There’s a dark cloud hovering over our hearts and the hearts of many others today. A good, faithful, righteous man’s life was senselessly taken last week; a man dear to many, many, many people. A man used by God to influence so many people that 1200 were present at his funeral, not including the hundreds that watched online.
While we praise the sweet name of Jesus who welcomed this man into His loving arms last week, and while we take comfort in eternity, we are still left grappling with the fragility of life and the weight of every moment we live. We’re left thinking about and praying for the family who is now fatherless, husbandless, brotherless, sonless–praying that God would graciously and compassionately lift them up and hold them steady as they walk through these dark days.
Life is so, so short. Our moments matter.
A few weekends ago, I wanted to throw in the towel. Let’s be honest, it’s not like that was the only time I’ve ever wanted to throw in the towel of motherhood. But this specific day stands out in my mind because it ended so unexpectedly.
Parenting had been stressful that day (again, not the only day that’s happened). It just seemed like if it wasn’t one kid, it was the other. If it wasn’t one situation, it was the other. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I really didn’t know what to do or say with each uncomfortable moment. I couldn’t seem to get parenting right. It even overflowed into my wifing.
All I really wanted was to get into my bed at 6pm and make sure no one entered that room for the rest of the night. I wanted to hide in a hole, maybe have a nervous breakdown, all by myself. Really–I really wanted that. I was planning my escape to that comfy bed at any moment.
But then one child begged to play a family game, and though I was secretly hoping to slip out and let Daddy handle all of it, I succumbed to the pressure and pulled up a spot at the coffee table. I sort of even pretended like I was only going to sit on the floor and snuggle the dog, but very soon I was participating.
I definitely didn’t want an all night game night, but one round of the game was good, and apparently just enough to keep me out of my pjs and bedroom. I continued with the evening, putting kids to bed, snuggling, praying, and laughing.
When I crawled into bed with my oldest, conversation started flowing and before I knew it, 45 minutes had passed and I hadn’t even prayed with her or said goodnight yet. It was a delightful time of laughing, sharing thoughts, and confiding in each other.
This nighttime conversation happens a lot, but it was unexpected for that particular night because really, all I wanted was to be alone, away from everything. I thought that isolation would solve my immediate need. I thought the answer for that day was just to walk away. To let someone else handle it.
When I walked back down the stairs at the end of the night, the lesson wasn’t lost on my heart. I immediately recognized that God had given me a gift. He had graciously orchestrated a kind way for me to press on, through the mess, and to receive a blessing for it.
My frown was turned upside down, y’all.
And it wasn’t from some spiritual break through or theological conversation with my kids. It wasn’t from insisting I was right and they were wrong. It wasn’t from making sure they knew how to respect me in those earlier moments, all of which are probably important in their own way at the right time (except for maybe me insisting on my rightness).
It wasn’t from me isolating myself and finding comfort in myself or my alone time. It wasn’t from me reading a book or watching a show all cooped up in my room that brought comfort and grace. It wasn’t from me laying down the law and punishing everyone for the way I was treated that day. It wasn’t from me mustering up all my strength and powering through.
The grace came through the most unexpected moments, the ordinary moments–a simple family game and the continued bedtime routine. It really was those moments that reset my attitude and brought me joy.
It was God’s grace that enabled me to press on, without even realizing that was what I was doing. I didn’t really make a conscious effort to press on. I didn’t find it in me to push through and keep going. I didn’t throw in the towel, but it’s only because of God’s firm grip and His gentle guidance that let that night end well.
I’ve been telling my children that life isn’t made up of things. I mean certainly, our physical life is full of things, but the whole of life isn’t made up of things. I tell them it’s about heart and soul. It’s about relationship.
We’re reading through Philippians together, and all of my children can verbalize on their own how the world teaches us to look to ourselves for everything we need, and to think about yourself first. They understand that Jesus, through Paul, is calling us to a life lived for others, and not for ourselves. They see how Jesus was the ultimate example of a life lived for others–He gave up everything in order to die for each of us! (see Philippians, all of it! but specifically Philippians 2:4-11)
This living for others isn’t something anyone can muster up by their own sheer strength, because our humanity will seek our own interests again and again and again. It can only come from the transforming power of Christ. Through that transformation, sometimes you don’t even notice Him doing it–until you look back on the moments of the day and realize it was all Jesus.
That day in particular, He lived through me and poured out His grace and strength on me so that I could then pour it out on others. Oh for more days like that.
The testimony of our dear friend is that he truly lived for others. And it wasn’t by his own strength, but because of the work Christ did within his heart. He truly pressed on and lived for others until his dying breath. What an example for all of us, something I so want to be! I have so far to go.
For me that testy Saturday was a glimpse of the grace of Jesus. I’m fighting to press on through the difficult moments of life, to overcome the quitter mentality and to truly let Christ’s grace live through me, one moment at a time. My flesh fails me more often than not, but may these verses be my guide, and yours too:
Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”