Monday, October 08, 2007

A P31 Devotion

I have a devotion up today at Proverbs 31 about being content. This devotion is a very personal one, and I have been so pleased to see that women are reading it and being ministered to by it. I have already received several emails from women who said they needed to hear this-- some of whom are struggling with some pretty serious marriage issues. I have been there, my friends! And I have to say that God has brought me to a place of real contentment-- contentment that is based on honoring God with my choices and holding my decisions and actions up to His approval and no one else's. It has been a looooong journey.

Can I get an amen from someone else out there who has been on this same journey??

I do want to address that I used a Message translation of the Bible for this particular devotion. Why? Because it ministered to me in a personal way. And because it best encapsulated what God has taught me. I love, love, love what this verse has to say-- in The Message version. And of course, there are some folks who think that The Message is wrong and bad and lots of other things. So, I wrote this response to one of the well-intentioned ladies who emailed me, and then decided that the best thing I could do is to put it up on my blog. This is so that if I get any similar emails I can just shoot them an email and say, "Read my blog post on this subject."

For a busy mom of six, it is all about saving time, folks.

One thing I will add is, why is it that we can get 1000 compliments and hardly hear them, but one criticism can completely throw you off your game and have you doubting everything you have ever said, done or written?? Maybe it's just me, but I suspect it's not.

Ok, here's my response:

I just wanted to reply to your concerns about my devotion. I totally get what you are saying about the Message-- I myself read it and compare it to the NIV often when I have a question. If I plan to use a Message version for a devotion, I always look up what the NIV says first. In this text, it lines up with the theme of that passage on marriage and holds up in keeping with the Truth of Scripture. The Truth is, God does command us to be content with where He has us, and to respect His sovereignty in our place in life-- no matter what our circumstances are.

I used to not read the Message at all, until I read several passages quoted in other places that really hit me where I was at. After this happened to me several times, I did some research on Eugene Peterson and what his goal was in creating The Message. Peterson's passion was for making the Bible more readable for a generation that-- like it or not-- is slipping away from God. And so, since I want to reach those who are far from Him most of all, I started reading this translation and at times using it in my writing-- but NIV is still my translation of choice.

Here is an explanation from Peterson himself:
I take my critics seriously, listen to them, often learn from them. But when people don’t think I should be doing this kind of thing at all, or think that I am doing it badly, I have to more or less "pray myself" out of their disapproval. This is what I have been called to do, a gospel ministry to which I have been called and ordained by my denomination and that has been tested and validated by many godly men and women in Christ’s church. I am doing it as prayerfully and accurately as I am able. Some of the skeptics, at least, don’t understand that The Message is continuous with my pastoral vocation - all my life I have been trying to get men and women to hear, really hear, the "wonders of their own tongues."
Ever since the day of Pentecost, the Spirit has used men and women to translate, in various styles of translation ranging from literal to paraphrasing, to keep this Word of God accessible in the mother tongue and culture in which people find themselves. The kind of paraphrasing translation that I have done is nothing novel - it has been done many times, sometimes with appreciation, but also, interestingly, often with disapproval. The Message was not my idea and I have never felt that it was my work - I was asked to do it; I have worked out of obedience. And as I have done the work, I have been surrounded, counseled, and in a sense "guarded" by learned and devout men and women.

My point to you, I guess, is to take the Truths contained in today's devotion and hold them up to the light of the Bible's teaching. Is what I wrote in keeping with what God has commanded us? Am I encouraging women to chase the things of this world, or find the place God has for them? In the end, that is what I hoped to do with this devotion-- and judging from the other responses I have gotten, it has really resonated with some very frustrated women. That is what I strive to do every time I write a devotion. I in no way want to defame or defraud God's people and certainly not His Word--
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Sisterlisa said...

Marybeth, wouldn't it be great if all the women who were blessed by our entries would just say so? "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." ;O)

However, it seems to be that the critics that have the voice. If more women stood up and shared God's encouraging words, the critics voices would fade away.

I don't use anything other than KJV, however, if a devotion lines up with the concept God is teaching, and it draws someone closer to God, I can still get his message loud and clear. ((hugs))

If people don't like the version a writer uses they can look it up in their versions. I do.

Designgirl said...

Thank you for today's devotion. I spent a sleepless night mulling over the possibility of ending our 34 year marriage. The simple, but to the point, translation you choose to use spoke to the doubts and concerns that have been swirling around in my mind. It was as if a brisk, autumn breeze blew away the clutter and debris and I could clearly see the answer ... be content, look at what I have and cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Thanks for adjusting my perspective.

mom&dad said...

Marybeth, I am a first time visitor to your blog, using the link off of the P31 devotion. Your devotion today spoke to my heart, not particularly about my marriage, but about my constant desire for "stuff" and comparing myself to others. I struggle with this more than I would like to admit. Thank you for your obedience to the Lord.

Anonymous said...

I, too, was blessed by "A Path to Contentment." I felt like you wrote it just for me - Thank you.

Beth said...

Great devotion, Marybeth.

As you'll see by the last post on my blog about the God of comfort, apparently this weekend was used by God to bring about healing and awareness in relationships. The fullness of God's time...

PS - thanks for adding me to your blogroll. It was VERY obvious on my blog... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Marybeth for today's devotion. Did I ever need to hear it. I am a stay-at-home mom of four children and I have been feeling somewhat depressed and I really needed to hear this message. It really gives me hope for my marriage and my children. Thank You and God Bless You and Your Family!


Anonymous said...

Hi Marybeth,

This is my first time on a Blog...

Your devotional was just what I needed to hear and I love the Message version of the verse. It will be one that I commit to memory so that I can pull it out when I need it.

I am not married anymore, my husband chose to end our 16 year marriage. I still have many great friends that have happy, healthy marriages and I just went to the beach with them this past weekend.I love my friends, but I have to admit, I came away sad and depressed because I compared their lives to mine, thinking how mine would have been if my husband had not left... a pity party in other words. Your devotional got my focus back on God, on how He is using me, and on the many blessings in my life. I have three wonderful healthy children, I went back to school and got my Master's degree and have job that I enjoy, and I have a very kind and generous boyfriend who treats me with respect. Financially, my life will likely not ever compete with how it was or the level of my girl friends, but I know that God will provide for me and that my life can still be a good one.

Thank you for snapping me out of my funk and reminding me of the results of comparing!


Stephanie Hall Burns, M.S., NCSP, LEP said...

Hi MaryBeth. I am a fellow sister in Christ, mom, wife and lover of writing (I managed to get one article published for P31!). This devotional could be my personal testimony. I have been so ashamed but my "story," and my rebirth in Christ really has to do with a similarly powerful work God did in my heart to save my marriage. I have a completely different marriage than I did before this holy transformation took place. You have encouraged me to think about sharing this more, because everywhere I go I run into women who wish they hadn't divorced or who are stuck in a negative pattern. Thanks for your encouragment MaryBeth!!!!