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Living in the Light



Filtering by Category: Spiritual Disciplines

Marmee's Wisdom: Work and Play

Jessalyn Hutto

One of my summer reads this year is Louisa May Alcott's classic, Little Women. It is a book that I have wanted to read for some time, as I have long cherished the film adaptation starring Winona Ryder. My dear husband has had to sit through that movie more times than he would care to admit! Of course the book has been leagues better than the movie, making it a virtual feast for my imagination and a peaceful retreat as the whirlwind of my own little children swirls around me. Indeed, lingering in the home of the March family and exploring all of the nooks and crannies of their story has been such a joy.

One of the greatest joys of this book has been the opportunity to meditate on some of the spiritual lessons and themes that pervade its pages. Many of these lessons come straight from the mouth of the matriarch of the March family, affectionately referred to by her girls as "Marmee." For instance, take this little gem that she shares with her girls after they've experienced the uncomfortable affects of neglecting their necessary and good work around the home:

"Very good! then I am quite satisfied with the experiment, and fancy that we shall not have to repeat it; only don't go to the other extreme, and delve like slaves. Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life become a beautiful success, in spite of poverty."

I love the instruction to "prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well." It calls to mind this sobering principle found in Ephesians 5:

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Time is such a precious commodity and the way it tends to slip through our fingers if you are not careful in the way you use it can be disheartening. I must admit that I am not an expert in employing it well-- fault has been glaringly exposed recently as the constant needs of the four little ones in our home bid for my attention.

More than ever I am in need of this reminder to keep regular times of focused work as well as play. Setting boundaries for each of these necessary and good activities brings greater peace and order to my home (as well as my own soul!).  It is a simple principle, but one that takes much self-control.

Spirit, please continue to develop this character quality in my soul, allow me to redeem the time you've given me, and give me grace to glorify the Lord in my work as well as in my play. 

The Other Half

Jessalyn Hutto

The stack of books on my nightstand inches higher everyday. Some were recommended and loaned by friends, some borrowed from the library, and some sit caked in dust because I’ve put off reading them for so long. The majority of the stack, however, have scraps of paper jutting out from their pages–evidence that I’ve started reading them but never quite finished. They remain on my nightstand because I have this thing about finishing books: I want to give each book a fair shake, and reading just the first few chapters isn’t a fair shake in my opinion. The first few chapters don’t tell the whole story.

I suppose I have this thing about whole stories, because although I became a Christian when I was eight, for the 20 years that followed I only knew the first half of the gospel story. I knew that I was a sinner, and I knew that Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive me of that sin when I confessed Him as my Savior, but I didn’t know how this act of death and resurrection affected my life after my initial salvation. I hated that I continued to sin, that I failed God, that I couldn’t be good enough to prove my worth for what He’d done for me. I knew He loved me at the cross, but I felt certain He couldn’t love me in my ever-present state of failure and weakness. So I repeatedly cycled around to the first half of the story–the part that told me I was a sinner–and then, wallowing in that truth, tried desperately to make up for my imperfections with good behavior. 

I thought that was the whole story: saved by grace, sanctified by self-effort. But one day God began showing me through His Word that there is a second half to the gospel story–the part about life after salvation–and what He showed me changed everything. 

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Ruminating on Holy Truths

Jessalyn Hutto

“A pious soul meditates on the truth and holiness of the Word. He not only has a few transient thoughts, but leaves his mind steeping in the Scripture. By meditation, he sucks from this sweet flower and ruminates on holy truths in his mind.” -Thomas Watson

I love this quote from Watson, don’t you? The word picture he presents of sucking sweet nectar from a beautiful flower is a perfect expression of the lovely and satisfying nature of the Word of God.

Unfortunately, we don’t always come to the Scriptures with this view. Many times we come to the Word of God and treat it as though it is a mere item to be checked off of our to-do list or a magic potion to make our day run smoothly. In our digital age we flit from one devotional blog post to another and are tempted to assume we’ve fed our souls all the spiritual nutrition they need. But this should not be so. We are privileged to have divine communication from our Holy God bound in a book that we can read whenever we please. This privilege demands more than a cursory reading. It begs for the slow, purposeful discipline of meditation...

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Unmet Goals and the Spirit's Gracious Work

Jessalyn Hutto

“We must not suppose that the measure of our understanding or experience is the measure of the Spirit’s working.” (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray)

As a young, ambitious Christian, my teen self had big plans for my future super-spiritual adult self. By this time in my life I planned to have a certain (large) amount of Bible passages memorized, have read through my Bible a certain (large)amount of times, and have gotten this prayer discipline down pat. I saw myself brimming with anticipation each morning as my alarm clock went off, practically singing my way out of bed for morning devotions (coffee? who needs that?!). Oh, and did I mention that on top of all that I was hoping to be able to read Greek by now?...

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It's All Too Much

Jessalyn Hutto

Do you ever get overwhelmed by all of the awesomeness on the internet?

It used to be you would flip through a Good Housekeeping or Parentingmagazine once a month, dog ear the projects you wanted to tackle, and then maybe get around to one of them before the next issue came out. Now we daily browse our beloved bookmarked blogs for the latest crafts, decorating advice, educational materials, spiritual encouragement, and parental vision (to name a few… oh yeah, and marital advice!).

Everyone has something to share, whether it is their latest whole food kick or their super awesome advice for “re-igniting” that flame between you and your husband. If you spend much time on the internet (and specifically around the women blogs, DV included) it can be easy to become overwhelmed by all the things you need to do to be a better you.

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