May 17, 2012
Categories: Clients, Family, My Faith
Bless This Mess
Bless This Mess
A couple of weeks ago, my church started a new series called, “Modern Family.” Since that time, our weekend schedule has been a bit chaotic (visiting family, etc), so I haven’t physically attended our church, but I have tried to keep up with the lessons via our church’s podcasts. This week, I’m picking up with a lesson from a couple of weeks ago called “Help for the Mess We’ve Made,” aimed at discussing how we restore our families as God intended it. You can listen or watch the original message by clicking HERE. I’ve also included a few photos from my recent family portrait session with Sarah Halstead.
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First, let’s talk about Job. 
Job 1:1-3 says, “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.”
Job could legitimately wear the shirt “I’m kindof a big deal,” because he was such a man of influence and wealth.  But as great as his resume looked on the outside, he was an even greater man on the inside. Job was not just a pretty face. So in Job 1:8, Satan is up in heaven talking smack to God:
“Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.'”
We’re all aware that Satan trolls around earth looking for ways to test God’s people…and in this case, God basically says, “Bring it!” God presents Job as the type of man that Satan cannot break. Satan likes a good challenge and does his best to break Job of his spirit. So, one day Job wakes up and his world has been flipped upside down – he’s lost everything (Job 1:13-18). But remember, Job’s heart is much stronger than any of his wealth…he cannot be broken.
Job 1:22-22 says, “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” 
I tried to imagine what I might do if the devil had tested me in this same way. Would I have been so understanding? Would I have offered the Lord my praise? The truth is that my behaviors are not always a reflection of my heart. I can’t say that I’ve spent nearly as much time with God in prayer as I have focusing on what society deems important. Granted, preparing for a new baby is certainly appropriate, but buying “stuff” is really insignificant in the whole scheme of things, isn’t it?
IMG_6518 RSWith that said, as we try to apply Job’s experience to our own lives…and restore our families as God intended it, we first have to understand the stages we go through.

1. “Give Me”

We all start our lives in the “give me” stage. As parents, we all hope that our children will grow out of this stage…but so many relationships fail because both parties have yet to advance beyond an expectation that others provide for them. Said another way, how many people do you know that became Christians because they didn’t want to go to Hell (especially if they became Christians at a very young age). At this stage in our lives, our decisions have nothing to do with God and everything to do with “what’s in it for me?” If the scripture or outcomes benefit us, we’re all in…if it doesn’t benefit us, we tend to ignore it.

I guess there’s no shame in being in this stage, because we all start our spiritual journey with this level of immaturity. Unfortunately, we all start at this stage within our personal relationships (friendships, marriages, etc.) as well. As a result, we can be very quick to be disappointed when things don’t go our way…when the other person doesn’t live up to the expectations we have for what they should be doing for us. We then start trying to look for other things that will make us happy – new relationships, new clothes, etc. Recall the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-12)?

When we realize that only GOD can fulfill us…when we can die to ourselves and do for others instead of expecting everyone to give to us…that’s when we can advance.

2. “Search Me”

Back to the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:17), “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!'”

You will never grow in your relationship with Jesus if you are still blaming someone else for your life circumstances. And this is why so many relationships and marriages fall apart – no one is willing to be held accountable for their part. Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” At some point, we’ve got to take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror to find out what is really going on. You’re not responsible for anyone else’s actions but your own. Unfortunately, two things hold us back: our pride and our insecurities. In particular, we’re scared of what we’ll find by taking a deep look at ourselves – what if we’re the problem? And if we don’t resolve it, we’ll always carry that baggage…from one relationship to another.

3. “Make Me” 

Going back to the Prodigal Son one last time (Luke 15:18-19),  “I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.” At this stage, we can do the same thing by asking God to make us a servant…to our children…to our spouse…to HIS Kingdom. And in doing so, we can repair our families because we’ll be serving more than ourselves. 
Matthew 20:26-28 says, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
With that said, our minister gave us a bit of homework…so I offer it up to you as well. Look for an opportunity to serve: your spouse or significant other…or if you don’t have either of those…a friend or coworker. We must think of our families as an internal investment. In fact, we could be more like Job and focus more on what’s important inside than what’s on the outside. At the end of the day, it won’t matter if our children attended practice (insert your sport or instrument of choice here) or if we have the best house/cars/clothes…what will matter is if our heart is in the right place. That’s really all God cares about.
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4 COMMENTS

    A wonderful lesson – and gorgeous photos! Great job, Ashley!

    This is such a great message! You have such a way with words Ashley, keep up the good work!

    I needed this this week. What a great reminder that we must grow and never become stale in God’s kingdom her on Earth.I accept that homework assignment. I will be looking for someone to serve, hopefully more than once. Thank you, Ashley!
    PS, I adore the pictures. What a gorgeous family.

    such a wonderful lesson you shared and the beautiful pictures of Sarah’s family just make this perfect!! nicely done and just loving this post!! :)


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