothers, to whom God has given a second chance. While looking back over my parenting days, I can apply the experience of my shortcomings toward my grandparenting days.

I will neither expose the shortcomings of my children in this book, nor display their virtues and talents. Without doing either, I will, to the best of my ability, look back over the years shared with my husband, the years when we were in our twenties and thirties with all our brood still at home. I will try to draw out memories of their teen years, their college years, their “moving on with their lives” years.

Even the valleys to be crossed, the dark nights…sleepless nights of not knowing where that child was, nights that required complete trust in Him Who only could care for him…to the fun filled times, the financially grueling times, which bring back vivid memories of a big jar of Welch’s grape jam.

There were sad times we all went through, which bound us together as nothing else but tragedy can. All these are wrapped together between the covers of this book, like we would snuggle beneath the covers of our warm bed when Daddy was still here, and read a book, or listen to our shortwave radio.

So as I start out on this second journey of writing a book, I do so, not with the thought that “if I did it, you can do it,” but with the assurance that even if I didn’t do it, you can still do it…even better than I did.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010