Romans: Day 31

Christian Ethics

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Today's Text: Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 5:44-47, 1 Corinthians 4:6-13

Scripture Reading: Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 5:44-47, 1 Corinthians 4:6-13

Reading Paul’s list of exhortations to the Romans makes me tired. Seriously. Rid your life of hypocrisy. Love deeply. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence in zeal. Share with the saints. Pursue hospitality. Live at peace with everyone…

With everyone? Really?

Dude. Paul. I need some coffee. And also, when am I supposed to binge-watch my TV shows?

In all honesty, when I compare my life to the lives of the disciples, I begin to see why Paul fills 1 Corinthians 4:6-13 with so much irony. I practically live like a queen compared to Christ’s beloved friends back in the day, and compared to much of the world today. Most of my time is spent concerned about how I’ll choose to spend my time.

I catch myself daydreaming about the life the world tells me I should have: a life with a passionate (never rocky) marriage to my soulmate, a clean and immaculate house, a career that’s advancing, children that are thriving, and plenty of time at the gym maintaining the body of a teenager. To top it off, the world tells me I need to portray this “perfect” life to the world on social media, to attract more followers.

With this world as my guide, adding Paul’s list to the mix is absolutely impossible. There are not enough hours in the day to do both what the world demands of me and what God desires for me. And so I have to choose.

Every single day I have to choose whom I will serve: my flesh or my God. Some days I make the right choice. Some days I make the wrong one. This is the life of a work in progress, one that God promises to bring to completion in His time (Philippians 1:6).

Perhaps that’s why Paul tells us to “cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). If good was an easy, simple thing to hold onto, why would he tell us to cling to it? I know that in my own life, if I’m not clinging to God, the natural inclination of my heart is one of jealousy, coveting, and destructive daydreams. So while it seems like what Paul is cautioning us to do should be obvious, I know it to be oh-so difficult to put into practice. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. I know that If I’m clinging to something, then I’m desperate, grasping. I’m holding on for dear life.

These passages remind me that my very life is at stake, and that evil really is evil. Paul pokes at my carefully built life, reminding me that Christ’s path of goodness and stillness and quietness is the only route to peace. I can rest knowing that the battle is the Lord’s. But I can’t assume that rest and peace will come without effort on my part, without my choosing God. I must cling to Him and let go of everything else.

Dear Lord, help me to hold on.

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Claire Gibson is a freelance writer and editor whose work has been featured both locally and nationally in publications including The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves her husband, Patrick, and their dog, Winnie.

  • Dear Lord help me to hold fast to what is good!!! Let the bad fall to my feet!!!

  • This morning I prayed for God to help me truly understand today’s reading! And it just clicked! Thank you Jesus! We have to acknowledge our flesh is weak so we must cling to what is good and just. We have to love genuinely. I pray for improving myself to honor my friends and even my enemies or those who don’t like me. Clinging to Christ!

  • This portion of scripture is always like a slap in the face. Every. Time. I struggle with anger and wanting to seek revenge on the people who wrong me. Several years ago, we were having issues with our neighbor. He was going through some difficult things in his personal life and was behaving like a jerk. A mean, nasty jerk. And I gave it right back. That is until my oldest daughter, who had been learning in Sunday school about loving our neighbors asked why I didn’t the man who lived next door. Talk about a humbling moment. I was convicted right then and there. And God used a child to do it. My heart was softened and I’ve been working daily to show this neighbor love. And now, it’s like he’s a part of our family. None of the things Paul talks about are easy for us to do in our brokenness. I have to cling to God because I can never follow through on any of this in my own strength. I need God.

  • Clinging to what is good demands effort in my part. The only way to achieve it is to cling to Christ.

  • To take the high road – always my challenge

  • “Every day I have to choose whom I will serve: my flesh or my God.” I am reading this as I was just daydreaming about egging my neighbors new patio. But hear me out! I’m not a mean person, you’d think of it too since it’s been 10 consecutive months of construction; tearing down an old little cottage to build this large mansion on the same lot size, and the patio bricklaying process has put me over the edge. Every morning I wake up to the clink-clink-scrape of bricks being laid and cemented. And they still have the front patio to do!
    But GOD –
    “Cling to what is good”. I may be fantasizing of defacing the new neighbors property before they even move in, but God has a different idea for how this is going to play out. I’ll cling to what is good, and on move-in day I’m going to “practice hospitality” and stop by with a treat to meet these new neighbors and invite them & their (young, by the looks of it) children to church with us. I’m going to deny my icky fleshy desires to tell them off or inform them just how hard it’s been to find parking on our street or not run over loose nails as their dream home cost us nearly a year of headache. Instead I’ll “be at peace with everyone, as much as it concerns me,” and be kind to them, not for the brownie points here on earth, but because it pleases the Father to no end when we deny our earthly desires to do the work of heaven here on earth. Lord help us carry these instructions close to our hearts, and walk in love with even the hardest of people to be at peace with. It’s Your will we want, not ours. Amen.

    • Mel

      Oh girl, I get it! Loving our neighbours is tough enough without them taking all the street parking :P I know the welcome you offer to them will be meaningful and impactful, and our Father in heaven will be pleased. <3

  • Oh beautifully written, Claire!! Romans in general can be hard to simplify. This is beautiful!

  • As I finished this study( a day behind schedule), my heart lept for joy! It’s OK! It’s OK that I struggle with so many things. And even better, Jesus knows which are close to my heart and which are mere annoyances that require my attention. And this is how to FIX it! Not fix it like all the problems are solved, but fix it like this is how to survive. This is the answer for how to approach it, prioritize it, lay it at God’s feet.
    Thank You Lord for your living Word that applies to and helps me just like it did to Paul.

  • This is one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. To me, it feels triumphant. A battle cry.
    Some days I read this at work and think, “Yes, I can do today, I just have to cling to what is good. Hold on to Jesus for dear life, he’ll do the rest.” I’m amazed in His goodness in that. When I cling to Him in the way I speak and in the way I act towards my boss and co-workers He does the rest. I know it. He moves through us when we cling to Him. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  • Karen From Virginia

    To me, these verses in Romans go well with 1 Corinthians 13 love chapter. This is what love is. Apart from Jesus I can do it. Yet, it’s a wonderful prayer to ask God to help me love as He loves. It’s the longing of my heart

  • Heather Legge

    I am way behind on my study but popped in just now. Interesting that this was the reading for today. I have been praying and praying over a situation at work and wrestling with ethics and integrity versus income. I’m a single mom with no other source of income. I actually read these verses at church the other day and prayed some more. Today I made the very difficult decision to leave my job because of unethical/illegal/unprofessional conduct on the part of the owners (I work in healthcare). So I chose ethics and what is right in the eyes of God over my income right now. I have put in applications elsewhere but I have no promise of a new job. I do firmly believe that God will take care of me when I listen to Him and pray and carefully consider my choices. But I’m still fearful of the future and what it holds.

    • Edshara

      I’ll be praying for you Heather. I pray God will bless you with a new job soon and that it will be one that you love and one that is just for you. And any time you have a moment of doubt or fear, take it to God in prayer(like you’ve been doing). I believe everything will work out for God’s glory and your good.

    • jill-smiles

      Prayers for you and your family, Heather! God is good! How pleased He must be with your decision.

    • Karen From Virginia

      Praying God’s favor and provision as you set out in faith. God is honored , your Father in Heaven smiles down on your trust to do right.

    • Heather Legge

      Ladies, thank you. Your prayers mean so much to me right now. It’s amazing the peace I feel.

      • Michelle

        I have always been plagued by fear and have often chosen the easy/wrong path. Good for you for choosing God; it’s can be a difficult and scary choice. You give me hope Heather that I too can make God choices. Praying for you.

  • Loved this commentary today. Thank you for helping me to see how this age-old book so applicable to now!

  • LivingJoyfully

    Interesting that the verse “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice” crossed my mind today. In our community two larger churches have swapped buildings (with money exchanged I imagine). One church expands as the other cannot remain in it’s “too big building.” My heart senses that in these two faith communities they are feeling all the feels. I want desperately to weep/rejoice, but there’s so much going on there. I look in from the outside with human knowledge. God help me to trust that Your way prevails and that Your Word spreads no matter what our eyes see. Help us to live clinging to you and responding to whatever life hands us as you would have us live. To Your glory and honor.

  • Renae Joyce

    Rock of ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee;

  • I got the distinct feeling that Paul is warning us in this reading … he gives us the laundry list of things to remember to do … foremost being clinging on to our Lord. He knows that we will be put upon by doubters, persecutors, evil, powers that be. He knows that the challenge will be difficult. He knows that the sheer business of survival in this Earthly realm will suck the energy that we must reserve for clinging to God. But still … hold on! Walk the high road. Be kind and patient with all. Love all. This is where the rubber hits the road as far as our faith is concerned. Hold fast to the teachings of Jesus … cling !

  • One of my favorite SRT devotions ever. Love this new perspective on a verse I have mostly skimmed over in the past! Beautifully written. Clinging today!

  • These verses shared today are confirmation to me that God sees me & knows me better than I know myself. His timing is perfect. His provision is complete & lacking nothing. My husband is a detective. He came home from work this morning in grief over the death of a fellow officer. She was shot & killed on duty last night. He had to sit & console her grieving family. I cannot describe or explain the mixture of sadness & anger I see in him. We’ve been through this before & it is I only God’s strength that helps us through. I pray that God will help him to love his enemies, not seek revenge or harbor anger in his heart. I pray for the grieving family. Lord bring them your peace & love.

    • Teresa

      Thank you for sharing. I am new to this app and through trying to navigate through it I find me …staring at myself…through these words. Boy, do I have so much work to do…on me. The article you shared has my wheels spinning. Its a great place to start….in bringing myself back to a closer relationship with my God. Thank you.

    • LivingJoyfully

      Diane – what heartache for your husband and the people and the family and the department and the community. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. May you feel surrounded by a strength from beyond this world. I ache for you as you walk this road with him. Saying a prayer for you.

    • Diana

      Consider googling Marshall Rosenberg- non-violent communication – praying for strength for you!

  • Molly Dowland

    Much needed today! Cling to what is good but still pray for your enemies

  • This is so convicting but so needed today. As I was searching for some commentary on Romans 12:9, I discovered an article I already had bookmarked and reread it. It contains word study and a lot of insight on Romans 12:9, including the “clinging baby” parallel that a lot of you have mentioned. If you would like to read it, here is the link:
    http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/static-cling

    • Pam

      I read it, very good. It helped me understand what Romans 12:9 is really talking about.

    • Teresa

      Thank you for sharing. I am new to this app and through trying to navigate through it I find me …staring at myself…through these words. Boy, do I have so much work to do…on me. The article you shared has my wheels spinning. Its a great place to start….in bringing myself back to a closer relationship with my God. Thank you.

  • Diane Huntsman

    Ah love my enemies.. now there’s a challenge.. so.darn.hard.
    We all want to be loved and accepted.. but we are humans and we let one another down.. but I’ll tell you the biggest challenge I face.. it’s when you let people down, fellow believers and you ask for their forgiveness and they refuse to grant you the pardon..
    I live daily with this kind of rejection.. I let some people down, and not in any Jerry Springer way.. just the normal misunderstandings that occur.. but the devil has turned it into something way bigger than it actually was because his goal is to pit us against one another his goal is to divide.. he is the author of what we deem as enemies because the Bible clearly states that our battles are not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of darkness.. when we are enemies he wins… these people who despise me are family members.. my husbands brother, his wife, their adult children.. they look at me with disgust.. for 8 years I have carried the pain of their rejection.. I’ve agonized over the split.. I’ve prayed, wept, asked their forgiveness.. but alas, my words fall upon unwilling hearts.. Jesus said the world would know we were His disciples by our love for one another.. so doesn’t it stand to reason that our adversary would seek to divide us?? Our family squabble has been a poor witness to other people.. those who look on and say “hey, I thought those guys were Christians” yeah.. I thought so too.. I’d give just about anything to turn back the clock and handle my heart differently to have avoided this fall out.. but I can’t.. so daily I live broken hearted over having these enemies and have to love them when all I want to do is not love them.. pain does that.. I pray for all of you out there battling broken relationships that ought not be so.. may we continue to draw from the love of Jesus so that we can love those who do not love us. xo

    • Sabrina

      Amen. I understand what you have shared as I am in a similar situation with my sister. Prayers for you as well to “Detest evil and cling to what is good.”

    • KimN

      Sending you hugs Diane! So hard. But don’t give up hope! I’ll join you in praying for hardened hearts to be opened to the light and love of our Saviour. And continue to love them as Jesus does. As He loves us all. Through rejection, hostility and waywardness. I’ll pray for His strength to encourage you and keep you moving out in love b/c I understand how hard it can be. When you feel bruised and battered by those who should love you most.
      There is a North Point Community Church series called Bad Blood that addresses hard relationships and doing what we can then being at peace with the rest. It may be helpful if you want to check it out.
      Keep your eyes and heart lifted to Him, my sister. He loves you more than anyone on this earth. May He bless you this day!

      • Diane Huntsman

        This brought tears to my eyes.. to be prayed for by someone who doesn’t even know me.. that’s real care my friend.. thank you from the depths of me for taking the time to encourage and pray for me.. may your heart be blessed knowing you were the hands and mouthpiece of Jesus this day.. hugs xo

  • Tochi Heredia

    I just shared today’s reading with my mother. As a family, we have been going through a really difficult time and, for some reason, there are Christian friends around us that don’t relate to our pain and suffering. Sometimes it feels like my life is some dramatic indie film and everyone else is watching, detached to my reality.

    I just said to my mom, “well leave it to Paul to put things into perspective.” When we feel that we are the only ones suffering, it is important that we remember the peace and rest require effort, and they might not always look like what we want them to.
    I have made my goal to share what I’m going through with the people around me. It is a very vulnerable place to be, but there might be other people in my community there are suffering in silence because everything they see are carefully curated lives. I want my life to be carefully curated by God, even when that means embracing things have gone out of style in the world.

    Thank you Claire and SRT for this encouragement.

    • LivingJoyfully

      When you put your pain and struggle out there, you allow others to say “me too.” You’ve offered to go first and take that difficult step out into the light. God will use it. I’m certain.

  • This is was a hard lesson but good. It is so easy to live as the world wants us to. Love the lesson Paul gives us to cling to what is good. Great food for thought.

  • Beautiful, and just what I needed to hear. Some days I try to take a break at work and spend a few minutes to read the She Reads Truth blog for the day. Today, I knew this post was important within the first few lines – I will be sharing with my beautiful friends who are driven, kind, and working through the same struggles as I am – trying to live life perfectly, successfully, lovingly, gently, and striving to remember God in the day-to-day. Thank you for sharing this. It is so helpful to have a reminder of the constant pull I feel towards living closer to God.

  • Stephanie

    When I was thinking of “Cling[ing] to what is good,” I also thought of my baby girl. When we’re holding each other, and I try to put her down, she clings to me. It’s so sweet. It’s beautiful. Sometimes she grabs onto my hair — anything that she can keep hold of just so she has a part of me. In that way, that’s a lot like what “Cling[ing] to what is good” feels like — trying to grab onto even just piece of good’s hair so I don’t lose it, so it continues to hold onto me (which now leads me to think of the woman who reached out and just got a hem of Jesus’ garment, and even just that thread of hope she caught hold of brought her healing because of her faith.” Our faith, when we’ve got hold of a piece of hair or the hem of a garment is still holding on, and that is encouraging.

    • Jenny

      So true, Stephanie! Babies and children are so innocent and pure and when they see or feel goodness, they cling to it just like you said. I think as we get older, our world broadens and goodness can be harder to find and cling to.

    • Bri

      Thank you for such a beautiful illustration of what it looks like to “cling to what is good.”

    • Juliet

      Love this, well said!

    • Emily B.

      Those are both beautiful images. We’re still holding on, no matter how small the remnant we’re clinging to might be, and you’re right–it is encouraging. Thanks for this! :)

  • I am really, really struggling with this passage. Not that I have never seen it before. Quite the contrary, I have always known it was there and what it says.
    Just a brief bit about me. My husband was killed while fighting a fire in Feb of ’98. He was the most loving and faithful and good husband and father anyone could ever ask for. We had a small child. Two years after his death I met Mike.
    We had been together since then until just recently. A couple years ago a women began pursuing Mike, hard. Oh, she knew he was and had been with me all these years. She even talked to me, called me, and acted like she wanted to be my friend. Mike would insist there was nothing to it and she was just being friendly. Well, I have since found out she was every bit as friendly as my instincts had told me. I found out Mike had been using my bank cards to “show off and to show her a good time”. After several months of trying to work things out. Of being lied to and used, I forced him to make a choice. He chose her and moved out.
    He soon found out the grass was not so green and is asking to see me again. We have been talking, but I know he has also been talking to her and even been with her again.
    I am hurt beyond belief. I have prayed over and over and even told God, I am certain Satan is working with her to tear apart Mike and I, and pleaded with Him. I really feel that God gave us each other to care for and love. I felt as though we were placed together for a reason.
    I don’t know how to love or forgive her for what she has done, both to myself and to Mike. He is miserable, to the point I am worried about him. How do I love someone who has destroyed the person I love? I hate to admit all this. I normally can’t even call her by her name. When talking to Mike I call her an IT. I know this is wrong. I know that somehow I must let it all go including the way I feel about her. I just don’t know how.

    • Kara

      My heart hurts for you sister. Something I do when I am deeply angry is to pray something silly like “don’t let her get hit by a bus today.” Something about the act of praying for a person gives God just enough of an opening to move in you. I pray He will show up for you and that you won’t be trying to move in your own strength. ((Hugs))

      • Pamela

        Kara, I needed that laugh. Not a bus, not today. Thank you

      • Teresa

        My heart hurts for you Pamela. I have been through a marriage where he was unfaithful with a woman new to our church and home bible study. I was so embarrassed by his actions. I felt like it was my fault because I didnt want to be married to him any longer ( this was ongoing for years previous to the infidelity). Kara’s response is awesome. I was told at that time to pray for this woman who I wanted to hate. And to forgive her. Now how does that make any sense at all. I had just had a very rough surgery…I needed help with life and 3 young children…not to be told to forgive HER!! But ….I trusted my beautiful friend Bev….I prayed…”Lord..I dont even want to forgive her because she doesn’t deserve it… But I know I’m supposed to forgive her”. After a few days of this prayer…it grew to me wanting to forgive her…me knowing I didnt deserve His forgiveness!!. I’m 11yrs past that situation. God brought me the most amazing man ever. Not perfect…but amazing. I grew and became a different person through that very season. Pamela,,,God has an awesome season for you. Please keep asking Him to guide you. He will. Please ask Him to help you to forgive and not hate. I am to the point now that I just feel sorry for that woman and I have prayed for her because I know she needs Jesus. I will be praying for you Pamela.

        • Pamela

          Teresa, thank you so very much for these words. I needed to hear this. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I am praying a very different prayer. I will be asking daily, probably several times a day, for God’s help in pointing me towards forgiveness and away from the hate. Thank you.

    • Emily B.

      This is really simple and maybe even childish, but whenever I have a hard time liking someone or am flat out angry with him/her, I try to remind myself that God loves him/her. Not only that, He loves him/her AS MUCH as He loves me. This woman hasn’t acted honorably and may not know the Lord, but He knows her, and He loves her. The pain she’s caused grieves Him, but it doesn’t make Him forget about her, just like it wouldn’t make Him forget about you and me. I don’t know if this will help in your situation, since she has betrayed you, but I hope it does, and I hope you can cling to God as you figure things out.

    • Touné

      With our own love this is impossible! But if we ask God to love though us, we are not using our own strength to love but God’s, unrelenting ravenous love. This love goes beyond our understanding. Doing amazing things to us and to those we are praying for. When I am jealous or angry at someone and want to pray curses on them, I ask God to bless them a thousand fold. Every time I find myself thinking some awful ungodly thought about them I stop and ask God to Bless them. This is not easy at first but after a while you begin to notice that you don’t think about them as much, when you see them on the street you don’t have to fight that strong compulsion to scratch their eyes out! You look at them and all you see is someone that God loves!

    • ~ B ~

      Oh, Pamela, I know exactly the feeling you are describing. It is a dichotomy, you KNOW how you should feel but your heart just hurts so badly, it feels an impossibility that you will ever get there. And frankly, without God leading you to it, you won’t. This is something that you have turn over every time the thought of her comes to mind right now. And eventually, it will become more natural but be prayerful that God reveal her to you as He sees her, so that compassion can replace the anger and bitterness. Eyes entirely on Jesus, sweet sister. Prayerful over you!

    • Tochi Heredia

      Pamela, thank you for being so brave and sharing your struggle with us.
      I can definitely relate to that confusion brought by pain and suffering and anger.
      I listened to this excerpt of a John Piper sermon last night, and was strengthened by the reminder of my Savior’s suffering.
      http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-supremacy-of-christ-in-suffering/excerpts/your-suffering-is-not-an-accident

      I hope this blesses you as much as it blessed me. Prayerful over you.

      • Pamela

        Thank you. I just listened to this. I will keep it bookmarked to go back to when I need to hear every time I need to hear it

    • KimN

      Dear Pamela – I understand how much this hurts but I’m so glad you shared your struggle with this wonderful community. My husband and I were separated a couple years ago and there was another woman involved. My counsellor told me that forgiveness was for me – it was freedom. And what I eventually learned was that it is not a one time event. It was a constant letting go or offering it to God. Trusting God with the outcome of the other people. And I’ll be honest, every now and then it still hurts and I have to be intentional about choosing to forgive. It’s hard but our Saviour will help you every step of the way. Sending you much love and many hugs this day!

    • Pamela

      I just want to thank all of you for your responses. I will hold them near and dear as I work through this. I will get through it. I am so blessed to have all of you behind me helping me to give it all to God.

  • Jackie Diamond

    One of my favorite passages of scripture. Thank you fir expressing so beautifully the battle we fight everyday. I, too,am clinging to what is good. My prayer echoes yours: ‘Dear Lord, help me to hold on.’

  • A praise report! A few weeks ago I posted about letting go and allowing God to have total control over things and release any fear I had regarding getting pregnant. I am so happy to share that we are 5 weeks pregnant and even when I wrote the post I kept hearing…. trust my timing. Little did I know God already had our miracle growing! So thankful for SRT community

    “But I can’t assume that rest and peace will come without effort on my part, without my choosing God. I must cling to Him and let go of everything else”

    Clinging to God through this new chapter of our life as we have not only found out we are pregnant but also moving cross country in less than a month!

    God is SO GOOD.

    • Pam

      So happy for you! Congratulations! Praise the Lord!

    • Cassie Kendall

      Congratulations! It took me awhile to get pregnant with my first one, and it was very nerve wracking for sure. Praying for you and your coming little one! :)

    • KimN

      Hooray!!! Congratulations and Praise to our Lord!!! Rest in Him!

    • churchmouse

      Happy dance time!

  • In so many ways I agree, I agree, I agree.

    But there’s another image of clinging that I enjoy….seeing a little girl cling to her daddy’s neck with all her might and a smile a mile wide on her resting face. On the occasions that I get my priorities right, it is my delight to “cling to what is good.”

  • Claire, this was so well written! Your words are convicting, yet refreshing. Thank you for this! ^

  • This goes along so perfectly with a bible study I’m doing this week on my blog. I love how sweet Jesus is and how perfect is His timing. http://www.seejillgo.com

  • There are so many times I sit down in the mornings, read 2 or 3 sentences in our passage for the day and I’m instantly humbled because I believe the Lord ordained it for me to hear. It breaks me and uplifts me all at the same time!

    Today, I needed to read “detest evil; cling to what is good.” These words bring conviction to a stubborn and burdened heart. Lord, thank you for the words you have for me today!

  • “if I’m not clinging to God, the natural inclination of my heart is one of jealousy, coveting, and destructive daydreams. So while it seems like what Paul is cautioning us to do should be obvious, I know it to be oh-so difficult to put into practice. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. I know that If I’m clinging to something, then I’m desperate, grasping. I’m holding on for dear life.”

    I had a moment of great worry Monday evening after a long conversation with my husband regards his new consult. It takes a great deal to get me to that point, and in knowing that I separated myself from my kiddos and cried until I literally could not cry anymore. I prayed too, through my blubbering nose and my blurred eyes, I prayed, a lot. I used a word that is considered an illegal one in our house … fair. For the first time in a long time, I wondered why. Why in the heck things rarely stay smooth, let alone go smooth, for us. In my heart, I fitted like a tantrum-ing two-year-old. I just wanted things the way I pictured them. As if I had perfectly placed pieces of cutout paper on my masterpiece and a few wily folks walked over and snatched them away. And oh, did I want to curse them, the ones that were complicating *my* picture. I didn’t want to practice what I had told my husband, I didn’t want to pray for them, I felt a little more Rocky Balboa and a lot less Jesus in my heart and frustrations. Not only did I want to throw punches, but I felt like the embodied image of the character; bloodied, cut and battered to a pulp, calling out to the love of my life … my Father in heaven. BUT then God. He was quick to remind me of another who was bloodied, cut and battered to a pulp. Who called out to God in what seemed to be the end and I was humbled because not only did I recall Jesus, but I remembered that what seemed like the end of the story was actually just the beginning. That Jesus already won the fight. The words, “This isn’t your Goliath to slay, Betsy” came to me and I knew God was asking me to trust Him to make good on it all, that I was placing myself in a punching match I had no business being in, even if just in my head. So I put down my crayons, and my crafty scissors and stepped away from my picture. My tears dried up and I drove home to my kiddos remembering my task, my calling …. purely and simply to love Jesus and therefore to love others. To love Jesus and lower my fists, to love Jesus even when I’m tired, to love Jesus when I’m hurt, to love Jesus when I’m mad, to love Jesus when I worry, to love Jesus when I’m desperate, to love Jesus when I’m grasping … to just …. love …. Jesus. And so today, I love Jesus, still, just as I did then but I’ve remembered that it’s His masterpiece I’m standing in front of; one He is gracious enough to let me participate in creating. One that though there are some rough spots, some dark areas, He will round it all out and in the end it will be more beautiful than I could have imagined anyway. Prayerful that I actively, even in frustration, put into practice all Paul calls out here and that I have grace for myself in my flailings.

    • Emily Cele

      Thank you for sharing this, Betsy. I have missed your posts…so glad to hear from you again. Praying for you now and have been praying for you and your family during this trying time. You are such a blessing to this community and we love you!

    • Cassie Kendall

      I love that we can cry to our Father and bring all our brokenness to Him. But more than that, He actually cares! It is so awesome. Praying for you all Betsy- that your faith and your family’s faith will grow in this hard time so that you can later look back and see that the hard times were worth the outcome.

    • amylou

      Thank you, Betsy, for your vulnerability to share. A much-needed reminder as I, too, stand battered and worn-out. Praying for you today.

    • churchmouse

      Yes. Humbly yes. All your emotion, all mine too. Thank you for reminding me to step away and let God do His thing with my life and simply appreciate it.

  • churchmouse

    Thank you Claire. As I read over Paul’s list, I could feel myself shrinking. I’m not very good at any one of those for any consistent length of time. Sigh. I have no power to overcome in and of myself. Praise God for the gift of His indwelling Holy Spirit. He pulls me up and turns me to face the lover of my soul. Our hands grasp and there is the strength and the motivation I need. It is not enough to hold His hand. I embrace Him in a bear hug, clinging as a child clings to the leg of her mother. Nothing can separate us when I cling so tightly to Him. This. This alone empowers. This relationship is all. I cling on my knees in gratitude today. May I always be “a fool” for You. I rise and open the door to the day. But do not think I walk alone.

    • ~ B ~

      This type of “cling-y” is beyond words good and I wouldn’t trade it. I, too, am clinging churchmouse! I am clinging.

  • I think I need to re-read this everyday! What a great reminder that we need to choose to cling to Him, rather than letting the distractions of the world take over. That’s one of my biggest struggles, and I see a clear difference in the days I truly cling to him. Praying we would all cling to him today!

  • I’m clinging today. There are so many distractions. Lord give me strength to hold on to what is good.

  • Beautiful piece Claire! Thank you . This has truly touched me . And I’m sure many of us can relate . I come from a history of social media abuse , a destructive , unrealistic life . I still fight the urge not to become lost in it again but that was one of my BIGGEST DISTRACTIONS

  • The minister of a church I used to go to would always say, “Don’t worry about the bits of the Bible you can’t understand; worry about the bits you can understand.”
    It came to mind after reading this passage. A lot of what we read last week in Romans 9-11 is hard to understand. These verses are not hard to understand, just very hard to live out.
    I think I’ll always continue wrestling with the difficult bits of the Bible, wanting to understand more, but this reminds me that I also need to focus on living out the bits I do understand.

  • Renna Nightingale

    Beautifully written! Thank you for this reminder and new perspective. Clinging with you! :)

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