I had a blog post all written because of the turmoil in my heart created by Fifty Shades of Grey, Magic Mike and Christ followers spending time on Bourbon Street.
I wrote most of the post on Tuesday night as I sat at the bedside of Mrs. Susie Butler. This precious lady and longtime member of Edgewater has been in hospice care and I had the honor of spending the evening with her. So as she slept, I typed out my frustration with sexual immorality that seems so prevalent in the Church and was just waiting to finish up and post it.
But then I said good bye to Mrs. Susie yesterday, cried with her precious husband, and praised God when I heard that last night she went from a hospice bed to bowing at the Throne of her Savior.
Moments like that make you change your perspective a bit.
So rather than giving a list of what we shouldn't do (you know I wanted to!), I want to share my thoughts about our hearts and what we SHOULD be doing. Because these issues are just symptoms of a greater problem . . . a heart problem. And until our hearts are transformed by the Word, we will continue to wrestle with how to live to please God.
(Please know that I am not perfect and desire to submit my heart to God's Word so I speak these words to myself and in grace to those reading.)
Maybe we need to let the Word wash over us . . .
Let's take seriously the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to "FLEE from sexual immorality."
Remember Paul's words in Philippians 4:8, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
Paul's words in Ephesians 5:3 are clear . . . "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people."
Romans 12:1-2 sums it up well, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Isn't that what we need? To be transformed. Something we can't do to ourselves. Something that only happens as we become living sacrifices, as we die. Die so we may truly live.
And that has consumed my mind these last few days. Mrs. Susie lived, truly lived, as one who died to herself long ago and each day since. I feel as though if we could grasp a few things that she did, the issues above wouldn't be issues at all.
First of all, Mrs. Susie lived to make much of Christ. She served God by serving others. She went on mission trips to share the Gospel. She shared her faith with fellow New Orleanians.
Even on Tuesday, in hospice care, with almost no voice, Mrs. Susie had her mind set on things above. I happened to wear my adoption t-shirt that day. As her first nurse came in, Mrs. Susie pointed to my shirt and then to the nurse. She was so excited about Easton and I knew she wanted me to share! I had the chance to tell this nurse about our adoption and that the fuel for our journey is that we've been adopted through Christ. Mrs. Susie pretended to rock a baby and then folded her hands together . . . she was praying for my precious baby . . . what a beautiful gift to our family for her to intercede on Easton's behalf. At shift change, a new nurse came in and once again Mrs. Susie motioned for me to share our story. Those ladies had no chance of taking care of her without hearing about her God . . . even if she couldn't tell them herself!
I was overcome that even until the very end this sweet woman was was living to make her Savior known. If this was the cry of our hearts, the focus of our days, and the mission of our lives then I do believe the Church would be radically different people. Magic Mike would be just another commercial that we would miss because we don't have time to waste in light of the urgency of eternity and the hopelessness apart from Christ.
Secondly, Mrs. Susie was a devoted wife of 60 years to Mr. Glenn. 61 years in September. They had lived as one twice as long as they'd lived apart. I cry now just thinking about their precious love for each other, their service to one another, and how even at the end she asked me to pray for his grieving heart.
What if we all lifted up God's design for marriage, a beautiful picture of Christ and the Church, and proclaimed God's glory through our honor, respect, love and devotion to our spouse?
Imagine our world seeing followers of Christ who refused to be satisfied or fulfilled by anyone or anything other than the person with whom they have become ONE. Imagine marriages thriving because we take seriously the commands to flee from sexual immorality and to not have a hint of impurity. If we trust that God has given us these Words to protect us and for our good, then we obey, we fight temptation, we pursue holiness, we honor our spouses, and we glorify God.
If we threw ourselves into the pursuit of God's good design for marriage, I think we would spend our time thinking of ways to honor the one we love and easily leaving behind anything that doesn't fit that description.
Oh how I desire to be a woman who makes much of Christ and a wife who lifts high Jesus by reflecting Him through my marriage. I am forever grateful for Mrs. Susie and her example as just such a woman.
I pray that my heart, that your heart, would be transformed through the Word and by the Spirit so that we will keep our minds on things above and not on earthly things, so we will be about our mission to make disciples of all nations, and so holiness would characterize our lives as we daily die to ourselves and live in Christ!