Things still feel rough around here. I still feel like I’m searching for answers. I’ve made some progress on the track of practical solutions. But I also have to admit that practical solutions are, at best, a temporary relief. But (I should know this by now!) the answers that are of eternal good, that help despite the circumstances are the ones that transcend the circumstances.
Through a series of (super encouraging, life-giving) conversations with my brother and my mom, the Lord led me to 2 Corinthians 4. I was looking for that “jars of clay” passage and I found more than I bargained for to nourish my soul. This is what I am thinking on and praying today.
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.
[Having this ministry. It’s a mercy. That’s a new thought. And it’s a reason not to lose heart. Interesting. Help me not to lose heart, Lord. And to think of this ministry to my family as a mercy.]
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth, we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
[I’m here for the gospel. It’s not my job to train my children to perform academic parlor tricks that make me look like an expert. It’s not my job to convince others that I’ve found the right or best way to homeschool so that I can gain a following. It’s not even my job to arrange things so that I feel successful. It’s about the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Help me, Lord!]
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
[I’m not here to seek my own kingdom. I’m here to serve my children for the sake of Jesus. Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God … in the face of Jesus Christ … that sounds like it might be something important to keep in mind. That sounds like the foundations of a purpose statement for our homeschool.]
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
[Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord! That thought both humbles me … and raises me up. I am a jar of clay, Lord. Weak and broken. And yet … that isn’t an accident? The fact that you’ve entrusted these children, this task of proclaiming life-giving truth to real human beings, to someone who is so lowly, so insignificant and so, so frail herself … that was a part of the plan? I know what that means – as much as I don’t like to admit it. It means that I should stop holding my breath, stop longing for that day when I’m independent of your mercy, strong enough to cope without grace, too savvy to need to cry out to you in prayer. I really do want the world to know that the surpassing power belongs to you. And honestly, Lord, right now, the way you’ve got it set up, I don’t think anyone would mistake me for the source!]
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
[How much suffering can I handle? How long can I last? How hard is too hard? It seems like there must be this delicate balance, Lord. This tiny margin between “afflicted” and “crushed”, between “perplexed” and “despairing”. How could I find that small space? How would I know how to measure out my own suffering? How would I know how much my body could handle to have Jesus manifest in it today? If I am afflicted, Lord, let it be from your hand. Let no one else strike me down, Lord, but you, whom I trust to work death in me, and yet hold me back from being destroyed.]
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
[This is the big picture, this eternal, kingdom goal – more grace to more people, more thanksgiving, more glory to God. That is a big, big thing to be a part of. That gives purpose and hope beyond what I can accomplish in a day, even in a lifetime.]
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison …
[Is it overly dramatic, Lord, at age 37 to say that my outer self is wasting away? Because it does feel like a wasting away. And yet, if the counterpart to that is my inner self being renewed day by day, then no time is too soon to embrace that pattern. Momentary. Light. Affliction. Eternal. Weight. Glory. I believe, Lord, but help my unbelief. Keep me, here, from being crushed. And then, in eternity, crush me with that eternal weight. Smother me with your glory. I’ll be ready for it. I’ll be desperate for it.]
… as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
[See, that’s just where my struggle is, Lord. The “seen” is so much easier to “see” than the unseen. But I suppose you’re trying to remind me that how easy something is to see has a lot to do with where I am looking.]