Image Vs. Substance

In Mark Batterson’s book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, he says, “Saul was all about image, but David was all about substance.”  He’s referring to the fact that David danced when the Ark of the Covenant entered Jerusalem while Michal, Saul’s daughter, felt contempt for him (Bible: 2 Samuel 6).  Batterson goes on to explain that Michal was the daughter of a man who was “kingly” where David didn’t worry about looking regal as he celebrated his excitement about God.

This comparison between Saul and David struck a chord deep within me.

I have someone extremely close to me who accuses me of projecting a certain image even when it isn’t the truth.  To tell the truth, I strive very hard NOT to do this, though some Sundays my smile might be strained as I fight against Satan’s desire to make me crumble under my past bad decisions.

I asked on Facebook recently if I was a complainer.  The answer ran the gamut as I expected since different people know me from different times or for different lengths of time.
But one answer made me feel good – that I was real.  I strive to be real.  It helps that I’m a preacher’s kid whose life has been told from the pulpit for the last 35 years.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been used as an illustration in a sermon because I lost count years ago.
Honestly, it’s only bothered me a few times.  It made me live a transparent life and I believe that is something that God has called me to.

I’m not a natural parent – I’ve covered this before.  I don’t need anyone jumping to convince me otherwise.  Just this morning, I came home from the bus stop to Jeff and Joe playing Sequence for Kids.  Jeff needed to go to work, so he tagged me in.  This was SO HARD for me and he laughed many times as he finished getting ready and listened to me trying to teach Joe the rules of the game.  I do not “play” with kids easily.  I love kids and can teach them with no problem – I’ve gotten some wonderful words of encouragement and love from my preschool students from last year and this year.  I can read books and teach Bible lessons and push swings, but I don’t PLAY well with kids.  I don’t imagine easily or enjoy being outside all that much.  I do love reading to my kids and watching movies with them.  I do my best, but I’m not the most natural at this game.
I’m not a fantastic wife… Catch Jeff in a moment he’s willing to be honest about me.
I am not cuddly.  I am barely affectionate. I am snippy. I am tired. I am consistently overwhelmed, yet can’t show a good reason why.  I’m not a very good housekeeper, so it isn’t chores that are wearing me out.
I love to sit and read side by side or watch movies (though I rarely want to watch something he’s picked and tend to whine about it).  I love to go places and travel and really love to experience things with him.
But I don’t fill the role of wife the way I thought I would OR how I promised to him I would.

I’m a Christian, but I’m not great at recruiting others…
Just this afternoon I came home to find rescue vehicles outside my house for the neighbor across the street.  Based on the number of vehicles and actual police cars, I deduced that this was not going to end with them reviving him from a diabetic episode.  His wife arrived and her sister-in-law rushed to meet her as they dissolved into tears.
He’s gone and all I can think is that I’m not sure I ever shared Jesus with him.  And will I be able to share Jesus with his wife as I tell her I’m sorry for her loss and take food and try to meet needs that might be there.
We’ve lived across the street from each other for ages.  They used to see the church van parked here.  There is no doubt that they know my family was a Christian family.  They might even know so much as the fact that my daddy is a preacher.  But never once have I asked them to come to church with me.  Why not?

I’ll be asking her how I can meet her needs.  I think our church as a grief group – I’m going to check and give her information if so.  I need to not just tell her I’m praying for her, but to actively talk about my faith with my neighbors – the people that I meet when I’m walking down the street.  I see these people every day and while I’m sure they’ve seen the PRAY stickers on my car, I need to be sure I witness.

As a young high schooler, we watched a movie at camp about teens who died in a car accident.  They were standing outside of Heaven’s gate and one of the teens who was going to Hell asked a teen who was (potentially) going to Heaven why she had never told him what he was missing out on.  It scared me out of my mind, but not enough to carry that fear for others…
My friends know I’m a Christian.  Heck, this political season has brought that out more than any other time in my life.  I’ve spoken my beliefs in many ways on social media – not wanting to judge anyone, but not wanting anyone to perish… but I don’t think I’ve mentioned Jesus to my own neighbors.

I don’t want to project an IMAGE.
I want to project the SUBSTANCE of God in Me.

What about you?  Do you follow Christ?  What about when it means you don’t agree with your friends or connections on social media?  What about when it makes you unpopular or brings about ridicule?
Don’t get me wrong – I believe that we should love all people – whether we agree with them or not – but are you sharing with those you love what the Bible says?  You can do that in love.  They don’t have to agree or even walk away from what the Bible says is sin.
We all know that every person who shares Biblical views is a hypocrite because we ALL SIN…
But are you projecting the SUBSTANCE of God in YOU???
Am I???

I want to conform to Christ instead of this World.  Pray for me, will ya?
Pray that I will be more worried about the substance of my life – to my husband, to my children, to my family, to my friends and to total strangers – than the image.

The road to Heaven in narrow and I want the line to get in to be long and full of people who have seen God’s evidence alive in me.

Sorry for the ramble today… pretty sure this was all over the place, but it was too much in my head and I needed to get it out.

Please pray for Joan Bailey.  She’s the wife of the man across the street who passed away this morning. Pray that I’ll be able to meet needs for her and that I’ll find a way to share the love of God in her grief.

Thanks, friends.

And for those of you who love me enough to read my thoughts even when you don’t agree with them – if you’re local to Richmond and want to come check out the church I attend, TELL ME!  I’ll give you directions and details.
If you’re not local to Richmond – I’ll help you find a church where you are.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

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Hello, God… is THIS what you mean?

I have the best intentions.

In September 2015 I spoke as a breakout speaker at Oak Hill Camp’s Ladies Day. My topic – Being in God’s Word daily.  Guess with what I’ve struggled with since that day…

In September 2016, I spoke again at the same event on the topic of Following your Godly Passion.  At that time I had a PLAN all laid out for the next few years.  I was excited – on fire – to get back to what I started college as a sweet 18 year old for… teaching middle or high school.
The plan in September was that by right now, I’d have my license to teach Middle School Math.  I’d be using Fridays to sub in the middle school math classes in Henrico.  My goal – to be in the classroom as a full-time teacher in September 2017.

Then, an amazing chance came up… something that I would never have said I felt “called to”, but I really did.  Maybe it was that I had such amazing cheerleaders cheering me on to apply for the opportunity.  Maybe I just loved the idea of the place I’d be working at…
Either way, that didn’t pan out.  It evidently wasn’t in God’s plan.

BUT, what was in God’s plan was a conversation that my husband and I had over the Christmas Holiday about IF that plan didn’t come to fruition, I still would not be going back to work full-time this Fall.  I felt such peace and even more excitement with that decision!  I get to stay at North Run teaching 3- and 4-year-old littles about colors and numbers and letters and shapes and JESUS.  AND I get to be HOME for Joe’s first year of elementary school.  That’s one thing I discovered in December that I really wanted.  I don’t want to miss going to the zoo as a chaperone. I don’t want to miss out on any way I can actually help at their school that I can’t do now because he’s not a student (due to insurance liability there are very few opportunities to help during the school day with a little one in tow).

I’ll get to go on their school’s sub list and sub there on Fridays as needed.  What a blessing!

So, I still sit here and wonder what God’s plan is for me…
I’m 39 and I’m still not 100% sure…
One tiny decision at a time feels right, when there are moments that I just want a timeline laid out for me.
Just once, I’d like to say something publicly to a group of women and not have it come back to bite me… I’m still in God’s Word, but that “regular time” thing doesn’t work out each day.  Really – I used to get up every day at 5:15 to do my Bible Study homework and I can barely drag myself out of bed to get Ella up and ready for school right now… or for the past year plus.
My Godly Passion… I was SURE I had that figured out, but I’m discovering that maybe God wants my passion focused on my kids and how I can best serve them and teach them for the time being.  Ella asked this weekend to start a daily devotion time.

So that’s what’s next.
Getting myself refocused on my time alone with God (oh, mercy, 5:15 is early… but any other time of the day I’m not alone and once the kids are in bed we’re lucky if I’m awake long enough to use the restroom and brush my teeth).
Getting Ella up 10 minutes early to do a devotion with me – just us as often as Joe will sleep that extra 10 minutes.

Prayers are always appreciated, friends.  I often fail after I declare something… I’d like to NOT fail at pointing my kids to Jesus.

As for that job I didn’t get – someone got it and is rocking it.
I’m enjoying getting to see them take the reins and make it their own.