I adore my three-year old. Jackson is hilarious, loving, and preciously protective of his siblings. He is still three, though, and doesn’t like going to bed.
He really doesn’t like being put to bed for the eighth time (per evening, and all of these times in the course of writing this post) and spontaneously appears around the house several hours after bedtime has commenced. I’m considering making a suit of pajamas out of Velcro and constructing special Velcro sheets to match: he is officially a night person.
I’ve just been feeling scattered; pulled in so many different directions.
Foster care and home visits. Court dates. Allergies. Three-year old discipline issues. Fibromyalgia. Volunteering. Sick kids. Deadlines. Field trips. Great job challenges. Exhaustion.
This isn’t really a list, but rather a whole bunch of differing responsibilities or pieces of my life that are interacting and competing to create the chaos that is what this life stage looks like. It’s nothing that can be checked off…
While some of it is really good, some of it is hard. Really hard. I hate court dates for foster care. To me, they are the epitome of tragedy; the symbol of a situation’s brokenness. They wear me out profoundly, even if they are necessary.
I find myself wishing that life was easier despite the incredible flip sides to these difficult coins of foster care and three-year olds. Just because something is incredible doesn’t mean that it is smooth.
Which is why I’ve had obedience on my heart lately. Between trying to teach obedience, be obedient myself it is has become evident how knowing God and scripture needs to change us. We can have all the head knowledge in the world, but if we aren’t willing to trust God and follow Him our relationship with God isn’t really going to go anywhere. I think our willingness to trust Him is a limiting factor that really determines how much our hearts are able to be shaped by Him.
It’s just that it is really hard. Really hard. We often think of obedience is a simple yes or no type of choice. Such a dichotomy isn’t really the reality though.
Jesus told a parable of two sons in Matthew 21:28-32. To paraphrase, the father asked something and one son said he would obey and didn’t. The other initially said “no”, but then went out and fulfilled his father’s request. Jesus’ point in this parable, told to the Pharisees (the esteemed religious teachers of the day) was that the initial and public response wasn’t the ultimate response. Obedience isn’t really obedience if we are doing it because other people are watching. Nor does a one time response mean that we can’t course correct.
Obedience isn’t easy because it is more than a one-time act. Faithfulness is the net-sum of obedience. It’s not always the showy, obvious, or even yes-I-should-do-this or no-I-shouldn’t kind of choice.
It’s the simple choice of putting one foot in front of the other in humble submission. It’s messy and there sometimes is no reward and, even more often, a greater cost. It’s painful and hard. It’s sometimes like slogging through the mud on a rainy day.
The first time I went to a court hearing it was pouring down rain. I made the mistake of wearing high heels and was soaked through as I walked from the downtown parking garage to the courthouse blocks away uphill. I sat for hours in case I was needed to update the court on my foster daughter’s health concerns… only to have the court reschedule the hearing for another day because of a legal concern.
And it’s okay.
Do I wish it was easier?
Yes. All. The. Time.
Would I trade if for the world?
Because God is our end and that is so very worth it.
I think if we ignore the difficult reality of obedience and the cost of following Christ it’s easy for us to become terribly discouraged when things inevitably grow harder. We do a disservice to anyone who is thinking about making a choice to follow Christ when we tell them how wonderful it is a neglect the trials. We set people up for failure or isolation if we really believe they should “just do what God says and everything will be fine.”
Because it won’t.
Sometimes things don’t end well. Serving God isn’t meant to make our lives richer. Following Him lets Him shave off the dead layers of our hearts.
And that’s painful.
It’s the opposite of what our culture is looking for: the quick, convenient, and painless way. The Easy Way.
So when we run into these scattered, exhausted, painful times where obedience seems like such a struggle and faithfulness is costly, we don’t need to feel alone. Even if we can’t neatly check off a list of things in our lives we are actually getting done, it’s okay. One day at a time. One bedtime at a time. One court date at a time. One whatever-it-is at a time.
He’s worth it. Christ always is.
Don’t give up. I’d love to connect with you and encourage you! You can sign up to receive posts through email, chime in through the comments or through other social medias; I’d love to hear what is going on. You’re not alone.
(And just so you know, three hours later, the three-year old is still awake.)