Apr 7, 2012

Easter Sunday, Another opportunity to purify my heart!

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 "For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit." (NKJV)

       Over the past year, and for the first time in our marriage, my husband had agreed to pay all the household bills while I remained home with our small child. To make ends meet and ease financial burden, I immediately put my son and myself on a tight budget. I cut back on expenses, began to clip coupons and refused to spend money on non-essentials. Still, I often found myself needing extra money.
        At times, when bills would pile up, I'd offer to get a job. But, during these times, my husband would assure me that he was making enough money to afford our living expenses.
        Then, as time passed, I found myself selling many of our family's sentimental possessions to make ends meet. I even sold my wedding ring. All along, I shared with my husband the burden I faced regarding money. At the same time, I watched as my husband impulsively purchased many personal items. He bought a second flat screen T.V. for his new 5th wheel, golf accessories and expensive food for himself.
         Then, one day I shared with my husband that I had accepted a donated box of food from a neighbor just to feed myself and our youngest son. Looking back now, I would have thought that this moment might have been a turning point for my husband. Yet, at the time, he responded by accused me of having poor money management skills.
       As a person who proclaimed to be committed Christian who deeply loved the Lord and usually spent much time in prayer, in His Word and in serving others, I was unprepared for what was to come. It all started the day I offered to file our joint income tax return. For the first time, I had access to my husband's pay stubs and was able to see how much God had blessed our family concerning money! God had provided a way for me to evangelize full time while caring for our young son as a stay at home mother.  However, somehow along his journey with God, my husband had traded the truth for the lie that money can buy you happiness. Even worse, I was about to get caught in the same web of deceit. Soon, my actions would cause our marriage to hurl into a downward spiral.
      The day I met with the H & R block representative, I confronted my husband about the amount of money he had made. "Where did all the money go? Why didn't you give us more? You knew how stressed I was over money!" I had completely forgotten that God was in charge! The more self-righteous I became, the more my faith faded. Soon, I was left feeling alone and hopelessness. Why didn't I turn to God for strength? Had I completely pushed God aside, taken back control and relied on my own understanding?
      Frustrated, I told my husband, "Get help or once and for all let us go!" My husband angrily replied, "I just don't want to be married anymore!" I felt like a failure as a wife, mother and even a Christian! I couldn't understand where I had gone wrong. I cried out to God. But for the first time, i couldn't hear God's whisper in my heart. Utter desperation and confusion set in!
     Suddenly, Easter Sunday was upon me. Surely God would provide hope and peace and a way out of this situation! I prayed and sought God with all my might. That's when I felt a sudden urge to list some of the chapters God had led me to read over the past few weeks. I made a list.
  • Ezra 1 Those who feared God, repented and surrendered to the will of God.
  • Isaiah 15 Divine judgment about to come.
  • Psalm 105 A solemn call to praise and serve the Lord. 
  •  Psalm 78, Learning From Our Past
  • 2 Chronicles 7 Respond by humbling yourself, praying, seeking My presence, and turning your backs on your wicked life.
  • 1 Kings 13  The importance of unswerving obedience.
  • 1 Samuel chapter 6 Sinners lengthen out their own misery by refusing to part with their sins.
  • Deuteronomy chapter 2 Do not compass the same path going round and round again, but go northward with hard fighting and great victory. Keep from what God forbids and you will not lose by our obedience.
  •   Zephaniah chapter 2 Repent while there is still time.  
      As I read over the commentary on each chapter, I began to feel a heaviness in my chest. Had God been warning me of the pride of my own heart that would soon cause me to sin? Here I had written so much about the trust I had placed in God. All the while, God was discerning the thoughts and intents of my heart. He wasn't about to allow me to sinfully covet my husband's wealth.
      I grabbed hold of the spine of my bible and let the pages fall open. As the pages settled, my eyes were drawn to 2 Samuel 24. I started to read, and was I surprised! http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=10&c=24. I had completely forgotten that God was by my side through my issues with money. Perhaps He was even teaching me how to budget more faithfully. Maybe God was simply teaching me to rely on Him. 
    Next, I silently gazed out of my bedroom window as I reflected over the past year. God had provided more than I needed! My eyes returned to the pages below and my eyes caught King David's prayer. I tearfully prayed along. “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” 2 Samuel 24:10 NKJV.  I wept as I felt peace from the Holy Spirit filling my heart once again!
             The next day, God confirmed His presence through the sweet sound of a dove cooing outside my apartment. Oh, that beautiful sound! I ran outside and looked up at the dove.  Tears of hope overflowing! I put my two hands over my mouth, kissed the tips of my fingers and threw my hands up in the air towards the heavens. I saw how I had taken a detour from the path of righteousness. I began to pray, "Father, forgive me for my sinfulness. Thank You for using this situation to refine my heart. Please guard me from Satan's temptation to compare my lifestyle with those around me and remain by my side always so that I may live a life that honors You. Thank You Lord for Your unending saving grace. In Your Holy and Righteous Son's name, I pray. Amen."

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