When I was a girl, I loved to sift through magazines. My mom always had Good Housekeeping and Better Homes & Gardens sitting around. When I was old enough to choose my own magazines, I’d pick up a Teen Beat with pull-out posters in the center. If there was a Shawn Cassidy or Leif Garrett pinup, it was worth the $1.95!
For the most part, Pinterest has taken the place of the pile of magazines on my side table. When I want to sift through pictures, gather ideas, turn off my brain, it’s always right at my fingertips. But my mom still keeps a subscription to Good Housekeeping coming to my mailbox. It gives me a perspective on life that I don’t get anywhere else.
Last week, on a cloudy morning, feeling the letdown of Equip Her classes ending and sitting under my cozy blanket with a cup of coffee, I sifted through the May edition of Good Housekeeping.
I thumbed to the back, looking for the featured short story. Apparently short stories have been replaced with Real Life stories, and I came to one that began like this . . . “At night, my mother read to me from cookbooks.” I was intrigued. The story went on to tell how they would plan elaborate dinner parties but due to the mother’s mental illness never followed through.
Having lived a childhood in isolation, the daughter found it difficult to break free from old habits until her mother passed away some years later. Finally, she determinedly invited a few close friends over for dinner and here’s how the story ended:
“A dozen things went wrong that night. The chicken was overcooked. The potatoes turned out a strange shade of gray. I forgot to retrieve the bay leaves from the sauce. But I apologized just once. I refused to obsess over my errors.
As my guests began to depart, Elaine lingered and I showed her a photograph of my mother. ‘Beautiful,’ she said. I hugged her and replied, ‘yes.’
It has taken me half a lifetime to figure out the most important part of every recipe: First invite friends.”
What do you think I found most interesting about that story?
- The unhealthy family dynamic?
- The fixation on cooking?
- The willpower of one woman to overcome her past?
All of those are definitely interesting, but . . . on that cloudy day, nursing my let down of ministry, what really caught my attention was how much this reminded me of our vision at Equip Her:
To equip women to confidently study,
authentically worship and ceaselessly pray
as we grow together to completion in Jesus Christ.
We are multidimensional.
Not merely focusing on Bible study while leaving out togetherness.
We are not only about worship
Not solely a prayer ministry.
We believe women who are confident in the Word,
authentic in their worship,
pray without ceasing
AND growing together to completion in Christ … are equipped women.
The longer I lead this ministry the more I recognize the way our Enemy wants to pull that vision apart.
He would have us be hyper-focused and rigid like the women in the article:
Always studying and spinning ideas, but not engaging with real live people
who need a good balanced meal in the Word.
He would have worship be about style, rather than God.
He would have prayer always seem awkward, rather than holy mystery.
He would make every person an irritation, rather than interesting.
In the week before Easter, I read all the words of Jesus during Passion Week.
There’s one scene in Mark 14:32-41 that always seems like a gut punch, particularly because of the way the disciples responded to Jesus’ request to keep watch and pray with him–no less than 3 times!
I’m so mad at those guys for falling asleep!
Then I feel sorry for them because I see all the ways I have a drowsy faith–when I lazily sift through Pinterest in the morning before reading the Word, when my critical thoughts crowd out my worship, when it’s easier to gossip about someone than pray for her.
I hear Jesus ask, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?”
If there’s one thing our Enemy is really good at it’s tempting us to fall asleep. Jesus knew this and he often reminded his followers to be alert, watchful, awake, not drunk or drowsy. In this scene in the garden, our sovereign Savior pulls back the curtain on Satan’s deception.
“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
So, I would encourage us to remain alert . . . keep watch with Jesus, pray against temptation. Let your spirit stir your whole self to be engaged with others about matters of faith.
Mind if I pray for us?
Faithful Son of God ~ I confess how often my faith sleeps while You speak up for me. Stir my spirit to watchfulness, engage my thoughts with holy living. Help me to set aside the weak side of me–the desires of my body. Give me friends on this journey that push me, run with me, take my hand to walk the bumpy roads alongside. And may I experience soul-deep conversations with You that can only be known in solitude. Amen.