between 16 and the day after tomorrow
it’s a disorienting fog
a miry bog
to get bogged down in numbers
years that go by fast
days that go by slow
slow as the answer
that hasn’t yet come to my prayer
and then you’re 45
and you pray more like
a person lost in the fog
starting to recognize
the sound of feet sinking in
deep in the same spot they
got stuck in last
year at 44
why do you keep going round
and round like
hands on a clock
take a step
out to the side
side by side
with the one
who got you this far
down the road
the road is not going
but you are running a race
it’s long past this
you keep retracing
retrace his steps
keep on because
45 is just a number
along the road
with a finish line
up where he
saw you and smiled
“It is finished.”
One promise I look to in the Bible when I feel everything in my life is screaming, “There is no God! You’re all alone in this,” is Romans 8:28-29.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
The first part of that section feels good. “God is going to work everything for my good,” I tell myself. And then I ask, “What is my good?” The answer is found in the next verse.
My good is to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. The good God is promising to work in every good and bad circumstance in my life is making me more and more like Jesus. The question is, do I value this good God is promising to work for me above everything in my life?
There’s this underlying thing about being a Christian. This constant undercurrent of a question threatening to grab me by my ankles and pull me under. And the question is, “Why are you doing this? Why church? Why care about telling others about Jesus? Why keep striving in a hard marriage? Why read the Bible? Why sing?” And if the answer isn’t , “Because being made like Jesus is more valuable to me than anything else,” then I’ll sink.
In all the hard things that come with life, I will not endure in following Jesus if I haven’t tasted his goodness and value being being made like him more than anything.
Jesus prays for us, that our faith won’t fail. And like Peter, the question Jesus is asking us, every new-mercied morning is, “Do you love me?” And by his grace, I do. I have tasted that there is no comfort, to escape of hard things, no self-preservation or functional savior better than finding within me the heart of Christ.
Tonight after a day of high school classes for my sons, and a day of work as a nurse in acute rehab I wanted to veg out, and so did they. I had homework (only one calss left for my BSN!), they had finished theirs. By the time I finished my required essay, I was ready to enjoy my glass of wine and do nothing but relax. My boys wanted to watch the rest of Black Panther and I was tempted to let them.
But in the shower these words came to mind:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
In a brief exchange of prayer, I argued with the Holy Spirit, Psalm 127 coming to mind, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord , the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalms 127:1,3). But even as the passage went through my head, I hear the words of Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
“I know you’re tired Sheila. But it’s the very fact that all your labor is in vain unless I build, unless I grant life (even your children’s), that you should labor. I am building the house. Your labor is not in vain.”
In a rare exchange of intimate prayer (most of my prayers are more like drowning Peter’s, “Help Lord!”) I responded, the words of the Psalmist bubbling up in my heart:
Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalms 90:16-17
“Establish the work of my hands Lord! Establish the work of my hands to impress the gospel upon my children’s hearts! Establish the work of my hands to be a witness of the good news of Christ to my husband! Establish the work of my hands!”
I got out of the shower and pulled the Tim Keller book I was planning to return to the library without ever reading out of my bag, “Making Sense of God- An Invitation to the Skeptical.”
“Hey guys,” I called to the two young men of my womb laying on the couch watching Black Panther, “I want to read to you for awhile.”
“Oh mom, come on, really?! Read what? I want to watch this…” they challenged.
My tired body didn’t want to resist. I wanted to give up and go to bed. But the promises of God assured me, any effort I put into impressing the hope of Christ on my kids would not be in vain.
Tired mom, don’t give up on pressing into raising your children in the nurture and teaching of the gospel of Christ. Work! Your labor is not in vain. God is buildng his house. May he establish the work of our hands.
This is not going to be well edited. It’s late. And I’m tired.
Some days I’m just tired of bearing with the sins of others.
I know it’s ridiculously hypocritical because others are having to bear with my sins. And I know God is faithful and doesn’t grow tired and does not give up when I do. I know all this, but I need to write it out. How should I deal with this? There’s always just going to bed, which at this point is not a bad idea.
Getting tired of the sins of others happens with those you spend the most time with. I get tired of my husband and kids more than anyone else because I see them, day in day out, warts and all. It’s no coincidence that the relationships between husband and wife, parent and child are the first to be specifically mentioned when the apostle Paul teaches the church about being filled with the Holy Spirit.
‘And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. ‘
Only the Spirit of God does not grow weary in doing good with people who aren’t good. But as one of those not-good people, I grow tired. And nights like tonight, when I want to throw in the towel (whatever that means), what I’m really saying is I need the rest that relying on God brings.
I don’t know how to pray, but the Spirit does.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:26 ESV
Every minute of every day it’s the Spirit I’m relying on to produce the endurance to love like Jesus.
Holy Spirit, I’m tired. Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and renew a right spirit within me, then I’ll be able to lead sinners in your ways and love like you love. Revive me again Lord. I’m going to sleep trusting you. Hoping in you. Depending on you.