A Stone of Remembrance
Yvetta Varatharaj (WRIGG Writer)
As women, we often have the privilege and responsibility of setting the spiritual temperature in our homes. I recently had an experience that I believe will be a marker in our family’s spiritual journey, much the way the Israelites left memorial stones to give God glory and remind future generations of what He had done for them (Joshua 4:20-24).
A few weeks ago we woke up to find that both our cars had been broken into. Everything had been rummaged through. There wasn’t much of value in there, but the burglar did take a black bag, thinking it probably had a computer inside. There was no computer, but what it did have were receipts and truck weigh tickets from our recent military move. To the culprit, these items were worthless. But to us they were invaluable—without them we would not be able to get reimbursed the thousands of dollars due to us for moving ourselves.
That morning after my husband left for work, our kids and I prayed some big prayers. We prayed that the bag would come back to us with the papers intact. Praying big is risky, especially when you pray with little hearts that are going to ask some big questions if God doesn’t answer in the way they expect. I don’t always have the faith to put God on the spot like that, but this time I did.
I put out a message on our neighborhood network page to let people know what had happened and to keep an eye out for it, but didn’t share my address for safety reasons. For the next couple days, every time I left the house I kept glancing at the side of the road hoping that the perpetrator had discarded it in an obvious location. I wanted so badly to see God answer, but I was searching for the answer in my own wisdom, thinking I had figured out how He would come through. I would have been thrilled if He had chosen to answer that way. But God had something else in mind.
A few days later, the kids and I were returning home after a day out and about. We pulled into the driveway and I noticed something leaning against the front door. It was THE black bag—in perfect condition, with papers intact. I took it inside and showed the kids. You can imagine the celebration that ensued! We talked about how our amazing God came through in his own amazing way. Dad came home from work shortly after and was in disbelief to hear the news, as we all were. There was much rejoicing!
We tried to think of how it could have happened, but it was clear that we would not be able to figure this one out. God knew the story because he had written it, and we were left to wonder at the miracle he had wrought for us.
I couldn’t help but share with anyone who would listen. Like the Israelites, I “memorialized” it in my own way. In this case, sharing our testimony with friends and family, as well as a post to social media and an update on our neighborhood page were the most tangible ways we could give God the glory. This is a stone we will visit often and remember God’s faithfulness.
By Yvetta Varatharaj
Someone near and dear to me is in the throes of planning the most important day of her life – her wedding. As I’ve been helping in little ways, memories of when I was in that season of my life have flooded back from the not-so-distant past a few years back. While our day was beautiful and special, and God’s presence was with us, there are some aspects of the planning and of the day itself that I wish I could change, and it still hurts me to think of those things. Why does my heart still get a little angry or sad when I think about those details that I can’t change? Some of those hurts may even be the cause of strained relationships I’ve had with those surrounding the memories, causing me to act less than Christ-like.
As followers of Christ, we are not left powerless to change those situations. While the moments may have passed and it is too late to redo them, it is never too late to allow Jesus to heal, restore, and redeem those broken places. Those sore spots have been left open too long, and they need to be deep-cleaned of the debris that’s been packed in on top for us to fully heal.
Thankfully, our Jesus paid a heavy price so that we could be healed and set free. So I am asking Him to come and clean me out and help me to let go of how I feel about those situations I can’t change. I am ready to forgive and move on, and Jesus is holding out his hands to me saying “don’t look back, I have something better for you.”
Every day we can let the Lord clean us out of the new layers of grime that have deposited on our hearts; we don’t have to wait until they become huge, open wounds. We can pray like David did:
“Search me, God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps 139:23-24 (NIV)
We can forgive and be forgiven like Jesus told us to in The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:11-12 (ESV):
“Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
And then we can wait, and forgive, and receive, and heal in the presence of our loving God.
Our spiritual identity lays dormant until we accept Christ as our personal savior and surrender our flesh to the will of God. It is at that time our spiritual man is awakened and we begin our journey as Disciples of Christ. In my mind getting a new identity in Christ meant I couldn’t be me. It’s taken me years of healing and growth in the one who loves me unconditionally. He knows me and wants to use me to show Him on the earth. The Father wants us free from all the lies we believed to be our truth - self-protections and hurts we learned to hide behind. All of that hinders me from being the best Gizelle/LIZ I can be for my Father. Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The word of God tells us what our new identity is once we become a child of God. However, we believe and conduct ourselves according to our experiences and believe what we have been told. Our belief system shapes us from a young child to the adults we become. We spend money and endless hours to better ourselves through self-improvement conferences and workshops - only to be unfilled, unsatisfied, and left wondering what to do next? When all we need to do is allow our spirit man in us to live through us. We need to trust God’s perfect will to be done in our lives. I know that involves asking the Father daily what that means for me. Believe me, I came kicking and screaming, dying to my flesh and the things that have protected me since I was a child and into my adulthood. I’m new, the new me is being healed of my old belief system and learning how to trust God’s plan for me and my life!
In the book Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson, his chapter entitled “Something Old, Something New” tells us, “The change that takes place in us when we come to Christ involves two dimensions.
First, we have a new master. As mortals we have no choice but to live under a spiritual power--either our heavenly Father or the god of this world. At salvation, the believer in Christ experiences a change in the power that dominates life.
Second, there is an actual change in the nature of believers so that the propensities of their lives or the deepest desires of their hearts are now oriented toward God rather than toward self and sin.”
This brought freedom and change to my belief system that kept binding me to the lies of the enemy - depending on self and keeping my flesh free of change for my better. What are some of your “Something Olds” that keep you from your new?
In spite of wanting to please the Father with all I do, I tend to take my eyes off the Father and depend on me, myself and I. When I am distracted by my own desires and dreams, I focus on what I think my success should look like. After I am hit with disappointment, I can always pin point when I took my eyes off the Father and I started to look towards man. I forget that even though man is in a position to advance me towards my dreams, it still has to be in the Father’s will and purposed for his kingdom. The word tells us to delight in the Father, Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
It’s been my experience that there are times I think I can accomplish my goal on my own. It’s never my (our) intention not to focus on the Lord, but yet it is easy to do. I believe we all get impatient with waiting for things to happen. I believe it is the open- door entry of taking our eyes off the Father and the beginning of, “I can do it.” Then we turn our focus towards me, myself, and man. And that is the road that leads us to assured disappointment. We never expect the route taken at the time to lead us to disappointment but that is where we end up. How do I stop this? Believing every situation was different and not making sure the idea or opportunity was from God is always my first mistake. Believing God needed my help to manifest his idea or his opportunity is my second mistake, but we all know that God makes no mistakes. How did I end up here again? Is the question I always end up asking myself? Even though I know his word tells me in Proverbs 3: 5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
I have to believe that I have glorified him and his kingdom in my disappointments, as long I found my way back to him through repenting, asking for his forgiveness, and extending forgiveness in my heart. When we are not focused on the Father, for even a second, we will face disappointment in our homes, on our jobs, and in our family. I must learn to stay out my Father’s way and to walk and trust in His path for me. Allow Him to do what He promised me, His daughter. Is this my thorn? Paul tell us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 but he said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ‘s power may rest on me. “Thank you, Father for bringing me back to you again and again.”
Some people have a knack for entertaining. You walk into their home and they make you feel like you belong there. When you leave, you are nourished, refreshed, encouraged, and grateful.
I’ll be honest – entertaining doesn’t come naturally to me. At least it didn’t used to. I always had reasons why I shouldn’t have people over (the house was too small/dirty/cluttered/whatever) and the rare instances when we did have friends over, I was an anxious grump anticipating their arrival, trying to accomplish a month’s worth of housework in a day. For a season we were teaching weekly swing dance lessons in our small condo, and we would spend the hours beforehand hiding all the clutter from the living room in our bedroom and the guest room. Then we’d pray that no one would accidentally open one of those doors!
Physical environment aside, I just never really felt like I knew how to make others feel welcome in our home. The stress and worry of what they would think kept me from truly enjoying our friends.
Now, I know that when I go to someone else’s house, I don’t judge the experience in the harsh, critical manner in which I would judge my own hospitality. I am not worried about the piles of clutter on their dining table when I drop in on short notice. I am not expecting to have homemade goodies fresh out of the oven. What I remember most is the experience. When I step into someone’s home, I feel welcomed, loved, and cared for.
So why the double standard? I’d say it’s probably because I’m a Martha at heart. No, I didn’t mean Martha Stewart (although I wouldn’t mind that!). I am talking Martha from the bible. See Luke 10:38-42.
There are a few things characteristic of the “Martha type”.
Martha struggled to balance the people side of hospitality with the practical side, and as a result, she missed out on precious time with those she loved. I can’t help but wonder if that feeling of being overwhelmed kept her from even inviting people in sometimes. I have succumbed to that feeling many times and not opened up my home when the opportunity came up.
We are in the midst of a move to a new city, and am choosing to take advantage of the fresh start. With God’s help, I hope to have company over regularly. I would like to maintain a pleasant environment in my home so that it doesn’t have to be such a big stress when someone drops by. Then my heart will be ready to serve their needs without being overly concerned about the tasks and preparations.
I am telling the Martha in me to slow down, invite people in, and love on them like Mary loved on Jesus. They may not remember what kind of coffee and snacks I served, but I they will remember how loved and appreciated they felt in my home.
We are born with an identity that awaits us; it’s beyond our family traditions of who we should be and who we’re molded into as a child. We are raised and developed by our environments. We’re taught at a young age to start thinking of what to be when we grow up. Without much thought as little girls we are given dolls only to feed into a natural instinct, “I want to be a mother when I grow up”. And many of us have become great mothers and some still have the desire to mothers.
Maybe you were raised in an environment that taught careers came first before a family, and after all your accomplishments your desire is still to be a mother and a wife. That’s great, I know the Father created us with those desires so we could be fruitful and multiply.
Genesis 1:28 NIV
God said to them, be fruitful and increase in numbers; fill the earth and subdue it.
So after we reach our desired man made identity, we are left with feelings of, “I’m still not satisfied, something is still missing, I just can’t explain what I’m feeling.”
We’re only completely satisfied in our lives after we find Christ. We have to unlock our kingdom identity by accepting Christ as our Personal Savior. The identity the Father predestined for us in our mother’s wound.
Jeremiah 1:5 NIV
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nation.”
Our true identity is in Christ, but we are not molded in the identity of Christ as a child in the way they were in the bible days. Children were taught to walk in the ways of the bible so that they could reign as Kings to lead the people, or to have David’s faith to fight Goliath not because he believed in himself, but in God and his faithfulness. Thank God, we serve a God that allows us our own desires while he desires us to walk out our identity to advance his kingdom.
Ephesians 4:11 NIV; so Christ himself gave the apostle, the prophets, the evangelist, the pastors and teachers. 12) to equip his people for the works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
Our spirit man longs for a relationship with Christ and once it’s awakened by our confession of Christ, by his grace and mercy we are drawn back to his original plan of our kingdom calling. If your Spirit man is awakened and you’re still wondering why I am not satisfied, what is missing in my life or I just can’t explain it. Ask yourself, "Am I fully walking in my true identity of advancing the kingdom of Christ?"
Whether you are a stay at home wife and mom, or woman that takes care of her home and works outside, here is a little grace. Your most important role is praiseworthy. I love the way Yvetta breaks down the qualifications, duties, and compensation. Read on and be blessed!
One time, as a Civil Engineer in my mid-twenties, my boss asked me about my career goals. I told him that I wanted to become the best engineer I could be for as long as I was doing this. And then, mustering up an extra ounce of courage (or foolishness), I added, “but eventually I want to be a stay at home mom.”
You may not be surprised to hear that I was terminated from my job a few weeks later. When I look back at that conversation and its result, two things become evident:
While I may not have recognized it in my head when I said it, as we know, “Out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). Even then, my heart believed that home management is a career, not just something you do instead of a real job.
My words had put me on the fast track to the career my heart truly desired. But, as with any career, nobody signs up without first learning what’s being asked of them. King Solomon wrote almost an entire chapter about “an excellent wife”, and I knew that’s where I’d find my new job description. Now, I realize Proverbs 31 was written a long time ago and the specifics aren’t all relevant today. But, the values and character traits of this praiseworthy woman transcend time and space.
Below I have written a job description for the “Excellent Wife” based on the verses from Proverbs 31, which are referenced on each line. You might be wondering what to do with it. Is it a measuring stick? I hope not! I fall short on many counts. I believe this framework casts a shadow of how God sees us through the righteousness of Christ. He already knows our worth because he declared it when he paid a great price for us. But more than that, he sees this boundless potential in us, and as we speak and believe these things about ourselves, we stretch and fill those roles that challenge us. So remind your spirit often that you are that woman, and God already sees your potential. Walk as he sees you— as the virtuous and capable woman, wife, or mom.
Position: Virtuous and capable wife.
Qualifications and skills: