The winter blues (and the general blues that tend to come with transitional seasons) have hit the Hageman house this week. We’re trying . . . trying . . . to chug along in the spirit of the Psalmist, who declares, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope” (130:3-5 ESV).
Something I didn’t understand about verses like this until the past two years is how often “waiting for the Lord” is about waiting for Him to change you, not just your circumstances. One of the hardest things about the Christian life that I’ve found so far is that sanctification (growing in holiness and spiritual maturity) tends to happen in much slower, subtler ways than what we expect. This might cause us to be frustrated with God because we think He isn’t transforming and renewing us effectively, which can then lead into despair and hopelessness about the future. I still fall into this way of thinking a lot of the time, especially in seasons where the problems are piling up and I’m tempted to impatiently demand that God just do something already. There is so much pride in this, not to mention a basic misunderstanding of the depth and complexity of sin, holiness, and the human spirit. “Overnight” change may happen in some cases, praise God, but it is absolutely not normative.
So, as we trudge along in our pursuit of more maturity – in finances, in marriage, in service, you name it – I’m praying God will continue to spite our bad expectations of Him and remain faithful even when we fall. Something we need a lot of prayer for in this area is that God would change us to believe that what He offers us in Christ is more sure and more sufficient than the familiarity of the sinful worldliness that has ensnared us for so long. It’s hard to trust that things unseen and eternal are worth more than the hollow pleasures we’ve come to rely on (no matter how often they fail to deliver on their promises).
In light of this, the concept of sowing and reaping has come to mind a lot in the past few days. I was reading over the end of Galatians 6 during our pastor’s message on Sunday, and verses 7-9 were really convicting to me:
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (ESV)
Most of the problems in our life are a direct result of “sowing to the flesh,” or living under the authority of our sinful selves rather than the authority of God. Part of this is because sowing to the flesh often appears to produce a quick, attractive harvest. But in the end, as we learn in gardening, fruit that is grown through the most convenient methods is often susceptible to more diseases, pests, and stress than fruit grown through hard work and humble patience. It appears to be a successful harvest for a very short time, but quickly begins to rot, and we reap corruption because of what we sowed. On the contrary, sowing “to the Spirit” (sowing seeds of repentance, godliness, and eternal perspective) might at first seem unattractive, even undesirable. Why? Because the harvest is long and arduous. Even though we’re aware the quality of the fruit will be far better, we despise the process. This is why verse nine tells us not to grow weary in doing good, because “in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Anyway, yeah. That’s what we’ve been pondering lately. On to the more mundane stuff:
I (Jessica) am constantly trying to find the balance between rest and work as a very pregnant lady. The nesting urges hit me in phases of productivity followed by phases of exhaustion and lethargy. It feels like everywhere I look, I see something that is (surely) covered in germs or that is (surely) not functioning as efficiently as it could be. It’s a part of God’s good design for reproduction, sure, but it can be overwhelming. Devynn has been helping me a lot both by taking on things like doing the dishes, taking me on walks, and reminding me gently (or harshly, depending on the need of the moment) to re-evaluate my priorities and let go of the nonessentials. There’s just something that strikes dread in my heart when I think about how it would feel to go into labor and be surrounded by clutter and dust – to bring a tiny baby home to a space that is chaotic rather than ordered.
We’ve almost got all the essentials needed to get us through the rest of our stay in Virginia with baby, and God has been faithful to make me more content with having needs met rather than wants. There are definitely some material needs for the labor process that we haven’t been able to buy yet (we are, in fact, attempting an unmedicated delivery at a local birth center) as well as some breastfeeding items that I wanted to research more before purchasing. I’ve compiled everything I can think of into an unapologetically-practical Amazon registry which can be found here.
Above all, we need continued prayer for wisdom, provision, Gospel perspective, and joy as we prepare for whatever God sees fit to bring us next.