The last several years have been very difficult for me emotionally. It has definitely been a season of pruning, a season of dying to certain things, a time of transformation that hasn’t been easy. The hardest thing about this time of refinement is the main tool God has used for this process of transformation: my marriage.
For the sake of modesty, let’s just say my husband and I have had a rocky several years. Due to God’s amazing grace there have definitely been some good highlights, but the painful parts have been long and drawn out. I don’t know if I would have made it without all the God-kisses along the way. And although I wouldn’t want to repeat any of the painful experiences we’ve been through, the lessons I’ve learned (and am still learning) have been worth it.
I have learned to be okay with who I am and how God has created me. This one is a biggie for me. I have spent a lot of my life morphing into who I felt I was expected to be instead of just being myself. This struggle is definitely connected to past mommy issues but marriage definitely amplified it. God has really helped me with this and I am eager for Him to continue to do so.
He continues to use many different tools to strip off additional layers of fear. Between marriage and parenting, I am learning to live less from fear and more from faith and trust.
I have learned to let go of my expectations for what I thought my family life would look like; what I thought a Christian marriage would look like; what I thought family ministry would like. Interestingly, God has also truly helped me to avoid becoming cynical. I still believe in the goodness of the ideas I had as a young wife – they were based on wanting the best God encourages us to desire through Scripture. But God had some work to do in me and He wasn’t going to let me be idolatrous with my own plans. Not when He knew, that deep down, in the parts of my heart that I am not even all the way in touch with, I want Him more than anything else. Not when He knew that the combination of what my character was lacking plus my obsession on those good plans would hold me back from His best for me.
One of the God-kisses that helped through the end of last year was the song Thy Will by Hillary Scott and the Scott Family. Music is definitely one way God speaks to and encourages me. I love it – all genres. But for it to have an impact on my heart, it has to be based on Scripture. Thy Will does just that for me – it reminds me of Truth.
First of all, the chorus line “Thy will be done” is a direct reminder of how Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:10. Jesus himself prays the same thing in Matthew 26 right before going to the cross on my behalf. As His child, I want His will to be done on earth as it always is in heaven. He was willing to endure such suffering for me so I want His will done in my life – even if it isn’t always fun or comfortable.
1 Chronicles 16:34 calls us to give thanks to the Lord for He is good. 2 Chronicles 6:14 says we can rejoice in His goodness. The Psalms continuously remind us that God is good, upright, and trustworthy. So I love the first line of the second verse where Hillary sings. “I know you’re good… “ Singing that God is good is one of the ways I can tell the enemy to get lost! I get sick of his constant campaign to get me to believe that God isn’t good.
She goes on to sing, “But this don’t feel good right now.” I’m not going to comment on the grammar besides saying that “This doesn’t feel good right now” could have worked. I’m just saying. Anyway… This line reminds me of 1 Peter 1:6-7 which teaches us that trials refine our faith and will ultimately result in God’s glory. All throughout the New Testament we are reminded to endure hardship. Unfortunately, hardship sucks.
The line “And I know you think of things I could never think about” takes me right to Isaiah 55:8 -9. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher that your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The lyrics for the first half of the bridge are “I know you see me, I know you hear me, Lord.” This part of the song just reduces me to tears practically every time. It reminds me of when Sarah sent Hagar and Ishmael away. They were about to die of thirst in the desert and then God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well. So in Genesis 16:13, Hagar gives the Lord a name – The God who sees me – El Roi. When I was in such pain, I needed that reminder – that God could still see me, that He still heard my prayers, that my tears did not escape His notice.
The second half of the bridge – “Your plans are for me, goodness you have in store” – became a way for me to sing Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I sang this song over and over and over during the last half of 2016. It became part prayer/part proclamation of faith for me as God and I journeyed together over some pretty tough terrain.
If you listen to Christian radio, you may be so tired of hearing this song. It tends to get a lot of air time. But if you haven’t heard it yet, you can listen to it here. What do you think? Do you like it as much as I do? What song was your anthem for 2016? Any contenders for 2017?