Have you ever found yourself in a similar circumstance, thinking to yourself, “If only I had [fill in the blank], then I could obey God better”? If only I had more time, friends who were more present, family members who weren’t so trying, a pet that wasn’t so needy, improved health, more resources, a good marriage, a church I agreed with on more theological matters, a mentor who had more time for me, this book that claims to change people’s lives, a seminary degree—then I could be a better Christ-follower. Have you ever heard that thought float through your head? I’ve heard it resound many times in my own, with a variety of things to fill the blank with.
The value of something can be proven when it stands the test of time. Like the hymns we sing at church on Sunday, or at home any day of the week. These theological melodies are timeless and are worth our time, attention, and voices still today. For me, the hymn He Will Hold Me Fast has greatly encouraged me and strengthened me through this first year of motherhood.
This is when I picked up Glenna’s book, The Promise is His Presence. In her book, Glenna took me by the hand and led me through her story of suffering, waiting, and unanswered prayers alongside the redemption narrative of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. As she did, she showed me how God’s promise isn’t an easy life, immediate answers to our prayers, or a lack of suffering. God’s promise is to always be with his people, and he fulfills this promise throughout the entirety of the Bible.
We know the call of Titus 2—to teach the younger women “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (vv. 3-5 ESV). But how do we do that? How do we do this in a caring way? How do we become mentors like the ones who have discipled us? How do we become older women to whom the younger women can go?
As those who have been redeemed by the gospel, we should have heavenly thoughts. As Paul says to the Colossians, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory,” (Colossians 3:2-4 CSB). But how do we do this? How do we take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ? By installing Philippians 4:8 as a guard over our minds.
My ideal of discipleship involved weekly meetings, formal Bible studies, answers to hard questions, and in-depth counseling. But this wasn’t what God provided at the time. Rather, God provided me with something much less intentional, but no less formative—a family who showed us hospitality. You see, discipleship doesn’t only take place in quiet rooms with books, Bibles, and coffee—it also takes place in the bustling homes of our fellow brothers and sisters as well.
But on this Father’s Day, we can still be encouraged. Though we may rightly lament the pain our earthly fathers caused (and seek help if we are in an abusive situation), we can also find hope in our sonship with our Heavenly Father. Though our earthly dads fathered us in sin, he fathers us in perfection and righteousness. We are not fatherless.
Christina Fox’s book Sufficient Hope came to me during one of those waves of floundering and showed me what I truly needed: to be reminded of the gospel. “Whatever experiences we face in motherhood, we all need Jesus—and he is sufficient. That’s what this book is about: our need for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In every moment, in every season, and whatever our circumstances, the gospel is sufficient to give us hope” (p. 14).
What we see outlined in Ephesians 4:22-24 is not a one-time instruction manual with promises of immediate success. Instead, it is a place we will return to often, probably with the same struggles, and the order may change. But God is faithful, and he will bring us to completion in his timing and lead us as we put off sin, renew our minds, and put on the new self.
In the Fall, both soul and body were broken by sin. Our bodies were then plagued by sicknesses and diseases, and ultimately death. Our bodies would be pushed and worked hard in order to survive. What was created to live with God in perfect relationship forever would now return to the dust it came from—but not without enduring physical hardships. But before this, when God formed us, he declared the whole of us as good—not just the soul. Both are created by God, both are created to glorify him, and both will be redeemed by God.
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