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Beggared: Part 2

by Heidi Jost

In Part 1, (which you can read here) I left us stuck in a black gloopy rut of failure, wailing “what a mess!” And you raising both eyebrows, ready to commit me to a ward of some kind.

dreamstime_xs_64789976I confessed earlier that I say “Jesus” a lot more now, because it really is all about Him. I am in the rut because, since birth, I have made life all about me. Looking around for some superior ground to stand on and see out, I compare myself with others or with myself-in-my-more-shining-moments. But therein lies the quicksand: This ground is always unstable, a giant maw about to swallow.

Now, we can both keep trying and slipping and sinking using these old habits of making ourselves feel better. “Our plight,” says Michael Reeves in one of the best books ever, “is not merely that we each fail to be good enough and need a little forgiveness… Instead, our very identity is a problem.” (Rejoicing in Christ)

I can think of two unchanging aspects of our identity: we never stop loving ourselves, and we never stop sinning.

But Jesus. His love is always outward and giving, and He has never sinned. He points out, “When you were powerless to save yourself, I did it.” (Rom. 5:6, my paraphrase) He beckons, “If My power could drag your sin down and bury it, how much more can that power raise you up into a new life of freedom!” (Rom. 5:10, my paraphrase)

Okay, so back to those days I failed, snapped at the kids, and left work undone. How does Jesus fit there? How do I get to the point of stopping my wail of failure and instead saying, “So what?” Rather than first trying harder in the next breath to be nicer to the kids, or scrambling to think of some other mom who screwed up worse than I did (a sin in itself), I can face my wrongs. They are bad. I hurt the people I loved most because they didn’t meet my expectations. I idolized the goal of a clean house, and then I got mad because it was still dirty. Double whammy.

Then I can look at Jesus. How does He see my sin? As sin. How does He see me? As a woman He wants to forgive and restore. To whoever is willing, He will give “a spirit of adoption by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal. 4:6, Rom. 8:15) Daddy, Daddy! John Piper says, “This is the testimony of the Spirit that we are the children of God.”

We can inherit God. He can, and wants to live within us. His spirit of adoption, the Holy Spirit, yearns to guide us into truth when we are slopping about in the rut of failure. And the truth is: Jesus, who has power over everything, offers us freedom. What we could not do, He did, and then some. He broke chains and shed light into darkness. At every point where we have failed, He has not.

Continue reading…

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Beggared, Part 1

dreamstime_xs_64789976by Heidi Jost

Yes, read it again. I picked the second definition:

beggared: to exceed the limits, resources, or capabilities of.

Now do you want to hear how good being beggared is?

Climbing out of ruts is painful. Those neglected mental muscles are taxed. But the climb yields delight, because above the mud of the rut is a beautiful view.

And I’m seeing another piece of it. Slowly, slowly.

I’m seeing that comparing really is stupid. (Can somebody get this genius girl a gold medal?) Horizontal gazing only brings deeper ruts, deeper dissatisfaction. Yuck. More mud.

Vertical gazing is really amazing. No eyes on the Joneses anymore, just on Jesus. (Yes, I will stop being so tacky with my wit now. I don’t want you to drop reading this in disgust, because maybe some of my journey will overlap yours and help you a bit, like mine has been helped by so many others.)

I say “Jesus” a lot more now. And I know, as I say this incredible name, I am still far from comprehending the massive awesomeness of Who my mouth refers to. But I say “Jesus” and I think “Jesus” because I see more how everything really is all about Him.

I don’t want to shock you, but I need to tell you that I failed today. Better yet, I said afterward, “So what?”

Because I am learning to see that my identity wasn’t dropped and scrambled when I failed. There are no pieces for me to pick up and reassemble in shining order. In and of myself, I am a mess. Always. Deep down, you probably know that’s true of you, too. Continue reading…

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The Half-Life of the Shackled and Blind

dreamstime_xs_54419891By Heidi Jost

“And Saul approved of their killing [Stephen.]” Acts 8:1

We’ve been talking about Joseph around here. Distilling his tale for my children has a trickle-down effect in my own heart:

Forgiveness unshackles our spirits from the past. Bitterness chains us so we are helpless to be all God wants us to be right now.

Joseph’s brothers wanted him dead, and their wish nearly came true. But Joseph lived. Can you imagine, on the desert journey to Egypt, dragged and dehydrated, how Joseph might have been tormented by the memory reel replaying his brothers’ murderous, hateful words and actions?

Yet he forgave them all. “Am I in the place of God?” he said. Of course not. How could he hold their sins against them, then?

Seeing through God’s eyes, Joseph knew that while his brothers “intended to harm me…God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

We had dinner recently with our friend from Afghanistan, who came of age under Taliban rule. Sitting long at table, we listened to her stories of God on the move in the Middle East.

“Muslims know evil spirits,” she said. What they need to see, and what they are seeing now, is God’s spirit of power and healing. Miracles happen there, and eyes are opened. Like hers were years ago, mostly through the relentless love of missionaries.

“It was always very scary – all the time – over there,” said our friend. Her eyes lit then, “But also, so – “ she gestured, arms out, looking for a word big enough.

“Thrilling?” I said. Continue reading…

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Breathing Life in the Culture of Death

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-cute-little-girl-bright-face-mask-image47189975By Heidi Jost

            When the first drops of blood fell, I began a journey to life, though I didn’t know it at the time. In the months after my unborn baby slipped out of my body, God showed me something priceless that I had paid lip service to, but my heart was far from believing: life is precious, children are a blessing, and God can be trusted.

Always.

Jesse and I already had the million-dollar family: a boy and a girl. A lot of people commented that we must be done. We joked, “Nah, we’re going for a multi-million dollar family.”

I have wanted every baby that has been conceived in my womb. I just haven’t wanted them to come closer together than two years, afraid I might go crazy or that I might look to others like a run down, exhausted, and overwhelmed rabbit factory who doesn’t “know what causes that.” Fear of having kids close in age infected my thoughts and choices.

Anyway, here I was, pregnant with baby three, who was going to be just over two years younger than its big sister. I felt like I could handle this, and we were excited! In between waves of nausea, that is. When the waves settled early, I was pretty happy. Until the blood dripped and I found out the baby had already died in my womb over a month ago.

We buried baby Davey by my sister’s grave. And I walked out of that cemetery shaken to my core, because I finally realized the truth: All human life is God-given and sacred.

Until Davey died, I think I subconsciously believed that life was only a blessing if it came on my timetable. If my children were born close in age, that was my “mistake,” and they really should not have showed up when they did.

I said the right things on the outside, but inside me there grew a culture of death.

It is in the air we all breathe. This culture of death has great and potent arguments against the Creator of Life: We need to pace ourselves, we need to know our limitations and be wise in how many children we choose to have. We shouldn’t keep on having kids if our motivation is just because we feel pressured to, or because we feel less-than as women unless we are breeding like rabbits.

These arguments take our eyes off the issue at stake: Is all life God-ordained and sacred? No matter when it comes, no matter whether we felt ready for it at the moment or not, no matter how much it will demand from us when it arrives.   Continue reading…

  • Jyl

    Thanks for writing this article Heidi. It covers many things I’ve been thinking through and is an encouragement. When I first got married I was excited to have kids and wanted to surrender my life to God in the area of children. However, His ways are not our ways and his plan was for us not to have kids right away . This was challenging for me to accept at first and I realized I wasn’t fully trusting Him. It took me on a journey of faith and I’ve learned so much. It also gave me a new appreciation of life, realizing every child is a gift and miracle from God. God can be trusted, even though there are many times we don’t understand what He is doing, we can trust He knows best.

  • David

    WOW!

    I love the perspective you have shared here.

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