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  • The Reformed Pastor – Richard Baxter

    “We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!”
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The Grapefruit

In a Bible study that I frequent, we all were told that we need to be transparent to be of help to others. I have taken that challenge seriously. I am going to continue to open my heart so you can see what’s inside. I will try to do so without using names or any identifying information – for it is not my desire to hurt others. It IS my desire to show others my experiences – to be an encouragement. Perhaps if others see what I live through, how I doubt, where my mind wanders, or even my mistakes, then perhaps they’ll be encouraged that their life is normal – especially when it is full of disappointments, heartaches and loveloss. 

I want to dispel the myth that if we pursue God our life will be perfect or easy. Too often we look at others who are in a position of leadership in the church and say to ourselves, “I could never do that.” Or we look at other families and wonder why we can’t be happy like them or have a noticable hand of blessing on our life like they do. Well, I’m here to tell you that if you do choose to pursue God, it will not be a bed of roses. But, you will have the confidence that He is pleased with your offerings to Him and will protect you from the world in a way that brings Him glory and your good. An abiding Christian life is not smooth, but it promises peace and contentment in Him. I wouldn’t trade that for the world – literally. If you put yourself out there to serve Him, you will have pain and heartache but the alternative is a life without purpose and God’s favor. Hopefully along the way you will receive God’s blessing for your lifestyle of godliness, but there are no guarantees when or how they will come. You may have to look for them, but they will be there.

Here’s one of the looks into my life that isn’t so pleasant:

I just can’t keep up. One day I’m a great mom and should receive the blessings of God on my life for the sacrifices I’ve made.  The next day I’m the worst thing that ever walked the earth and should be put down to save others from having to be exposed to me. I guess I’ll just have to accept the fact that some people will hate me. I don’t really understand why, but I still need to accept it. I have to cling to the fact that some day all will be revealed. I have to realize that though I may love someone, they won’t necessarily love me back. I also have to accept the fact that though I did the best I could with God’s help, maybe it wasn’t enough. Sometimes I just have to choose God and let the rest go.

One last thing that maybe will confuse you even more. I just went through a really hard thing with a couple of people in my life – one through email and one on the phone not an hour later. The boys knew it and were staying out of the room to let me deal with it. When I was talking to Mark on the phone about it afterward, Levi, my 17 year old son, asked if he could have a grapefruit and I told him go ahead and then asked if I wanted one. I told him, “No thanks, there are only two,” indicating to him that I thought Jacob might want it. Then he said as he started to hand his to me, “Oh, do you want me to peel you one?” I know that sounds like a small offer, but if you knew how we peeled our grapefruits you’d see how that was such a wonderful thing to offer to do for me.

grapefruit1We first cut off the skin and then take about 15-20 minutes to peel every single piece of the skin so only the fruit juice “sacks” are left. It is a glorious experience to eat a grapefruit like that. Levi and I sat down one school morning and spent about a half an hour doing it together. I told him it was OK, we could just call it Science class. VBG!  He was discovering the tiny sacks of fruit juice and we were reveling in it together. So for him to offer to peel me one was so touching to me that I just started bawling! Then I told Mark I was bawling because when I go through a really hurtful time and someone is nice to me it makes me cry. Poor Levi was standing there with this confused look on his face like he was at a loss – here I was bawling my eyes out because he offered to peel me a grapefruit.

Our life has been very hard for about 6 weeks with many situations and trouble coming our way. It’s been hard dealing with it because it seemed that almost every time we reached out for help we were denied one one way or another. There have been a few people that have helped, and for that I am very grateful to God for. We would have lost it a long time ago if it hadn’t been for them. The thing is, the problems just keep rolling in. Each phone call, each email that I get lately strikes fear into my heart – and even though I know satan is the author of fear and is trying to destroy our family, it doesn’t negate the fact that we have been receiving very painful news over and over – like in the Biblical account of the life of Job, with one thing after another threatening our family. I am anxious for this time in our life to be over, but it doesn’t seem to be happening very quickly. But for now, I need to rest in the good things God sends to me to keep me going. I’m going to go eat my grapefruit.

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