Thursday, March 8, 2012

Having Finished the Work

I woke up this morning to an empty calendar page. Clear of appointments and meetings, a day that stretched wide open for all those weighty "to do's." To do's like clearing the paperwork on my desk and sorting through boxes in the garage and sunroom, both areas reminiscent of a battlefield after our recent home remodel. All that to say, my mental (and written) list stretched far beyond the hours my children would be at school.

Once Corbin left with the first school shuttle at 7:45, I sat down to prioritize my day. Within seconds, a friend called with a flat tire. Corbin to the rescue - he was already out, so he picked her up and brought her back here before heading to their respective offices. But ironically, my car was sitting in our driveway with a flat tire as well. Actually, just low. But un-driveable low. And already-been-patched low. So after Corbin and our friend left, and after our puppies escaped only to be returned half an hour later by a friend who just happened to see them at the park, and before taking the big-kid carpool, I put just enough air in my tire to make it to school and then Pep Boys.

I spent the morning waiting in an auto shop outfitted with hard plastic seats, reeking of transmission oil and burned coffee. While the auto guy tried to convince me that I needed a new transmission, brakes, and well, a new car, and with those plastic chairs getting harder by the minute, I got a call from the school nurse.

Evidently, she's required to call if there's been a head injury. 
The people waiting with me in the tiny room were captive to my response, "Branson's been tackled on the playground? And his face has a large scrape? Ok, not a concussion? Hmmnn, can I talk with him?"

As much as I wanted to hear his voice and know he was ok, I also wanted to know who in the world tackled him?! Come to find out, it was a kid who routinely bothers him and caught him during recess unaware, resulting in a large strawberry on the side of his face and a black eye. What he needed from me right then was a sympathetic ear... and a little pain medicine.

Three hours and a couple hundred dollars later, my car was ready. I steered my suburban from the auto shop to the middle school, to administer medicine and a hug and a promise (read: threat) that if my son can't stay away from this kid on his own (he doesn't even know his last name), then I turn into Mama Bear real quick. A Mama Bear who resembles the Incredible Hulk.

So here it is, thirty minutes before I run to get carpool, and my day was simply not what I anticipated. Somehow flat tires, an oil change, new headlights, ibuprofin, and middle school interventions were not on my list today.

I could go on. Yesterday's calendar was fairly blank as well, until I ended up at the Apple store taking care of a much-needed computer issue, one I'd already invested too many unsuccessful hours on. I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I'm guessing it's not what I expect.

What to do with this time, these lists, this "unproductivity?"

One of the things this morning afforded me was THREE HOURS to review my Bible study. My group is almost finished with the book, Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I've loved it. It's impacted my thinking, and I didn't want to put the book on a shelf without reviewing and processing what I've learned. There are forty lies that DeMoss combats with Scripture, all listed in the table of contents.  Of those forty, there are about six that I'm especially vulnerable to, but one stands out head and shoulders above the rest. It's a lie regarding priorities:

"I don't have time to do everything I'm supposed to do."

Again, the irony. Unexpectedly spending half of my day (rather, the Lord's day) in an auto shop, not having time to do everything I'm supposed to do, and reading Scripture that reinforces that I'm believing that lie.

Some of my take-aways from this particular chapter include:
"The fact is, we have no more or less time than any other human being who has ever lived."

Jesus was given only a few short years on earth to accomplish the entire plan of redemption. At the end of his life, Jesus was able to lift his eyes to His Father and say, "I have glorified Thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." Jn 17:4  (I'd never once considered before that the Messiah, the God of the Universe, did ALL he needed to do on earth in three short years)

The truth is that all I have to do is the work God assigns to me. What freedom to accept that there is time for me to do everything that is on God's "to do" list for my day, my week, and for my life!

Frustrations come when I attempt to take on responsibilities that are not on His agenda for me, or when I try to fulfill responsibilities He does not intend for me to carry.
Goodness, what freedom indeed - if I could train myself to hear what He has for me, and then accept that and let the rest go. To rest in "unproductive" days with confidence of His unseen productivity.

In His kindness, the Lord continues to show me visible signs of His work, even on days like this. Without going into all the details, just today I've seen his hand in:
- My friend Joy returning our dogs this morning, so she could see our remodel first-hand, as she has an appointment with our architect this evening
- Getting to share an early morning cup of coffee with my friend who had a flat tire
- A couple of quiet hours reviewing my Bible study and accompanying Scriptures
- Even my son's incident brought blessing. As I looked at his bruised face in the school hallway, he said he hoped it wouldn't result in a black eye, as the nurse suggested. He said he didn't want this other kid to have the gratification of beating him up. But then, before I could utter a response, he looked at me and said, "But really, it doesn't matter. My identity doesn't come from this kid or his friends, or anyone else." That one little sentence is a breakthrough in this Mom's heart - he's GETTING it. This identity thing is something that we, along with his youth leader, have been pouring into him. And he's getting it. If it takes a tackle and black eye to see the fruit in his heart, I'll take it.  Thank you, Jesus.

In concluding her book, DeMoss explains that the way to counter Satan's lies with truth involves:
1. Learn the truth
2. Believe it
3. Surrender to it
4. Live it out

Specifically for me, I appreciate Demoss' wisdom identifying this very fundamental struggle (sin) in my life: That when I get overwhelmed and feel shame that I don't have time to do everything I need to do, the truth is that all I have to do is the work God assigns to me. I've learned it, I believe it, and honestly, it's not terribly difficult to surrender to it. Today, for example, didn't throw me for too much of a loop. The Lord started interrupting me during my middle school years, and He hasn't stopped. I've kind of (kind of!) learned how to be interrupted. And I've seen time and time again that by submitting to His interruptions He surprises me with gifts.

The challenge for me is #4 - to live it out. I believe this hinges on setting my priorities in such a way that my work can be finished. That there's a completion date, a time when something can be checked off and done with.

As everyone knows, a woman's work is never done. If that's true (which it is, in our culture), then that means I must choose to create the space for rest, space for the Sabbath. Create a smaller to do list for the day, the week. Put aside work to rest in the evenings, to rest one day a week. I see this in the lives of some of my friends, and when I'm envious of people, that's what I tend to envy: Rest. Stopping. Reading a book for fun. Sitting down with their husbands in the evneings to TALK. Taking time to create and do something just for fun. What refreshment and freedom.

With these reminders, I will lay my head down tonight, weary from the day's work and troubles, perhaps with a few dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and most certainly with unpacked boxes and piles in the garage and sunroom, and I will rest in the fact that I finished the work God has given me to do.

4 comments:

Krista Sanders said...

Beautiful.
Lots of favorite thoughts and sentences but I’d have to pick B’s quote. ; )

Jessica said...

You can bet I'm going to forward this one on. I'll put that at the top of my "to-do list" for the day. Ha!

Alyssa said...

I needed these reminders from that study because I completed the book work a few years ago but didn't get around to or make a priority the living out part.

Lynda Meyers said...

Oh my. TJ I have had days like this so many times - I can't even tell you how many! Sometimes my whole life feels like putting out one chaotic fire after another!

You handle your life with such grace!

I'm blogging / publishing under my real name now (formerly Madison Richards) so just in case you're wondering who this is!!

Have a great week!
Lynda Meyers