If I could focus long enough to write a "to do" list for the next 3 weeks, it would have things like: mail the last graduation invitations, grade the final school assignments, register for summer activities and Bekah's SAT, spray for poison ivy, buy tissues for graduation, and on, and on, and on. (In case I haven't been outspoken enough and drawn enough attention to myself for everyone to know, Isaac, my firstborn, graduates in two weeks. There are related events this week, the next and the next. There is also real, ordinary life happening simultaneously.)
Today I had the kind of morning when you wake up, knowing there are at least one million things to do, but you can't remember any of them, so you nervously pace the house and dabble here and there. Meanwhile, your heart races and your head hurts, and at some point you realize you are getting absolutely nothing accomplished.
I knew when I woke up I'd be most productive if I had a quiet time first. Some famous theologian once said he had too much to do in a day not to begin by talking to the Lord. In my head that makes sense. Still, I took time to get a few obvious and simple chores done, I read all about Osama bin Laden and checked the weather, and I spent time on facebook. Then, when it dawned on me that I wasn't making progress, I finally sat down to have a little talk with Jesus.
"Savior, I come. Quiet my soul." And He did. Of course. Almost immediately, He began to show me two ways the next few weeks could go.
The first way looked familiar. I could be busy with tasks and make lists and cross off duties as I get them done. I could race around like a chicken with my head cut off, asking the Lord to bless my efforts. I coudl boss my family around and lose my temper when they don't assume correctly what I am thinking or what they should be doing.
OR I could do something new and profound. I could put relationships first. I could spend the next 3 weeks focusing the bulk of my attention on my husband and my children. I could be attentive to their needs and trust God to be attentive to mine. The Lord spoke very specifically to me about my marriage.
Surely I am not the only wife who gets so consumed with life that she conveniently and habitually puts her husband on the back burner. It's easy to believe a grown man can take care of himself while I tend to the rest of the world. Maybe you find it odd that when I come to Jesus in prayer and ask for help, He speaks words like, "Tend to your husband." I do too. The only thing I can think of is that He's trying to make sure that I don't panic and allow the things that seem urgent have tyrannical rule over my life. Stay focused. Continue to invest in what matters. Why should the events of the next few weeks take precedence over your family and over relationships? What is so important?
The interesting thing to me is that in His mercy, He showed me this at the onset. In kindness, the Lord spoke to me before I even stepped into the water. He didn't wait until I was knee deep in a whirlpool to say, "Shoulda, coulda, woulda."
To confirm for me what He was talking about, He took me to Zechariah 4 today.
1And(A) the angel who talked with me came again(B) and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep. 2And he said to me, "What do you see?" I said, "I see, and behold,(C) a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and(D) seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. 3And there are(E) two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left." 4And I said to(F) the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?" 5Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me,(G) "Do you not know what these are?" I said, "No, my lord." 6Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to(H) Zerubbabel:(I) Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. 7Who are you,(J) O great mountain? Before(K) Zerubbabel(L) you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward(M) the top stone amid shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!'"
8Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9(N) "The hands of(O) Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also(P) complete it.(Q) Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
There is so much in these 9 verses for us to learn historically and spiritually, but here's what I got out of it that relates to my busy-ness:
The lampstand is God. The bowl is the Holy Spirit, full of oil to anoint the saints and to empower them. The olive trees represent the lawgiver and the priest. Jesus fulfills both of those roles, and by the pressing of those olive trees, the bowl is filled. In other words, Jesus supplies the oil (salvation) that the Holy Spirit pours out on us to be and do what we are made to be and do.
And the angel used this picture to show Zechariah that in human power the task of building the temple was impossible. It would require the Work of God. The people must put their faith in Christ and be filled with His Spirit to do what God was asking them to do. And as the mountains were leveled, as the work was completed, the people would acknowledge that it was all because of GRACE!
Oh, sweet readers of this blog! We must understand that the very breath we take in this instance is an act of grace. We must depend wholly on God, not just for salvation, but for every minute of life and every task we take on. We cannot get to a point where we have learned enough or have enough power to stand on our own. We can only become more and more dependent on grace. Today, my prayer for myself and for those that read this (bless you for taking time to do so), is that we would stand under that lampstand and allow the Holy Spirit to anoint us with the oil from Christ. That we would rely fully on His work in us. And as He completes the tasks before us, may we stand up and shout, "It was grace!"