Sunday, February 7, 2016

Letting Go

My mother has always been a master of illustrations and analogies.  I can still vividly recall dozens of picture images she used to explain spiritual and intangible concepts to us as children and even now that we are adults.  Once a few years ago at a gathering of young moms, she used the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish as an analogy for our job as mothers.  There is no possible way we can accomplish feeding 5,000 hungry people (raising our children to godly adulthood) in our own strength.  Instead we must allow him to use our bread and fish (our gifts and resources) to accomplish his purposes.

Sarah Mackenzie uses this same analogy in Teaching from Rest in Part One: Whose "Well Done" Are You Working For? (Please note: Even if you aren't a homeschool mom, please keep reading.  This has nothing to do with homeschooling - really - and everything to do with being a finite human tasked with kingdom work!)
Just like the disciples, I see this huge throng of people to feed - this seeming impossibility.  The shaping of souls and raising of children, the mopping of floors, washing of dishes, bandaging of scraped knees and hearts and worries, the teaching and admonishing and doling out myself.  It's all too much ... I fall to my knees and I cry out to God.  We're a throng of hungry people in the desert, and I'm supposed to feed them. On an ordinary Monday, I am in need of a miracle of biblical proportions.  
It isn't that I have nothing, exactly.  I have my little basket.  I can read aloud pretty well.  I'm good at organizing things on paper.  I can make a decent pot of chili and I know how to push a vacuum.  I love my children with all of my being and I have a real desire to watch them grow to love and serve Him.  I don't really have any idea how I'm supposed to tackle everything ahead of me in this day, this year, this decade when that's all I've got.  It's just a couple of loaves of bread and a few fish. 
Apparently that's all He needs.
As I have contemplated this recently, one thought that came to mind was that the little boy who brought the loaves and the fish had to do something really hard.  Offering his food to the Lord meant letting go of the only thing he had.  He was a hungry person in the desert, too, after all.  He didn't get to hold back on a loaf or two, giving the rest to the Lord for miracle-working.  He had to give it all up.

I don't want to try to read things into this Biblical account that aren't intended to be there.  God doesn't tell us (and if he doesn't, he must have his reasons) how the boy was feeling, if he had much time to contemplate the request or if his parents were there to help him process it all.  The only thing we know is that he gave all his food away, that he (like everyone else) was fed until he had enough and that his letting go was one small part of the unfolding of God's plan.

So what does it look like to "let go"?  Does that mean sitting on the sofa and waiting around for God to work?  Does it mean making no plans or refraining from giving my children any structure or direction?  Does it mean that planning, activity and effort are signs of resistance and rebellion?

I'm still chewing on this thought, still working through what it looks like to trust the Lord with my gifts and resources, to use them to seek first his kingdom and trust that "all these things" will be added unto me.  But one place I have been convicted is my lack of prayer.  (What follows are my own reflections on me.  Apply only as applicable.)

If I'm honest, I have to admit that when I'm up in the morning before the children, I find far more comfort in using a 15 or 20 minute chunk of time to get some laundry started, pay some bills or do something else that gives me a feeling of productivity and a foothold on the day, than I do taking that time to pray.  I don't think that Scripture requires us to pray for 20 minutes every morning or to pray every morning or to pray instead of paying bills or anything specific like that.  However, I do know that my heart usually runs first to "doing" rather than to "trusting".

Sarah Mackenzie writes,
An indispensable part of bringing our basket, prayer puts aside "doing" in favor of "being" and "becoming": being in his presence and becoming more like Him.
It's not that prayer is a twisting of God's arm to enforce the meeting of our desires.  Rather, prayer - handing over my basket to God - is a way for me to acknowledge that it was never mine to begin with and that I'm OK with him using it however he sees fit.  I'll leave you with two more gems from Teaching from Rest ...
Before we attempt to live a day well, teach our children, or tackle our to-dos, first we put the whole thing at his feet.  We beg God to use us to fulfill His purpose, and then we see that every frustration in the day ahead is an answer to that very prayer. [emphasis mine]
We are weary because we forget about grace.  We act as though God showing up is the miracle.  But guess what?  God's showing up is a given.  Grace is a fact.
Why would I not want to start my day by soaking in that truth for a while?

No comments:

Post a Comment