Friday, November 4, 2011

Pondering Change


As my son and I sat at the beach on a cool fall evening, listening to waves, and seeing how far the moon's light could stretch, I couldn't help but ponder change. You see this was the weekend before our move and I had a chance to go on a camping trip with my son and some other friends. There were a lot of things on my mind, but none more than my wife and 4 children.

Each of them (as I) had a different perspective on the move, and positive or negative, it was surrounding how as individuals or as a family unit we would adjust to the change. Needless to say it was the hardest on my teenage daughter, and easiest on our 4 month old (I know you must be surprised)! Change has a way of bringing out some emotions that otherwise may not have been surfaced.

For me, the weight of my struggle as a father raising my family in a very uncomfortable environment began to shed as the move came to a close. So much of my strength (from Him) was being used to protect my family from external environments outside my control. Yet as I breath a sigh of relief, change for others isn't as easy.

My oldest daughter, while overall positive, struggles with the social changes that brings her farther away from friends. None of this comes as a surprise to me, yet as I think about these struggles with her I see even light in this difficult change. Growth is often uncomfortable, and while I don't willingly expose my children to random uncomfortable situations, I think it's times like these that help an individual to grow. It teaches us to lean not on ourselves and our own understanding, but on Him and His.

When I look back on my journey as a Christian man, father, and child, it's those times in the fire when I was being refined that I am thankful for the most. Unfortunately when you're in that valley it's hard to raise your hand and express your thankfulness; it's only after the scraping off of those unrefined elements that we stand back and see the finished product. So while I am thankful for the end product, I am reminded that a fire was still involved.

It helps me as a father keep perspective with my children. I am learning not to be overly critical (being sensitive to the fact that they may be in a fire), but also at the same time not to shelter them and fear them entering the fire themselves. If it is my desire for my children to become more like Christ (and it is), then why would I want to steer them away from a situation that would cause growth? It reminds me of a quote:
"Isn’t it ironic that we often pray for God to make us Christlike, but the moment God allows something into our lives that would answer this prayer, we immediately send out a fervent prayer request to all our friends to have that circumstance removed?" - Henry Blackaby
We must shed in order to grow. My prayer is that I will model that to my children when I go through times of difficulty as well. May I give guidance and correction as a father in peaceful love and not model anxiety and frustration.
"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" - (Luke 12:25 ESV)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Packing Light ...

It's been a while since I've taken the time to write as I've been quite busy with moving. While that sounds like a reasonable explanation, it's really not as I'm sure I could have found the time. See I don't do this so that my words get read, I do this so that my writing these words helps me grow in this journey I'm on. While I am blessed and touched that at times my own struggles, perspectives, or victories, resonates with someone who comes across these posts, make no mistake that this is still primarily my journal. Journaling has been a key discipline in my growth as it's taken my head knowledge, and helped it penetrate into my heart. I really missed this.

So all that being said, I have to say that during this very busy time I have clearly felt the hand of God on me during this move. I didn't pray for a safe move, I didn't pray for my "stuff" to make it from one house to another, I didn't pray that my work would be flexible and understanding during the move, nor did I pray that I would have financial stability for the extra costs that come up during such a move. However, I did pray that His peace would be on me during this move, and that He could help me just take one step at a time.

That prayer was clearly answered.

And yet I did have a safe move, and my stuff did make it safely over, and work was incredibly flexible, and unexpected financial blessings made the move even smoother. The best part is, no matter what anyone else thinks, I can look back and know that it was all God; no part of that was my flesh. I am clearly not that calm by nature!

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:33

So we're settled in and making this house our new home; even Rebekah likes her new view by the fire! Yet as I sit here writing these words and looking around this beautiful home, I can't help but realize that I'm still just a pilgrim on a journey. A traveler waiting to make his way home; enjoying the views along the way, but knowing his destination still lies ahead of him. This "stuff" that we acquire during our lives reminds me of what Randy Alcorn said. He reminded us that if we build treasures for ourselves here on earth, then each day we are just walking farther away from them. However, if we build up our treasures in Heaven, each day we find ourselves closer to them.

Here's to enjoying our blessings and packing light, for our real journey home!

His,
~Matthew
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