Set Apart

I’ve often said, rather tongue-in-cheek, that “I was a lot more holy person before I married and had children.”  The truth is that as a single woman I was jealous, frustrated, selfish, and quick to react, but I just didn’t have the stimulus to bring all of that out of me like I find in this phase of life.  Sometimes I miss the days when I could be upset and just withdraw and spend time with the Lord and work it out before I faced anyone.  Now, it’s in the car with four children trying to get somewhere, or accomplish something, usually with a deadline that I have to confront my impatience, frustrations and anger.  I don’t always handle it well.

When you think of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, how do you picture her?  For most who answer this question the description is something like this:  “A pure virgin, holy unto the Lord holding the Son of God in her arms with a halo over her head”.  She is the epitome of righteousness and the highest aspiration of most women.  What if we moved on in the life of Mary?  You know, to the part where she consummated her marriage to Joseph, bore more children, became a mother with stretch marks and possibly uneven breasts?  What about when she journeyed through menopause, and then into grand-motherhood?  Has she fallen from the category of “holy” when you change the picture?

What about baby Jesus?  He is pure, holy, innocent flesh and blood in the arms of his holy Mother, who grows into puberty, develops body hair, body odor, and becomes a man with a trade in carpentry.  Does He seem as holy with this occupation and the awkwardness of teenage development?  Often we reserve the idea of His holiness for the manger scene and then again from the years 30-33 of His ministry.

Why am I asking these questions? you might wonder.  The Bible teaches that holiness is an attribute and devotion of our lives and character when we “set apart” our lives for the worship and obedience to God.  Because we say we love God and serve Him, we live our lives different than the world with a new set of desires.  Holiness is not a state an occupation or stage of life, neither is it a ladder to be climbed with some occupations or situations of life being more holy than another.  Holiness is a lifestyle of someone set apart for God.  One who applies what God has taught them in their bodies, minds, and spirit.  Holiness is a state of being bestowed on us by the blood of Jesus that washed us, made us pure before the Lord and gave us the right and privilege to call God our Father.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

God Himself has also made us holy through the blood of His Son Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:9-10

New International Version (NIV)

9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Colossians 1:21-23

New International Version (NIV)

 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Colossians 3:16-18

New International Version (NIV)

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

All of our life is holy unto God.  When we are washing carpets, it is holy.  When we are changing tires, it is holy.  When we are growing into adulthood our lives are holy.  When we hold our grandchildren, it is holy.  Holiness is in the servant teaching Sunday school, and the family enjoying each other on a vacation.  Holiness is in being single and holiness is in marriage.  God has set us apart, made us holy and gave us the power of the Holy Spirit to work into our minds, wills, emotions, and bodies godly ways to live.

So when I lose my temper in the car, impatient with my children, I apologize, I ask for forgiveness and this is a holy moment.  When I am leading worship for a crowd of a thousand people it is holy.  When I pray for the hurting it is holy.  When I am taking garbage to the dump, or unplugging the toilet, these things are also holy when I apply God’s Word to my life and “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Oh, and what about Mary?  You know, the mother of Jesus?  Her life is recorded in the scriptures as a godly woman.  She is mentioned as part of the multitude of people in the Upper Room in the book of Acts, praying, and receiving the Holy Spirit as was promised by her son and Savior Jesus.  Her life as a wife to Joseph and mother to many sons? Holy.

Meanwhile on Planet Morris…

I just returned from a week in California.  The first part of that week was spent with the women of Oak Hills Church of Folsom, California, at their retreat on Lake Tahoe.  It was three beautiful days of worship, testimonies and encouragement and I was able to share in the beauty of it all.  When the retreat concluded, I spent the next four days recording six new songs for my next cd project at a studio in Sacramento.  All in all it was a wonderful week!

I have to admit that I loved the spring weather in California and the break it gave me from life here on “Planet Morris”.  When I had free time I would take long walks or sit in the sunshine.  I read books, journaled, and prayed.  I met new people and shared in the stories of some, and the prayers of others.  I was refreshed and encouraged.

But meanwhile, back on planet Morris:

The tomatoes grew gray beards in my absence and there is a suspicious odor wafting from the refrigerator.  Someone used a bath towel on the dog and hung it back up in the bathroom to become the giver of dog hairs to the next user, and now, after being reuinited with my children from a week of absence, they all are asking if they can go somewhere and hang out with someone else or do something fun.  “We’re bored!”  they say.

Ahhh, motherhood.  The attempt to be all things to all people.  I must navigate the world of video games, heroes and “Power-ups”, in order to engage in the conversations with my boys who speak of the virtual world as something to be attained.  My oldest daughter needs “girl time” and conversations late into the evening as she sorts out life and her place in it.  My youngest needs me to paint and dance with her, and engage in the life of her stuffed animals who are each facing various crisis.  My husband needs me to keep the ship afloat in his absence by managing the businesses, finances and household.

The tasks can be overwhelming and daunting at times.  Sometimes I feel like I am at the top of my game, and other times I feel like I am at the bottom of the laundry basket.  So I sneak in nap on the couch while the boys are playing with legos, and the girls are working in their own projects and I wake to the requests of hungry kids who need a snack or something good to eat…which reminds me that I need to go to the store and get some groceries, oh and deposit some checks, pay some bills, drop off some paperwork, return a few phone calls, and make some appointments.

This is life on my planet which I am sure isn’t much different from the life on yours.  As much as I would like to be the woman who “has it all” and can “do anything,” the reality is I am the woman who runs out of deodorant, loses her keys, forgets to shave her legs, and to the disappointment of my youngest– can’t remember the name of her new stuffed animal who joined our family. I’m just not “All That.”

There is no way that I can attain the “All That”status.  I have too many flaws, but the good news is that God didn’t ask me to be “All That”.  He asked me to be His.  What does that mean?

God asks me to eat from His table, receive from His hands, listen to His words, and enjoy Him.  Yes, I have responsibilities as a mom and wife that keep life running here, but my primary responsibility is to enjoy the Lord and be a receiver of His love and affection.  How else will I have any love or affection to give to another?

My job is to “Consider the Lilies”—smell them, gaze at them, wonder at them and reflect on their life.  My job is to watch the birds, build and make nests, gather food and feed their young and consider that the God who keeps their life vibrant and beautiful will do the same for me.  My job is to worship and be a receiver of the love and grace of God.

Matthew 6:25-34

    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

   28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Psalm 23

 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
   through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
   for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
   they comfort me.

 5 You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

I’m God’s daughter first, a wife and mother second, and hopefully a friend and mentor.  I will have successes and failures, joys and sorrows, accomplishments and mistakes, hopes and disappointments.   If anything I do encourages or lifts another it is evidence of the Grace and Mercy of God alive and well here on Planet Morris, and I suspect; no, I know He is at work there on your planet too!