Tag Archives: Christianity

It’s Been Awhile

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My last post here on Gospel Apprentice was in October. It’s been awhile.

For me, writing has always been an outlet. It’s a process I enjoy, even the editing part. In fact, it’s probably the editing part that I enjoy the most. Weird, I know.

I do write almost every day. But, those words are just for me. That’s not to say that my daily musings are profound or mysterious, on the contrary, they are mostly quick notes, thoughts about what Bible verse I happen to be reading or commentary on the day-to-day.

The seasons of our lives bring change, and I am experiencing such a season of change now. For about a year, I’ve been babysitting my beautiful little grandson, and I’ve never felt my age so acutely. On the days I watch my little one, we begin early. By the end of the day, I’m ready for bed by 9 o’clock. Ok, maybe even by 8:30. On my days off, there is housework to do, shopping to be done, errands to run. Even on those days, bedtime can’t come soon enough. And so, as a result, posting on Gospel Apprentice has been put aside.

The main reason I started blogging was so that someday, my children (and now my grandson) would have a record of how the truth of the Gospel worked itself out in the heart and mind of their mother. That reason has not changed. To anyone who reads it, my hope is that this blog will tell the story of an ordinary woman and her very extraordinary Savior. It is to magnify the unfathomable kindness that has been extended to me, a sinner, and to point others to the excellence and beauty of the Gospel of Christ.

I am blessed, albeit exhaustedly so, to write for my children and for our grandson, but also, as we recently discovered, for a new grandchild expected in August by my oldest son and his wife. Praise God!

This morning I got up early and left the house. I am sitting at a local coffee shop as I write this. Last night’s dirty dishes and today’s laundry await my return, but an uninterrupted block of writing time is more important.

I must be more deliberate about making time to write and for the Gospel’s sake, so be it.

So, even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those who come.  Psalm 71:18

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Learning My Lessons

I am a life-long learner.

But, sometimes I look around and think that everyone else is more accomplished than me. Everyone else has it all together, right? Although that’s how it may seem, the reality is far different. You are a life-long learner, too.

English: School room.

English: School room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With that in mind, and in the spirit of encouraging one another, here is a short list of things I am learning and in some cases, re-learning!

1. Don’t worry. Trust God.
Worrying about things that I have no control over is just crazy. But this is what I do. If only I could finally and fully learn that I can trust God. This is one lesson I fear will need to be repeated again and again until my life on earth is done. What a relief it will be someday to finally rest from worry. I am beginning to seriously question my personal sovereignty, but I guess that could be a good thing.

Those who know your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10)

2. Life may not be perfect, but there is still much to be thankful for.
I yearn for my life to be in order. I like all my ducks in a row and everything on my list to be checked off. For me, busy-ness begets the blues. I love to be around people, but I also need time alone to think and to process. And, I detest conflict.

But, my life is not in order. My ducks are not only out of line but chaotically quacking like crazy. It takes a Herculean effort to check even one thing off my list, and “Busy” is my middle name. Moments alone are few and far between. Conflict is a given.

Yet, in all of this the Lord is faithful to remind my harried heart that there is still much to be thankful for. My life is filled with blessings, and even the difficulties I face are being used by Him for my good and His glory. Always.

Even if all else should give way around me, let me be found “joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” (Col. 1:12)

3. God is sovereignly working.
There is no graph, no algorithm, no equation that indicates exactly when or how our Heavenly Father accomplishes His will. But, He is working and always in a million different ways.

Life is not a math problem, but a grand story with eternal scope and perspective. God writes life stories that are rife with plot twists, filled with quirky characters, and include conflict (both resolved and unresolved with real-time cliff-hangers). We turn each page not quite knowing what the next chapter may bring, but we do know the ending and it’s a happy one.

He is working in me. And, although I don’t always see it, I can trust He is working in my loved ones, too.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:10)

What about you? What life lessons are you learning?

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Some Thoughts on Prayer

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Pray without ceasing.  1 Thessalonians 5:17

I’ve been thinking about this command and what it means, not only with the understanding that we are instructed to pray, but also about what it reveals about the character of God. Our Heavenly Father wants to hear from us! He stands ever at the ready to hear our prayers and answer them, always for our good and His Glory. The truth of that should shake my soul from its self-absorbed slumber and shine a light on the darkness that is prayerlessness.

I stand convicted of not praying enough.  And I don’t mean a mere checking off of prayer from my “To Do” list, but rather, my lack of an earnest outpouring of heart that flows from true humility and an understanding of who God is and what He has done for me, the sinner. Where once I was lost and hopeless, by God’s Grace upon Grace I now stand forgiven, justified, adopted and in the process of being conformed to the image of His Son.

Prayerlessness is the result of a heart not set on these glories of the Gospel! I often allow the distractions of daily life to interfere. Mere frivolities derail my prayers. The Word says, “Pray without ceasing.” Not, “Check your email without ceasing.” Not, “Worry without ceasing.” And, certainly not, “Complain without ceasing.”

The Lord invites us to approach His Throne of Grace, boldly. For those of us in Christ, the veil that blinded us to our sin and separation from God has been graciously lifted. We can see our need.  We have been given the understanding that each day requires more strength and wisdom than we can muster. In this life, we need help, forgiveness, refreshment and hope. The truth of the Gospel informs us. We do not have the option to pray, we must pray.

Lord, help me to be devoted to prayer, unwavering in my practice of prayer. Remind me to pray each time the opportunity presents itself and to be ever mindful of my dependence upon You. May the realities of Gospel truth compel me to  present myself humbly and often before Your Throne.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


The Unchangeable One

For I the LORD do not change… (Malachi 3:6a)

Consider the world around us. Instability is unavoidable. The global economy stalls and staggers, the stock market fluctuates and we hold our breath, foreign governments collapse and reform, world leaders come and go, and whole cities declare bankruptcy.

Everything changes so quickly. Technology advances at an unimaginable rate, we travel from here to there as our world becomes smaller, and we communicate instantaneously with the push of a button or the stroke of a keyboard.

Our personal lives are susceptible to change, too. Marriages fail, finances grow thin, and friendships fade. We can lose our jobs, get sick, or suffer disappointment. And, even if our situation changes for the good, we live knowing that things can turn in an instant, the phone call in the night.

In the middle of all this uncertainty, there is One who does not change. He is the great I AM.

God’s character is sure. I do not have to worry that He is or ever will be anything less than good, just, merciful and kind. He has given me His Word that for the sake of His Son and by virtue of His Grace, my sins are forgiven and my name remains written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I can trust Him for now and for eternity. He extends His hand to me, and He will never let me go.

I find much comfort in the Immutability of God. I can rest. I can know. I can trust in His character, His attributes, and His promises.

He is the one Constant in my life, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Leaning In

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If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.  1 Corinthians 15:19

I love looking at pictures of my mother before she got sick. In those photographs she is how I remember her, happy and surrounded by family. If I had known how much I would miss that part of her life, perhaps I would have paid more attention, taken less for granted. Somehow, these images on paper console me. Bittersweet, yes, but a comfort nonetheless, and some days I need the comfort.

My siblings and I were privileged to be with Mom the last few hours of her life. In waiting, we experienced the most unlikely pairing of impatience and dread. It was hard to watch her suffer, hence the impatience. It was tough knowing she would soon leave this world, hence the dread. This would be the moment we most feared and the moment we’d been waiting for, the moment we would always remember and the moment we would long to forget. A perplexing contradiction of emotions where reality bit hard and we bled pure helplessness.

In a romanticized version of death, the dying patient appears at rest. In her final moments she is able to utter her last words and squeeze her loved one’s hand. In that account, people weep softly and say that dying is just a natural part of life, that one must accept it as such. But I found death to be painful and heart-rending and devastatingly unnatural. Death has claws and fangs and knows no finesse. The scars will not soon heal. Watching your mother die hurts.

I have questions. Mom could not articulate, but she was able to cry out. What was she trying to say? Was she thirsty? In pain? Did she know we were there? (I do think she did know, by the way.) Some questions, I don’t dare ask others because I know they don’t have the answers either. Why burden them with that? Some mysteries are best left for God to unravel, or not, as He sees fit.

There are also certain memories of those last hours that will remain unspoken. It’s as if to do so would somehow cheapen the recollection, devalue the treasure. I will keep them to myself, take them out now and then and examine the facets, scrutinize the details, and relive the most distressing and beautiful hours of my life.

To an outsider, there was nothing about Mom that would have been attractive that night. But we were not outsiders. We had years of history with her. We were her babies. She had labored with us and loved us and kept us safe. She was our mother, our teacher, our confidant and friend. She had agonized with us in our struggles and celebrated with us in our joys. Our being there was inextricably tethered to a specific context and saturated through and through with what our time on this earth together had allowed, a lifetime of memories bound up in the unbreakable bands of maternal love. No, we were not repulsed.

We leaned in.

We drew close to her because we loved her. We tried the best we could to give comfort. (Oh, how she had so often comforted us!) But, One leaned in closer than all the rest. One leaned in because He loved her more and better than all the rest. Jesus was with us that night, as real and as sure as the room we were standing in. Jesus leaned in with a blood-secured love for one of His own and first-hand experience in what it meant for Mom to suffer. His wounds spoke to her wounds, and He leaned in with the power and urgency of a Savior able to save. In dying, Mom let loose of my hand and was plucked away from death to life by sacred Hands that will never let her go.

Death is ugly and raw, but faith implores me to plant my feet and stand. I know that my Redeemer lives. Someday, all sickness and death will be banished forever. The misery and suffering we face on this side of Heaven are temporary, momentary and light compared to what awaits us in Glory. Part of that lightening is that Mom will be there waiting for us.

“And I’ll be waiting on the far side banks of Jordan…
And when I see you coming, I will rise up with a shout,
And come running through the shallow waters reaching for your hand!” *

I miss you terribly, Mom. But, someday I will lean in to where you are and join you in singing praises to our King.

…He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.  Revelation 21:4

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

* Far Side Banks of Jordan, by Terry Smith


That Summer of 1981

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You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead. Romans 7:4

I began that summer as the younger brother in Luke’s telling of the prodigal son. Arrogantly self-indulgent, I thought myself autonomous. But looking back, I see that sin ruled the day and I was enslaved to it. I tried in vain to break the cycle of sin and guilt by constructing my own morality. But that just set the cycle spinning over and over again.

I don’t remember the exact moment or the date in time that God’s love broke through to me. But I do know there dawned a revelation in my heart and mind that I had come to the end of myself.

At first, I was like an unruly child sitting on her father’s lap. I fought against him, alternating between fury and fear at the thought that anyone or anything would dare to hold me down. But, the more I struggled, the tighter he held me, and he did not let me fall.

I barely understood what was happening, but I did know this: a thirst for the goodness of God washed over me, and I began to experience a strange new freedom from the sinful desires that had for so long held me captive. For the first time in my life, I caught a glimpse of the beauty of truth and it was very much unlike the fleeting substitutes and lies I had often entertained.

Who was this ridiculously demonstrative, wildly benevolent King of the Universe who would sacrifice His perfect, beloved and only begotten Son for sinners yet sinning, for the ungodly still reveling in their ungodliness? What outrageously extravagant Love was this? And, how could it possibly be that this God (who is bigger and deeper and wider than I could ever have imagined back then) would have any interest in a rebel like me?

I died that summer, but slowly. My will, once so strong, began to melt and mingle with His. My heart, once so hardened, softened and became more malleable. Little by little, I relaxed into His Grace, surrendered to His mercy and yielded to His Love. I came to realize that I belonged to another and not myself.

He became my Abba Father.

That summer of 1981, the fullness of salvation was finally and fully revealed to me in the person of Jesus Christ. God’s Grace did its work and I ceased from mine.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Things to Do While Waiting

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

Wait patiently. People often say, “Don’t ask the Lord for patience. You just may be put in a position that requires it.” But, as long as waiting is a fact of life, and I think we can all agree that it is, patience is necessary.

It’s difficult for me to be patient even when I am waiting for something good. I was the child who sneaked into her parents’ closet before Christmas morning to peek at her presents. For me, the thrill of surprise failed to outweigh the agony of waiting.

Patience also implies an unknown future. We must wait for the outcome. For most of us, that’s not an easy thing to do. I want my ducks in a row and my arrangements made, don’t you? The secret to waiting patiently is trusting God. Do you love Him? Are you called? Then trust that no matter what the outcome, “all things work together for good” for you. (Romans 8:28 )

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Pray. Pray with thanksgiving and with assurance that your Heavenly Father hears you. Pray faithfully. Pray without ceasing. (Philippians 4:6; Romans 12:12; I Thessalonians 5:17)

HopeThis hope is born of intimate knowledge and experience, the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. This hope does not disappoint. (Romans 5:5)

Wait contentedly. Christ promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Even if the whole world should crumble around us, what else could we possibly ask for? (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5)

Wait trusting. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” God stands true to His Word. Has there ever been a time when God has failed you? Are not all the promises of God yes and amen in Christ Jesus? Salvation, peace, hope, joy, wisdom, fellowship, redemption, mercy and grace are all ours in Christ. God has been trustworthy in the past. God is faithful today. While you are waiting, remember that He is the Great I AM. The God who IS. Therefore, rest assured, the future belongs to Him, too. Trust Him for it. (2 Corinthians 1:20, Exodus 3:14)

Serve. Serve others and by so doing, serve God. Serve wholeheartedly and sincerely. Even the most menial task is made sacred if it is done as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 6:7, Colossians 3:23)

Count your blessings. A grateful heart is a humble heart. Cultivate the discipline of thanksgiving. God is good and your list of blessings, endless. When you delight in God’s generosity towards you, you bring honor to His Name. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

I think that waiting is one of the most difficult things to do. There are several situations in my life right now that require my patience and restraint. Sometimes, no matter how much I want it to be otherwise, there is nothing else to do but wait. And so, I am learning these things to do while waiting.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


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