I am so thrilled to be ending this series on Noah.  I know I shouldn’t say that, because it was my own decision to start this, but seriously, I am so glad to not read about Noah anymore.  It’s been tough and challenging for my  soul.  I have resisted learning from it and applying it to my everyday waiting.  Finally, today I get to read about Noah getting off the boat!  Yay! No more waiting!  Surely, there won’t be a hard lesson with this one, right? 😉


Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.  Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”  So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him.  Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.  While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease”  (Genesis 8:15-22).

Finally, Noah and his family are allowed to escape their waiting.  Finally, they are out of that stinkin’ ark.  Finally, we see the worship and praise of glad hearts that are relieved to be done with the waiting!  We finally get to the words that we have grown to associate with the story of Noah.  Finally, it’s starting to sound like the Sunday School felt board of my youth.  Now, all that’s missing is the colorful rainbow.

Ahh…there it is, FINALLY, in verse 19 of Genesis chapter 9: “When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

We love to hear of God’s covenant…especially when it’s a promise to not destroy the earth in a horrific globe consuming torrential downpour.  We love to rest in the beautiful imagery of a magical rainbow filling the skies, with a felt cutout of a white bearded Noah underneath, standing on a green oval next to a pair of elephants.  This is what we remember when it comes to Noah.  This is what we are taught as children: God loves us and makes promises to us.

But we aren’t taught as children the bits of the story that are uncomfortably long and annoyingly difficult to swallow.  We aren’t taught the whole story.

Yes.  God’s promise here with the rainbow is good…real good…some of His finest work.  He’s spectacular in the role of promise maker and covenant keeper.

But, that’s not the conclusion of the Noah account.

“The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.

Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.  He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.  And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.  Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.  When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him,  he said,

“Cursed be Canaan;
a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
 He also said,

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem;
and let Canaan be his servant.
 May God enlarge Japheth,[d]
and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
and let Canaan be his servant.”
After the flood Noah lived 350 years.  All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died” (Genesis 9:18-29).

WHAT THE…!??!?!

Even if it were socially acceptable to have a naked and passed out felt Noah, I’m sure we would refrain from retelling this portion of the story to our children.  Why?

Because it’s not a dreamy rainbow…and it’s an inappropriate scene…

Noah was about the closest thing to a celebrity that could be found in his day.  The people of the whole earth came from him.  Noah was channel 6’s citizen hero: He saved cute kitties and endangered salamanders during the massive flood.  Tweet: Noah was channel 6's citizen hero:He saved cute kitties & endangered salamanders during the massive flood. #NOAH #FINALLY #HeIsGoodIAmNOT He was the one wise enough to fashion an ark, brave enough to load it up with two of every kind, patient enough to outlast the waters.  (He would have done great on Survivor).  He was a legend, a war hero.  And that’s exactly where we like to leave the story hanging: with the legend given a promise by God left to re-populate the earth.

But he fell.  Hard.

Instead, we are left with a picture of a drunk old man, filled with shame and embarrassment, who lashes out in anger against a grandson.  (A grandson, who didn’t do anything wrong, but whose father disrespected Noah by telling his other sons about his drunkenness.)

So here it is…the kink in my rainbow.  I thought we’d finally get to the sunshine and moonbeams of the Noah story, only to be left with the nastiness of our human nature.   God is so amazing and faithful, making the firmest of promises to his people…and then his people act like thisnasty.

Noah is no different than you and I, no different than the Israelites who turned to worthless idols, no different than the disciples who abandoned Jesus in the garden.

The hard lesson:  God is so faithful, and I am NOT.

Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I’ve got the stuff of legends, especially biblical legends, or at least that it’s somehow attainable.  I want to believe that by digging into these famous people, I will learn the secret to waiting, to patience, to faithfulness, to thankfulness, to joy, etc.  I trick myself into believing that I, like Noah, Moses, Ruth, Esther, Peter, Paul, will be swept up in a tale of adventure and transformation to be repeated for generations to come.  I put my hope in gaining all the favorable characteristics of the “greats”…whether their passion, their perseverance, their faith, or their legendary adventure.

But when I read the fine print of every story, I see that they all bear testimony to the weakness of our humanity, to our frail nature, our wishy-washy-ness, and our faithlessness.

Noah reminds me that 1) yes, God makes a covenant to the world that never again will He destroy the entirety of it with a flood, and 2)

God has to make rainbow promises because He’s got every good reason to be done with us.Tweet: God has to make rainbow promises because He's got every good reason to be done with us. #NOAH #FINALLY #HeIsGoodIAmNOT

I find my stomach churning nightly during the evening news.  Human trafficking runs rampant, hidden slavery joints tucked away in nearly every other shopping strip mall on the way to my children’s school.  Social media lights up when the next superstar pastor is caught in infidelity.  Our country rallies around athletic heroes arrested for spousal abuse or after being found overdosed in places of ill repute.  I find myself yelling, once again, at my child who wants nothing more than to spend time with his momma, but my selfishness turns me against my own flesh and blood.

I am just like Noah.

God has every reason to wipe me out.  He has every reason to annihilate this world full of people who can’t seem to get it together.

We are a bunch of Noahs, who don’t know our gluttonous selfish limits and breathe curses when our sin is bled out naked for all to see.Tweet: We are a bunch of Noahs, who don't know our gluttonous selfish limits & breathe curses when our sin is bled out naked for all to see. #NOAH

But we have a God, who in His great love makes covenant after covenant with HIMSELF on our behalf. Tweet: But we have a God, who in His great love, makes covenant after covenant with HIMSELF on our behalf. #NOAH #FINALLY  “The Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth'” (Genesis 8:21).

He reminds HIMSELF, that though what we deserve is eternal death, the truly just thing is to remain faithful to His promises.

That rainbow…it’s not a covenant reminder for us, it’s a reminder for HIM.Tweet: That rainbow…it's not a covenant reminder for us, it's a reminder for HIM. #NOAH #FINALLY #HeIsGoodIAmNOT

“When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh” (Genesis 9:14-15).

I am floored.  I am Noah.  I am drunk and passed out, unworthy of such a promise.  His covenant is so good, because we are so NOT.Tweet: I am floored. I am Noah. I am drunk and passed out, unworthy of such a promise. His covenant is so good, because we are so NOT. #NOAH

It’s not about how great Noah was for all his years of waiting.  The point is not to assess these biblical greats as impressive, or dare I say, to encourage myself to be more like them.  The point is that God is the one who is above all and through all the hero, the legend, the impressive one.  So yes, in the end, FINALLY, we get to the good part, though still a hard pill to swallow when chased with my selfish pride …HE IS FAITHFUL.

Day 25: intentions

I had good intentions of getting a lot done today, including adding something to Lent.  It didn’t happen…any of it.

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15 


Day 26: insanity

Today I unintentionally added insanity to Lent:

My little raccoon dumped a bag of chili cheese Fritos on the master bathroom floor mat.  It looked like the Pyramid of Giza piled atop white Egyptian sand.

He stole his sister’s deodorant and hacked it into little pieces all over the upstairs bathroom.  Moisture-blocking deodorant, when ground into a fluffy bath mat, is very hard to clean.

He locked himself in the bathroom while I was making an important business call.  We don’t have a key.

He threw multiple toys over the banister…after I had just taken them upstairs to the toy room.

He removed and hid all the printer ink cartridges…as I was trying to print copies of music for Sunday.

He ninja-swiped open dirty diapers as I tried to change him.  I am so done with poop.

All of this was before 10:00 am.

I didn’t have time to add something inspirational today…(hello, reality…thanks for showing up uninvited.)

“Be gracious to me, O God, for man (boy) tramples on me; all day long an attacker (a toddler) oppresses me”  

Psalm 56:1


Day 27: coffee creamer

So, obviously the last couple of days have been ridiculous, but let’s be honest.  This is life for most people: crazy.  When asked how things are going, we all say it:  “Busy.”  “Crazy”  “insane.”  This is the norm for most of us, especially if we’ve got lots of responsibilities, whether it be tasks at work, or children at home, or a combination of the two.

Again, I got nothing done today.  I seemed to rush and rush, strive and toil, with little to nothing to show for it.  When I left to go pick up the kids from school, the house was still a mess, laundry still needed to be done, and I still hadn’t finished preparing for the bible study I was supposed to lead tonight.  We drove straight from school to church to meet up with Daddy for dinner.  During the bible study, the older kids were going to hang out in his office while he worked and Judah was going to the nursery.

When everything was finished for the night, I texted to see if they had already headed home.  I was surprised to hear that yes, they were already home because Gideon had thrown up.  My first thought was “oh, no! Not more sickness!”  Then, I heard the rest of the story.

Apparently, Gideon has a routine when he hangs out in Daddy’s office.  He goes to the staff coffee station and sneaks the little individual cups of coffee creamer.  Tonight, it seems as thought our 5-year-old with the early signs of addictive behavior, couldn’t stop himself from indulging.  He consumed enough cream to make himself sick…well, that and the starburst flavored slushy he got with dinner.  (It makes my stomach curdle just thinking about it.)

When he ‘fessed up to the deviant looting of coffee condiments, he said it was such creamy goodness that he couldn’t stop himself.  This from the child who at age two snuck a stick of butter from the fridge, pulled a chair up to the TV, and ate the butter like a Snickers.  (We are really going to have to keep an eye on this one.)  He obviously doesn’t know his own limits, or what’s good for him.

In the world of sweet things and buttery goodness, it’s very possible to add too much of a good thing.  Not so with Lent, or with God.  My crazy has needed an abundance of grace and He has more than enough to not only meet my level of need, but to surpass it.  His  mercy will never run out, and of His goodness I will never grow weary.  It’s impossible to have too much of Him.  When I allow myself to actually taste His goodness, even in the midst of crazy, all I want is more.  I can’t stop myself from indulging.

When I find myself growing weary and sick of life, unable to think of something spiritual to write about (as I did the past three days), it’s not because I’ve somehow had enough Jesus, or that He’s gone AWAL.  The reality is that I’ve not been opening my senses to taste the little morsels of goodness that He has individually packaged for me throughout the day.  I haven’t tasted.  I haven’t thanked.

Unfortunately for Gideon, God used the little 5-year old’s intolerance for copious creamer consumption to get my attention.  I thank Jesus for His grace.  He has loved me through the past half-week, despite my weakness and inconsistency.  He has loved me, even when I’m not feeling it.  He has remained faithful.

Over Lent, I’ve been adding and adding, and the days that I thought I wasn’t adding at all, grace was being added unto me.  I just didn’t recognize it.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Day 18: Snap Dragons

Earlier today, I finished painting my bargain-find chairs and recovered the seats.   Now, my earlier Lenten goal of friends gathered around the table is in sight.  I went to the store to buy the ingredients for the main course and dessert.  As I was rounding the produce section, I passed the flowers.  Ahhh, snap dragons.  I love snap dragons, and what better way to finish off my new dining room with a mason jar full of the pretty pastel flowers.

photo

Today I added beautiful flowers.  They were not a necessity by any means.  But it is in the nonessentials that the extravagance of God is seen.  Oh, the depth of a God who creates unnecessary beauty!  He goes above and beyond to create moments of artistry and loveliness for us.  It reminds me of the beautiful poetry of His Word.  It’s not crucial to the message, but communicates His character and lavish love.

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” 

Psalm 27:4 


Day 19: K-cups

I recently made a new friend and invited her and her four kids over to play this morning.  She came bearing coffee…lots and lots of coffee.  In her recent move, she was given a plethora of k-cups.  She shared her wealth, unaware that coffee holds the key to my heart. 🙂

Today, I added boxes and boxes of k-cups and a new friend to Lent.  I am so thankful to God for His provision and His timing.

The purpose of this season is to reflect and prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus.  What I am learning through adding to Lent, is that His death and life continues to add to my daily living.  He is alive.  By adding daily, or maybe I should say “by receiving daily”, I am witnessing His resurrection.  He is alive…and finding ways to let me know it.  By opening my eyes to His blessings and bounty, I witness Him being alive and active.

“This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead… Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”  

John 21:14&25

Yesterday was game day: my daughter’s debut on the middle school basketball team.  As most sports enthusiasts know, girls’ 5th-grade basketball is where it’s at.  The NBA has nothin’ on the drama of a 20-minute scrimmage of tweens.  The NCAA can’t compare to the fast pace surprises and amazing display of developing talent.  It truly was a memorable evening.

The three mini-games played last night were purposeful.  Most of the young women participating were only just beginning to learn the rules of the sport.  So, the shortened matches were a chance to learn by doing.  (Sort of a toss the baby in the swimming pool approach)  Dribbling a ball down the court in practice alongside your teammate only requires one set of skills.  However, maintaining control of the ball while a ponytail covered in spirit ribbons whips you in the face is another.  Practicing lay-ups and working on jump shots provides some building blocks of the basics.  But, remembering which basket to aim at in the midst of screaming pre-teens and enthusiastic parents, now that’s an essential lesson all of its own.

A friend and I were laughing as we watched.  Some of the athleticism in unintentional plays was awkwardly unreal.  In the split-second of receiving the ball, the ability to chunk it towards the side wall as if it were a football (or a soggy sock) takes amazing muscle reflexes.  The agility required to scramble on the floor over jump ball after jump ball is not qualitative.  We both agreed that we probably couldn’t imitate was we saw, even if we tried.  And if we were to attempt such feats, there’s no way we’d last a full 20-minutes.

Thankfully, my daughter has wisdom beyond her years.  She was telling us before dinner the night before about this upcoming match.  With great excitement she said, “Ya’ll have to come!…Come watch me fail!  We are horrible!  There’s no way we will win, but you have to come!  It will be great!”  Oh, my sweet, sweet, girl.  I love that she held excitement in the sport, not in the hope of winning.  I love that she didn’t merely want to play the game, but moreover wanted us to enjoy simply watching her play it.

photo 3

“Come watch me fail…”  

Wow.  She has more self-confidence and security than most adults, including myself.  I don’t know if I’d invite any of y’all to be spectators at an event in which I was assuredly going to bounce my own ball into my own face.  She could have pouted.  She could have turned red in embarrassment.  She could have cried from the uncomfortableness of her awkwardness.  Her hope, however, was not placed in points or winning.  Her aim was to learn and enjoy the game.

Many of us are in situations or circumstances that likely require us to learn.  I’d argue that none of us is beyond spiritual growth, for sure.  2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  But how do we approach the opportunities to grow set before us?  How do we approach our transformation?  Do we listen to the Spirit to even discover chances to mature?

One tendency is to approach the court in fear.  There was another sweet girl on our team who avoided the ball at all cost.  I don’t think this was intentional, because she was happy to be there, she was glad to be a part of the team, and she had some occasional hustle.  However, at one moment in the game, as she stood next to a fellow teammate, the ball was passed in her general direction.  As it barreled towards her, she dodged to the side, in an instinctual response to avoid fast-flying objects.  The girl next to her reached as best she could to cover for this young lady’s evasiveness, but to no avail, the ball hit her elbow and bounced off.  Like a pinball machine the orange ball of danger was directly boomeranged back into the poor timid girl’s arms.  She caught the ball squarely in front of the chest, as coach had taught. But, as if it were an intense orb of fire, she immediately flung it in the air…into the arms of the opposing team.  Without hesitation, she turned her face to the coach and mouthed with distraught wrinkled brow, “I’m sorry!”

Our fear in situations can cause us to rely on instincts that are better reserved for real-life-danger.  Is it really necessary that I react to my children as if they were an attacker mugging me in the parking lot?  Is it really necessary that when confronted with conflict I hide in a back room as if an axe murderer was hunting me down in my house?  These reactions, while they seem completely rationale in the moment, only deprive us gaining wisdom and strength through trials.  Rather than soaking in and absorbing wisdom, we repel it like water on a duck.

We can also deflect the scary ball of responsibility onto others, but the lesson is for us.  It always ricochets back.  They have their own issues to deal with and their own path of maturity.  Only we can deal with our ‘stuff’.  Do we receive the hard things as opportunities of growth?  Do we instinctually fling them into the air?  Even if our acknowledgment isn’t as quick as the young girl’s, we will eventually feel regret that the opportunity to grow was lost.

Another tendency is to over-analyze the situation and our position.  There were some young athletes who really took to heart their defensive positions, that even after the ball had moved cross-court and was now in their team’s possession, they were still defending their territory.  They got so lost in their assigned job, that they missed the larger lesson and flow of the game.  There was no acknowledgment or rejoicing that their own team had the ball!

Man, I do this every stinkin’ day.  I get lost so easily in my tasks or seemingly designated position (usually self-appointed) that I miss the larger picture and the goal that Jesus is working me towards.  I can over-think what I should be doing and how I should be doing it, that I miss valuable play-time.  I forget that the purpose and plans to which God has called me are also ordained and controlled by him.  I can become very self-focused on what I feel is a valuable priority, that unknowingly I am left standing alone, in a very defensive position, with only my check-list in hand.  Meanwhile, the Spirit is yelling and pointing at me to get down court and help.  Your team has the ball!

Lastly, the tendency I observed in my daughter is the one that I hope to learn from.  This is the tendency to joyfully engage.  She was puzzled most of the time.  She kept up with the team and when the ball came to her, she dribbled a few times and then passed it off to someone who had a little more experience.  Over the course of the three-game evening, I saw great improvement in her understanding and her skills.  She never perfected her skills, nor did she ever fully understand what was swirling on around her.  She did, however, slowly transform from nervous and timid, hands glued to her sides, to quick feet with spurts of trying to steal the ball from the opponent.  I watched as she fervently sought out the coach and his instructions throughout play.  And, thankfully, she has a great coach, who is teaching the girls through encouragement and support.  He could have gotten worked up about the lack of points on the board, the number of turn-overs, or the amount of double-dribbles.  Instead, he guided each player only in a way that resulted in joyful participation.

photo 2

We left having lost, won, and tied at least once.  My daughter, though she expected to walk away a “failure”, left with new knowledge, confidence, and deeper joy.  I am thankful that she engaged the challenge of flying balls and twisted feet.  I pray that I learn from her to have the same joy and courage when it comes to potential failure.  I pray that I have the guts to invite others to come alongside me and witness my weakness and inability.  I pray that just like her I find my value in something other than winning, gaining points, or being impressive.  Instead, I hope to score steadfastness and maturity.  James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”  Every time a hurling challenge flies my direction, I can respond with thankfulness, knowing that the opportunity for joy and a strengthening of faith awaits…I just need to have open hands, elbows out, palms forward to receive it.

After the game, we went to a sandwich shop for dinner as requested by our star-player.  My jersey-wearing-girl ferociously downed her meal.  She said, “Man, playing basketball is a good workout!  I could eat two of these.”  When we also engage with the circumstances laid in front of us–when we don’t run or hide from the difficult and sometimes intimidating things to which God has called us–we get a good workout and a healthy appetite as well.  Our bodies and souls, while fatigued, become stronger and more steadfast.  Our desire for Jesus and His word intensifies.  We look less to unhealthy escapes or quick-fix wisdom because it just doesn’t sound good anymore.  We’d rather be fueled through these hard times by the healthy life-giving and recharging Word of God and His encouraging Spirit.

Thank you, God, for 5th-grade girls’ basketball.  Thank you for the awkwardness, the confusion, and the spirit to confront fear with the best of friends.  Thank you for my daughters invitation to watch her fail and for the safety she must feel in our relationship to take that risk.  Thank you for coaches that speak words of encouragement and refuse to let us quit.  Thank you, God, for the sovereignty of Your plan and Your testing through any circumstance.  Thank you for opportunities to grow and to enjoy having a position on Your team.  Thank you for gratitude and the joy that quickly follows.

photo 1

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.

Psalm 147:7-8

He prepares all things for our growth.  What wisdom and beauty He is.  To Him be all glory and thanksgiving!

The rain dances off the shingled roof while shouts of laughter and giggles of delight bounce back and forth.  I sit in the coziness of my kitchen with my smoked berry and incense candle setting the mood.  What a calm Columbus Day home from school.  With the showers and dark clouds comes the dawning of Fall.  (Or at least I hope cooler weather is on the horizon.)

Autumn is my favorite season, with all it’s tastes and scents.  Whether it’s walking into the grocery store and smelling the cinnamon pine cones, or sitting in a Starbucks with a spiced pumpkin latte, once October hits, the aroma and palette of fall is hard to escape.

This morning I thought, I really should write a blog post today.  We are coming off a full and long weekend and though I should write, all I want to do today is sit with my coffee in front of the panes of glass and watch my children soak up the drops of joy falling from the sky…that, or take a nap.  I had to run a quick trip to the store earlier this morning for some basics as I was praying, “What do I even write about today? I got nothin’, Lord.”  Then I realized I completely drove past HEB, as if headed to school on a non-holiday Monday.  I was already sitting at the next stop light.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve done this before.  I’ve been deep in thought, distracted by squabbling kids in the back seat, or simply so exhausted that I miss my turn, pass my exit, or even drive past my own house, especially if it is a non-routine stop.  I hope some of you can identify with this…

As I sat at the red left-turn-only light, waiting to make my u-turn back to the store, I prayed again, “What do I even write about today?  I’m too tired to think, too tired to process, too tired to listen.”

Yep, there it is.  A clear word from the Lord.  Here we go:

How many times have I been too tired, too fatigued, too apathetic to listen to God?  (More times than I can count or realize, I suppose.) Our pace of American life lulls us into such monotony of routine that we drive right past the urgings of God.  When His Spirit speaks something that is outside the set boundaries of our schedules or beyond the lists of to-dos, we can sleep-walk ourselves past doors of opportunity.

Wake UP!  God is telling us, “WAKE UP!”  I have let my new-found awareness and ear (albeit still being fine-tuned) go…to…sleep.  Are you awake??

I know what it is to be so exhausted that eyelids succumb to the laws of gravity, even in the midst of conversation. I get it. I know it. I am in that very state right now. But I am called to WAKE UP! I either need to make the necessary changes to not be so dang tired or I have to get over the sleepiness and force myself to be aware in the midst of fatigue. Perhaps the solution requires a little of both.

There are values in our culture that oppose rest, that break the 4th commandment.  It’s admirable to work overtime.  We boast of our busyness.  Think about that for a minute.  Our sins are all equal in the sight of God.  Every sin, whether “big” or “small” (as deemed by our society) leads to death.  So are we willing to take murder with the same degree of self-righteous excuse as we do working on the Sabbath?  What if we murdered for the sake of an extra days worth of salary?   What if we murdered for the sake of ministry? Yeah, I went there…  How unsettling if we boasted of our killing?  If we boasted for killing innocent people for the “sake of the Gospel?”

Our disregard for the Sabbath, using the excuse of “ministry” as justification, is no less a sin than the genocide of populations during the crusades.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath, yes.  But Jesus also withdrew from the crowds and rested.  We have to rest.  We have to take rest seriously.  We have to regard the commandment to honor the Sabbath with the same conviction as we do the other 9 on the list.  What good is a half-eyed “christian” zombie who is too tired to hear the Spirit?  It sure doesn’t make the truth of “Jesus in me” very convincing to others, when I am too tired to listen to Him and to bear His fruits of joy, peace, and patience.  Why would anyone want what I have?  It looks and feels miserable.

Jesus, forgive me for not taking rest seriously.  Forgive me for not taking care of the body you have given me.  Forgive me for letting my lack of rest inhibit me from following You.  Forgive me for selfishly pursuing works instead of pursuing You.  Forgive me for misrepresenting the new life and joy you offer in the presence of others who have yet to taste it.

Jesus, thank you for covering me in grace and giving me new life regardless of my performance.  I am made new, daily.

Adequate rest is only half of my issue.  When I am fatigued (and it’s bound to happen regardless of good Sabbath habits, because I’m only human), I am still called to wake up.  In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked his disciples to stay alert and pray…and they couldn’t keep their eyelids peeled.  Twice He pleaded for their attention and twice they fell victim to slumber.   “And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?  Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40-41).  The Spirit is right there, willing to reveal to me all manner of amazing gifts and revelations, but my flesh has been entirely weak.

Jesus pleads for our attention.  He desires our alertness to His words, to His Spirit.  If we are walking through life on auto-pilot, we miss His very voice and all that He has to offer us.  He sings songs over us.  He speaks truth to us.  He reminds us of our beauty, our inheritance, our value, and our worth.  These are reminders I need daily.  I’m so ashamed that I don’t pay attention to these messages that I desperately need.  I can’t believe that I own lies of value and worth that are contrary to what He says about me, yet His sweet words are ever-present for me.  The Spirit’s fragrance and taste is all around me, just like Fall and it’s hard to escape.  Yet, I have found a way to bypass it all.

Jesus, forgive me for falling asleep to Your voice.  Forgive me for coasting through the day to day, unaware of the destinations to which I’ve been blind and the reminders of your truth.

I receive the clean slate you give me and honed-in ears to start afresh.

2 Timothy 2:13 says, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”  For that, I am truly thankful.  My list may not be totally completed at today’s end, but at least I heard Him say, “I will be faithful to you.”

Today I am tired, but not alone.  My list of to-dos fills an entire 8 1/2 x 11 page of lined notebook paper.  About half-way down the list is: write blog post.  Listening to God doesn’t mean I’m irresponsible with my daily duties.  When I listen to Him, He walks alongside me and makes the stuff happen, infusing each task with His fragrance of joy and lightness of heart.  It’s the cinnamon and cardamon added to the everyday cup of joe.  The ordinary becomes enraptured with His presence.  With Him living in me, I can be tired, joyful, productive, and attentive all at the same time.

I have tried in the few hours of sitting in front of the screen to listen to God, even through my fatigue, even through trying to complete my writing task, and even with the other 15 things on my list looming in the back of my mind.  This morning, I went on a journey to write a blog post.  But I listened and stopped along the way, guided to pitstops and destinations that were not in my plan.  Here’s what happened:

– I watched the rain fall.

– I closed my eyes and opened my ears to the sounds of my children’s laughter.

– I laughed over the top of the laptop as I witnessed four kids battle one dog to a bath–in the rain.

– I embraced muddy feet.

– I happily scratched off the list…

give the dog a bath

– I stopped typing to take pictures of siblings hugging in the open grass midst a thunderstorm. photo – I savored my creamer-enhanced coffee as I sat waiting for the electricity to come back on.

-I stopped typing again to tickle a half-naked, wet, and muddy toddler boy.

-I pondered my rest and lack thereof…then prayed for forgiveness.

-I meditated on grace.

-I paused to fill a bathtub with soapy warm foam for cold little bodies.

-I tossed soggy clothes into the washing machine, counting the blessings of modern technology.

– I marked off…

do a load of laundry

– I wrapped little boys in fluffy dry towels and kissed their tender noses.

– I happily elongated the chase of a naked bathroom escapee, and marveled at his laughter, picking up random toys on the floor along the way.

– I grabbed the pencil…

bathe kids

pick up clutter

-I returned to the keyboard and gave thanks for fresh ears and propped-open eyes.

– I heated hotdogs for lunch and threw some ingredients into the crockpot.

– I drew a line through:

start dinner

– I snuggled my baby close, singing a lullaby, then laid him sleepy-eyed into his crib for an afternoon respite.

– I sat for a final session at the computer and listened.  I recounted all that Jesus had for my tired soul in one short morning…

write blog-post

photo