Well, we just finished our Ignite Your Passions conference for Women of Passions. I have to say it was an awesome experience! The speakers were definitely passionate about God and about family! I feel very blessed to have been a part of it! I am posting below my teaching from the conference. I hope you enjoy it!
How many of you are parents here? Have you ever noticed how kids change our lives? We pretty much live for our families. I have always known this. I wrote in the Women of Passions book about reasons that I left my last job – reasons that many others do not understand. What I did not mention in the article was another reason that I left this job is they would not work with the schedule that I needed with my sons. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Just a couple of weeks ago, I only worked for four hours in one complete week at my present job. My sons were pretty sick – running high fevers and all the fun stuff that comes with having sick kids. I remember the last day that my son Nathanael was feeling under the weather, I called in to work and told the manager that if his fever went down; I would come in. If it did not, I would not be in that night. Nathanael, who was cuddling on my lap at the time looked at me and said, “You can’t go to work.” I asked him, “I can’t?” Without missing a beat, he looked at me and said, “No,because I sick; and I am the world of you.” This wisdom from my four-year old son really brought things into perspective for me. How do we choose what we do on a day-to-day basis? How do we make the choices that truly matter in our lives?
Do you ever catch yourself wondering “why?” Why do I have to choose between work and family? How do I possibly balance enough time for each? Why am I stuck in this job? Why are we having these health issues? Why are we having these financial issues? Why would God allow this to happen? We are told in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good to those who love God. Do you ever wonder what that meant to Paul’s audience and how that truly applies to us?
There is an age-old question that skeptics love to present, theologians love to answer, and philosophers love to contemplate. It’s a question that us ordinary people think about a lot more than we really care to let on – “Why does a good God allow suffering?” This could be a question the Roman church asked itself on more than one occasion – a question that was answered in Romans 8:28. The Roman church was unique – kind of like Christians today. No one knows for sure who actually founded the church in Rome. Some say it was the apostle Peter. Others day Paul did. Still others say that early Jewish Christians traveled to Rome and started it. Whoever its founder, the Roman church was unique in that it was comprised of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. And this diversity was causing arguments within the church itself. Does this sound familiar? So many times within churches or groups or even within families, our diversity – our differences cause tension. And how many times do we ask God to take our side? “God, You know that I live for You! I know this is how You feel, so please change their mind.” Isaiah 40:13-14 asks us an important question –who is it that understands the mind of God and who has given Him council? That is an extremely humbling question – who of us has known the mind, the spirit, the inner being of God? Which of us would be worthy to give God guidance?
This is exactly what God reminded these early Roman Christians of in the early Chapters of Romans. He reminded the Jewish Christians of the Roman church that they will be judged by the very Law they are judging others with. He reminded the Gentile Christians that they really had no room whatsoever to condemn another. After all, they are the ones who had chosen to worship creation rather than the Creator before God, in His grace, brought them the Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In short, He was asking both groups, “Who are you to point out their sin?” Now, something else we have to keep in mind when we study the Romans is that not only were they experiencing conflict on the inside, they were also a persecuted church. Now, granted they were probably not a part of the early persecution in which Christians were killed because of their beliefs. They were, however, ostracized because of their beliefs. If you have ever felt like no one understands you, that’s probably a good idea of how these Romans felt – and with good reason. Have you ever felt as though things are coming from you from all directions? And it’s especially hurtful when these things are happening to those we care about. Somehow, we can usually withstand comments and attitudes toward ourselves. But we have a hard time dealing with it when the persecution hurts someone that we care about. And have you ever noticed that when we really are passionate about a project that we know God has called us to that this is when the troubles really start. I’m sure the Roman Christians were feeling this way as well.
I remember when I first became involved with this conference. At the same time, I began writing a book that I have felt a deep call to write. This is the exact same time that issues began arising – financial issues, sickness within the family, all kinds of things. The final straw, for me, came when it began affecting my four-year old son. Do any of you that have children or grandchildren or kids that you care about know what a lovey is? Taliesin, my six-year old, has a stuffed reindeer that he carried around for quite a few years. In fact, Taliesin’s lovey has been in more than one of our family pictures. Well, Nathanael found his lovey a little over a year ago in the toybox – a gray tiger striped cat he named “Flower.” Well, shortly after I began these projects, “Flower” disappeared – literally. Nathanael was devastated. He is the kind of child who does not like a lot of toys. At Christmas, he usually asks for one toy and says he does not want anymore. He has one backpack that he carries one or two favorite books in. He has a pair of silky black basketball shorts that he lives in during the summer. And as far as stuffed toys go, “Flower” was it! I remember Nathanael getting out his other toys and trying to play. He would stop and say, “Mommy, why are eyes wet?” He could not enjoy himself. Even after two weeks and a brand new gray tiger striped cat I foundonline; he still was as sad as he was the first day Flower was lost. I admit I wondered why during those long days. I can really relate to the Roman Christians. Here they were, doing the work of God, and they were facing these issues – both internally and externally. They were so good at doing the work of God, in fact, that Paul commends their faithfulness in Romans 1:8. He even said that he thanked God for their faithfulness, which was being declared all throughout the world! Everyone was hearing of their faithfulness. So why were they having so many problems?
Do we have any country music fans here? I admit that I love country music, and one of my favorite songs is a song that came out a few years ago called “A Few Questions.” This song asks questions like “How can we put a man on the moon and still have a need for a place like St. Jude’s?” and “How can two people who have built a loving home try for years and never have a child of their own? And somewhere out there tonight there’s a baby no one’s holding tight in need of love?” What I love about this song is it finds its answer in the Bible – specifically from the Book of Job – “Where you there when I hung the stars? Were you there when I created the world?” When these Roman Christians asked why, God answered because “all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Back when my little boy, my son who did not even want to unwrap the presents at his fourth birthday party because he missed his “best friend” was enduring his own suffering, I claimed this Verse. I did something that, all too often, we forget to do. I gave God the control of everything. I had taken control long enough. I had justified in my mind that I was his mother, and I needed to make everything okay. I could do that no more. That is a very humbling feeling when you do realize that God is so much greater. He deserves the control. We do not. That very night while my husband and I were at work, my sister who babysits for us had her own spiritual encounter. “Flower” was found on top of a desk in a room that three people had previously searched. Maybe “Flower” had a Toy Story adventure. I do not venture to guess. What I do know is God was and still is in control of everything.
But Romans does not stop with reminding us that all things work together for good, it also reminds us of our future rewards for our perseverance. Romans 8:18 reminds us that what we suffer now is not even close to the glory that God has prepared for us. Even creation itself is awaiting that day. – That day when we will share in the glory of Christ and be liberated from our sufferings. We have something special. It’s called hope. And what’s more, until that day, we have God’s Spirit living within us andmaking intercession for us. If God be for us, who can be against us? God will have the final say. We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us so. What an amazing thought!
To close, I would like to pose a question that you can answer by looking deeply within yourself. Do you feel a call upon your life? But is something stopping you from following it? Are there situations that are beyond your control that are preventing you from listening to what God truly desires you to be? I encourage you to give it to God. Only He can have the victory. We can learn a lot from the early Roman church. We are a lot like them. And, like them, we have the same promises of God – promises that He will be there with us, all the way.