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Author Archives: Chrystal Evans Hurst

  • Controlling the Green Monster of Envy

    Posted on November 7, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    CHRYSTAL

    "It's healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up." Proverbs 14:30 (CEV)

    I was the maid of honor. I was supposed to smile. Be happy. Celebrate another.

    But I couldn't do it.

    I'm sure I faked it well enough. I mean ... I showed up didn't I? I participated in all of the required events and followed through on all of my responsibilities.

    But my heart was like ice.

    As the date for the wedding drew near, my heart was breaking. I was angry that it was her and not me. I was disappointed that I still hadn't met "that" guy. You know ... "the" guy. The one I desired to spend the rest of my life with — and who felt the same way about me.

    I was tired of celebrating everybody else.

    Although my mind directed my heart to revel in the moment of another, my heart was in full-scale rebellion and refused to soften. It was a sheer act of the will that made me show up at all of the functions. It was pure pain to stand next to the bride and watch her get exactly what I longed for myself.

    I was jealous.

    The green monster of envy had taken up residence inside of me.

    Jealousy was an issue for me even before this wedding stuff, but I assumed that infectious green organism was tucked away in a back room somewhere.

    I was wrong.

    That wedding was the key that unlocked the door and unexpectedly let the creature out of its secure location. Now, it was taking over.

    Somewhere down deep, the best of who I am wanted to feel joy for the bride. But I couldn't.

    It wasn't an issue of mind over matter. It was an issue of my misery overtaking my mood.

    I wish I could say I got control of that green-eyed monster before the actual wedding began. But no.

    I'm ashamed to say I allowed my envy to eat me alive. I'm ashamed to say that I was a blot on what was otherwise a beautiful day. And I'm ashamed to say that day was the day of my sister's wedding.

    I simply wasn't happy for her. I couldn't be. I was too consumed with myself.

    I had spent so much time and energy over the years lamenting the parts of my life I disliked, that I'd unknowingly left the door of my heart wide open.

    And when that small green beast slipped in, I didn't kick it out. In fact, I hospitably fed it, nurtured it and coddled it with brooding breakfasts, melancholy midday meals, snacks of sarcasm and dinners of dissatisfactions.

    I simply did not take my envy problem seriously and work diligently to get rid of it.

    I fed it, and it grew. I became an ugly green girl.

    That's what happens when we don't nip envy in the bud. Left unattended, it can become a difficult guest to move out.

    While it is not easy to deal with this sin of the heart, it is absolutely necessary if you want your heart to be clean and clear before God.

    How do you get rid of a jealous, envious heart?

    Give thanks. Learn contentment. But most importantly, love others.

    "Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud ..." (1 Corinthians 13:4, CEV)

    Where there is love, there is less room for things that oppose it.

    You may think: How do I love my way out of jealousy or envy when I don't feel love?

    You act like you do. In time, your feelings will follow your feet.

    Show love.

    Actively bless that person by looking for opportunities to show your care and concern. Encourage, praise and pray for the person. Practice shifting your mind from your own desires to needs of a sister or brother in Christ.

    Love so well that envy has no room to breathe.

    That day at the wedding, I fell short of God's call to love. But through His grace, I've been given more chances. And with His strength, I'm more able to kick that green-eyed monster out of my heart.

    Father God, forgive me for how I have allowed envy to grow in my heart. Sometimes I don't realize how easy it is to nurture jealousy and before I know it, I have turned into a green girl. Help me as I seek to learn contentment and show love to others in a way that pleases You. Wash my green clean with Your precious blood. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Galatians 5:26, "Let's not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other." (CEB)

    Romans 13:13-14, "Let us walk properly as in the daytime ... not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How has envy of another person or a situation affected your ability to experience joy?

    What can you do to love your way out of a place of envy? How can you encourage the one whose presence usually brings your green monster out of hiding?

    What will you do today to practice thankfulness and to choose contentment?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • The Stranger on the Bench

    Posted on October 8, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

    A few years ago, my family took a road trip to Baltimore to visit my grandparents.

    We never visit the city without making a trip to the Inner Harbor. It's something my parents did with me and I have great memories of it, so it's something I love to do with my kids.

    This area is a very popular tourist attraction. It's also an area where lots of local folks from many different walks of life hang out.

    On this particular day, we were walking along the main thoroughfare. I stopped for a bit to glance in the window at one of the stores. I turned my eye every few seconds or so to make sure my son was still chasing birds along the sidewalk in an attempt to scare them away.

    After just a few moments, I turned to check and noticed that he was no longer chasing the birds. Rather, he was standing next to a park bench, seemingly just looking at the birds — or so I thought.

    As I walked a little closer to him, I realized that he was talking ... to the homeless man lying on the park bench.

    For a moment, my heart skipped a beat. My son was talking to a stranger. And based on the way this stranger was reclining on the bench, I wasn't sure if he was well.

    I heard my son say, "Hi! Are you okay, sir?

    "Do you need some water? Are you hungry?"

    And then my heart lurched forward outside my body when I heard my son say, "Can I pray for you?"

    I watched from a short distance.

    The man mumbled something unintelligible to me and then my son walked away.

    I stood convicted.

    When was the last time I had taken the time to notice someone, right in front of me, and ask what needs they had that I could meet?

    When was the last time I had offered the most basic human needs, water and food, to someone who wasn't a part of my church, neighborhood or social sphere of connection?

    When was the last time I had offered a stranger my prayers?

    Just because.

    Our key verse today makes it clear we are to show hospitality to people — even the ones we don't know.

    It's so easy to get caught up in our jobs, churches, community affairs and being nice to people we know or those who are easy to be nice to that we forget the most basic kindness — showing hospitality to a stranger.

    The world is full of hurting people. People you and I can touch with a kind word, a warm smile, a hot meal or a gentle touch.

    The world is full of people who would be eternally grateful if someone just stopped and prayed for them.

    When was the last time you offered a stranger a smile, a prayer, a cool drink or a helping hand?

    I'm sad to say I hadn't even noticed that man laying on the bench ... and even if I had, I can't say I would have stopped to inquire how I might show him a bit of hospitality, grace or understanding.

    I can't say I would have stopped to pray for him.

    I can't say I would have stopped to show him love.

    My son helped me remember that the most simple, basic actions can sometimes mean the most.

    He helped me remember that showing love to others doesn't need to be complex.

    He helped me remember I should not let fear, busyness or lack of understanding stop me from giving the most important gift of all to another ...

    Love.

    And isn't that the point? That the world would know we are Christians by our love?

    Father God, forgive me for how I sometimes forget to love others, especially strangers, in simple ways that honor You. Help me recognize opportunities to share the love You have given me with someone else who needs to feel Your love. Allow me to be Your hands and Your feet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 4:21, "And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." (ESV)

    Matthew 25:40, "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Has God given you the opportunity to show His love to a stranger? What happened? We'd love to hear your story. Share your experience in the comments.

    Why do you think so many of us struggle with reaching out to people we don't know? What practical ideas do you have for being more intentional about showing love to others — especially those that we would consider "strangers"?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • When God Says No

    Posted on September 26, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us." 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NASB)

    We were running errands.

    My 5-year-old son was in his spot in the back seat chatting away, mostly asking me for stuff.

    "Mommy, can I have ...?"

    "Mommy, can you take me ...?"

    "Mommy, can we go to ...?"

    You know that place somewhere between kids being so adorably cute and totally driving you bananas?

    Yup. I was there.

    Every answer to his questions was "No."

    I was on autopilot: No. No. No.

    Then that boy of mine said ...

    "Mommy, I wish that every time you said 'no' you really meant 'yes.' That would be more funner."

    "You mean that I would always mean the opposite of what I actually said?"

    "YES! Just like that! Come on Mommy let's p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e."

    I agreed to the rehearsal request. I mean ... why not? All I had to do was keep giving the same response I'd been giving for the last 15 minutes.

    "Mommy, can we go out for lunch?"

    "No."

    My son raised a fist of victory in the air and said, "ALRIGHT!"

    "Mommy, can you take me to the store?"

    "No."

    He broke into applause.

    "Mommy, can we go to the park to play?"

    "No."

    That cute boy waved his hands in the air while saying, "Yeaaaaaah!"

    And then it dawned on me ... my son was on to something.

    He was choosing to believe my "no" was actually a "yes" and that changed his attitude.

    It changed his response. It changed his reaction.

    It made me wonder: What if we responded to God in this way? What if we believed that even when He said no, it was because He was really saying yes?

    Because He is.

    We have a good Father in God, who, just like a good earthly father, desires to give His children what's best for them later even if He has to say no to something they want right now. The question is: Do we really believe that He's good? If we did, wouldn't that be cause to celebrate, whether He says no or yes?

    It's hard when prayer requests go unanswered or desires go unmet. I can easily feel deflated and frustrated with God. Hope turns to hopelessness, confident expectation becomes disappointment and faith turns to despondent despair.

    But what if we really believed God was good?

    What if we believed that He was always saying yes — maybe not to what we are asking Him for right at that moment — but saying yes to His best.

    What if we trusted His heart, even when His hand seemingly withholds the very thing we so desire?

    What if we chose to celebrate all of the previous yes answers He's given us despite His current no?

    I think it would change how we respond. I think we would find joy, keep hoping and smile despite what we see.

    I know how badly you want your yes but hang in there.

    Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep believing.

    And if God says no? Choose to give thanks.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know that many times God has said no because He had a greater yes in store for me.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know that even if I don't like His answer, I can respond to Him with expectation, hope and joy.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know He's good and although He doesn't always give me what I want, He always gives me what He knows I need.

    In some way, shape or form, He's always saying yes.

    Father God, today I choose joy because I believe You are always saying yes. Sure, there are places of disappointment in my life and there are things I would like to be different, but I choose to give thanks. Starting today, I choose to respond to You as if You are always good — a Father who has my best in mind. Because You are good. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Matthew 7:9-11, "Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (NASB)

    Psalm 100:5, "For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Where is God telling you no? How have you responded to Him as a result? How has today's devotional changed your thinking?

    Have you walked with God long enough to experience a no that later you could see was only because He had a greater yes? If so, share your journey in the comments so that another might be encouraged to hang in there.

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Why You Need a Friend

    Posted on August 11, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

    I was that girl ... feeling like I didn't belong and wanting a best friend more than anything.

    In elementary school, there were the cool kids and the on-the-outs kids. I didn't fit into either group.

    I roamed around mostly a loner and struggled for the bulk of my childhood with the emotions of "not fitting in."

    I just wanted a friend. One. Good. Friend.

    Fast forward to high school.

    There was a girl I clicked with completely. I felt understood and thought I understood her well, too. I wanted to spend lots of time with her and talk to her a bunch — just like any pair of "besties" would.

    And then one day, I heard her refer to someone else as her "best friend."

    Oh, the devastation!

    I mean ... what was I? Just a little minion?

    In a word? Crushed. And on the outs again.

    Fast forward to adulthood.

    I have lots of friends. Lots of people I know in varying degrees. Two or three friends who are the "ride-or-die" kind. I know they have my back and they know I have theirs.

    And the other day, one of those girls referenced another person as her best friend.

    Was I crushed? Nope. I've since changed my outlook on the whole loner thing.

    I am not alone. Never have been. Never will be.

    First, I belong to God. He has loved me with an everlasting love. He is available any time of day to chat, and completely and totally accepts me just the way I am.

    Secondly, I believe in my value. As I understand more of who I am in Christ and stop looking for others to validate my existence, I am less and less tied to the need to fit in. Jesus died for me. If that doesn't validate me, I don't know what does.

    Third, I see now that fitting in is overrated. I have learned that friendship is about so much more than my elementary- and high-school-self understood.

    It's not just about me.

    As I've grown more comfortable in my own skin, I've learned that while friendship includes the wonder of belonging, it is about so much more than that.

    True, I am the beneficiary of my friendships. The life, laughter and fun are invaluable. But once I stopped looking for my friends to give me what only God could give me (my husband as well, for that matter, but that's another story), I was good to go.

    And now it frees me to BE a friend.

    Let me keep it real here. I'm busy. I have a husband and five kids. I homeschool, work, write and speak.

    It's hard to find time for friends. But I make time.

    Why? Because it's not just about me. I am validated because of God's love, but I still need connections. Jesus had friends. At least 12 of them.

    Not because He needed them to define or validate Him, but because the context of His ministry centered around His relationships.

    And here's what we can learn from His example. We need people in our lives whom we sharpen and who sharpen us.

    As God's Word explains, there should be someone in your life who knows she can count on you when she is down: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow," (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a, ESV).

    Let's make it our business to encourage others on to love and good deeds, even it requires effort to find time in our calendars to chat.

    "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another ..." (Hebrews 10:24-25a, ESV).

    Are you lonely? Seek to be a friend.

    Busy? Make time to be a friend.

    Maybe you could do without the d-r-a-m-a that friendships occasionally bring ... but you understand the importance and purpose of friendship. So be a friend anyway.

    Dear Jesus, thank You for being my friend. Thank You for being an example of what a good friend looks like. Help me value the relationships You've given me and show me how to cultivate others as You desire. Make me the kind of friend I want to have and let me always point my friends toward You. And where I need friendship for my journey through life, send just the right person my way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which friend or friends are in your life to help "sharpen" you? How are you actively sharpening others?

    In what practical ways do you make time to nourish your friendships? If this is something you haven't been doing well, what is one thing you will do in the near future to better cultivate your connections?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Encouragement for the Hurting

    Posted on July 3, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "He has made everything beautiful in its time ..." Ecclesiastes 3:11a (NIV)

    Sometimes life hurts.

    Am I the only one who wants to tuck her tail, give up and stay home forever with a stash of chocolate and great coffee?

    Sometimes I want to straight up hide. I hope I'm not alone.

    However, yesterday I was reminded that while life does hurt at times, life also has days that feel really good.

    Because yesterday, during his swim lesson, my son swam the entire length of the pool. Twice.

    He swam from the deep end to the shallow end and back again.

    Every mother is proud when her child learns to do something new. But not every mother gets to know the joy of seeing her child do something she thought she might never see.

    My son was a shoulder dystocia baby. He got stuck in the birth canal and as a result acquired nerve injury during delivery. That meant for months he had no use of his right arm. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I watched my newborn son throw, wave and extend one arm, while the other arm lay still.

    My heart was like a stone. I felt guilty, grieved and heartbroken for my baby who did not have perfectly moving limbs. I cried every day for months.

    I cried because I wondered how hard his future life would be with only one fully functional arm.

    I wanted to figure out how to avoid the hurt.

    I was angry with God for allowing a bad thing to happen.

    And I was on a mission to fix it. We spent time and money seeing various out-of-town doctors and trying different therapies — none of which changed the bottom line. He was injured. For life.

    But here's what I didn't know then that I want to share with you now: eventually things get better.

    Even when the source of our pain may leave a scar or a memory of deep heartache, time brings a healing like no other.

    Yesterday, my son swam the length of that pool. Twice — with both arms moving — and then he asked if he could try out for the swim team.

    Over time, things have gotten better, thanks to God's power and the gifting He has given many capable medical professionals.

    I'm not going to sugarcoat things. My son still has an injury and his arm will never be perfect. My mother's heart will always want to fix that, but I can't.

    But you need to know that time has brought healing. With the passing of time, I have learned the depths of pain I experienced are matched equally with the heights of joy. God can make all things beautiful with time.

    How is that possible?

    God changes us and our perspective.

    He allows us to see what He sees. He shows us that when things are not always as perfect, easy or as straightforward as we would like them to be, they still can be beautiful.

    This isn't always easy to learn. You or someone you love may have to live with the reality of a mind, body or soul injury. With all your heart, you may always want to fix, change or redo something ... and you can't.

    Some things may never be perfect. But with time, God can take the hard and make you happy. He can take the sorrow and make you smile.

    He can turn the mountain you are climbing of grief or regret into a place where you can view the beautiful landscaping He has created on your behalf.

    Resist the urge to tuck your tail and hide every time you run into the hard, because you will not only be hiding from the bad, you will be exempting yourself from the good that's down the road.

    God makes things beautiful in time. Hang in there. Have the courage to allow time to pass between your place of pain and unveiling of joy.

    Father God, I wish I could fix everything. I wish I could make it all just the way I want it to be. Truth be told ... I get frustrated when I can't. Help me to wait on You and Your timing. Give me courage to trust You and believe that You are good, despite how things may feel. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 71:16-17, "I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What in your life do you wish you could "fix" on your own? Do you think you are trusting God despite what's "broken"?

    Have you ever experienced God making things beautiful with time? Click HERE to leave a comment and share your thoughts today, as it might give others hope as they wait on God's timing.

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Why God Makes Me Do the Hard Stuff

    Posted on June 4, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "... for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8 (NASB)

    Recently, I went to the gym to get in some cardio. Cardio makes me sweat, and sweat means my fat is crying.

    Hallelujah!

    Then I decided to go for some strength training. I don't like strength training.

    I found myself wandering around, trying to remember which machine did what and how much weight was the right amount. I looked like a lost puppy.

    I just don't like weights. They are unfamiliar. They are hard.

    My visit to the gym was the first time in a long while that I've attempted resistance training on my own.

    At various times last year, I'd been at the gym, hitting the weights ... but not by myself.

    Last year, my husband and I made a commitment to invest in our health and worked with a personal trainer.

    It. Was. So. Hard. And it involved a lot of weights.

    We were with someone who knew what they were doing, giving us direction.

    Someone successful in getting both of us to try new machines, routines and levels of resistance.

    Someone who worked us hard ... very hard.

    I didn't like it.

    Well, I didn't like it until I started seeing a change in my body.

    There is something about being pushed to lift a weight you think is too heavy that brings a new level of physical and mental strength — challenging you to attempt more reps than you would on your own.

    There is something about a person knowing what you are capable of doing, even when you don't know that for yourself.

    There is something about a trainer.

    In my spiritual life, I like to do what "works." I go to church. I pray. I read my Bible.

    But sometimes I'm challenged in the gym of life to hit the heavy stuff. But not by myself.

    When I made the commitment to have Jesus be the Lord of my life, I also committed to allow Him to be my personal Trainer.

    And I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes it's been hard. And involved a lot of heavy lifting.

    But I've learned that God is truly Someone who knows what He is doing.

    Someone who gets me to try new experiences, routines or levels of resistance.

    Someone who allows the hard ... the very hard.

    And many times I don't like it.

    That is, until I start seeing a change in my soul.

    There is something about being pushed to lift a weight that we think is too heavy that brings us to a new level of spiritual maturity — challenging us to go for a few more days, weeks, months or years in a situation we wouldn't even attempt on our own.

    There is something about a Person knowing what you are capable of even when you don't know that for yourself.

    There is something about the Trainer.

    Indeed, God the Master Trainer, has the health of our spirit and soul in mind.

    And because He knows where I need to be tested, challenged and stretched, He will not allow me to stay in my comfort zone.

    Although I could keep doing what "works" in my spiritual life, it's the uncomfortable situations God allows that strengthen and make me more "fit" in the faith.

    So hang in there. God is the Master Trainer. He knows what He's doing.

    Father God, I really don't like when life is hard. I don't like carrying heavy loads or pressing through difficult situations. Please help me see each and every uncomfortable circumstance You allow in my life as an opportunity for me to grow. Help me to trust that You are indeed the Master Trainer. Help me to believe and rest knowing that, even when life is tough, You know exactly what You are doing and have my spiritual strength and well-being at heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    James 1:3-4, "After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing." (CEB)

    2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    In what area of your life are you having to do some "heavy lifting"? What heavy load is God asking or allowing you to carry?

    Take a moment to reflect on your life. Where do you see that you have grown spiritually? What circumstances has God allowed that have helped you to grow?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Cleaning up a Mess I Didn't Make

    Posted on May 6, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "And I pray that you ... grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." Ephesians 3:17b-18 (NIV)

    When my middle son was 2 years old, he went through various stages that almost sent me to the mad house.

    One of the most irritating stages was his habit of taking off his diaper after putting him to bed. Many late nights we would have to put on a fresh diaper, change his sheets and put him back to bed.

    After awhile, we wised up. We started putting him into all-in-one pajamas that made it not so easy for him to accomplish his little feat.

    That pretty much solved the problem.

    Until one night, when my husband put the boys (ages 2 and 4) to bed. Unfortunately, he forgot about our precautionary measure of locking our toddler into his diaper.

    Before long, our eldest son shouted at the top of his lungs, "Mommy! It stinks in here! Somebody needs his diaper changed!"

    No worries. It happens, right?

    Soon we heard urgency in our eldest son's voice as he called out again, "MOMMY! COME QUICK! THERE'S A STINKY MESS IN HERE!"

    We entered their room. The smell that greeted me at the door was enough to make me want to run for my life.

    Friends, we are talking yuck e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e ... on the sheets, blankets, feet and smudged into the carpet. So that night, while many other mothers slept peacefully in their beds, guess what I was doing?

    Cleaning up a mess.

    At almost midnight and for close to an hour, I was on my hands and knees cleaning and scrubbing. I'll spare you the gory details.

    Believe it or not, the carpet today looks like nothing ever happened. Between my cleaning concoctions that fateful night and a borrowed steam cleaner the next day, I managed to handle the situation like a pro.

    Of course I did. I'm a mom. That's what moms do. We clean up after our children when necessary, because that's what love does.

    There is a lesson to be learned from the middle of this messy situation ...

    My son didn't mean to make a mess. He didn't intentionally deprive me of sleep or aim to make me uncomfortable. He didn't mean to make me suffer for his transgression.

    But I did.

    And why? Because that's what love does.

    Even when he wasn't showing me much love, I loved him anyway. And I showed my love by cleaning up a mess that I didn't make.

    My dear sister... don't you know Jesus loves us this same way?

    He saw us in our mess. He cleaned up after us. He was willing to suffer for our transgressions. And even when we aren't showing Him much love, He loved us first and continues to love us anyway.

    Because that's what love does.

    I believe with all my heart that as my son matures, he will be grateful and appreciate my sacrifices. I pray that eventually he will come to understand the width, length, height and depth of the love I have for him. Just like God's love for us, Paul prayed that the church at Ephesus "may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" (Ephesians 3:18).

    In the same way, as we mature in our relationship with God and develop a greater understanding of why we needed His rescue, we can appreciate more and more His huge sacrifice.

    Here's the kicker – our lives, actions and attitudes should show it.

    Just like mothers find a way to do what seems

    ... inconceivable

    ... impossible

    ... or insurmountable ...

    so, too, our precious Savior found a way to rescue us from our plight.

    And I'm so thankful. Aren't you?

    Dear Lord, thank You for being willing to clean up my mess. Sometimes I'm a little bit of a mess. Other times, I'm a big mess and the yuckiness in my attitude or actions greatly impacts others. Yet You still love me. You loved me enough not only to clean up after me, but also to suffer on my behalf. I want You to know I'm grateful. Help me to walk worthy of the love that You have so lavishly offered me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 4:1b, "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (NIV)

    Ephesians 3:19, "I ask that you'll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God." (CEB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    At some point and time we have all been a mess. If we're honest with ourselves, we still are! How does the fact that God loves you anyway make you feel?

    In light of God's great sacrifice for you, what is one thing you can do today that would show your appreciation for His great gift?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Am I On Camera?

    Posted on April 1, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them ..." Matthew 6:1a (ESV)

    My eldest son recently turned nine. Like most kids, he was excited to be officially "bigger." He walked around on his special day with his chest pushed out and his head held high.

    After a full day of justifiably being the center of attention, my son told me that because he was nine, he was going to wash the dishes.

    His dishes.

    He proceeded to go to the sink, squeeze the dish detergent and squirt a generous amount of soap on a dirty plate. He then proceeded to rub and scrub with vigor.

    I grabbed a glass of water and rested my hip on the side of the kitchen counter to watch my birthday boy work. He scrubbed on that dish for more than a minute.

    That dish wasn't just clean, it was sterile, sanitized and thoroughly decontaminated.

    Then my sweet boy turned to me, cocked his head slightly to one side, donned a puzzled face and asked, "Aren't you gonna take a picture of me and put it on Instagram?"

    I almost spit my water in his face with laughter, shock and a bit of confusion.

    My son was doing a good thing with the desire to broadcast his good thing to the world. Apparently, being "on camera" was an important part of his good works.

    So I took a few minutes to explain the importance of doing things for the right reasons and not performing for the applause of others.

    And then I was convicted.

    Convicted because sometimes I do the same thing.

    How many times have I served others, not just because it was the right thing to do, but because it also lent claim to a bit of self-righteousness as others watched me do it?

    How many times have I put forth more effort to show kindness or compassion to people inside the walls of my church than to those living within the walls of my home?

    How often do I aim for excellence when someone is watching but forget to aim consistently for excellence simply because my God is always watching?

    And He's always most interested in my heart.

    The Bible is clear. God doesn't want my good deeds to be aimed at gaining the applause of people. He wants me to have a pure heart and motives undergirded by a desire to live a life pleasing to Him.

    Even if no one else is watching.

    When my little boy got busy washing his dish, my heart was overjoyed because I thought he was showing growth and maturity by doing a good thing — simply because it was the right thing to do!

    When his true motives were made clear, I realized there was still mothering work to be done. My precious son still has room to grow and mature. And that's OK.

    In my Christian journey there will be times when I will need work. There will be times where my heart is not quite right or my motives are not necessarily pure. I still have room to grow and mature. And it's OK.

    And that's OK if you do, too.

    The good news I've learned as I grow in Christ is that my heart can change. God is a loving Father who is interested in my heart and willing to take the time to teach me. He's willing to go the distance, guiding me along the path to spiritual maturity.

    The interaction with my son reminded me to do a "heart check."

    Even if no one is watching, when I'm not "on camera," I should always be conscious of the story my actions tell about my heart.

    Dear Lord, I desire to have a pure heart and pure motives, but if I'm honest, sometimes I miss the mark. Help me be aware that You are ever present and to live as though You are watching. Where I have developed the habit of keeping up appearances, teach me what it means to live for an audience of One. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When was the last time you joyfully served others when there was no applause?

    How does your treatment of people outside your home compare to the treatment of the people down the hallway?

    How much excellent effort do you put forth if no one is there to see how hard you work at the task at hand?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 101:2, "I will be careful to lead a blameless life — when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

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