Tag Archive | priorities

The Higher Life

Set Affections Above

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, calls the Christian to live a “higher” life.  This higher life is not some mystical experience, but a seeking of the things of Christ.  Our Lord always calls us to this higher place – away from earthly things, away from fleshly desires, away from our own way – to His way.

Isaiah 55:8-9 teaches us that our thoughts and our ways are not His thoughts and His ways.  He declares that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways and thoughts higher than ours.  Even in our feeble attempts to do good or to follow His law, we find that His ways are so much higher.  That higher place to which we are called cannot be produced by human effort.  Listen to the words of Jesus:  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).

Take time to read Matthew 5:21-48 and you will see this truth demonstrated.  As Jesus teaches, He addresses more than the external.  He addresses the heart.  As we read through this passage, we get a glimpse of the higher life – with a mind set on things above.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:  and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:21-22). The external act is that of murder.  The higher life focuses on the anger that is in the heart that produced the deed.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).  The external act is that of adultery.  The higher life focuses on the lust in the heart that produced that deed.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).  The human way is to love those who are “loveable.”  The higher life focuses on loving the “unlovable.” A full reading of chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew will continue to reveal the higher life.

You can also see these truths addressed by the Apostle Paul as he calls believers to put off the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind … that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).

In actuality, that is what the higher life is about – righteousness and true holiness.

Take time to read Ephesians 4:25-32. The higher life is about more than not lying – it is about speaking the truth with your neighbor.  It is about more than not stealing – it is about giving to him that is in need.  It is about more than not speaking corrupt words – it is about speaking words that help and minister grace.  It is about more than our angry, bitter feelings – it is about kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.

The higher life is about the Lord Himself.  It is about His ways, His thoughts, and His righteousness.

Perhaps you are wondering, “How can I live in that way?  Where do I even begin?”  First, it is important to realize that the higher life is truly about heavenly things.  Jesus said:  … For without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).  It is an impossibility to live a spiritual life without Him!

Secondly, we must be renewed in the spirit of our minds.  By nature, we have our own thoughts.  We were born with them; we awaken each day to our own thoughts; our thoughts are influenced by others and by the world.  Have you come to realize what your “self” sounds like?  It is, therefore, necessary for our minds and thoughts to be renewed, and there is only one place where we can find God’s thoughts – in the Word of God.  For that reason, it is imperative that we read and study the Word of God, for it is there alone where our minds will be renewed.

Next, God has given the wonderful privilege of prayer.  The Christian can actually come before the throne of God and lay all of her cares and concerns at His feet.  And, as we are still and quiet before Him, He will bring Scripture to our minds.  Then, as we walk in His Word, we walk in His ways.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.   Colossians 3:1 

Also, we must not forget the precious Holy Spirit.  He teaches, leads, guides, and brings to remembrance God’s Word as we need it.  Learn to be sensitive to Him!

And, of course, God has given the church – the body of Christ – to edify, build up, and encourage us all.

Indeed, God calls us to a higher life – to a life of righteousness and true holiness.  We cannot get there apart from Him, but by Him we are able to die to ourselves and live unto Him.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,

where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God

Colossians 3:1 

 

Lord, help us to desire You and Your ways above ourselves and our ways.  Help us to seek, from the heart, the things that are pleasing to You.  Help us to be wives and mothers that reflect Your ways and bring glory to Your name.   Truly, help us to set our affection on things above and not on things of the earth.

Some of the Better Things

imageI was wondering what we consider to be the better things in life? For most, the list would contain material things – lots of money and lots of things that money can buy!

Prompted by a Scripture that came to mind, I took a brief stroll through the Proverbs.  Here is what I found:

For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. Proverbs 8:11

Better is little with the fear of The Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.  Proverbs 15:16

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. Proverbs 15:17

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.  Proverbs 16:8

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!  Proverbs 16:16

Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.  Proverbs 16:19

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.  Proverbs 16:32

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.  Proverbs 17:1

It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.  Proverbs 21:9

It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.  Proverbs 21:19

So, what are the better things?

A life with God … walking in wisdom and understanding … living in righteousness and integrity … having love and humility … in a home with peace and harmony.

Yes, Lord, I am persuaded that these are the better things.

Mountains of Laundry, Thousands of Meals

Mountains of Laundry

I stood at the washer transferring the same damp clothes to the dryer as I had done last week.  I loaded another load of clothes into the washer – the same clothes that I had loaded last week, then gathered up those that needed to be folded and put away – again the same clothes that I had folded and put away last week.  The cycle continued week after week.  I had come to the conclusion that this was a non-ending job.  I was sure that my family purposed to fill up the laundry basket at any rare moment that they found that it may be empty.

But I gathered up those clothes and brought them to the place where I sit to fold clothes.  As I continued folding clothes, I reflected on this continual laundry task that I faced weekly, and the drudgery of it all.  From there my mind wandered to another task, that of fixing meals.  Oh, I thought, cooking is not just a weekly task.  That one occurs over and over, over and over, over and over each day. Sometimes that one feels like a fast-running treadmill on which I can’t keep up.  Sometimes I have even thought – Mealtime again! It seems as if we just did that! They can’t be hungry again!

I’m sure most wives and moms have had those or similar thoughts at some time during their life.  But I recall when The Lord freed me from this drudgery.  Don’t misunderstand.  I still do laundry weekly and still prepare meals, just as often as before, but what he freed me from was the drudgery of it all.

What I learned was that my thinking was totally wrong!  I needed to see laundry and meals through the truth of God’s Word.  Laundry and meals in the Bible? There is nothing “spiritual” about that!  But that is exactly where I was wrong!

In a passage in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, the Scripture mentions contentment.  Then the Scripture says: And having food and raiment let us therewith be content.  What I saw through that Scripture was that food and clothing are the most basic needs that every person has.  Almost all other material things are optional, but food and clothing are necessities. Now I will agree that most Americans have far more food and clothing than needed, but nonetheless food and clothing are basic human needs.

Then, I saw my family through that truth.  The most basic physical needs that my family had was food and clothing.  And I had been given the privilege of meeting that need for them. For me, that was certainly a new way of looking at laundry and meals.

My mind went from there to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, a woman who is familiar to us all.  I went through the Proverb, verse by verse, and was amazed at how much time this woman spent taking care of the food and clothing needs of her family.

She seeks wool, and flax, and works willingly with her hands. (clothing)

She is like the merchants’ ships; she brings her food from afar. (food)

She rises also while it is yet night, and gives meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.  (food)

She considers a field and buys it: with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (food)

She lays her hand to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. (clothing)

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.  (clothing)

She makes herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. (clothing)

She makes fine linen, and sells it. (clothing)

She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness. (food and clothing)

At that moment, I saw the virtuous woman in a whole new way.  I knew the Scriptures described her as a woman strong in The Lord, as a woman who did good to her husband, as a woman to be honored, but what I now realized was that she spent most of her time caring for her family, and very much of that time was spent on the food and clothing needs of her family.

In all of my life, I had never seen laundry and meals as part of my serving The Lord. I had certainly never seen it as a “spiritual” work. That was the day that The Lord took the drudgery out of my housework.  I realized that all of those duties were not just responsibilities or obligations to be drudged through.  They were actually a large portion of my service to The Lord.

I began to see our home as a place of refuge for us all – a place where physical, emotional, and spiritual needs would be met.  My outlook changed.  My attitude changed.  Actually, it was my heart that changed.

I still have mountains of laundry to do and thousands of meals to prepare, and I still need to be reminded.  But this is what I now know – each load of laundry and each meal that I prepare is one more opportunity to serve my Lord by loving and serving my family.

And when the drudgery tries to sneak back in, and surely it does, I ask The Lord to remind me – these are the things that a woman that is strong in The Lord does – and she will be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. Proverbs 31:31

Julianna’s Story: From Resentment to Respect

Sharing Your Story, one of the components of Wisdom and Kindness, provides a place for women to anonymously share their stories.  This category was developed with the ultimate intent of emphasizing God’s faithfulness, even in the difficulties and struggles of life. Each story is true. Each story is anonymously written.  Each story is written to proclaim the hope that is found in The Lord! May The Lord bless!

Julianna’s Story – From Resentment to Respect

How gracious our Lord is!  How wonderfully forgiving He is!  And how marvelously He grows us as He changes us into His image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).  How many of our ways are so far from His ways!  How many of our thoughts are earthly, fleshly, and worldly!  Yet, in His grace and mercy He conforms us to the image of His Son!  How does one explain this process?  There are not adequate words to describe what the Lord can do in the heart of His children through the truth of His Word.  However, I would like to make a feeble attempt to share a marvelous work that the Lord has done in my heart through the years.  May the Lord use these words to His glory.

Where does this story begin?  … And the wife see that she reverence her husband  (Ephesians 5:33).  A foundational truth for a marriage, as God intends, is found in this one phrase of Scripture – and the wife see that she reverence her husband.  One of a wife’s primary goals is to see that she respects her husband.  This truth I now know somewhat after many years of marriage, but as I look back through my life I see how amazingly the Lord Himself has brought me to this place.  I also sincerely regret how far short I fell from marriage as God intended and how many years that it seemed that I wasted in resentment toward my husband.

As the Lord began to do this work in my heart, He first brought me face to face with this truth:  God calls a woman to respect her husband.  I do not know why this surprises us so much.  God calls children to honor their parents and calls all Christians to respect governmental authorities that are over them.  Why does it seem like such a different command for the wife to respect her husband?  And if God indeed created the woman to be a help and companion for the husband, how necessary respect would be for her to walk in that calling.  In my life, the problem came because I resented so many things that my husband did, and I resented so many of his ways.  In all honesty, from the heart, I guess that I did not think that he was worthy of respect. However, as the Lord brought me to the truth of His Word, I found that we are to respect each and every individual because they are created in the image of God.  Why did God forbid taking another’s life and require the punishment of those who did so?  It was because they were made in the image of God (Genesis 9:6).  Why are we not to speak evil of others and curse men?  It is because they are made in the similitude of God (James 3:9).  So for me, the beginning place of this walk with the Lord was that I must respect my husband as much as I would respect any human being – simply because he was made by God and in the image of God.  In the depth of that truth, as God worked it into my heart, I began to treat my husband differently – much more kindly – as I would treat any other.

The second great step that God enabled me to take came as He began to reveal the importance of understanding headship.  It was God who had created the husband to be the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23).  The man had not elevated himself to this position.  God Himself had ordained the husband as the head as He created the man (1 Timothy 2:12-13).  Understanding this truth humbled my heart to areas of resistance that had been built up.  I could respect my husband for the position that God had given him, in spite of the fact that he did not do things as I thought they should be done.  Much as a child is required to honor a parent because God has so commanded – not because they are perfect parents – but because it is right, I was to respect my husband.  And much as we are required to honor and pray for those in authority over us – not because they are perfect leaders – but because it is right to honor their position, I was to honor and respect my husband for his God-­given position as my husband!  And an amazing thing happened as I began to walk in respect.  Much contention was removed from our home, and my husband began to relate differently to me! The change was not an overnight change, but in time, God did wonderful things in our marriage! How God blesses His truth!

As God continued to work in my heart through the years, another astounding thing happened.  God did remove some sinful ways from my husband’s life, but the more amazing thing that happened was that God totally changed my view of my husband.  Some of the day-to-day things that I resented the most, I actually began to admire.  Why was this so?  It happened as the Lord changed my heart, and I began to view my husband in a completely different way.  Things that I had always seen as negative things now became positive things in our relationship.  Qualities that I had always regarded as weaknesses, I now saw as strengths.  As unbelievable as this may sound, that is exactly what happened.

If I would have described my husband in the early years of our marriage, I would have described him as an unemotional and unsentimental, domineering workaholic.  The implications of all of those qualities are endless.  But now, after so many years of marriage and years of growing in the grace of the Lord, my description of my husband would be dramatically different.  The unemotional, unsentimental husband that I had has become my greatest stability, next to the Lord.  He is not swayed, tossed, and turned by emotion.  He does not respond emotionally to situations as I may be prone.  He is steadfast and strong, and I have come to rely upon him through many difficulties that have come our way.  Because emotion and sentiment do not rule his life, he has been the perfect husband for me time and time again.  What I had always wanted to change, I now rely upon, trust in, and am thankful for.  What I had always seen as a weakness in him is most assuredly a strength!

As for the domineering side of him, how I resisted him!  How often I thought:  Do you always have to be so bossy?  But again, after all of these years, how differently I view him.  How many women complain because their husbands will not lead!  I need never worry because my husband always steps easily into leadership.  The problem is never with his leading.  The problem is always with my following.  What I resisted and resented I now value.  It is easy to come to him with questions about decisions that I must make.  I trust his leadership – into which God has grown him.  Again, I must say that he has been the perfect husband for me.  What I had always wanted to change, I now rely upon, trust in, and am thankful for.  What I had always seen as a weakness in him is most assuredly a strength!

And finally, as for the workaholic to which I felt that I was married, what an entirely different perspective I have been given.  As we age together, I still see his drive toward work-related matters.  This tendency, however, does not stop his job.  He cares for duties around our home very effectively and efficiently.  Once again, I see that I never have to concern myself with repairs and upkeep responsibilities of our home, automobiles, etc.  The work ethic that he possesses is truly a blessing.  He consistently works to provide for our family, and consistently cares for the things with which God has blessed us.  This same work ethic blesses others whose paths we cross.  How many times I have seen him be a blessing to widows, children, the church, and more!  Again, what I had always wanted to change, I now rely upon, trust in, and am thankful for.  What I had always seen as a weakness is most assuredly a strength!

Yes, God did soften those qualities in my husband to make them strengths, but much more dramatically, He softened my heart as He gave me a new view of my husband.  I suppose that the most humbling thing that occurred was when I realized that the qualities that I had resisted and resented the most were the qualities that were contrary to my flesh!  Why did I resent his unemotional and unsentimental nature?  Because I was emotional and sentimental!  Why did I resent and resist his domineering way?  Because I wanted to remain independently selfish!  Why did I resent and resist his work ethic?  Because, by nature, I was plagued with procrastination and laziness!  Can you see how what I viewed as weaknesses in him actually conflicted with my own weaknesses?  Once again, I saw much more completely – the problem always arises in our own human heart!  And it was that heart that the Lord had to change!  And marvelously change it, He did!

I would like to say in closing that your husband will probably not match the description of mine.  God creates each individual uniquely.  However, your husband will possess qualities that you, in your flesh, will disrespect.  Ask the Lord to show you how He intends for that very weakness to be a strength.  Ask the Lord to reveal how your own weaknesses conflict with what you deem as weaknesses in your husband.  Ask the Lord to give you a heart to be obedient to His Word, no matter the circumstances of your life.  And ask the Lord to change your heart from a heart of resentment to a heart of respect.  You will forever be glad that you did!

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Dawning Light © 2004.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.

Nancy’s Story: Becoming a Help Meet

 

Help Meet“It’s hard to find good help!”  Why did my husband continually make that sarcastic statement?  And even more pressing, why did it irritate me so?  I helped him all the time.  I at least tried, and I certainly helped him more than he ever helped me.  Yet the comment would still come, and the irritation persisted.  Finally, at the point of total frustration, I took the comment before the Lord in prayer.  Lord, why does he consistently say that it is hard to find good help?  What is it that I need to know?  Those questions were the beginning of a journey with the Lord that has taken me to difficult and yet wonderful places – a journey that I have struggled through, yet a journey that I cherish deeply.

As I took my frustrations and struggling questions before the Lord, He gently began to open some truths to me that have changed my life forever.  First of all, the Lord showed me that I truly was not a very good help to my husband.  In his own way, my husband was asking for me to be a better help, but because of the tone in which he made his comments, I continually ignored and resisted his statement.  Within my mind, I actually argued against his persistent comment.

But in His gracious way, the Lord was beginning to teach me how to be a help to my husband.  How was I going to learn to be a good help?  Quite honestly, did I even want to?  The Lord probed very deeply within my heart, until I saw my selfishness and my self-determined way.  I knew the verse:  It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.  I knew that was the Lord’s purpose in creating a woman, and I thought that I wanted to be that kind of wife.  However, when it came to the place of living it out, I quietly resisted those truths.  Even though I said that I wanted God’s ways, in my heart I found that I really wanted my own way.  Sometimes I went through the outward motions of trying to help my husband, but in my heart I wanted to be doing something else.  There certainly was no enjoyment found in setting aside the things that I wanted, or thought I needed to be doing.  Being a help to him so often seemed like drudgery.  But my eyes were being opened.  I began to see that my husband was right.  I was not a good help to him.  I also began to see that it would take the Lord to give me a true desire, and it would take Him to teach me how to be a good help.  I had never heard anyone address the “hows” of being a help meet for your husband.  They always seemed to just say that you should be one.  I certainly had not had a college course entitled “Help Meet 101.”  No, it was going to take the Lord to teach me what He wanted me to be.

One by one, little by little, here a little, there a little, the Lord put some very practical truths into my life.  The first thing that He taught me was to listen to the things that my husband was saying.  He began to show me that if I would set aside “how” my husband spoke to me, and just listen to “what” he said, I would learn exactly how to be a help to this man.  Because I would always get caught in the emotion of “how” he spoke to me, my mind never really heard “what” he was saying.  And sure enough, as I learned to set aside the sarcasm, belittling tones, even anger, at times, I could hear – really hear – what my husband wanted (and needed).  Sometimes I could just ignore the tones; sometimes I would have to forgive them before I could proceed to listen to the words alone.  I could then take “what” he had said, and the Lord would bring to my mind some very specific ways that I could change my ways or better help him.  Walking in this, time and time again, I became, by the Lord’s grace, a much better help to my husband.  And the joy came, not so much from my husband, but in knowing that this was pleasing to my Lord.

The second major truth that the Lord opened my eyes to see was that I was to be this help to my own husband.  That was why I must hear him.  Being the wife of this man – and this man alone –  would look quite different than being the wife of a different man.  My focus was always to be on what this man needed in a helpmate.  My eyes were opened very clearly to this truth in the area of cooking.  My husband worked hard each day, ate a sandwich at lunch, and expected a rather large, hot meal for supper.  I had a friend whose husband ate business lunches every day, and never wanted a big meal for supper.  Though I quietly wished that my husband, too, would want a small, simple meal, I came to see how important it was to cook for my husband if I was to be a true help to my own husband.  Now, in order to actually follow through in this truth, it meant that several changes would have to take place in my schedule and my life.  But over time, I was privileged to see the delight in my husband knowing that a special meal was prepared for him each evening.  The truth of being a help to my own husband played itself out in many ways.  There was not a certain formula that I could follow to be a help for this man.  I would have to listen to the things that he was saying, take them to the Lord in prayer, walk in those things that the Lord showed me, and over time, watch the confidence that was being built in my husband in the help that I was becoming.  Pure delight would be on his face if there was something that he had just mentioned in conversation that we needed to do in the future, and I took care of it.  What a help I became!

As I was learning to really listen to the things that my husband was saying, I was also learning to watch him.  If I would step back and watch what he was doing for just a few moments, I could always see ways that I could step up alongside of him and assist him.  Perhaps I could bring him something or hold something for him.  It was, however, important that I didn’t try to take over.  I would just quietly help.  Interestingly, by watching him, I learned to anticipate what he would need next.  We also came to really enjoy one another’s company as we worked on his little projects together.  Perhaps one of the most important things that I learned about helping him with his projects was to set aside the things that I had wanted to do.  I wouldn’t even let my mind think on those things while I was helping him.  Always, if I allowed my mind to think on “my” things, I would be distracted and impatient and could not restfully enjoy helping him.  I began to learn how to clear my schedule, take care of the necessary things ahead of time, and set the other things aside so that I could help him without distraction.  Can you believe my surprise and delight when, one day, he declared that he would rather me help him than anyone else, even other men!  What a long way we had come from that sarcastic statement of “It’s hard to find good help.”

I continued to grow.  I was still learning to listen. I was still learning to watch.  Now I began to learn to anticipate what he would need.  Many times I would already know the things that he would need or desire.  It made being a help so much easier.  I could anticipate many things before he even spoke them.  Of course, there were the daily things.  I knew the clothes that he would need for work, the kind of lunch he liked packed, the type of supper he would desire.  But there were also the companionship things that I could anticipate –  what he might like to do to relax, how I could encourage or support him, how I could enrich our times alone together.  What was slowly happening was that I was ordering my life around his, and the results were amazing.

Another lesson that I learned – the hard way –  was that if I truly wanted to be a help to my husband, that had to be the priority of my life.  What things that he asked me to do, I learned to do first.  Many times I would have my list of things to do, and I may not get to those things that he had asked me to do.  I was, then, found either scampering around to get them done or making excuses as to why they were not done.  The Lord had been repeatedly reminding my heart to do those things first, but I didn’t see how it would do any harm when I did them, as long as they were done.  One day the Lord cemented the truth deep within my heart.  My husband had an important meeting and had asked me to do the simple task of making copies for his meeting.  The library was only a block away, so the task was quite an easy one.  The Lord prompted me many times to go make the copies.  I kept putting it off.  A serious rain storm set in, and I waited until later in the day.  When all of that was past, I hurried to the library to make the copies.  I would still have plenty of time.  When I got to the library, the copy machine was broken.  Quickly, I regrouped.  I would go to the post office to make the copies.  When I got there, I found that copy machine also broken.  In disbelief, I hurried to a copy place, made the copies, and returned home.  To my dismay, my husband had come home a little early, went to the meeting without his copies, and was very unhappy with me.  I was so confused.  I had every intention of doing those things that my husband had asked me to do.  It was just all of the circumstances that had hindered me from completing the task.  When I took all of those situations and circumstances back before the Lord, I heard that still small voice say, “If you had done it first, there would have been no problem.”  Though I still need reminding, I learned that day to make helping my husband be the priority of each day.

Still another lesson that I was to learn was to be available to him at all times.  Availability was the key that opened yet another door.  I began to understand that I must not be so busy with my responsibilities that I would be unavailable when he needed me.  Maybe he would come through the house to ask me to give him a hand, or perhaps he would call from work with an errand he wanted me to do.  Was I fully available to him?  Often I found myself telling him why I couldn’t do what he needed.  Rather than see these as conflicting things, I learned to trust the Lord with those circumstances of life.  I would pray for Him to control those “interruptions,” but when they came, I would see them as from the Lord’s hand.  It made it so much easier to give my husband the help for which he had asked.

In all of these things, I learned that there were two important factors involved in truly being a help to my husband.  The first was that I must think according to truth.  I must see my husband in the light of the Word of God.  I must also see my place alongside of him in the light of the Word of God.

The second factor that made all the difference was how my heart had been prepared before the Lord.  Had I taken time that morning to spend time with the Lord?  Had I renewed my mind regarding what the Lord says to wives about their husbands?  Was I prepared, in my heart, for another day of service to my Lord in the place where He had placed me?  If so, I could proceed through the day in a way that honored the Lord.  However, if I had failed to do those things, I began the day with my own thoughts, my own ways, and my own list of things to do for that day.  Those days produced a totally different result.

There was one final thing that proved to be a great blessing to me.  If I would stop from the busyness of life for ten or fifteen minutes before my husband came home, to once again renew my mind, I would be refreshed and eager to see him, looking for ways that I could serve him – ways that I might encourage him – ways that he might be refreshed – ways that I could help him.  But, once again, if I failed to do that, many times he would seem like a bother as he interrupted the many things that I felt I had to do.

“It’s hard to find good help!”  Occasionally I will still hear those words come from my husband’s lips.  But the interesting thing is that they are never directed at me.  They may be spoken about someone working on his job, someone in a department store, or someone in the auto parts store, but never are they spoken about me.  More often than not, I hear, “Thanks for helping me.  I appreciate your help.”  Imagine how my heart smiles!

It has been a long journey, and I continue to learn things from day to day.  I still learn to listen – I still learn to watch – I still learn to anticipate – I still learn to keep my own husband as the priority – I still learn to be available to him – I still learn to renew my mind and to prepare my heart daily. As the Apostle Paul so aptly stated: Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12).  God created me to be a help meet for my husband.  I pray that I may truly live the life for which He created me.

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Woman – Precious in the Sight of God © 2002.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.

Submission: A Journey of the Heart

My husband and I had taken some time away, just for the two of us. We had ventured out on a camping trip, which was both refreshing and relaxing. Having more quiet time than usual gave me time to reflect on so many things.

We had finished sitting outside, and my husband began to fold up the camp chairs to insert them into the sleeves in which they are stored. He was having trouble inserting one of the chairs so, without giving it any thought, I reached over and held the sleeve open, and the chair slipped right in. Then together, we did the second chair.

The thought entered my mind, “That’s it!” It wasn’t my thought. I thought, “What’s it?” Then came, “That’s submission.” Those words really made no sense to me. That wasn’t submission, I thought. I just reached over to help him. But I had to stop to think – Was that submission? There had been no discussion, no requests, no disagreement. I just did what seemed like “second nature”.

But in giving the situation more thought, I could see it. I had just moved alongside my husband and quietly helped him accomplish his goal. Hmmm …. I thought … That’s way too simplistic! But that single incident caused me to embark upon a journey in my mind of the many truths that The Lord has taught me over the last thirty years to where (at times) submission has become “second nature”. But, oh my, has it ever been a journey – a long journey. This journey of submission has been filled with both victories and failures, and with both delight and discouragement.

I invite you to join me on this journey, one which has changed my marriage and changed my life. It is one which I would never trade, even at the times yet when my flesh would rise up in quiet resistance. I know what The Lord has worked into my heart, and truly, submission is a matter of the heart. I much desire for that work to be completed in me.

Where did this long journey begin? Would you believe that it was at that same kitchen table which I have mentioned before? There, with all my Scriptures spread out before me, I discovered a very simple, but profound truth. What I found, by comparing scripture with scripture, was that Wives, be subject to your own husbands was the single most frequent command in the Bible that was given specifically to women. Look to see what I discovered:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto The Lord. Ephesians 5:22

Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:24

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in The Lord. Colossians 3:18

Older women were instructed to encourage the younger women to … be obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:5 (Note: the word translated as obedient is the same word that is translated as submission or subjection in other verses.)

Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (behavior) of the wives. 1 Peter 3:1

Can you see the same instruction consistently given over and over again?

Of course, I had heard of submission before, but this time I observed several things. First, this was God that was speaking through His Word, and He continually said the same thing. Next, I realized that this truth was written in the imperative – it was a command! It really was not optional.

I knew that I would have to understand what God was really saying to wives. I asked Him to show me His ways. What I learned, over the course of the next few weeks, was that Biblical submission is not at all what people try to make it.

Importantly, we must understand that the unbeliever cannot and will not walk in this truth. This truth was written to Christian wives. As with any other directive given to Christians, it is all about reflecting The Lord as He is, as we walk in humility and love. Biblical submission is one of the primary ways that a Christian wife will honor her Lord, because it is He who instructs her to do so.

Also, I learned that there is no harshness nor rigidity found in submission. The wife is the one who takes this action. Wives, submit yourselves … The husband is nowhere instructed to “force” this submission. The wife is to willingly submit because it is right in The Lord. I know that we do not see this anywhere in the world nor in our culture today, but indeed, it is according to the truth of the Word of God.

Next, I found that everywhere this directive is given, there is only one person named to whom this command refers. Wives are instructed to submit themselves to their own husband – not to any other man, only to their own husband. That sounds easy enough, right? Just submit to one man? But here is right where the enemy will fight us. We may be able to submit to our pastor, or to our boss, or to someone in a position of authority. But to our own husband – you have got to be kidding! You just don’t know what he is like! So to the single most frequent command to the wife, we find some reason to refuse! How tragic! And how disobedient!

Now, I no longer had room to argue. I knew what God was requiring, but I still needed to understand the meaning of the word submit. I went to a Bible dictionary and found that the word was actually a military term that meant to be arranged under. Ok, I could understand the application. I was to arrange my life under and around my husband – around his life, around his direction. We were to be on the same team, and I was to be on his side.

It was then that the “light bulb came on”. This was the exact truth that I had found when I had studied being a “help” in Genesis. For me to be the kind of help that I needed to be, I had to be with my husband, for him, on his side, arranging my life around his, and under his authority and direction. Oh, the consistency of Scripture! And again, I was reminded that this was God’s plan and design BEFORE the fall. It was goodness, all goodness.

I also was absolutely amazed to understand that this one truth of submission would bring me out from under the curse, concerning my relationship with my husband, and back into the joy for which the Lord had created the woman – BEFORE the fall. Oh, how I desired to walk there! But I knew it would take the Lord to teach my heart. As I said, submission is a journey of the heart. It is not an external rule imposed on the Christian wife. It is a high and holy calling, to which, through my study, The Lord had planted a desire to learn to walk therein!

Lord, nothing about my fallen nature understands or even wants to understand. But the precious Spirit that you have placed within me calls me to a place higher than I have ever been! Help me, teach me, show me, grow me. I want to step into this journey. Change me. Change my marriage. Let me bring glory to you!

What truth had I been reminded of when I had simply helped my husband fold up those chairs? It was my Lord who had taught me through the years: Wives (that was me) submit yourselves (arrange my life under and around) my own husband (David). It had all seemed way too simplistic when we were folding those chairs. But really, it is a simple truth. Thank you, Lord, for truth! Please help me live in obedience, in a way that pleases you!

A Simple Test

It was a busy day. I already had my list of things that I needed to accomplish. I knew I would have to utilize my time well to complete all of the tasks that I had placed on my list. And a quick glance at the list would remind me that they were all needful tasks, so I had better get busy.

But then came that gentle, quiet pull to the Scriptures.  A specific scripture entered my mind.  I attempted to push it away without any consideration to the truth contained therein.  I really did have a lot to do, and I really didn’t have time to sit down right now. But, there it was, the same gentle pull to the same scripture.  I passed on through the house to set about to do my duties, but my heart heard it again:

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

I knew that scripture well, but why was it echoing in my mind this morning?  I knew, then, that I needed to stop. I reached for my Bible and sat down.  I turned to that well-known passage in Proverbs 31, a passage that I had studied through the years, one that is often dismissed because of such great familiarity with it – just as I had dismissed it this morning.

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

I began to read and be reminded of that virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.  I recalled that this Biblical word virtuous was actually a word that means strength.  The woman described in the passage is the one that God describes as a strong wife.  And I also recalled that it is not easy to find such a wife!

I moved to the next verse and pondered the great confidence that this husband had in his wife.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.

This husband really didn’t need anything else, because he had her.  He could rely on her.  I knew how that level of confidence had developed – why he so confidently counted on her. I knew because the next scripture explained it:

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

She actually did good – and not evil – to him each and every day!  And that is why his heart could safely trust in her!

That is when this simple test came into my heart:

Did I do good to David every day?

Did I do good to him in my actions?

Did I do good to him with my words?

Did I really help him?

Did I encourage him?

Or were my actions or words used as evil towards him?

And much more pressing, did I even have time for him?

I really wasn’t liking this little “test”.  I knew that I wasn’t a bad wife, but was I this strong wife that is described in Proverbs 31?  What did I need to change?

First, I needed to have my mind renewed.  I had to be reminded, and I had to think according to the truth of Scripture.  Then, I had to change my priorities.  I had to put my husband and his needs in the forefront of my mind.  I had to be ready to do him good as the opportunities arose and as The Lord led.  I prayed through the day ahead.  Something changed.

Now the press to accomplish the tasks on my list seemed to diminish.  My heart was rested.  Yes, I still needed to work on those tasks, but my mind and heart was on my husband and things that would bless him.  And I knew that when he came in for lunch, the atmosphere of my home wouldn’t be in such a hurry and scurry.  I would even attempt to make a lunch that I knew he would enjoy.  And I would take time to sit down and just listen to the things that he might say.  I would be encouraging and positive to him.  As crazy as it sounds, I was starting to look forward to him coming in for lunch.  My heart was set to do him good.

God works in the simplest of ways.  One simple verse can change the whole tone and direction of a day.  I think that going into the day, I was certain to fail the “test”.  But now, God had prepared my heart for the day!  I guess it is as though I had taken time to “study” – to be reminded of truths that God had already taught me –  and I believe that I am going to pass that simple test:

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

And that includes today!