Monday, January 4, 2010

A Broken Resolution... and a Faithful God

Making New Year’s resolutions is easy; it’s keeping them that’s hard.

We’re officially four days into the new year. So how are you doing on your resolutions for 2010?

I have to confess: I’ve already broken one of mine.

I’m one of the growing number of moms who don’t quite fit any labels. Although I stay home with our three kids, I am not a SAHM in the sense of being a room mother and baking cookies. And although I work between 30-40 hours a week, I don’t put my kids in daycare or drive to an office every day. Instead, I work from home while the kids are in school. When they come home, I put aside my “work” hat and assume a more traditional maternal role, helping the kids with homework, shuttling them to after-school activities, fixing dinner, catching up on housework, and spending time with my family until bedtime. After I tuck the kids in bed, I typically brew coffee and go back to work until the words start blurring together somewhere around 1 a.m.

So I’m a “work at home” mom, kind of a both/and hybrid. Add the role of pastor’s wife to the mix, and you see the tangle of work, mothering, and ministry that my daily life entails.

If I had to pick a verse to describe my life this past year, it would be Job 3:26: “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Okay, maybe not “turmoil,” but you get the picture. Little by little, one urgent thing after another, I let my time for quietness and stillness slip away.

As I mentioned yesterday, Brett and I chose as our family's theme verse for this year: “Come near to God, and He will come near to you” (James 4:8). Realizing that the expanding needs of our church and family will tempt us to neglect our time with God more than ever, we worked out a plan to ensure we both have time for daily Bible reading and prayer, enabling us to “come near to God” that we might experience more of Him this year.

Part of the plan—on paper, anyway—was that I would start spending time with God in the evenings, instead of in the mornings. Because no matter how hard I tried to have my quiet time in the mornings, I couldn’t fully relax and enjoy the lingering time with God that my soul needs before the pitter-patter of footsteps on the stairs signaled that the kids were up and already launching in full force the morning hurry-scurry of getting ready for school and the business of the day.

Sigh. I need quietness. And stillness. Things that are in short supply in the mornings around our house!

Hence my New Year’s resolution: stop working at night, so that I can spend that time lingering in the presence of God. Put the kids to bed at their regular bedtime, and instead of brewing coffee to squeeze in a few more work hours, spend that time on the things that nourish my soul. With no hurry. No deadlines. And most of all, no guilt that I “should” be using the only truly quiet moments of my day to catch up on manuscripts.

It was—and is—a practical, doable plan.

But I messed up last night.

After tucking the kids in bed, I figured I had time to do just “one quick thing” for work before having that restful time with God. One quick thing that took me two hours. One quick thing that robbed me of the stillness and peace I needed that day.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my job. But the book publishing business is driven by printer deadlines--deadlines that do not bend for authors who turn in manuscripts late or require a lot of rewriting. There’s often a lot of pressure on me to do a quality job on a tight schedule, and because I am the poster child for Type A, that causes a lot of stress for me. And that stress takes up residence, not only in my knotted shoulders and my rising blood pressure, but in my soul. After I spent two hours finishing a manuscript last night, I found myself only going through the motions of a quiet time. I couldn’t focus on what God had to say to me, because my mind was cluttered, distracted, filled with visions of the other deadlines I have coming up this month.

This morning, God reminded me of a verse—words He spoke to His rebellious people in Isaiah 30:15—and words He spoke directly to my heart:

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.”

Ouch! Reality check: that’s exactly what I did last night. I knew that I should have rested in God, but I “would have none of it.” To be painfully honest, my work took precedence over my God.

I am so thankful that just three verses later, God revealed to those same rebellious people—and to me!—another chance to exeperience His peace:

The LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

There it is again. Did you see it? “The LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.”

Come to God, and He will show you His love and compassion.

Come near to God, and He will come near to you.

In his radio message today, Chuck Swindoll quoted one of my favorite professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks. Regarding the importance of setting priorities, Hendricks said wisely, “Some things must be, so that other things might be.”

True words, indeed. Some things must be given absolute priority, so that other things—the things we hope and dream to accomplish—might have the opportunity to come true.

So what is your New Year’s resolution? What do you want to accomplish or experience in 2010?

If you really want to keep your resolution, I challenge you (and me!) to “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16). Make a plan. Mercilessly purge the things that fritter away your time and distract you from accomplishing your goal. Because some things must be, so that other things might be.

And when you mess up (like I did last night!), don’t let that discourage you. Instead, draw near to God, rest in Him, and ask for His help. After all, His mercies are new every morning! (Aren't you glad?)

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
To the soul who seeks him."

--Lamentations 3:22-23, 25 ESV

1 comment:

  1. Jen, thank you for the reminder. It is gravely needed today.