21 August 2016

Made for More

What is my purpose?

Why am I here?

Is this all that there is?

When I had a job as a teacher I felt like I was making a huge difference.  I loved my students, I felt my gifts and talents were being used well, and I could see the impact I had on my students from September to June.  I was in my 20s and feeling really excited for my career,  my marriage, and all that life had in store for us.

Now 10 years later, things have definitely changed.  There are days I love being a stay at home mom, and there are other days when I feel like my greatest accomplishment of a homemade turkey chili just isn't enough.  I enjoy the hard work of keeping a home, the managing of the kids, the schedules, the cooking and cleaning, but sometimes I get to thinking...is this all that there is for me?  Is there more?  I feel like I have been given certain talents and I feel like maybe what I am doing is not what I am supposed to be doing, or wondering if it is enough?

Do you ever feel like your hard work in school, in college or in graduate school is not being fully realized in your day to day tasks?

Do you ever feel like what you do at home doesn't matter?

Do you feel over worked and unappreciated?

Is it sometimes hard to be thankful or grateful for the season of life that you are in?

Do you feel like you were made to do something else, something more, something that has real value, something that matters?

If I am being completely honest sometimes I have felt that way.  Sometimes I have felt like my Masters Degree was for nothing because all I did that day was nurse a baby or change diapers or make 3 meals and clean the kitchen and dining room all day.  Sometimes it feels like all the hard work and planning and teaching of my kids goes unnoticed and unappreciated (even though in my heart of hearts I know that my role as a wife and a mother is super valuable).

That's why, when our women's retreat leader, Sarah M. gave us all a copy of the book by Hannah Anderson, Made for More, I couldn't wait to read it.  But you know how it goes, you hear about a good book, you may even buy it, and then you never make time to read it.  This summer I made it a point to gather a group of my MOPS mom friends we met every Tuesday night in July and we finished the book.  

The book was a great reminder that we are made in God's image and we are to reflect that image and be His image bearers.  That all sounds very lofty but how do we actually live that out in our daily lives?

Made for More by Hannah Anderson link.

Some of my favorite points and Bible verses in the book were:
Romans 11: 36 "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things."  

So basically, God created everything! He said it and it was so.  He spoke and created light, people, animals, the earth, the water, the galaxies.  He created us in His image.  And it was good.  All of it.  Everything He made had a purpose.  To know who we are and why we are here we have to know Him, our creator.  I think it's just pretty cool to know that He wants us to know Him.  We all are created with that void that longing to have answers, that longing to know why we are here, that longing to know our maker.

I like how in the book she states, "Good times can initiate the search for identity as often as bad.  When we finally get that new job or finish that graduate degree, when we meet that someone we've been waiting to spend the rest of our life with; when the babies come and we're able to nurture our hopes and dreams with them.....we begin to feel detached and distant, outsiders looking in our own lives.  And the things that we once looked to for stability and identity begin to feel like burdens and obligations instead of blessings."  

Wow........it gave permission for me to be normal to feel not so bad about my questioning for identity in the midst of so much blessing.  I mean what more could I ask for?  I have a spouse, a home, 4 healthy kids, what on earth could I be questioning or searching for...but sometimes you may just feel alone or lost or forget who you really are and you just need to remember who you truly belong to.
 "We need something...someone...Divine."  

And the truth, that search for truth and wisdom really does set you free!  When you find truth in your Maker and get your worth from Him, He makes you feel whole again.  And no one can take that away.

 "He's the kind of God who welcomes our questions, who can wrestle with us through the confusion and still bless us in the process."   

As a new/young believer and follower of Christ I did things just because I was told to.  I believed everything and didn't question.  I had child like faith.  But as we get older and our minds expand and grow.  As we experience more of life and what it has to offer we do start to question more.  I see this in my children for sure.  And I love that it is okay with God.  We are free to dialogue and question and search.  And He is always there to guide us and give us answers when we are seeking after Him.

 "Faith does not pretend that it is easy to believe what God reveals about Himself.  Faith does not push aside or deny the difficulties.  Faith simply commits to taking the questions back to Him and believes that He will have the answers."  
And He does.  God has never failed me.  He may make me wait a long time.  But I have indeed learned that His timing is perfect and He gives me what I need not what I always want.  
But Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
No islands.  "No man is an island entire of itself.  Every man is a piece of the continent, part of the main."--John Donne  "So finding identity as image bearers means learning to live in relationship with other human beings."
So after God created man, right away he creates Eve because it was not good that man should be alone.  We are fully formed, equal image bearers but we are different from each other and therefore dependent on each other.  I liked this being pointed out because it proves that none of us can fully reflect God all on our own.  We find our identity together with other people.  This also just makes life a little bit more complex though, doesn't it?

 "Being an image bearer also means we are made to live in dependent communion with God."
 We all have that God shaped hole in our life.  The part of us that can only be filled with God.  We need Him and He wants all of us.  God does not want us to be robots.  He gives us free will.  But He does want our very selves.  And so often I think we give God our leftovers.  

I feel so guilty at times when I struggle to make 10 minutes to read the Bible and pray when I spend that same amount of time scrolling through Facebook.  So often I make other things the priority than giving God ALL of me.  Even doing this book study was a huge commitment.  I had to read ahead of time, write notes for my group and then prepare what I was going to say each night.  And it was only 4 weeks!  But I got so much out of it.  

We get such a blessing when we take time to give God our time.  When we take time to be with God, and learn from Him, and open up our hearts to hear what He is saying to us.  We are so dependent on Him and yet we often times do things in our own strength and feel very empty and unfulfilled because we forget who is really in control.

"Being fully alive means knowing yourself, God's image will radiate through your life, you will see who you are, you will see what you are to do!"  
 The more we get to know who God is the more he reveals to us who we are and what we are to do to bring glory to Him.  It's kind of amazing how it all works and how God designed it to work.  But He's God so of course He's amazing and His ways are amazing.

 "If you are honest, brokenness is part of your identity as well.  There is a division, a split personality, a longstanding identity crisis rooted in what you were made to be and what you actually are."  Romans 3: 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...
For me this is as plain as day to see.  Whenever I don't act in a way that brings glory to God.  Whenever I don't reflect His image of perfection, I am sinning.  Or to say it the other way, when I sin I am not reflecting His image.  This just shows how much we need Him. This is why He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that are sins would be washed and made white as snow.  I am so thankful for Jesus and His sacrifice for me.  I don't deserve it.  His grace was extending to me a sinner.

 "The paradox of personal identity is that once we accept that we are not what we should be, we are finally in a place to be made what we could be.  Once we acknowledge that we are dead apart from God, we are finally able to live in Him."
We are given new life in Christ when we accept Him as Lord over our life.   And the new life is not perfected right away.  We have a life time of learning and growing and becoming more like Him.  

Hannah Anderson says, "You will finally become someone who can embrace your unique identity in order to display the richness of His glory in order to love Him and serve others with humility and grace."

The world says we don't have much worth.  The world says unless we make a certain amount of money or drive a certain car, or have a certain degree or weigh a certain number or are a certain gender, race, or age we don't matter.  That is not what God says.  He made the races.  He made man and woman.  He knows how many hairs are on our heads.  He knitted us in our mother's wombs.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  We have so much value and worth that He sent His only son to die for us so that we can live a life that brings Him glory.  He has a purpose and a plan and even when things seem crazy or out of control. 

I completely enjoyed this book because it reminded me of so many truths I knew but really needed to hear again.  It made me remember who I am in Christ.  It made me thankful for the way God created us and His amazing plan of redemption for us through His son Jesus.  It made me realize that we are all broken and we all need Him.  And it reminded me to stay close to Him, to grow, to question, to ask for wisdom to change where there may be sin in my life, so that I can be a blessing to my husband, my kids, and the people in my life.

It reminded me that yes, right now I am a busy mom of 4, but God is using this precious time to mold and shape and make me into the woman He wants me to be.  He created me for good works (Ephesians 2:10) and the path He has laid out before me, although it may be winding or rocky at times, He is walking beside me.  He is guiding me and giving me wisdom.  He is not wasting my talents and gifts or my time.  He is refining and using them in new ways.  He has an amazing way of making all things new.  

I need to trust Him with all of my heart, and lean not on my own understanding.  I need to put Him first and He will be faithful to direct my paths and point me to the next thing, the next turn, the next thing He has made me for.  He has placed people in my path on purpose.  People who I will need and vice versa.  There are no coincidences!  Everything has been ordained by God.  All the details of my life and your life were created by Him and He knows us the best and He loves us.  How fantastic is that and how grateful and humbled we should be!


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