My Biggest Problem & Greatest Hope

What is the biggest problem in your life?

Once you identify that problem, you will discover what you need to resolve in order to have hope.

If I view other people and their evil influence as the biggest problem,
then my only hope lies in them getting their act together and changing for the better.

If I view my government as the biggest problem,
then hope only comes with better candidates and a better election.

If I view my church as the biggest problem,
then hope will only come when this or that person leaves,
a program is added or deleted,
and the staff is exactly what I think they should be. (Lord, have mercy.)

If I view my husband as the biggest problem,
then hope only comes when he treats me the exact way I want to be treated,
loves me the way I want to be loved,
knows what I’m thinking before I say it,
and does everything I never want to do. (Impossible? Of course not. ahem.)

If I view my children as the biggest problem,
then hope will only come when they require no correction or instruction because they are practically perfect (from my diligent teaching, of course), and when they serve, love, and are grateful for all I have done as their mother.

 

Since we live in a fallen world, my issues with people and programs will never be resolved.

In short: if I continue to rest my ultimate hope in a future resolution of these problems, then the result? I’ll never have hope.

However. If I recognize that my biggest problem is sin – the evil desires and intentions that lie in my very own soul – well, that’s terrible news.
But there’s a resolution for that.

His name is Jesus. He is the Advocate and propitiation for my sin. Through His death, He has created a way of forgiveness and cleansing.

But true hope starts with this acknowledgment:

My sin is the biggest problem in my life.

My biggest problem doesn’t lie in the people or organizations that surround me, but in the depths of my very own soul.

Only when the true problem is recognized can the right solution be applied. When I view anything besides my sin as my biggest problem, then hope will only come when that issue becomes resolved according to my liking.

Only when I see my sin as my biggest problem can I have confidence in the hope that is in Christ. While focusing on my sin as the problem may initially seem discouraging, in reality it’s the only source of lasting hope. True, lasting hope can only be found by resting in Jesus Christ.

If you are feeling hopeless today, prayerfully consider these questions:

What do I believe to be the biggest problems in my life?
To what or whom am I looking to for hope?
Am I attempting to devise solutions in my own faulty wisdom?
Am I actively looking to Jesus for the resolution of problems?

true hope

Completely & Utterly Lost

Last week, I heard this song in church and was struck by these words:

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

The words are beautiful, aren’t they? And when you hear them in song format, it’s easy to let them go in one ear and out the other. But this phrase jumped out and hit me: “My will be lost in thine.”

My will lost in God’s will?
What does that mean?

You lost your keys. Are they in your overstuffed purse? Maybe your child hid them under the couch? Or perhaps you left them in the ignition? (Of course, I’m not speaking from personal experience in any of these stories. Maybe.)

To oversimplify the matter: if something is lost, you can’t find it.

So if my will is lost in God’s will, then it is indistinguishable from His. There’s no difference.
My desire is for God’s desire to be accomplished.
My joy is complete when His glory shines in and through me.

But what does that look like?

Do you know what it looks like when my will is lost in God’s will?
It looks like work.
It looks like sacrifice and pain.
Most of all, it looks like death. Death to what I want and what makes me most comfortable. Life to God’s plans and what brings Him the most glory.

And while the phrase “my will lost in Thine” sounds nice, sometimes it looks like fighting. An internal struggle (that often manifests itself outwardly) where I am forced to decide whose kingdom I am going to build – God’s or mine.

The Best Part

The best part of all this? Although “my will lost in Thine” looks like death, it results in life. Life that is fuller than you could ever plan. Joy that never comes to an end. Perfect peace with zero disturbance.

Sometimes the idea of serving God sounds more romantic when heard in song. I think it’s helpful to think through lyrics in this way because it brings the issue down to where I actually live. I can look back at the past week – okay, fine, the past hour – and see specific decisions in which my will was definitely not lost in God’s will. Where I chose to build my earthly kingdom of selfishness instead of God’s kingdom of perfection. And I can also look at the past week and see God’s evident grace as I fought hard for my own way, but finally surrendered to His. All glory to God for spiritual victories.

I trust this season of your life will be full of moments where your will is indistinguishable from God’s will.
Where your will is completely and utterly lost in His.

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a new phase [general life update]

We have successfully moved from Charlotte, NC to Richmond, VA. Successful = nobody died in the process. (Although we did forget to pack one entire drawer in our kitchen which housed our silverware. Whoops. We’re eating with our hands these days. Nothing out of the ordinary there.)

There are a million thoughts going through my brain these days, so I’m going to just start with a general life update … which is basically code language for anything I want to tell you that is maybe too small for one blog post.

HOME

For the past several weeks, I have entertained a new home decor style with a major emphasis on boxes. With a side of packing tape. As of this past Monday, the “box motif” has been evicted from my home. (Except for several that are filled with books. Which shall not be evicted until shelves have been installed.) 

Here are some picture moments from this past week:

for more pictures, see my instagram here.

After we unloaded all the boxes, I made it my goal to unpack ASAP. Sure, it meant working like a crazy woman for several days – and I may or may not (emphasis on the may not) have taken a shower every single day – but guess what? We’re moved in now and back into the swing of homeschooling. Hal.le.lu.jah.

Sometimes I knock routine. I think it’s boring and predictable, so I want something new and exciting! But hear, hear: there’s something absolutely delicious about routine when you haven’t had it for a while. I’m smack in that delicious feeling right now and not looking forward to getting out of it anytime soon.

NEW CITY

So no, Richmond isn’t technically a new city to me since my family moved here when I was in 5th grade. But a lot has changed in the past 12 years. Like the fact that I have 4 kids now. In Charlotte, some of our favorite things were the libraries and greenways/parks around the city. We also had some used bookstore and thrift store haunts we liked to hit up every once in a while. I’ve already located and shopped at my nearest Aldi, so there’s a big point in Richmond’s favor. Next stop: library.

FAMILY

A major perk of our new location is being close to family. I already mentioned this, but it’s definitely worth mentioning again. I’m so thankful to be near my parents as well as my sister and her family. I love that my kids can play with their cousins and that we live close enough to just drop in. Unannounced.
For dinner.

Okay, maybe not. But the point is that we live close enough to do that! And they live close enough to do that to us! Hooray! Since we’re planning to be here until Jonathan finishes his PhD (approximately 2 more years), I want to soak up this time with family even more than usual – knowing that this is potentially the closest we’ll ever live to each other.

EMOTIONS

Pretty much all the emotions have been covered over the past few weeks, with a spike in intensity riiiiight around the days we moved. Go figure. One of my prayers throughout this moving experience has been that God would help me to stay grounded. My theme verse for January was Isaiah 26:3 –

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

I’m so thankful for how God has answered that prayer. Moving from a place and people you love is emotional. Not only emotional, but just plain tough. There’s no antidote for that. But there is God’s grace, which is far better than any antidote you could find. This grace has the ability to lift my eyes up from temporal circumstances to God’s unchanging Word and character. There is absolutely nothing more grounding than that.

 

ONWARD

We are so thankful to be right where God wants us to be. There’s rest in that, isn’t there? It’s been such a great teaching tool to remind our kids that God led us here. Here’s to settling in and writing a new chapter.

Oh, and to all our Richmond/Charlotte friends? Our home’s ready for ya. #fistbump

Unplanned Teaching Moments

Last week, a friend told Jonathan and I about a conversation he had with Nate, our 5 year old:

“So Nate, what do you think about moving to Virginia?”

“It’s good . . . and it’s sad.
But it’s what God wants us to do.”

Hearing of this conversation reminded me just how important it is to continue speaking truth to our children – not just in the formal times of planned conversation, but especially during those unplanned moments. Like the time they come into the kitchen and see me crying. That’s exactly the time I need to remind them why we’re moving. It’s because this is God’s next step for our family. We remind them that taking the next step is often difficult and hard. But we’re doing it because we want to obey God. It’s funny how this whole “reminding your children” thing goes…often I find that I learn more when I’m talking it through with them than I do just by thinking through things on my own.

That’s the great thing about shepherding children through changes. It makes you talk about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Then you actually live with your little students and they get to observe firsthand whether Mommy and Daddy really believe what they say you believe. Yikes.

Of course, we always mess up, don’t we? We sin, make mistakes, and often say things that are either partially or completely wrong. Then God gives us the opportunity to teach them about grace. We’re not perfect. Nobody is. That’s exactly why we need Jesus.

Our family is right in middle of the “good & sad” part of moving right now. With just under 4 days left in Charlotte, everything seems extra intense from the physical side of packing up our home (& a few sick kids thrown in the mix!) to the emotional side of all the “lasts.” Spiritually, we rest in the fact that amidst the good, hard, happy and sad, we are at peace knowing that this is God’s next step for our family. We’re not moving because one step is better than the next, but because our Good Shepherd is leading us to this next step. There is immeasurable comfort resting in the arms of Jesus, isn’t there?


If you are looking for ways to make Jesus & the Gospel a part of the daily conversation with your kids,
I greatly benefited from reading Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally about God with your Children.
You can find my personal review + quotes here.