If this is all I allow you for now, will you still honor me in it?


       by Dee Wieninger       


“Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working
and pay no attention to lies." Exodus 5:9
I recently heard a statement in a sermon that went something like this, “If Satan can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy.”  Ha!  Satan used this same tactic through Pharaoh thousands of years ago and is still doing it today. Probably because we continue to let it work!
 Keep them busy!! 
 Keep them tired!!
   Keep them frustrated!! 
As long as Satan can keep us bombarded with our emotional, physical and psychological needs unmet he will keep us from our SPIRITUAL need of a closer walk with the Lord. 
In the past few years I have been on quite the emotional, Christian journey. 
  • My husband lost his job. 
  • I had a falling out with the church we were attending! 
  • My daughter has blessed us with two beautiful grandchildren but lives 550 miles away.
  • At 53 years old I began working my first full time job in 32 years. (That was 13 years ago.) 
  • Menopause is in full swing...back and forth - it can't make up it's mind!!
  • And on top of everything the marriage detoured down the rockiest road ever. 
Hindsight always being 20/20, I see where the Lord has been trying to take me but at the time it was all happening I felt like I was in bondage.  Although difficult I have:
  • learned to live with our daughter and her family being so far away. 
  • I admit that I really love my job and feel that my role, small as it might be, provides me with a feeling of being a cog in a wheel that serves a great purpose. 
  • the struggle with our previous church was heart breaking but I have seen the many wonderful things the Lord is doing in other churches in our area. 
  • my husband’s job loss was no great shock as we have been down the road of a construction engineer's employment roller coaster ride many times before.                                                   

The greatest struggle that plagues our marriage has been the inability to pull together during times of hardship. The problem is we have very different ideas of what that looks like and we get side tracked with the "blame game".  That’s nothing new.  It’s been that way since the Garden of Eden. During all the difficulties that have come into our life I have looked to my husband to be a source of emotional strength but instead found, “what seemed to me”, to be indifference and apathy.  Looking back I know it wasn’t that he didn’t care but that he didn’t know how and/or he had his own struggles going on…quite possibly…some or most of them being…me!  What I have learned since is that those feelings of rejection and indifference were actually a “privilege and an opportunity  ”.  If he couldn’t or wouldn’t take the steps necessary to help me through my emotional fears and frustrations I was going to have to find that strength elsewhere. 
I’ll give you three guesses where; the first two don’t count!

Hence, we return to my original story…One morning during one of those times of privilege and opportunity I sat in my living room crying to the Lord about my plight and bondage of living with a man who truly doesn’t understand me and I’m first to admit I don’t understand him.  I asked the Lord ‘point blank’,  “What am I to do?”  Since I had just finished reading the story of Moses in Exodus, the Lord, being the awesome God that He is said, “Make bricks without straw”.  And I said, huh?  He again said, “Make bricks without straw”.  Then I began to meditate on His word and a thought came to me! Nowhere in these passages in Exodus do I see one Hebrew saying”, “Hmmmm, how do I make bricks without straw”?  Now, I understand that this was not a time when God was looking to the Hebrew people to make a better brick. I understand that He is teaching them to trust Him in the midst of their troubles and watch what He would do. Not to mention the lesson Pharaoh was receiving!  But as I sit here in 2008 as a daughter of God’s, because of my Savior Jesus Christ, I try to see the purpose of these words to me.  I asked myself..."What is my straw? And now I'll ask you...

What is your straw?  What areas in your life do you demand from others "straw" to make your bricks?  I guess, first we need to decide; "What are our bricks?" Well, for a moment let’s think of our bricks as joy and contentment.  In what areas do you require others to provide your emotional needs or you can’t or won't be content or joyful? Whoa!  You may not see them as demands but they are those things that you feel you need and when they aren’t there you are miserable.  It’s in these times you can be sure that Satan is saying, “Make their work harder so they pay no attention to lies!”  I know it’s not fair to compare the Hebrew’s plight with our's. They were in a terrible bondage under Pharaoh.  But, I do believe we are in bondage under unmet wants and needs. (James 4:1-2) Hmmm! Pharaoh withheld the very thing the Hebrews needed to make the quota of bricks that he demanded.  There’s a book just waiting to be written; Control by Stupidity!  He had the ability to give the straw but wouldn’t.  Who is withholding your straw? Who do you see as your "Pharaoh", making your life difficult and unhappy?  Don’t worry; you’ll soon learn that no one on this earth is in control of your straw.  

I love my husband and I am in this marriage for the long haul.  We made our vows 42 years ago and I, with God’s help, am committed to fulfilling that vow “until death us do part” the best way I know how.  My prayer for years has been, “to know God more so I can be more like Him”, and God is a God of His Word and with His help I will be a woman of mine --- so here I stay!  Striving to stay in my marriage is what keeps me going back to the Lord for strength again and again. And with the “ah-ha” moment of this study of making bricks without straw I have come to the realization that the Pharaoh in my life is my husband.  Not because he is mean, ruthless and holds me in bondage but because I have placed him in the role of providing ALL the straw for my physical, emotional, and psychological bricks.  I came into my marriage with a Cinderella attitude looking to him to fulfill all my wants and needs.  David Clarke in his book, Men Are Clams Women Are Crowbars  says that on his best day my husband can only provide 30% of my needs.  I believe that the Lord has allowed most of our struggles so that each of us could grow and become more mature in Christ.  Today, I try to see each conflict as an opportunity to examine my straw demands (or straw contributions ~ but that’s another chapter!)  The struggle is greatest when I see my husband’s lack of “straw provisions” and I become sad, distraught and/or angry.   We both lose because my expectations and demands are so great and placed on the wrong person.  I have put my husband in the place of my God and Savior, setting him up for sure failure.  I have allowed my husband’s and other's inability to provide the straw for my bricks to affect my love, joy, peace and growth. My joy and personal growth should not be contingent on their success or failure to come through. They certainly could and most likely would encourage and strengthen me in the journey but I must never place that burden on another person by depending on them for something that should only be sought in the Holy Spirit.  Other people, especially our spouses, may be blessed with the privilege and opportunity to work with the Lord to provide additional straw (as we are for them) but only after we have sought for it at the main source.  It was there that we should have looked in the first place!

Since the Lord has given me this command to “Make bricks without straw” our marital relationship has taken a new turn.  My expectations are not in Fred but in my attitude of love for the Lord and His will in my strength of character.  I ask myself, “what is the privilege and opportunity offered me right now and how can I allow God to make the brick of joy and contentment without the straw of human effort

Moses offered the Hebrew people hope.  Something they had not had except during their times of prayer for a deliverer. Pharaoh’s concern was that that hope would provide strength to overthrow his power of bondage.  Pharaoh knew the power of exhaustion and discouragement and played that card well.  Satan is playing that game with us today. 
Jesus Christ warned us in Matthew 24:12 that because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most would grow cold.  We must stand firm in our marriages and look only to the Lord for our bricks of contentment. In Him we will never be disappointed!



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