So I’m winding down for the evening preparing myself for bed and I’m reflecting on my day. I’m a task-oriented person. I tally up what I’ve accomplished for the day and decide whether or not the past 24 hours have been successful. I began my morning in prayer asking God to give me strength for this, help me to be better at that. This particular day I asked for control over my mouth. Teach me Oh Lord how to keep the peace and say only what needs to be said. And Lord, give me patience with my children to give them the attention they need.
I remember this prayer as I’m making the kid’s lunches for the following day.
It is well after 10 at night there’s not much else to be done. It is then I remember the argument I had in the car with Wil; the one I was never gonna have again. He’s packed on the pounds since we’ve moved to the south. For lunch that afternoon he pulled into a McDonald’s and ordered the biggest, juiciest burger they sell—and a side of fries. I sat quietly for a moment remembering my humble prayer; right before I go into a rant about how huge he has become and a treadmill wouldn’t exactly hurt him. He blows me off but I won’t stop because I figured at that point I might as well empty myself.
I sigh. Well, I can remove that from my list of things accomplished.
And then as I’m placing lunches in the fridge, I remember my prayer for patience with the kids. In my mind I fast forward to just after school. We were riding home and Jillian goes into a long-winded story about some kid that was being nasty to her. Midway through I’m thinking about what to cook for dinner and how long could this story possibly go on? Ugh. Mommy, you aren’t even listening to me, she asked. I tell her I am. But of course I have no solution to her problem because I only heard half of the story.
I roll my eyes up to the ceiling. Geez, that was a bust too.
I go on, checking some things off the list as accomplished, but most others were not. Sometimes it feels like my life is more ebb than flow.
Thursday night I’m in bible study and instead of getting into praise and worship I am once again analyzing my failures and weaknesses. I hate this. But I hear His voice say, I will get there. It’s then I realize that we are often harder on ourselves than he could ever be on us. We have lists and rules and so many absolutes we can’t even keep up. But His grace is sufficient. Every day I pray for this or that not realizing that every day he gives me grace to accomplish those things. But I’m not suddenly cured from being impatient or short or unkind. There’s no instant relief or quick fix. Grace is connected with action. As we move and strive he gives us grace, or favor and spiritual strength to do what we need to do. We don't always feel it. It is not through will power or crossing our fingers. His grace is there. We just need to walk in it by faith. Yes, I am moving in an upwardly direction. In time...I will get there.
My daughter walks into the kitchen later that evening after bible study and asks me about the meaning of Easter. It is late. She needs to be in bed. I am tired. I sit her down at the kitchen island and explain it to her…from the beginning. I am getting there.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
It’s hard to accept failure or at least what we deem as failure. You have a perfect plan and you’re so pumped about it you can barely stand it. You’ve planned it out, written it down, told some friends and some family (you know the ones who support what you do no matter what). Yep, you know the economy is down. But you are assured that this business venture, this great idea to change or make something happen will come through if no other way but on the wings of pure enthusiasm. I mean you are convinced that it’s God given because it has never been clearer. And then it fails. It fails miserably. You plan an event and no one shows up; not even the ones you practically begged to come. The bank refuses the loan and commences to tell you why your idea is impossible. You start the group, move or program and absolutely nothing goes as intended. You look up to heaven as if God just played a cruel joke you on. You retreat for awhile and contribute it to a minor setback, regroup and try again. The defeat this time is staggering. Not only is this disheartening, it’s downright embarrassing. Surely everyone is either mocking you or pitying you. For me to tell you to try again sounds preposterous. It’s so easy for those resting on the sidelines with no vested interest to push you onward. There are few things more painful than utter letdown. Yet when you know that something is supposed to be it turns over in your heart repeatedly; you feel it tapping, tapping, begging to be given another chance. And you keep wondering what would happen if I try this thing one more time-- just one more time. Remember in scripture where Elijah had prayed and the land was void of rain for three years (I Kings 18:41)? I can only imagine that during the first year of the drought many are hopeful for the rain. It will come, after all, it always does. I can see them looking up toward the sky praying to their god hoping, wishing, knowing. By the third year hopelessness has set in and what they once held hope for seems like a ridiculous notion. Fate seems set. Many die. Many more will. God is against us rain may never come again! Elijah, the prophet comes back to town after three years and tells the King to get ready; there is a sound of abundance of rain. Sometimes the sound of change is inaudible to the naked ear but it is a knowing that cannot be shaken. There is not a clue, not a hint of rain in sight but Elijah tells his servant to go and look up toward the sky. Meanwhile he puts his face to the ground and prays. His servant returns. He sees nothing and hears even less. He tells the servant to go. Look again. Still nothing. And again…nothing. After that sixth time the repetition has become frustrating. But Elijah was still expecting, he’s still praying; remember he’d already heard the sound of abundant rain. It has been six times and nothing has changed. It was the seventh and final time when he saw it—a cloud, the size of a man’s hand. Change was already in place but he would not have seen it if he had not gone one more time. Don’t give up. Keep praying and then go. Look again.