{The Shelves} Glimpses of Grace

The sun rises on a crisp new day.

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She stands by the window, steaming cup of the strongest coffee in cold hands.  She just stands in the silence.  Her heart is quiet.  She wants to just be here, in this hallowed here.  A whisper in her soul says, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” {Lam. 3:22-24}.

A heavy sigh.  A deep breath.  Yes.  A new start, thank you, Lord.

The list of resolves begin:  Today will be different.
I won’t raise my voice at them today.
I won’t be irritated and distracted and selfish today.
I will serve them happily.
I will enjoy them.
I will open my heart to the beautiful messes.
I won’t be surprised when they disobey.
I will be patient.
I won’t discipline in anger.

And on and on.. this litany of guilt and hope.

And then, the first child’s cry and the day of work has begun.  She leaves her coffee, and gets the littlest one to nurse, and the giving away begins again.

But then the baby has a blow out.  And the three year old wakes up whining and with a runny nose again.  Her husband forgot to take the trash out.  Milk is spilled, plastic forks are banging on the table and dropping on the floor, along with food.  There’s one child talking back and another one screaming.  And she’s hardly made it through breakfast before every single resolve has been broken.  What to make of this?  What hope is there for tomorrow?  What hope is there for her, in her frail and broken flesh to love well?

*     *     *     *     *

If there is one book I would recommend to any mom, maybe even any woman, it’s this one by Gloria Furman.  It’s what’s on the bedside table this month.

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Gloria writes for the stay-at-home momma or the working woman, and she writes to unveil how the Gospel impacts our normal, daily, mundane lives.  Does God care about the mundane tasks we perform day in and day out?  How does His grace change the way we do laundry, potty training, bed-making, cooking, grocery shopping, guest-hosting?

For me, per the parable at the beginning of this post, this has been my greatest struggle as a parent thus far.  This seeming endless battle to live a pure and holy life before God in even the mundane details of life, and yet this daily failing and floundering.  My heart is so often discouraged and barely feels brave enough to whisper: Is there any purpose in it?  Is there any hope in it?  Can a sin-bent woman such as myself ever live a life that pleases God?

“Theology is for homemakers who need to know who God is, who they are, and what this mundane life is all about…As homemakers who are made in God’s image and desire to live for God, we need to know what God’s intentions are for us and for the work we do in the home.  More specifically, we need to know: What does the gospel have to do with our everyday lives in the home?  How does the gospel impact our dish washing, floor mopping, bill paying, friend making, guest hosting, and dinner cooking?  How does the fact that Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24) make a difference in my mundane life today?…This book is a description of the distinctly Christian hope of God’s glory and how it relates to the home” (Furman, 16-17).

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Gloria Furman is a momma to four children, a pastor’s wife, a doula, a blogger, a missionary and church-planter in Dubai. In this book, with a ton of humor and fresh vulnerable honesty, she shares about the way the gospel of grace has impacted and sustained her in each of these endeavors.  How it has impacted the way they open their home, deal with a debilitating nerve disorder in her husband’s arms, raise their children, serve the people of Dubai, learn a new language, deal with infant-induced sleep-deprivation, dirty dishes, bill paying, etc.

One of the things that struck me to the core was her discussion of our common “use” of the gospel as the means for salvation, but not our daily means for sanctification.  She quotes D.A. Carson:

“First, if the gospel becomes that by which we slip into the kingdom, but all the business of transformation turns on postgospel disciplines and strategies, then we shall constantly be directing the attention of people away from the gospel, away from the cross and resurrection.  Soon the gospel will be something that we quietly assume is necessary for salvation, but not what we are excited about, not what we are preaching, not the power of God.”

Her book goes on to unfold how we need the gospel, how we need to preach the gospel to ourselves daily, that we are to appropriate God’s grace to us in the gospel in order to depend moment-by-moment on Christ’s sufficient righteousness instead of our own attempts at righteousness.  It is so transformative a truth, so freeing, and so mind-blowing that it is one she applies to the various different aspects of managing a home, revealing how it plays out practically in our day-to-day.

It’s a book I will treasure and will read again and again.  There has not been another book, outside of the inspired words of Scripture, that has met and been a salve to my soul like this book in the current circumstance as a stay-at-home momma, wife, and manager of the home.  It literally has breathed new life into this soul of mine!  I highly commend it to you!

*     *     *     *     *

“Even in my darkest doubts when I do the same thing again the next day, my hope is still built on the righteousness of Christ.  The gospel keeps me relating to God on the basis of Jesus’ perfections, not on the illusions of my religious achievements.  God strengthens me and protects me according to his faithfulness, not mine (2 Thess. 3:3)” (Furman, 33).

{For those of you who are interested, Gloria Furman will release her second book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms at the end of this month!!!}

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