Friday, September 2, 2011

Scrambled Eggs with a Side of Bacon

My life is a plate of scrambled eggs--the kind you get at those twenty-four hour waffle places--flopping over the edge of the plate and suffocated by tomatoes, cheese, chili, slivered scallions and diced ham. Way more than any normal human should consume in one week let alone one year, I find my mouth full, my hand forging a path between plate and face. I'm a very focused person--when I gave birth to the boys, I determined I wouldn't scream, yell or curse. I attained that goal by keeping my eyes closed, thinking only of breathing and pushing. But somehow now, as I look about my home, there are so many miscellaneous things that manage to find their way in my home--not going to admit to inviting them myself--I hardly know where to begin to focus. Like the egg platter topped with the entire month's groceries, my little world lies under a heap of things. I'm left wondering where to begin. Charles Hummel wrote a book aptly titled The Tyranny of the Urgent. I don't even have to read the contents to know it relates to me. For mothers the urgencies of a self-mutating laundry pile, cabinets that empty themselves weekly of their groceries, floors that are really magnetic dirt grabbers, toilet seats that look like they caught the drips of a ceiling leaking strange yellow moisture, and the child whose voice got stuck on repeat, "I'm hungry." all inhale our time before we even consider some of the bigger tasks left undone. There are jobs to go to, school projects, or in my case school lesson plans, window-sills infested with ladybug skeletons from last fall, and four years worth of unprinted digital photos that also clamor for our attention. Add to that paying bills, planning birthday parties, and kids' extra curricular activities, and the calendar starts to resemble a piece of paper that you put through the printer twice on the same side! " Hummel writes in his book, "Have you ever wished for a thirty-four hour day? Surely this extra time would relieve the pressure under which we live. Our lives leave a trail of unfinished tasks. Unanswered letters, unvisited friends, unread books, haunt quiet moments when we stop to evaluate what we have accomplished." Hummel really nails the heart of it for me when he mentions the unvisited friends, the unanswered letters. Once thriving under your attentive care, precious relationships somehow get neglected because the basic physical demands of life insist on taking priority. My sister and I were just talking last night, a chance we both treasure because of its rarity these days, about how we mourn the loss of time to interact more with those we love. I don't mind the laundry or dusty sills so much as my heart aches to spend more time with the lady I talked to for an hour at my son's football practise who tells me of losing custody of her children because of years of hard drug use. Or the dear mother who tells me she doesn't believe in Jesus as the Savior. Where is the time for me to research her questions and offer her some intelligent answers? Then there are meals waiting to be cooked for families infected with sickness, diseases that refuse to release their grip. There are marriages aching, and there are teens with much to say and few who listen. I used to think people could get most things done if they'd just get organized. God has since humbled me, helped me to see the needs of this world are greater than the strength of my arms. Where once I kept a thousand plates spinning at full speed, I now see that there are ten thousand more stacking themselves beside me, bidding me to toss them high into the air as well. Realizing this reality of life is one step toward smiling at the mass of scrambled eggs and putting the fork down. Accepting that we weren't really meant to eat all that food, to spin all those plates, that is a real challenge. This week, as needs have surfaced at every turn, I'm reminded of Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God." Another translation says, "Stop your striving and recognize that I am God." Stillness. Now that's a state of being about which I know very little. Naturally a doer, a goer, a go-getter, stillness is as foreign to me as it is to a wiggling worm. And yet, scripture says be still, stop striving. Why? Because we are NOT God. "Recognize that I am God." Nowhere in scripture does it say, "You need to take over for me, Sarah." Trust me. I've checked. I love the name for himself that God selects in this passage. It's the same name He used in Genesis 1:1 when He said, "In the beginning, God..." What a perfect choice because He's always existed, He was there at the beginning, He penned our places in this world, and He didn't need us for any of that. It is indeed He who remains God even now amidst this great tyranny of urgencies that screech out like a band of black crows. Forgive my boldness when I say followers of Christ are deceived if we believe that God is depending on us. That He will use us, even delights in using us to share His heart with the world is undeniable, but to say that He needs us is simply not true. The lives of people about me will continue to function whether I am involved or not. I will miss out on growth and glimpses of the greatness of God if I choose to turn a blind eye, but God doesn't abandon His purposes when one of his people is too busy to carry out His plans. That's not how He works. So often we hear well meaning Christians say things like, "If you don't do this, who will?" To that, I would humbly answer, "God will make a way because He IS the way." By saying that, I don't mean that we get a pass excusing us from getting our hands dirty and our feet wet in the lives of the people by whom we are surrounded. On the contrary, I find myself knee deep wading in the waters of people's worlds all the time. But it is truly prideful to believe that we are the only ones that can handle every circumstance. Often us "doers" or "Martha's" end up robbing the less type A personalities of a chance to get involved because we are so quick to assume we are needed in every area. What God is whispering to my soul is this, "Sarah, stop striving. Stop fretting over every single situation and circumstance by which you pass. I've called you to abide in me. Apart from me, you can't do anything. Draw from me. I will teach you the way you should walk.I am the God who formed all of this world. I formed these lives. I know these needs. I am their God. I will order your steps. Listen to me. Seek me. Don't lean on your understanding of situations, I will make your paths straight." The lives I touch, the people I assist, the conversations I have, they all need to be responded to not because of their place in line, who made the request or how loud they call out, but in the order that my Father whispers to my Spirit. As I seek Him in prayer He will usher me to the people and circumstances with which He desires me to be involved. It's been a long time since I went to the Waffle King, but this much I know. Those plates filled with eggs under a mountain of artery clogging cholesterol can be very enticing. I love a little bit of everything on my plate. But when it comes to life, though it too is filled to overflowing, I'm choosing to sit still before my Father and allow Him to be God. Stopping. Stilling. Waiting. Allowing God to bring to the surface those bites I'm meant to chew requires trust that He is indeed God over all the universe, God over all the details, and that He remains able to meet every single need. After all, it was Him who created us all. Read with me: Psalm 46 Galatians 6:9,10 Pray with me: Father, let me hear your voice. When I look around I can become overwhelmed with the needs surrounding me--my children, my family, my friends, my neighbors, but they aren't really mine, are they, Father? They're yours. Help me to remember you care far more than I about all these needs. I confess my pride in assuming I could tackle life apart from you. Help me to walk only in the steps you have chosen for me. Help me to surrender to your ways, your plans, your will. Help me to be still and recognize you are the Strong God who Reigns over all. Amen


Melanie Z. said...

All I have to say is "amen, amen, amen!!" Great post.

Heather Hooker said...

Thank you, Sarah, you have an amazing gift with words ... I am so blessed by your writing, and so grateful for your encouragement.
Much love to you.

Sarah said...

Thanks, girls. Such a challenge each day to take time to abide--but in the abiding, I find that equilibrium that allows me to take steady steps amidst what often feels like a minefield of life. Love y'all.