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Faith Imagined: July 2008

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

July 13, 2008

Stepping Through Weakness

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9

I had a miscarriage about two months ago. This would make my third. Separating the miscarriages were two full-term pregnancies, which both led to fun nights of labor and two beautiful boys.

Before my last miscarriage, I told myself and others that I would have no fear. If God wanted me to have a baby, He would protect the pregnancy. Therefore, I went on with my life as usual. I did not live in fear, and I would not take any extra precautions. I thought if I stopped exercising and if I started acting fragile, I would be doing a disservice to God's power. If I changed my habits, I would show a lack of trust and faith in God. I told my friends that I was going to trust God in everything, and He would make my baby safe . . .

I had a miscarriage shortly after. I was shocked to say the least, and I was confused. I had just set God up to show His power and He didn't come through. He didn't protect my pregnancy, like I professed He would. I wasn't mad at Him. I didn't blame Him. He allows all things: "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." But, I did wonder, "What did I do wrong?"

Now fast forward to about a week ago. I found out I was pregnant again. I was feeling tired, so I took a pregnancy test just because I had one leftover. I wasn't expecting to be pregnant, and I stared at the "pregnant" test answer on the digital reading. I showed it to my husband, and He too was surprised.

This time I was determined to take extra precautions. I still believed if God wanted me to have another baby, He would protect the pregnancy, but I wasn't about to go testing His power. I'm being realistic, I thought to myself. This is my sixth pregnancy; I'm not going for a jog or heading to the gym.

Again I talked to my friends and told them that I wasn't going to work-out or doing anything too vigorous. Instead of saying God's going to protect this pregnancy, I asserted that I was going to do all that I could to protect this pregnancy.

I felt like a hypocrite, and I felt like I was downplaying God's power. He is master of all, and here I was trying to take fate into my own hands. Later, I had a talk with God. I told Him I was very confused about the entire situation. I felt that I had let Him down, and that I was being a very bad Christ-like example.

During this time, our pastor preached a sermon about our weaknesses. He basically said that God gave us weakness not to bring us down, but to show His glory. I always thought I understood this. God showed His glory through Mosses, even though Mosses didn't talk well. God showed His glory through Gideon, even though Gideon was scared. God showed His glory through Mary, even though she was a simple, young Hebrew girl.

Finally, God revealed the mystery that I didn't see (Colossians 2:2)! One of my weaknesses is a very volatile first-trimester. I've had miscarriages before; therefore, I must acknowledge the weakness and act accordingly. I cannot jog, I cannot jump down the stairs, I cannot play sports. I must understand that my body needs complete rest during my first-trimester.

God gave me the weakness for a reason. He doesn't necessary want to cure me of it; He wants me to succeed through it. Instead of expecting God to take away my weakness, I should have asked God for an awareness on how to work within the limits of my weakness.

God does miracles. He does them all the time and cures people all the time. But what I've realized is that God designs us purposefully with weaknesses. He doesn't necessarily want to take them away; He wants to see us succeed with them.

God's power and glory can be seen if He cures a man of his crippledness, but how much more glory is seen when that man runs a Marathon with crutches? Is God's power not seen when His children draw strength from Him, accomplishing unbelievable things even despite their weaknesses? Can God be more proud when a sinful and flawed child of His claims victory even though all odds are against Him?

What God showed me was so profound. He wants us to be the miracle! He wants us to do the impossible! He wants us to understand our weaknesses and not pray them away, but rather He wants us to pray for a way through them! God's beauty is seen when we accept His grace over our flaws and we muster up the strength to forge ahead, claiming onto His supernatural power which is rightfully ours as God's children. Though the road will be a lot more difficult, I will carry my weaknesses and allow God to strengthen and develop me with every step.

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July 5, 2008

The Still Great Egret

I saw a Great Egret standing on
a post this dismal day.
His white feathers shown bright
against the grey and gloomy bay.
The wind circled around the post
taunting the Egret to sway.
But the Egret stood silent and
still, moving neither way.
The rain poked the quiet Egret,
but not a feather did stray.
I wondered why in a fierce squall,
the poor Egret would stay.
God whispered, "Stand strong the storm,
and my Glory I will display."
The sun squelched that vexing gale,
and the Egret soared away.

Dedicated to Cheryl and Doyle Grundy

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July 2, 2008

Sabbath Day

Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.
-Exodus 31:14

I was listening to the new cartoon called The Ten Commandments in the car. My headphones for the kids don't work, and I'm stuck listening to the movies that they are watching. This movie, however, was very good. And I got to experience the exodus of the Jews from Egypt in a new way.

I intently listened to Moses (voiced by Christian Slater) read the ten commandments. The first three are about God and I thought that was so fitting: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) You shall not make for yourself an idol ; 3) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God. "How perfect," I thought, "that the first three commandments are about our God."

Then I focused on which commandment came next. I have them memorized, but for some reason God wanted to point out the order of each commandment. Interestingly enough, the first commandment that follows the first three about God has to do with the sabbath: 4) Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

That is probably the commandment that I worry least about, yet it is the commandment that directly follows the first three about our mighty and powerful God. It says not to simply "remember" the sabbath, but we are suppose to keep it "holy." I can honestly tell you that I HAVE NOT kept it holy; I rarely remember it!

Out of all the commandments, this should be the one that I indulge in the most! I should want to rest! But, I feel like that the time and culture we live in today, people are WAY too busy. But God is not only suggesting that we rest, He is commanding it!

I looked up holy and found the following definition: The Hebrew word for "holiness," "kedushah" (Hebrew: קדושה) has the connotation of "separateness." That which is holy in Judaism is set apart, and the separation is maintained by both legal and spiritual measures (Wikipedia).

Can I truly say that I take one day out of the week and make it separate from the rest, and not just the two hours I spend going to church? Can I truly say that my family is abiding by this commandment? Would my kids be able to say that they notice a definite difference during this one "separate" day? Sadly, the answer would be no.

I have not put much energy at all into making one day a week separate, but I'm determined to start the tradition now! I will designate one day a week when I don't work-out, don't do large chores, don't organize, don't work on the computer, and don't worry, stress, or plan. I really do want one day a week that I can spend enjoying my God, my family and my friends. I want one day a week when I can put all of my responsibilities on hold, except, of course, the ones that I have to do - change diapers, clean little messes or get my sheep if it falls in a pit (Matt 12.11).

I know that because of what Jesus did on the cross that I won't be put to death if I don't obey the 4th commandment, but I know that I also won't be blessed for obeying it. I feel like I'm missing out on blessings because I haven't been obedient. I'm determined to find out what I've been missing! I'll let you know how it goes.

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