I have a deep admiration for God's servants. When I see people who have given their whole life to Him to do whatever He asks, no matter how hard, I am motivated to be like that. I am so encouraged when I see people who are making sacrifices and living through difficult circumstances with a smile on their face. I've watched a missionary family live with numerous health problems and deal with inconveniences like their water being turned off for nearly a week. I've watched a family proceed with multiple international adoptions in spite of the lack of finances and the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll it takes to parent adopted children. I saw another missionary family who lost their 3 year old daughter in a tragic car accident, yet they are choosing to be thankful for the way God is using that accident for His glory. These are just a few examples. Everywhere I go I see people who have said “Yes” to God, no matter how hard a thing it is that He has asked them to do.
I have spent much time in prayer asking God what it is that He has for me. What hard thing is it that He wants me to do? I am determined to say “Yes”. I will trust him for the grace each day to do whatever He asks of me.
…Or will I?
Fast forward a few days, and in your imagination come join me in my home. I get up early, eager to tackle my lengthy to-do list. I have big plans for all that I am going to accomplish. I read my Bible and pray, then get up and start working on my list, humming as I go. I'm excited to face the day, determined to be a great mommy and homemaker. Several short minutes later, my well-laid plans are interrupted. I hear a baby crying. “He never wakes up this early,” I think. “Pleeease go back to sleep so I can get some work done.” After a couple more minutes, I decide that I'd better go get the little fella. I'm too late. My oldest boy, who shares a room with the baby, has already awakened, and there's no getting that one back to sleep once he's up. To top things off, he gets so lonely while I'm feeding the baby that he has to wake up his little sister so she can play with him.
Okay, I can adjust. I'll just go ahead and start working on the things I had planned to do after the kids were up. Then I'll get them down a little early for their naps and go back to working on what needs to be done while they're sleeping.
All 3 kids are cranky all morning from getting up so early. I'm stopping every few minutes to console a crying baby or try to thwart an emotional meltdown from my 2 year old. In between grouchy spells they're running around like little crazy people, getting into everything they're not supposed to get into. I'm trying to maintain some semblance of order, so I stop to deal with each issue that arises and clean up each mess. By lunchtime, I've accomplished the amazing feat of getting everyone dressed and fed. That's it. Oh! And I did throw in a load of laundry and make a loaf of bread. Well, I dumped the ingredients into the bread machine, if that counts. I'm eying the clock and eagerly anticipating naptime so I can at least get a little bit of work done. I'm hoping that everyone (including myself) will be in better spirits after a good afternoon rest.
Naptime, however, is delayed due to the fact that the timer on the bread machine says that the bread will be finished exactly one hour later than I thought it would be finished. I'm almost out of groceries, and that bread is about the only thing in the house that I have to feed the kids, so I'm stuck waiting for it to finish before we can eat lunch. Combine hungry grouchy with tired grouchy, and we have a house full of very grouchy people. And Mama is getting grouchier by the minute. I'm very close to surpassing the grouchiness of my children. Yes, that happy, humming mama that arose so excited about her day is acting like a child who is not getting her way.
But wait, it gets better.
Much to my relief, naptime finally arrives. I make sure the two older older children have gone potty, and get everyone tucked snugly into their beds.
For about fifteen minutes.
That's when I hear the footsteps in the hall. “Mommy, I have to go potty,” I hear a little two year old voice say. “You just went potty. Go back to bed,” I reply through gritted teeth, trying hard not to sound as irritated as I feel. As she turns to walk away, I see the little bulge in the back of her Pull-up. I roll my eyes, thinking to myself, “WHY does she have to go stinky during her nap every. single. day????!!” I change her Pull-up and put her back to bed.
For another fifteen minutes.
“Mommy, I have to go potty again.” I check the Pull-up. Stinky again. I change the Pull-up again and put her back to bed.
She's up and down several more times after that, not to go potty, but just the general two year old naptime avoidance tactics. By the time I finally get her to actually go to sleep, my oldest boy is up. He's actually taken a good nap, so I have no reason to make him go back to bed. I try to make him sit quietly and read books so I can have a few minutes of quiet. Yeah, right. Four year old boys and quiet don't belong together in the same sentence.
I finally give up and go to the kitchen to start supper. My husband walks in the door, and is greeted with what is by this time a very grouchy wife I start complaining to him about my day, how I'm so tired, and how I didn't get anything done today and that I barely have enough strength to make supper. (Which is true. I'm still nursing the baby, and I hadn't had enough to eat throughout the day.) He just smiles at me and goes to play with the kids. I sit down with my head in my hands and wish that supper would make itself. There's not even anything that I can eat for a quick snack to give myself an energy boost. I get up and manage to pull together some chicken and pasta, and while I'm cooking, the Holy Spirit speaks to me in His still, small voice.
“Didn't you tell me that you would do whatever I asked of you? And that you would do it cheerfully? Do you know what I've asked of you today? I've asked you to love your husband and to love your children, and to have a good attitude even when your day doesn't go the way you planned it.”
I confess to the Lord my selfishness, and for the rest of the evening I choose to be joyful. I choose to say “Yes” to God, although I wish I had obeyed a whole lot earlier.
What about you? What is God asking you to do? We all have different life circumstances, and the thing that He asks you to do will be different from what He's asked me to do. Maybe, like me, you haven't even stopped to recognize what it is that He's asking of you. Will you take the time to realize what it is? Then, will you say “Yes” to Him?
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It seems like just recently I have really been struck with the incredible needs in the world around me. One of the things that influenced me was this post regarding adoption and the needs of orphaned children around the world. Of course I wish I could help every single one of them. Then I started thinking of villages in Haiti where people are dying because they don't have clean water to drink. I want to dig a well for every single one of them. Then I started thinking about the homeless right here in America – there are multitudes of them in every city and even right here in my own little town. I want to help them all! What about the nursing homes I have visited where there are not enough staff members to properly care for the residents? Many of them don't get proper nutrition because they cannot feed themselves and the staff members are too busy to do it. They lie in bed begging someone to come change their soiled pants because they are starting to get sore, but are only replied to with, “We'll get to you later.” I want to stay there all day and personally tend to all of their needs!
I could continue to go on listing needs – desperate, heart-breaking needs of people all around the world. I want to do something – to make a big difference somehow. But the whole world is full of needs! There's no way I can possibly do anything that will help!
Then, it dawned on me. I have had the attitude that since the needs are too great for me to fulfill, then I will just throw up my hands in despair and say, “I guess there's nothing I can do about it other than hope that the Lord will come back quickly and redeem the world from the curse of sin.”
I was reminded of this story by Loren Eisley. I'm sure many of you have heard it:
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed
a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”
The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.
The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
“Son,” the man said, “Don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,
and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said , “I made a difference for that one.”
I may not be able to make a difference in every person's life who needs help, but I can make a difference in someone's life. That will be one more person who can be shown the love of Christ who would otherwise never know it. Just think! When I get to heaven one day I will be so ashamed at all the lives I didn't influence just because I wasn't trying, thinking that it was impossible to make a difference.
I don't know what God has planned for my life, but I know he wants me to do something more than what I've been doing. I am praying specifically that He would lead me to the one thing that I can do to make a difference.
In the meantime, I have three little people for whom I will strive to make a big difference every day. I have a husband for whom I will make a difference every day. There are store cashiers, church members, neighbors, and numerous other people with whom I come into contact on a regular basis. Am I making a difference for them? Am I doing all that I can to help them both physically and spiritually?
I am excited to see what doors God will open as I do my part to meet the needs of others. If we all do our small part, just think how many more people can be helped than if we all throw up our hands in defeat!
You may not be able to make a difference for them all, but you can make a difference for one.
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