Not everything in my life has a spiritual correlation, but I've been noticing that there have been plenty of parallels between my life and my walk with God.
Two things, in fact, have been all consuming and time stealing. I hope you're able to learn from them as I have, or at least be encouraged...
Here's the first one:
Yesterday, it was clean up day. I was super motivated and decided to wash all items of clothing and the kids' bedding. Ethan was super motivated to clean his room because he wanted to play wii, plus his room wasn't too bad in the first place. Zoe was motivated to clean the office because kindergartners help out, and she was in kindergarten now.
The two older girls, on the other hand, weren't as motivated. Their room was full of garbage, lost things, heaps of blankets and piles of clothes. I could see that it was overwhelming, so I gave them smaller tasks to start with. The first, at around 9 am, was to pick up the pile of Zoe clothes and put them in the living room for me to sort. In fact, they were to put all of Zoe's clothes in the living room.
The music was turned on, the giggles were abundant, as were the spankings for not listening and obeying.
They finally did it. After an hour and one half.
The rest of the day was just the same. I went in there every 20 minutes to check on them. To no avail, of course. By 6 pm, all they had to eat was whatever they stole from the kitchen when I wasn't looking. If they didn't finish by the time Daddy got home, they would not have pizza and they would go straight to bed.
Lucky for them, Daddy was delayed an hour. They vacuumed and made the beds just before he got home.
They cleaned their room in record time: 10 hours. Too bad there's a laundry basket full of junk they stuffed in it. And there's still bits of garbage everywhere. But at least you could tell the floor from the beds.
I wonder if I'm like the girls sometimes. God tells me to clean up a mess I've made, gives me clear and simple directions, but I completely disregard Him even through negative consequences. How many times have I had to
partake in Humble Pie instead of the Sweet Fruit that comes from obeying?
I know that I have done as the girls did: cleaned just enough to look clean, but just stuffed everything in the closet. I have dressed nice, put lots of makeup on, but inside was filthy from being self-obsessed and materialistic. I have, early in my career, racked up a credit card bill while claiming not to have enough money to tithe.
Yesterday, watching the girls clean, er, not clean, I was irritated and annoyed. I was irritated, annoyed, and convicted. I do the same thing to God...I dawdle, cry when I'm being disciplined, but laugh and party when He "isn't looking".
Yet, He has grace and mercy for me, even in my worst moments. The Almighty God over all things has patience for me. His love for me is greater than any sin I commit against Him.
I stand in awe of the magnitude of His gift, my salvation.
If my flawed and imperfect love for my children is still intact after a day like yesterday, God's love for me is unfathomable. It makes the images of Christ on the cross that much more powerful.
The second time-stealing and all-consuming part of my life didn't happen in one long day. In fact, it's still ongoing.
Potty training. (cue scary music)
What does potty training have to do with anything spiritual?
It's not that I'm learning how to not poop in my pants, spiritually. I don't even think you can use that as a working metaphor.
But, I can draw a parallel between the process of potty training, and the process of maturing in Christ.
I am starting early in the potty training of my youngest child, who is only 23 months old. Because of his young age, the process of teaching him how to use the potty is pretty extensive. It starts with teaching the boy how to sit on the potty, and to start using the terms: "pee pee on the potty", "poop on the potty", "undies", "potty candy". The sitting takes some getting used to, and needs a little bit of luck to actually have him sitting when he pees. Eventually after a week or so, he'll figure out that he can control these bodily functions. And then we'll be able to venture out longer and farther without my purse being full of shorts and undies.
It's actually quite a long and arduous process. It takes a lot of work, persistence and perseverance. Not to mention patience and diligence, on my part. Since Hank is my 5th round at potty training, I already know the end result and have had 3 of my kids potty trained before 2. But it still takes so much work. It's been 6 days and I'm exhausted from the effort. I know that my efforts will reap great rewards, but I still have to muster enough strength to make those efforts.
So here's the spiritual lesson here: in order to spiritually mature and grow closer in intimacy with our God, we need to go through the same vigorous and consuming training. Not to use any kind of spiritual potty, mind you, but the same kind of long waiting and sometimes tediousness.
We need to learn just to have Him be in our lives; to understand the insurmountable significance that He has in our lives. When I became a believer, I had to change my entire thinking and living. Not only does He exist, but He is directly involved in everything He created.
And like Hank's current lack of understanding of just what he's supposed to do, I didn't exactly know what was happening to me. But God was patient, persistent in His pursuit of me, teaching me His word, helping me understand the growing up I needed to do. And then, through a series of similar falls, and repeated mistakes and failures, it finally clicked. To truly have a relationship with God, I needed to trust Him and do what He says, knowing that He has everything under control.
Just as Hank will take a few weeks to understand the concept of staying clean and dry, it took me years to realize how I needed to Trust and Obey in order to Love God.
I don't know if this blog is very clear. I do know that every time I feel dragged down by the kids' disobedience, I think of my own disobedience to God. And every time I am stuck sitting by a little toddler for long periods of time, I think of God's infinite patience for me when I am just not getting it.
Thank you Lord for your loving-kindness towards me. . .