Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Not New Resolution

New Year’s is my favorite time of year. I love Thanksgiving and I love Christmas, but there is something about slowing down right after the holidays that makes me long for a fresh start. I begin to feel all kinds of motivation and might have been known to overshoot the runway in my New Year’s resolutions. Not this year, though. Nope. I’m only planning to write a book, start a business, eat a salad every day, completely organize and keep my house clean, be emotionally transparent with my husband, and work my way up to 10 unassisted pull-ups in 2017.

You know, I hear a lot of voices in my head. Mostly little voices yelling “Mommyyyy!” or asking “Why?” a hundred billion times. And right now the refrain that runs through my brain a lot is the voice of Owen saying, “I do it myself.” Here Owen, let me help you put your shoes on. No, I do it myself. Here buddy, let me buckle you up. No, I do it myself. Morning bud, you want me to cook you breakfast? I do it myself. Hmmm.

I probably sound a lot like Owen when it comes to my longings for fresh starts and new commitments. Not just in New Year’s resolutions, but in my futile pursuit of perfection. I do it myself. Strap on my boots and gird up my loins and gather my resolve and all that jazz. I’ve been following Christ for 26 years, you know? Like a child growing up into independence, I start to think that I should have this. I can be more patient, more joyful, more loving, more selfless, more faithful, more perfect.  I can do it if I just try hard enough.

But then He whispers.

As you received Christ…

How did I receive Christ? Can I remember back that far?

As you received Christ…

by grace

through faith

by the hearing of the Word

by calling upon the name of the Lord

with nothing in my hands

As you received Christ, so walk in Him.

Well that seems backward. But His kingdom is upside down, after all. Or my vision is.

Again He whispers.

You have abandoned the love you had at first…Repent and do the things you did at first…

Repent. Turn around. Change directions.

Oh, I can’t do it myself. If I try, I am forsaking my first love.

I am a branch. He is the vine. I am a sheep, and He is my good shepherd. I am a child, and He is my Father. That’s how I received Him. Confess. Believe. Accept. Thank. Those are the deeds I did at first.

Owen often follows up his declarations of “I do it myself” with “Help, Mommy!”

That’s how I can repent. It’s a new kind of a resolution, except that it’s not new at all. It’s the very gospel, and it is my life and breath and joy. It’s the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands
These for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone
Nothing in my hands I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling

Here’s to a new year full of the first things, full of the gospel, full of grace. It’s still a fresh start. Let’s make goals and plan to meet them. (I did just buy a salad spinner, after all.) But let’s also rest in the finished work, and in the same way that we received Him, let us walk in Him.

Friday, December 2, 2016

To Number our Days

I used to spend so much more time spinning around , but partly because of the load of responsibilities that seems to grow each day, and partly because of the endless distractions I give myself to, and partly because I think I’m beginning to experience an aging process called inner ear failure, I just don’t spin like I used to.

But then you walked through the living room, and Pandora was playing a song, and the Spirit whispered wisdom into my heart.

So I turned away from something not as important and said, “You wanna dance?”

You grinned and grabbed my hand, and the dancing turned into twirling which turned into “Pick me up and spin me around Mama!” And so I scooped you up like I used to, or at least that’s what I intended to do. But you weigh a ton now, and when did you get so tall? And so the scoop turned into more of a heave, but I got you up and we spun. Your face was the only thing in focus as the background all blurred and I almost fell down, but thankfully I didn’t. You were so beautiful, laughing and spinning.

So teach us to number our days…

I don’t know what the number of my days or your days or any of our days will be. But that’s okay, because “number” doesn’t just mean to count. It also means to assign, appoint, ordain.

Most often, though, it seems like the days are assigning me.

But today God gave me grace to turn it around. To stop being passive about my time, to stop letting the moments fly away.  Just to stop. To be still enough to assign that moment to something so much more important than online snooping browsing or whatever it was that I was so wrapped up in.

So that we may gain a heart of wisdom…

Wisdom is more valuable than gold, more precious than all the riches on earth.  And it can be gained. It can be gained by pursuing it, by fearing the Lord, and now, I am learning, by numbering our days.

You are four years old, and I don’t know how you got so big. But all I know is that I want to learn how to number my days before you get much bigger. I want to number my days so that I will be able to gain a heart of wisdom, a heart that can discern what is the most important thing in each moment. Because one thing matters, and a million things don’t.

You matter. And so today, I choose you.