2/23/06

Encouragement for Today:

 

“Picture Perfect”

Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministries

 

Key Verse:

Genesis 3:22-24, “And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.  He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’  So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” (NIV)

 

Devotion:

Once upon a time, God created man, woman, and all the living creatures of the earth.  They walked through the Garden of Eden naked and unashamed, frolicking with all of creation and communing with God without reserve.  But sin entered the world and the picturesque life we were intended to live came to a sudden halt.

 

Though our hearts were made for the Garden of Eden, life seems more like the Garden of Gethsemane.  We dream about finally meeting that someone special we will marry, long for children, and search for purpose in our daily activities. Then a wedding, life, and a couple of kids later we feel disillusioned and disappointed. 

 

I was reminded of this harsh biblical truth one day when my husband and I went to do a photo shoot for a book.  As we were rummaging through various examples, I found a shot that I really liked and held it up for the photographer to see.  He had a concerned look on his face as I pointed out the picture of the couple standing in a grassy field.  “Those kinds of pictures take more planning than your standard inside session.  If you wanted one like that, we should have thought about it a little more in advance,” he said with eyebrows raised. I was a little disappointed.

 

“What coordinating clothes did you bring?  We’ll pick a background color that will contrast nicely,” said the photographer.  Suddenly the knot developing in my stomach twisted as I held up what we were planning to wear and watched his face grow colder.  My husband was also looking at me with an I-told-you-so look.  He didn’t want to get the pictures taken that day in the first place.  He thought we needed to take more time to plan for it, plus he wanted to get a haircut.  At this point, I was really angry.

 

For many of us, mishaps are a daily occurrence, but things usually seem to work out fine.  But sometimes things don’t work out fine.  For me, planning another photo shoot would take up time I didn’t necessarily have.  There would be hair to fix, makeup, accessories, and covering unsightly blemishes.  Isn’t that just like life though?  We want things to be picture perfect and inevitably, they never are.  Back to the Garden we go.

 

God’s Word reveals that we were made for perfect peace, provision, surroundings, and love.  But it seems that our souls cry in anguish over the world’s distortion of God’s design.  Instead of turning to God and letting His perfect peace, provision, and love fill our empty places, we kick into fix-it mode.  We strategize, manipulate, and set agendas.  We develop methods to change the things in our world that are not quite perfect.

 

So what do we do when we come to the end of our emotional and physical ropes, realizing that despite all our efforts there is no human answer?  We must turn to Jesus Christ and His plan for us.  No matter how much planning, strategizing, or manipulating we do, God’s sovereignty will rule.  In the meantime, we must trust that His heart is full of love and grace where we are weak.  He made us for the promise of heaven and we can trust that He will see us through.

 

My Prayer for Today:

Heavenly Father, I praise You for being the Author of this great fairy tale of which I am a part.  Help me when I am unable to fight my battles, and remind me that the Hero of this story – Jesus Christ – has already achieved victory.  As I long for the promise of a picture perfect world, continue to give me glimpses of my heavenly home.

 

Application Steps:

As is the habit of most women, arranging, manipulating, and planning our lives to go just the way we want them to go is often fruitless. Adam and Eve did this and got themselves kicked out of the Garden of Eden.  In our fruitless efforts, I am reminded of the word vain.  It means:  “To no avail; without success.”  Here are a few verses that discuss man’s works being in vain.  After you read each of these, record your thoughts on what it means to strive to no avail.  How does God’s sovereignty play a part in our human efforts?

 

Ecclesiastes 2:22-23

Psalms 39:6

Isaiah 49:4

Isaiah 65:23

1 Corinthians 15:56-58 

 

Reflection Points:

  1. Where must you cease striving to get your own way?
  2. How has God thwarted your efforts in trying to gain what is not eternal?
  3. Do you mistrust that God’s heart is full of love toward you because of your present circumstances?

 

Power Verses:

Hosea 2:5b-7a, “She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’  Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.  She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them.” (NIV)

 

1 John 5:4, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (NIV)

 

1 Corinthians 13:12-13, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (NIV)

 

Additional Resources:

Dreams of a Woman, by Sharon Jaynes

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_dreamsWoman.htm

 

Living Life on Purpose, by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_livingLife.htm


A Woman’s Secret to a Balanced Life, by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_secretBalanced.htm