Tuesday, July 31, 2012

31 July: Live Today

Sometimes I look back on when my daughter was young, her first six months, and I think how foolish I was to wish it away.  I was always longing for the next stage – when she was first born I couldn’t wait for when she would interact and smile at me.  When she always needed to be held I couldn’t wait for her to sit independently.  I couldn’t live in the moment, the moment always seemed to hold only a lack of sleep and time and energy. Yet when I see a young baby now I realise how much of my present-daughter I missed because of my thirst for my future one.  There was so much to love, which I missed because I was thinking only about what I would love in the future. 

I realised this week though that this is also how I see the relationship I have with my heavenly God as I, his daughter, grow.  I am part of the church, his beloved bride.  And the book of Revelation tells me  “blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19 v 9).  But I can get trapped forgetting that I am his beloved now, today, as I wake and start a day.  I am loved now, I am living my eternal life now, in death I’ll enter an extensive of that but Christ has already made me one with God again.  What if I am missing the joys of being a present-daughter because I thirst only for my life as a future one?

What is it to believe that I am fully and always loved by Christ?  What confidence might that give to me today?  How might I live differently if I believed that, today, right down to my core, God was here with me in every moment?

I have grown as a mother and I now try hard (and sometimes succeed!) to live in the moment with Elliot.  To enjoy the long walk home from the park as she examines every flower and takes joy in every step.  I guess I now understand that it will pass.  That the future will come before I know it but that this moment will never happen again.

But now I need to learn this as a daughter, as God’s daughter, that the future will come but that God is found in this day.  And his promises of love are here, now.  I want today for my eyes to be open.  Maybe you can join me today in singing Psalm 118“this is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

24 July: What's Worth It?

On my bad mothering days I wonder if it is all worth it.  At times it is hard to be gentle and kind and present and available to a whining toddler.   It is hard to stick to the advice to avoid television for under two’s when it is such an instant sedative.  It is hard to do a job that is thankless and earns nothing when my boss used to tell me how great I was, how useful.  People don’t say that much to me anymore. 

Sometimes I find myself saying with King Solomon
“What do people gain from all their labours
    at which they toil under the sun?”
- Ecclesiastes 1 v   3

But then today I saw my daughter sitting in a chair with a doll soothing and cuddling it and gentle patting it on the back.  My daughter has been teething lately and there has been lots of giving up my goals or plans for the day and instead sitting soothing her for what feels like hours.  Is it worthwhile?  It is when I see her modelling it like that – when I realise that it’s more then just a drain on my time, it’s a lesson for her in loving kindness, gentle care and responsiveness.  It’s a way to teach her how to love.

I often hear 1 Corinthians 13 read at weddings, but it occurred to me today that we are called to love everyone, even our enemies.  And what is love in these verses? 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
- 1 Corinthians 13 v 4 – 7

There are times we all struggle to love like this.  But it is worth it, it is always worth it.  Whether it’s because we get to see it reflected back to us or just knowing that God sees our effort.  After all, if God is love then any time we choose to love deeply and well we are choosing to be like Christ.  To be truly Christian.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

17 July: Loving Extravagantly

Before I had my daughter I wasn’t sure if I would be a very good mother.  I just didn’t have much patience or affection for other people’s kids.  But then Elliot come along and I found I had this depth of love and devotion and patience and tolerance for her.  But I’m still not very good with other people’s children!  In fact, I was explaining a child the other day as being moody, a bad listener, naughty, pushing boundaries, ungrateful and a little bit dumb.  Wow, replied my husband!  That’s an over the top reaction to a typical child isn’t it?!  Especially when my daughter at times can do all the same things and yet get a much more patience, kind and generous response.

Thinking about this made me remember some words of Jesus in one of his famous sermons, the Sermon on the Mount.  He says –

“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.”
Matthew 5 v 46 – 47

Ouch!  What a failure I am in this!  Jesus is saying that God’s love (the kind of love we are meant to copy) is extravagant, without bounds or limits.  It is not to be reserved only for those who are – through relationship or personality – easy to love.  Indeed, when God chose to love me I was still his enemy.  I was still a sinner. 

I pray every day that God will help me be a godly mother, loving and kind and patient with my daughter.  But today I want to pray that He will help me see all the people I come in contact with as worthy of the best, most extravagant, limitless loving kindness.  And that His Holy Spirit will help me to express this loving kindness.  For me this will probably be tested when interacting with irrational preschoolers, but for you it might be workmates or in-laws or grouchy neighbours.  Whoever it is, I encourage you to try, with me, to love those who are hard to love.  Because that is what God did for us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10 July: Cares and Worship

I’ve been feeling burdened down this last week, full of uncertainty for the future.  The future for me, my family, my church community and my friendships.  So I came to my devotional time today full of requests.  Ready to quickly read the set text and then rush into asking God to sort out my life.  God however had other plans.

I opened the Bible to Psalm 8, a psalm of worship to God, or wonder at his creation and the wonderful, undeserved love he has for us.  It reads:

“Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Wow.  I was stopped in my ask-ask-ask take-take-take prayers to God and suddenly caught up in praise that He has set in motion time itself.  That He has given me life.  I raised my arms in worship until they were sore.

And here’s the thing – the rest, all those things I had lined up to demand from God – they were gone.  In those moments of worship they no longer mattered, they were already known to the God who fills the skies and the oceans; the fields and the wild mountain passes.  I was known to Him.  My cares, my worries, my burdens.  And from that came great joy. 

I walked away from time with God today with a light yoke.  If you are feeling burdened down this morning, maybe you too can turn to God in worship, not request, and through the awesomeness of God find He has taken your cares on to himself.  For He cares for you.