Perennially unmade bed. Overflowing waste bins. Dust bunnies accumulating in corners. Piles of unruly laundry (some to be folded, others still desperately in need of washing) camped out in multiple rooms.
One snotty little face. Two runny, red eyes. Loud, raspy breathing, particularly between 8 pm and 3 am. Chesty coughs followed by uncontrollable, inconsolable crying. Mother-daughter sleep-over parties (three nights in a row now) that are better described as stay-up-most-of-the-night parties. Pacing the floor with an over-tired, struggling sweetie. Exhaustion. Concern. Fatigue. Worry. Recurring thoughts of: “Am I doing all I can?” and, “How else can I help my baby?!” coupled with, “I don’t know if I can do this much longer!” rolling themselves over and over in my head…until…
…they are drowned out by the clear, loud truth, spoken softly to my heart:
I hear them quietly yet firmly silence both my anxious thoughts of, “Is she going to be ok?” as well as my selfish thoughts of, “Poor me…” and “This sucks!”…crushing my tendencies towards fear and self-pity…propelling me towards Jesus and compelling me see beyond my immediate circumstances to a God who suffered infinitely more than I ever could have, with an infinitely perfect response.
Then comes the kicker: “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking…For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that…they might live in the spirit the way God does.” (1 Peter 4:1, 6)
I can think like Jesus? I can have the attitude of Christ in the midst of all this? I can live in the spirit the way God does? This is why the gospel was preached to me? This is what the sufferings of Christ accomplished for me?
I was once spiritually DEAD…a slave, bound to these sins…unable to do anything but cave in to my fear and selfishness…unable to put them to death…unable to have victory over my wrong attitudes and my ungodly responses to my circumstances.
But now, because of the gospel – because Christ lived the perfect life I couldn’t, took the sin I couldn’t defeat, died the death I deserved, and rose to life conquering my sin once and for all time – I can LIVE in the spirit the way God does! I can walk with Him, commune with Him, and tap into His divine power and strength to overcome my wrong ways of thinking and experience the freedom and joy that comes from responding to hard situations with cheerful acceptance, grace and love.
Wow. I have received such a great gift from my God! And now I find myself just wanting to give it away, particularly to my little, struggling daughter who is facing her first real cold. More than anything, I want little Gracie to know the love and closeness of Jesus in the midst of the trials of life…to find peace and hope in Him, regardless of what’s going on around her, or even within her physical body.
And so I wipe her nose yet another time. I cancel my plans with friends and joyfully pace the floors with my baby girl until she falls asleep on my chest. I eagerly look forward to another “sleep over” tonight, which I know will involve way more sleep for her than it will for me. And I do these things, not because I’m a “super-mom”, or because I’m so strong and capable and self-sacrificial, but because, as I serve and love my little girl, I’m united to and fueled by the Perfect One who has given me “everything I need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3); namely, HIMSELF.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: …whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)