Laughter echoed through the house as Trey ran from room to room, calling out, "Dad! Chase me! Chase me!"
Bed time was advancing closer, and he was showing no indication of being tired, ready for rest. We attempted to interest him in reading a story, taking a bath - but he did his best to ignore us.
The battle began to wear us down. The boy had no inclination to listen, he wanted to play, and the more we attempted to calm him down, the more rowdy he became.
"That's it," I said to Tom, "Nap time is now officially being cut back to one hour."
We began to lower our voices, talk slower and quieter, and put a stop to the running. It took an hour of firm, quiet discussion. There was a very rare temper tantrum, even after Tom had said his prayers and told him a story.
That boy wanted what he wanted, and he would just as soon shout louder than listen.
We finally did get him to bed, but it was under major protest.
I began to think about how many times I am the same with God. Running through my life, my actions yell, "God! Chase me! Chase me!"
Sometimes, my frantic activity reflects disquiet in my heart - as I run from one activity to the next, it is almost impossible to hear the quiet, restful whisper of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes, when I am struggling with my own questions, I find that I don't really want to hear what God has to say. So I keep my thoughts circling madly, going from one anxiety to another.
Because sometimes, God wants me to rest in the uncomfortable. To accept the pain. To allow myself to truly feel the disappointment, the hurt.
Sometimes, God just needs me to take the time to be quiet and see my soul for what it truly is - sinful.
It is in that quiet moment of self-acceptance (that I am a sinner, no better than the next) that I am able to grasp the need for, and the value of: compassion, mercy and unconditional love.
When I have rested in my own disquiet allowed it to penetrate, I have then opened myself up to God's quiet, God's grace, God's forgiveness.
And when I've been THERE - I can share it with others.
Today's encouragement is this - Be Still. God is on your side. He may ask you to bear patiently some feelings you would just as soon not feel. He may ask you to look clearly in the face some sin, to come to terms with your sinfulness - not to condemn you, but to FREE you. To give you the opportunity to share the grace you have received.
Do not be too hasty in your desire to get out from under - it could be that in your haste, you miss a blessing.
"You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." James 1:2-4 The Message
"Be Still, My Soul"
by Catharina von Schlegel, 1697-?
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897
1. Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
3. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.
4. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Looking around my living room, I see a pile of toddler legos, pillows tossed off the couch, a large cardboard box, (excuse me, boat) a stuffed elephant and a pile of crushed Chex cereal.
Nothing here to inspire a spiritual musing.
Or is there?
A few months ago I began thinking about Jesus' ministry. As a young man, just coming into his teen years, Jesus was left behind during a festival - and his parents found him astounding the rabbis and teachers of the temple with his questions and commentary. At that age, it would have been acceptable for him to request to study at the temple. Can you imagine what might have occurred in his ministry if he'd had the support of the teachers and religious leaders?
Instead, he chose to go home with his parents:
So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people. (Luke 2:51-52 MSG)
His choice, to go live a normal, blue-collar, everyday, ho-hum kind of life was blessed, favored - both by God and by the people around him.
Another translation reads:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52 KJ21)
All those years, that some might consider 'wasted', God used. Jesus grew taller (stature) and developed wisdom. His actual ministry was about 3 years in length. The bulk of his life he spent just living. Jesus considered everyday life important. So much so, that he chose to live with his parents, working alongside his dad in a blue collar job for the bulk of his life.
I am encouraged by that. As a mom and a wife, sometimes it feels like life is passing me by. The temptation is to look at someone else's life and think - I'm not doing enough, or I'm not doing something important.
In our world today, it's hard to separate the glitz and hype of religious television, shouting preachers, emotional sermons and gut-wrenching worship music from the quiet, everyday living, life-example that Jesus gave us.
In your life today, your normal, washing dishes, making dinner, changing diapers, going to work and getting an oil change for the car-life, you have the opportunity to live like Jesus.
These are the life-skills Jesus decided were so important that he held off ministry to practice and attain.
Today's encouragement? Right where you are, you can be like Jesus.
Waiting for the 'next thing'?
Master the Jesus-skills right where you are first.
"We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well."
(1 Corinthians 10:24b MSG)