My children have been teaching me so much recently. I guess they are always teaching me, but our change in circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic has provided me more opportunities to listen. This new way of living has also given me a new perspective on life; one where I have much less control than I would like but also the blunt reminder that I never had it in the first place.
We are in the toddler stage. It is full throttle. My daughter is about to turn three and my son is one year and a few months. Both are passionate, energetic, sour-patch kids with a special affection for Daddy and his oft-used privilege of spoiling them with Famous-Amos cookies. We teach them what little we know of life and living it well. We do our best to guide them toward Jesus and to follow His ways. We make mistakes and apologize; to them and to each other.
It’s hard and there are lots of tears (many of them mine), but also tons of laughter and hugs.
Personally, without all of the rushing around and “normal” busyness of life (e.g., pre-pandemic), I have become keenly aware of all the ways in which I fall short as a mother, a wife, a member of society, and a follower of Christ. My weaknesses are real and troubling. Honestly, I am haunted by my failure to be the woman I strive to be and live the life I strive to live. It might seem like I’m being hard on myself, but “to whom much is given, much will be required.” (Luke 12:48) I have been given much and feel an immense responsibility to use it wisely. My inability to do what I want to do reminds me of Paul when he says, “I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)
No matter how hard I try, I just can’t do it.
Though I sometimes hate it – this aching to be more like Jesus, to live up to the standard He set, and to honor Him in all that I do – I know it is a good thing. I don’t think we should feel as though we’ve arrived, and yet I must remember that in Christ, I am whole and blameless. But in the natural, I am still working out my salvation with fear and trembling.
“Working” is a great word to describe what my mind has been doing the last couple of months. I wrestle and fight and exhaust myself to stay on the path marked out for me. All the many hours I’ve put into thinking about and learning how to live a more productive, joyful, grace-filled, neighbor-loving, God-honoring, life have left me even more empty than before.
It’s because I’m powerless.
I know that is antithetical to almost everything we might be hearing from books and podcasts and even well-meaning Christian influencers. Like I said before, in Christ I am whole. But in the world, attached to this body and soul, I am broken.
And I can’t fix me.
I can’t change anything substantive on my own.
I’ve tried. I have tried creating better habits like a mad-woman, and setting loftier goals. I have tried my utmost, given my very best, and have worked at everything with all of my heart.
I still fall short. Every time.
Oh, the “overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.” In the midst of all of this effort and exertion and exhaustion, He has been speaking to me. He has been trying to show me – in His extravagant mercy – something incredible:
His arms are always open.
And that has always been the point.
God has been waiting. He has been watching. “When will she get it? When will she finally just come to me?”
My babies know just what to do every time they get their feelings hurt, every time they get scared of the dark, every time they are in a new, unknown environment. My little ones don’t have to think twice about how to respond when their tiny world gets thrown upside down. They just run to me as fast as their little feet will take them. They run to me because my arms are always open.
They run to me because I know just how to comfort them; I know what they need.
And we, too, can run to God in our weakness. And when we do, He will hold us in His strength. While telling Him our fears of the unknown, He listens with complete understanding. He never pushes us away. He never rebukes us for coming to Him. His arms are always open to us. Always. He knows just what we need.
When I finally remember to surrender in His embrace, that’s when the weight falls off my shoulders. The pressures this life puts on me weren’t meant for me to carry. God didn’t plan for us to struggle in this way, but He did have a plan to restore us and this world to our original design.
Do you want peace? He is the Prince of Peace who invites us into His Kingdom saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
His burden is light. But if I am to carry His *light* burden instead of the heaviness of my own, I have to stay connected to Him, yoked with Him.
If you are reading this on my website, you might already know that I love music. Music helps me connect to God like nothing else can. It helps me bypass my mind and get straight to the heart. A few months ago, I heard a song that brought me right back into the arms of God just when I needed it. It’s called Run To The Father by Cody Carnes. The link to watch it is below. I hope you take some time to listen and remember who to run to.
His arms are always open