My dearest Liss,
If I could write just one letter to future you, it would be this one. Jesus was the door to your salvation many, many years ago on that April morning. He alone is the strength, the truth, the way to live the Christian life -- your sanctification now. Jesus, not Heaven, not rest from labors, not even a reunion with our dear ones who have passed before us, is our reward.
I struggled for many years with Phil 1:21 - "For to me to live is Christ, but to die is gain". Wasn't it gain to be working for the Lord here on earth, bringing souls into the kingdom, encouraging the saints? Wouldn't death bring me into the presence of Jesus? The verse seemed backwards to how I was actually living!
And then I hit a rock wall when I was 36 years old. I simply didn't have enough love, enough strength, enough something to continue doing everything I was being asked to do. I learned during that time that His yoke is indeed easy, and His burden is light. I had to stop trying so hard and instead run to Jesus and ask for His love and strength for what He had called me to that day.
And he gave grace!
He gave the grace to say "I can't" and ask for help.
He gave the grace to assist Grammy Bea as her Alzheimer's spun out of control
He gave the grace to take care of my home, a toddler, two home-schoolers, and a cub scout den all in the same day.
He gave grace -- divine help. It was Him, not me. It was Him through me.
I want you to know that when interpersonal conflict is threatening your peace, you don't try harder, you lay it at His feet. Let Him anoint the pain with His love, and fill you with His love for them.
I want you to learn to take your agenda for the day before Him each morning and ask for His wisdom and grace to accomplish all in His strength.
I want you to see that any pain you face --
the long, lonely evenings as a single lady,
the aching heart when you can't bear a child, or you've lost one,
the rawness in your soul when you're parenting toddlers,
the impossible agenda during the school years,
the gaping void as family and friends move away and pass on
the numbness and disappointment when you've failed Him yet again --
He longs to help. He wants to strengthen and keep you. You'll never see perfection, but as the years go by, you'll be able to trace the progress He has made in conforming you to His image. You'll trace his hand of love and mercy in your life.
I'll write letters to you in the coming days and weeks on how to establish and strengthen your relationship with Jesus Christ. The principles are not difficult to comprehend, but they are exceedingly difficult to apprehend. We want a to-do list: have devotions, faithfully attend church, pray, witness. But a relationship with Him demands far more: trust, obedience, submission, surrender, and above all, grace.
As much as I love you, He loves you far more,