August 21, 2015

For When Evenings Find You Exhausted

Wake up early, get a shower, get dressed, clean up the bedroom, wake up kids, make breakfast, prepare for the school day. It’s only eight, and I want to go back to bed.

Come to me you who are weary…

Spend the morning teaching Isabel and Noah, Bible stories, math, reading, writing, science, spelling, play time, piano, make lunch, clean up. By noon, one day feels like two.

Come to me you who are weary…

In the afternoon answer e-mails, manage my online students, grade their papers, placate colleagues with questions and requests. By four pm I think I have nothing left to give.

Come to me you who are weary…

Soon it's time to make dinner, to welcome my husband, to eat as a family, to talk about our days, to pray as a family, to clean up, to do dishes, to bathe children, to brush their teeth, to read one more story, to pray once again. Twelve hours after breakfast feel like a week.

Come to me you who are weary…

Then the house is quiet, so it’s time to do the laundry, to pay bills, to sweep the kitchen, to wipe the counters, to spend a few minutes with the man I love, to get ready for bed.

Come to me you who are weary…

But the rest my pillow offers will not satisfy or take away the heaviness this day has left over me. I am bone-tired inside and out. My body aches and my mind is racing. 

There is only one place I can go to find the respite my mind, body, and soul desperately need.

So finally, finally...

When I surrender the busy-ness of the day and at last quiet my heart enough to notice, I hear the words the Spirit has been trying to whisper to me all day long as I rushed through each task:  

Come to me you who are weary…and I will give you rest.

And I breathe a sigh of release, of freedom, and of gratitude. I let go and unburden my shoulders of the weight of the world.

The days are heavy and long and weary. But I don't have to carry them alone.

I pray tomorrow I will remember this before my feet first hit the floor.

August 14, 2015

For When Sorrow Threatens To Drown You

There are days when the weather is cold and my skies are gray; when I'm feeling vulnerable and raw from some recent, difficult situation.

In those days, present circumstances and voices from the past mingle to make it feel like the weight of everything that has ever gone wrong in my life is threatening to crush me.

Childhood hurts, adolescent mistakes, adult heartbreaks all pile on these thin shoulders and bend me over until I look 100 years old instead of 37.

All the people who have spoken words of discouragement and condemnation to me resurrect from their tombs in my history and speak again, even more vilely.

All the wrongs I've endured, all the unfair treatment, all my own errors and the apologies I have had to make crack open the scars they formed in my heart and bleed anew.

In those days, I cover my eyes with my hands and let the tears flow freely.

But then...

Then I do the one thing I have learned will keep all that explosion of grief from turning my heart bitter and hard:

I pray.

No, I don't really just pray.

I pour, I expel, I purge.

On my knees, I let Jesus have it all.

It is too heavy, too dark, too...much.

A few minutes later I'm still crying.

Just as hard.

Ugly, wracking sobs.

And I still feel as heavy and bent over.

But what is crushing me now is the relentless weight of all the beauty He has created out of the ashes of my life:

The infertility that turned into adoption.

The mistakes I made which turned my heart towards compassion and empathy for others.

The pain that pushed me to deeper, more meaningful relationships.

The rejections that taught me to forgive freely and to understand grace.

The losses that showed me how to love better and hold on more tightly. 

And my heart is then thick with thankfulness it can't contain within itself.

So I continue to spill, to pour, to return.

But this time in praise, not sorrow.

August 5, 2015

For Those In Need Of Strength

We know King David as one of the most famous men in the Bible, but there were many people who did not like him. And most of the time it wasn't because of anything he did but rather a product of his circumstances. 

King Saul hated David because God anointed him as the next king. David didn't ask to be king. 

The Philistines despised David because he was a good warrior. David was only following God's instructions into battle. 

His wife, Michal, felt contempt for him because he danced before the Lord in praise. David was only responding to the joy he felt. 

Nathan chastised David harshly for committing adultery and murder...Ok, that one was on David's head. 

And because he was hunted by Saul like a dog and there was a price on his head, David lived on the run and in fear for years.

The Bible tells us that David was envied, mocked, scorned, spurned, and misunderstood plenty. Many of the Psalms he wrote tell of his anguish, his fear, and his frustration with the people and the situations around him. 

In 1 Samuel 30 we find yet another moment in which David was afraid for his life because of a situation over which he had no control. 

He and his men were living among the Philistines, enjoying the friendship of King Achish. The king decided to fight against King Saul and the Israelites and demanded that David and his men accompany them into battle. So David and his men followed the Philistine army. 

When the other Philistine soldiers saw them approaching, they rejected them and told King Achish that David and his posse were not welcomed, so David and his men had to turn around and go back home.

When they arrived home they found that the Amalekites had raided their town and taken everything, including their wives and children. The men were heartbroken, bitter, and angry and began to talk about stoning David. As if it was David's doing! 

And it is in the midst of this situation that we find a very short sentence that, I think, defines who David was and why he was called "a man after God's own heart." 

Facing the unfair wrath of his men, who were threatening him with murder, the writer of 1 Samuel simply states: 

"But David found strength in the LORD his God" (1 Samuel 30: 6b). 

The story tells us that David asked God what to do and went on to rescue all that was stolen from them by the Amelekites.

Maybe you find yourself in the middle of an unfair situation today. Maybe you are being accused of something you didn't do. Maybe you are despised for things you have no control over. Maybe you feel misunderstood, misinterpreted, or mistreated. 

Even in the middle of God's will, even while doing His work, even while knowing we are right where we need to be, there are times when, like David, we are mocked, scorned, spurned, and envied.

How should we then respond? Should we strive to defend ourselves, to set things right, to show the world how wrong they are? 


Perhaps there is a time to defend, and a time to set the record straight, and a time to speak up. Even David proclaimed his innocence before Saul in many occasions. 

But I think 1 Samuel points us to a deeper truth, a failsafe response regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves. Scripture directs us to find our strength in the LORD our God. 

Our strength does not come from talking to others about our situation, or setting things right our own way, or getting back at our attackers. Our strength to face the difficulties that come our way comes from the LORD our God. 

The simple question is this: 

Where are you looking for strength today?

"I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
(Psalm 121:1-2, The Message)