Monday, May 13, 2013

Strength for Each Day

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

-Elizabeth Clephane

The sun sinks slowly on these lingering spring days. Weary, tired beyond expression, my head finds rest on the soft pillow and I drift into sweet sleep almost immediately. Moments later, I hear the jolting cry.

Baby, please sleep, I hope I pray . . . and then I will my exhausted body from my safe, warm bed to comfort the small one, the sweet, demanding one. Again and again. I wake from sleep in this night until morning and then the battle of the duties and demands of the day begin.

Lord, I am weary, my tired heart cries out while I nod off and on into the pleasure of sleep . . . Go downstairs, make my husband’s lunch, do the laundry . . . baby, please sleep.

Morning comes, and the new day is fresh and sweet, like laundry blowing in the warm June air. His mercies are new every morning . . . This is only for a season, the season of babies and tired arms and warm milk and a full heart; accept it, embrace it with joy

There is a season to raise our babies and then our little ones and then a season to step back and to pray and to watch them become the vessel that the Lord God intended them to become by His grace.

A season to pour myself out, to lay myself aside, to fully enter this awesome task of Motherhood.

A season to forego the things that I used to take for granted—things like washing my hair, having time to myself, shopping, going away alone with my husband . . . for this season.

The tiny one was brought into the world. And for now, she is the great responsibility that the Lord has given me.

Do I then take His gift and try to constantly pass it off to someone else so that I can be free?

Do I embrace this calling or secretly resent it that my time and energy are so fully demanded?

Do I, as Jim Elliot said, “Live to the hilt every situation that you believe to be the will of God,” or do I shirk my duty and ultimate joy to be rid of some of the burden?

For me, this means spending myself even when I am tired, reading books, singing songs when I really don’t “feel” like it, holding my baby even when my arms ache and it would be easier just to put her down, training, teaching, addressing, nurturing, raising her up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

For me this means not “passing her off” to whoever will take her for a while to give me a break, not seeing her fussiness as a cross to bear, but as an opportunity to learn patience and grace.

For me this means repetition and discipline . . . praying with her at the same time each day . . . demonstrating through my actions, not just my words that it is life and peace itself to walk near to Jesus, to be full of Him and to become more and more empty of this world and all of its fleeting pleasures and promises.

My friend Christine taught me how to knit—I never would have learned if I didn’t go home after she taught me a skill and practice it over and over and over . . . knit, purl, knit, purl . . . horrid, lumpy, misshapen . . .knit, purl, knit, purl . . . getting a little better . . . knit, purl, knit, purl . . . beauty. Beauty is born from the womb of discipline. Nothing of worth follows mediocrity. As I was constantly reminded of the Biblical truth growing up –“it’s better to be cold than lukewarm.”

It is easy to retreat, as Amy Carmichael calls it, into “silken self,” shrinking back from the hard duties, excusing myself when the weight of my calling becomes too uncomfortable, too rigorous, too demanding.  Making an excuse—“I’m only human...”

Discipline and repetition . . . no matter how weary I am, no matter whether I “feel” like doing it or not . . . with joy . . . the joy of being filled with His strength, the strength that is not of me, the strength that is perfect.

“As your days, so shall your strength be . . .(Deuteronomy 33:25)”

When I think that I cannot go on, He fills my empty vessel with His grace . . . when my body is weak, His grace is sufficient . . . “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” (Isaiah 32:2).

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