Lists, Containers and Grace
I'm a follower of Jesus but I don't listen very well, and so I doubt him...often. (lame) I'm a wife that loves my husband deeply, but sometimes I get a little selfish and fold my arms over my chest and wonder just what he can do for me. I love my children more than my own life, but I sometimes just want to be away from them for a moment, in a place where no one calls me, "Mommy" or asks for food every two minutes. (bless their little hearts) I want to go find lots of people and tell them about the hope I have found in Jesus, but I also don't want the responsibility that comes with that task. I want to write deep, meaningful words that can help others on their journey, but I doubt, constantly that I am capable of such things...so I cleverly avoid it sometimes...a lot of times.
The truth is, there is no perfect balance, and I can stop looking for one.
When I start saying things like, "I'll just get this one thing under control" I've started the ride down that slippery slope with arms flinging and legs flailing and scenery passing in a blur. I'm a list maker, in a sense. No, I don't have lists all over the place but in my mind I have lots of lists.
1. Get my act together.
2. Be a better wife.
3. Be a
4. Be a witness of Jesus to others.
5. Write a book!
When I look at that list, something happens in my soul. It starts cowering, shrinking away, looking for a dark corner. Why, though? Aren't these things all things I should strive for? Doesn't God want me to seek these things? Wouldn't these things be signs of a GOOD person doing GOOD things??
I like you. You ask good questions.
I used to put my life in little containers, like the ones I use for leftovers. So, wife was in one container, Jesus in another, kids in another...and so on. I thought this was good because I thought it was my duty to look at each thing and calculate ways to improve.
Keep in mind that I was working for my worth.
I had heard this fishy line for like forever that"Jesus is at the center" but that would involve something crazy like dumping ALL MY THINGS in one container labeled "lover of Jesus" and I did not see how all my things could fit in one container.
Plus, I didn't think he really wanted all my things.
I was a bit disgruntled with God for awhile and one reason was because I thought I had seen him cast me aside, forget me and my problems. I didn't think he cared all that much, so I took it upon myself to make my things, well, MY THINGS. He had a container, a little place where I kept him contained...or so I thought.
Then he turned me upside down.
For quite a while I rolled my eyes and ignored him. Yes. It's true. I rolled my eyes at the Creator of the Universe. Hey, I was disgruntled. The dilemma I was having was that my list was growing...but my ability wasn't.
I was running out of room for containers.
Fear came calling, telling me I should do better, be better, that I should figure it out. I got frantic because I didn't want to loose my status as "put together" and "figured out." Then, I began hearing a whisper saying things like, "I'm here," and "I am strong." Oh...and my personal favorite,
"I can help."
In my frantic desperation I began pushing all those containers aside, looking for the one with him in it. I found it, found him among the rest of my stuff and in shock discovered that he was not even in the container! He was too big to fit in one. For a little bit, I just looked at him...uncertain. With narrowed eyes and a suspicious voice I hesitantly asked...
"What do you want with me?"
"I want to help."
"Help? HELP?! I don't need your help!" (*folds arms over chest and turns away like small toddler*)
Yep, I did think that..say that at first. I wanted to do it..all of it...on my own. That was only because I thought love was only ever earned and in my own broken, hurting way I was working really hard to be worthy of love...by having good control of all my things.
He is persistent, though. He didn't yell, he didn't yank me around or make demands. He just started saying things that I desperately yearned to hear...he wooed me, drew me in. He said things like,
"Don't worry about your weakness. I'm strong."
"I loved you first."
"I am enough."
My soul responded. From the dark corner it was crouched low and hiding, it looked up...and looked into his eyes. How had he gotten so close that I could see his face? It was overwhelming, seeing him this close...seeing him in front of all my things. I was scared. I was so scared that he would see my weakness, my brokenness, my bleeding...and laugh at me.
He knelt down right in front of me, right in front of all my things, and he said it again..
"I want to help."
Well, I couldn't refuse what I heard and saw. My lists were growing, I had more containers than I could handle at one time on my own...so I said simply."Okay."
I stood up, took his hand, and never looked back.
We walked among those little containers with labels on them. We stopped at each one and I listened as he said the same thing over and over.
"I can be strong in this one."
The more he said it the more I believed him....believed that he wanted to be strong in me. So, I did that one thing that I used to think was kind of crazy. I let him become the center and put all my things in him.
My lists have changed..
1. Get my act together = his strength in my weakness.
2. Be a better wife = his strength in my weakness
3. Be a
4. Be a witness of Jesus to others = his strength in my weakness
5. Write a book = his strength in my weakness.
It became okay to not have it all together. It became okay that all my things were too much for me to juggle alone. It all became okay.
Grace is the message I will preach until the day I die.
I have to. Grace has literally saved my life. Grace gives me courage to look at all those things, all my things that were not all together...and to be okay with it. Grace set me free from the list upon list upon list. Grace gave me permission to try, to give my best, but to fall and scrape my knees. Grace said, "I've got you, don't worry." Grace gave me the first deep breath I have ever had. Really, in all the things, it comes down to that one thing and that is this: we want to be worthy. Guys, let me say to you what Jesus said to me when I was alone, afraid and insecure.
You are worthy.
Grace makes it so. You can stop looking at the lists and seeing all you lack. Instead, look at those lists and see all He can be. Alone was never part of God's vocabulary for us. We are meant to journey together with each other and with him.
So, I challenge you on this ordinary Thursday...
to open all those containers...
and let Jesus walk among them.
He is enough.
Actually, he is more than enough.