For someone who is pretty conscientious about taking stock and maintaining a balanced perspective, I have been drifting off course.
I’m working on that.
The Lord is good. His mercies are new every morning, and when we feel life is tough or stale, or like some problem is “getting a little old” it’s important to remember that, just like the manna He provided in the wilderness for the children of Israel, God gives us what we need for each day, but we tend to grow dissatisfied even when our needs are being met. We try to rake in more manna from today’s supply, hoard it and cover tomorrow with today’s portion. And end up harried and worried. We also like that spice called “variety” but a preference is not a need. We get our wants and and our needs a little mixed up with one another sometimes. Sometimes we think we need/are entitled to the things we really really want. Like more attention from our spouse, or less stress at work, or better-behaved kids, or fewer responsibilities, and on and on I could go.
The best laid plans, the best intentions, sometimes go awry. Particularly when we do something day-in-and-day-out, whether it is a resolve to live circumspect and conscious of our outlook, to give because we are supposed to, or just the demands of being a parent or whatever we do as a job on a daily basis, over time just like any repetitive physical motion, we can easily and naturally grow lax. Sometimes we have to figuratively throw some cold water in our own face or something, to remember to keep applying that same effort consistently.
It is so easy to start feeling like the current moment, the current circumstance will NEVER end, never change. But life itself proves that is not so. Jobs that seem tedious and soul-sucking, can come to an abrupt end, plunging one into hardship, and suddenly that job which was so unappreciated, is sorely missed. Same in situations such as caring for a loved one whose health is deteriorating, and yes, the demands of parenting young children. When I was a younger mom with little ones, well, even now, washing dishes was my most dreaded chore. I tried to work on that by reminding myself that I had dishes to wash because I had been blessed by the Lord with a husband and kids. There are women who ache for the privilege you have, and there are loved ones who abruptly leave this sphere and we realize we have not appreciated them as we ought to have, after they are gone.
I’m not as great at rolling with the punches as I would like to be. But thankfully, I’m not entirely in charge of this ongoing project of Sandra Lloyd becoming what she will eventually be. Unlike the world’s idea of being self-made, as a Christian, I am a work in progress and God is the One who is ultimately shaping me. At least, that is, to the extent that I yield for Him to do so.
I think the best kept secret of the Christian life, is that right there! We are so all-fired all about being all we can be, so about doing, that we run right out ahead and off on tangents, and then are frustrated by our own slow growth and progress, or the headache of having to back-track. I think you get there faster in yielding. But yielding doesn’t come natural to us. It is such a foreign concept particularly to us Americans. Submission equals weakness in the American psyche. Or maybe I should just say western culture as a whole. Then we have our flesh itself that works against us in this. We tend to want control.
Try, really hard, to think of how it is with toddlers. If you are a parent, or grandparent, it’s probably not that hard to recall. Others may have to think about their bratty little sister brother, maybe a cousin or, hey, if not that, then the rest of you who have not had kids yet can surely come up with someone else’s bratty kid to think of (Ha ha, you wait…).
What words or phrases come immediately to mind when you think of a toddler? “No” and “me do it” come to my mind. “No” is this powerful new word that every toddler, when they discover it, LOVES to use. And the older toddler, the one honing those gross and fine motor skill, is totally tripping out on the rush of self-ability. Independence is a rush! He or she gets in mind they can do something, and doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know. So they will jump right in. That’s why parents or grandparents (or babysitters) of young-uns are always on guard for when they try to oh say, run their own bath water (scalding), cross the street alone (oh heaven help us!) or emulate the beauty shop lady and give themselves a hair cut (or shave?)
Well, we are to God, like that toddler is to us. No matter how long we have been at this Christian life, and no matter what we have learned, we remain so far below the level of God that we never exit that toddler stage, in relation to Him and His wisdom and knowledge. We might designate some as baby Christians, new believers, and others as mature saints, but we are all just babes in comparison to Him.
Now, not to imply that we should not aspire to grow and mature. but think about that for a minute. If God sees us as toddlers, no matter how far we have come, what do you suppose that His attitude is when those who sincerely desire and strive to learn and grow, inevitably goof up?
That is not to say His standard of expectations is not raised over the years we have been a believer, it surely does, as the Apostle Paul taught us in the epistles.
However, I am so thankful God is the Daddy and I am the child. When the demands of adult life feel overwhelming, it is a comfort to me knowing that the buck doesn’t stop with me. There is someone “of a higher pay grade” who is in charge. I can close my eyes at night and go to sleep knowing that no matter how much I may have taxed His patience and grace, tomorrow a whole new supply will be in store, and His love never wavers. I try to remember to say “thank-you” for that when I do lay my head down. Going down your list of blessings is a surefire way to combat your average run-of-the-mill insomnia. Guaranteed you will fall asleep before you finish truly thanking God for every single one of your blessings. I mean, eyes, nose, fingers, toes, lungs that work, a strong healthy heart, food, shelter, love, sunshine, freedom, friends…get really specific, because every single thing you have came from Him.
Of course people who don’t believe in God, who don’t have Him in their lives, don’t have that luxury. They have to make do with sleeping pills, and the pressure of figuring it all out on their own. Rather than be thankful, they may glory in a recent accomplishment, but tomorrow they have to come up with another one. They are often either feeling sorry for themselves because they compare themselves to someone who has more (someone always will) or in some cases they may even feel guilty because someone else has so much less. (Pastor Mike Taylor wrote a good sermon on that this week).
Grace is favor that is un-earned, un-merited, freely given. No matter what is on your plate and no matter what is bugging you, no matter what you are up against, you only fail if you give up, and what you have (fill in your own blank__________) vs what you deserve (hell) is definitely the preferable alternative. Plus, we have the added bonus of knowing that when the drudgery of this life does come to an end, we will have only just begun to live. How awesome is that?