Some days I pause to read God’s Word, expecting great new insight or encouragement, only to finish without receiving such things. Though I never regret investing my time this way.
Other days, I pause to read with few expectations, only to be met by the most intimate communication from my Creator. Such was Thursday morning – Praise the Lord!
On Thursday mornings we have three get-the-kids-to-school shifts. Lydia needs to be to school by 6:45 AM for orchestra; Ruth, Charis and Caleb by 7:40 for their school day to begin; Lukas to pre-school by 9:00.
Like many other early Thursday mornings, I made Lydia’s lunch and fed her breakfast, then my husband Cyrus took her to school and headed for the YMCA to get some exercise. Between their departure and the waking of the next round of kiddos, I had a few moments to dip my mind into the renewing water of the Word. I’ve been reading through the Psalms and Thursday’s chapter was 110. It’s a shorter Psalm, a messianic one too, but I honestly don’t remember much of it’s content even now. I figured it must just be one of those days where reading the Word was more of an act of diligence than an experiential delight.
After that initial dip in Scripture, it was time to reenter the reality of getting cranky sleepy kids out of bed and ready for the day. Then came more lunches and more breakfasts and a drive to school and back (all while still in my PJs). At home with only one child, I found a few moments to eat my breakfast, sip my tea, and drink in more of the Word. Mercifully, Lukas occupied himself quite nicely for twenty minutes or so – hallelujah!
Philippians chapters three and four were next on my agenda. Powerful messages can be found in those words, phrases, sentences. And powerful was the whisper of the Lord as I journeyed through these familiar pages.
Our great Author used two particular verses to speak to my heart in ways I wasn’t even aware I needed! And what He spoke to me in those heavenly moments, He may want to speak to some of you.
It’s a message for the mothers, the servers, the helpers, the caretakers. It’s a message for all who lay down their lives for another.
In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul reveals to us how he manages to be content with little or much in this life, and that the secret is Christ’s strength. But then he adds one more short verse, sort of a tagline to the paragraph: “Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.” (verse 14).
Those few words washed over my soul as a much needed affirmation, and tears of relief and peace began to trickle down my cheeks. It was as if the Lord was saying to me, “I see you, you are doing well!”
In my minds eye, I saw my husband, my children, friends, specific people whom God has called me to walk with through this life. And they were saying to me, through the movement of the Holy Spirit, “Thank you. You’ve been by my side. You’ve walked with me through shadows. You’ve shared my pain, my affliction. You have done well.”
Though most of the faces I saw in my mind may never actually say such things, God said them to me in their place.
And that’s the message I want to pass on to you too. How rarely we as moms or caretakers or counselors or helpers hear these words from those we give our energies to. But regardless of others’ recognition, God sees and He knows. God sees when we join our lives with the afflicted; whether it’s a band-aid on a skinned knee, a shoulder to cry on when pre-teen friendships wreak havoc, hours sacrificed to walk alongside a friend in pain, or money given to protect the ‘least of these’ in a foreign country.
Just as Paul recognized the great love of the Philippians toward him in their sharing of his afflictions, God sees you when you give of yourself for the sake of another. And you are doing well to do so!!!
But that’s not the whole message.
I grabbed a nearby napkin, dabbed my eyes, wiped my nose. Feeling enveloped in affirmation, I continued to read the rest of chapter four. And it only took a few more verses before the Lord struck my heart once more. I read, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (verse 19)
In my teary eyed, pajama clad moment with the Lord, this verse became a more personal promise to me than ever before. God knows I’m in need of His help as a mother, wife, and minister in His kingdom. And not only does He see and affirm my service to others, but He has and will continue to provide the love and wisdom I so desperately require in order to carry on.
As we continue to help, to mother, to care for, to stand with the afflicted, we can rest in His resource, in His rich supply. We can bear one another’s burdens because Christ has borne ours on the cross of Calvary.
So, my fellow laborers (pun intended :)), remember today that your God sees you, is pleased with you, and will continue to strengthen you! No matter what anyone else says or doesn’t say, you can rest in knowing Your Creator knows all.
May this truth envelop you in God’s love and affirmation the way it did me this past Thursday morning.
We can rest in God’s estimation of us rather than other people’s opinions when we work as unto the Lord. Our service to others is a means by which we ultimately serve God, so it’s His opinion that matters. In this, we are Aiming At Heaven.
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