Kristin Schmucker » Equipping Women in the Word

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The Beauty of Victory and Defeat

You’ve finally gotten the baby down for a nap. You’ve finally nailed a job interview. You’ve finally won the battle with cancer. Or, maybe the baby is still screaming after countless rocks, the interviewer said thanks but no thanks, the chemo treatments appear never-ending and hopeless.

Sister, come visit Genesis 14 with me.

Abraham (then called Abram) was on the top of the world. He and his men had swiftly and impressively defeated a band of kings. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, was now safe and sound, rescued from a dismal fate. An Old Testament reflection of Christ, known as Melchizedek, even bestows on Abraham an incredible blessing.

It was a glorious moment. One of those moments when it is easy to relish in the shower of praise, to leap upon reward with greediness and self-indulgence, to pridefully welcome whoever offers honor — and forget about the Lord.

But that’s not what Abraham does. He doesn’t compromise his faith. 

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Being Re-Minded Through Christ

I am a self-proclaimed over thinker. As I’m sure some of you can relate, I don’t really have an “off” switch. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking of what I could be writing. If I’m not cooking, I’m thinking of what the next meal could be. If I’m not doing a given activity, I’m thinking of all the things that could have, might have, surely would, go wrong. It gets to a point where I cannot stomach thinking any longer. I turn on the TV. I browse social media. I turn off.

Over the past month, I have been reading Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elizabeth Elliot in which she discusses the various disciplines of faith and offers insight into how to be obedient to Christ in each area. It is a beautiful book written by a profound mind. In it, she quoted someone else, and it stuck out to me.

“There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.” -Sir Joshua Reynolds.

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With You

I don’t like heights.

At all.

If I’m at high altitudes and I happen to do what everyone knows you’re not supposed to do when high up—look down—I get dizzy and a knot forms in my stomach. And if I don’t get calm and reoriented quick, that knot tightens and threatens to squeeze any contents out of my stomach.

Yep, I don’t like heights.

My mom, she’s fine with heights. But bugs and spiders? Now that’s another story. She’s been known to scream and cry and hurriedly run from the presence of these little creepy crawlies.

Then there’s my grandma. I’m not sure how she feels about heights, but I do know she will get to the highest ground available, while letting out a squeal, if any furry mouse scurries by.

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Counting the Cost of Sacrifice

What can we give to God? He’s the creator of all things. He sustains all things, too. In Him we find all that we need; He needs nothing from us. He has perfect community in the Trinity. He creates for the sake of delight and pleasure, not necessity. It’s a strange thing to think of what we can and should give to God. What is it that He requests from His children?God delights in our participating in a relationship with Him. He takes pleasure in our singing praises to Him. In the Old Testament we see that burnt offerings were deemed as “fragrant” to Him. God desires a spirit willing to forsake our desires in place of His. He desires our very soul, that we love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. But all of this seems a bit vague, and it can be a challenge to live out in practice.

2 Samuel 24:24 provides a vivid picture of the ways that we sacrifice to God. Chapter 24 tells an account of king David’s sin, God’s subsequent punishment for that sin, and David’s successive repentance. We read about the rise of David’s pride, seeing that he has quickly forgotten that God doesn’t operate by using our own strength, but instead He uses His strength. Despite countless instances where God’s hand has carried Israel to victory against strong adversaries notwithstanding their small, scrappy stature. David, forgetting that God is the source of Israel’s success, resolves to find security and pride in his kingdom’s numbers and soldiers instead.

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Choosing God in our Suffering

I’ve grown comfortable in my wilderness moments. The ups and downs, the barren place is a place that I have spent so much time in that it has come to feel like home. I know how to operate there. I know how to encourage others that are in it. Because when you walk through enormous tragedy and God just shows up in huge ways, you become changed by it. When you stand in an empty field that once held remnants of a plane that was blown out of the sky in this evil world—your mother never to return home because of it—and you stand in that place that has always meant death and God’s love swarms around you like it has in no other moment, you start to see even the worst pain differently. You start to see the beauty. The beauty that can be present even in suffering. That message that I won’t ever stop proclaiming because I believe it in every fiber of my being that it is there. That God is present with us in the pain and the struggle and the vast and dreadful desert. And that He uses everything—absolutely everything—for our good and His glory. Even when it isn’t good in the moment. Even when it feels like a million shades of awful. The wilderness place is never where our stories end.

It’s the question that everyone asks, but I wonder if people actually really want the answer. How could God allow it? Why? Why does He allow evil to happen? But in knowing God and following Him, we begin to see more of His character. This God of outlandish love that comes through for His people over and over and over again—in His way and in His timing and in a way that He knows is best for them. Do we want the answer if it means enduring pain is part of the process? The long journey home? If it makes us more like Him? If it strips us of pride and idols and all the baggage that just continually brings us down? How could a good God allow it?

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