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. – 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…
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:
– 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…