“Sah-we, mommy,” whispered my eighteen-month-old granddaughter. Tears rolled down her face.
An apology can be difficult, but for Audrey, it was the first time this toddler realized she had offended her mother.
My daughter and I had decided to take Audrey to the library. It was her first visit and the closest thing to an amusement park. She was mesmerized by the colorful display of books, toys, interactive computers, puppet stage and miniature chairs that brought the adult world to her size.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12 New American Standard Bible
The Toastmasters’ speech contest began. I was the first contestant.
I had given many club speeches, but this contest was different. I remembered my first and only competition where I was disqualified for exceeding the allocated time– by a few seconds.
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
Joel 2:13 (NIV)
I received the call Sunday afternoon; everyone had evacuated to a hospital shelter. A forest fire near a small-town nursing home threatened the residents—including my elderly father suffering from advanced dementia.
My home-office window provides an array of entertainment. A hawk soars above the trees to hunt for food. The blackbird pecks between the blades of grass to pull a resistant worm. A spider spins a well-engineered web on the outside windowsill, while bees hover over colorful blooms to feast on the nectar. Their labor inspires me to tap on my computer keyboard and match their efforts. Labor often goes unnoticed, but your labor is not in vain.
Christians help others. We reflect God’s love, practice selflessness, build relationships, and that provides a euphoric feeling. But too much help isn’t good either; we may need to help less. So, how much help is too much?
We should respond with Godly obedience when we see a need, but the carnal mind reacts with worldly solutions instead of seeking spiritual direction. It’s the tug between submission and self-reliance.
I recently read Charles Spurgeon’s autobiography. Even though his ministry took place over 150 years ago, I found his stories to be relevant for today because he was honest and vulnerable.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to be vulnerable because we don’t want to risk criticism—even judgment. But the external conflict pales against the internal conflict we carry—shame.
If we could pursue any vocation where money, position, gender, education, or age wasn’t an issue, what would we do? How many things would fade from our mental “must do” list as we imagine the possibilities?
For many of us, external demands have carved our fate, plotted our course, and launched us into a whirlwind. Our dreams that once bubbled with zest have gone flat. Motivation turns to caffeinated drinks and merciless alarm clocks.
In a perfect world, relationships should come with an investment guarantee: This person will not break your heart, offend you, manipulate you, or neglect you.
Sometimes, I feel like a spiritual black sheep when it comes to relationships, rather than a white fluffy-puff of goodness. Girlfriends can be hard to bear when estrogen levels drop, relatives can be exhausting, and my patience can run thin with clueless customer service clerks. My consolation is knowing a sheep is better than a goat—at least from a Biblical perspective.