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God in the Moments

Dec
2013
17

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The Friday morning before last was an epic disaster of a morning.

I actually woke up feeling quite pleased with myself. My kindergartener, Reagan, was having “Muffins with Moms” that morning at 8am in her class. She was excited. Beyond excited. As in, she drew a picture of herself and me eating muffins together the day before and hung it on the fridge. That excited. So, as you can see, it was VERY important that I be there.

The hurdle presented by this event is that my 3 little preschoolers don’t start school until 9am. Normally Josh has Fridays off and he would watch them but he was in charge of organizing and leading worship at not just one but two conferences that weekend and he would be at the church getting ready for the event. But no worries, I had a plan. I’d just be sure to be at the preschool at 8am on the dot, I’d drop the little ones off for Early Bird, and then Reagan and I would only be a few minutes late for the muffins.

Now the reason I felt so pleased with myself (ugh, you know things are about to go down when you start to feel pleased with yourself) is that I was READY. I am never ready. I’m always running around with half my make-up on and backpacks and shoes are flying and it’s total chaos. But not this time. I laid out all the clothes and socks and shoes. I packed snacks the night before. I got up super early and was dressed and ready. And then I got the kids up with enough time for breakfast and hair and all that stuff. Everything was going perfectly according to plan.

Then, while I was on the other side of the house getting everyone dressed and ready, one of my darling children ran to go to the bathroom, flushed the toilet and came back. And the toilet overflowed. But I did not hear it or know of it. And it just continued to overflow. So that by the time I knew what had happened it had filled the entire bathroom, hallway, laundry room, and part of my kitchen. It was 7:48. And all you-know-what broke loose.

I cried. I mean, you guys, I ugly cried. I was sobbing. Which, of course meant that Reagan was sobbing. Because she’s the most empathetic child of all time. I was just standing in the mess, completely paralyzed by it. I called Josh and completely freaked. He came home, IN THE MIDDLE OF GETTING READY FOR THE CONFERENCE, and started helping me clean up. But mostly he came home to talk me down off the ledge. Because I was losing it.

Once he calmed me down and left, I made sure the wood floors were dry and just left the rest of it for later and made it to Muffins for the last 15 minutes and everything was fine. All of that freaking out and everything was fine.

As I was recounting this story to my dear friend Meredith on the phone a couple hours later, beginning to laugh about that which had so recently wreaked such havoc, I just kept saying to her, “Meredith! I just hate that I react this way! I cannot keep responding to things like this!” I mean, jeez, it was certainly inconvenient but in no way worthy of a complete emotional breakdown. And she, the best kind of friend because she speaks truth into my life, dropped by later with this cute little plant (which, sadly, I will probably kill) and a card containing the following verses.

“Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

And I’m kinda dense sometimes so I appreciated the note and loved the verse but didn’t really make the connection until this morning, as I read those verses again in the quiet pre-kidswakingup hour of my morning. I REALLY read the verses, letting the living Word of God do what it is supposed to do, pierce to the division of soul and spirit and discern the thoughts and intentions of my heart.

Who hopes for what he sees?

I do.

When my morning plans are completely dismantled by a toilet and my response is to lose all perspective and joy it means that I’m hoping in what I can see right now. I have no vision for beyond the here and now. All I see is that frustration of the moment.

What’s really sad is that my sweet little Eva could see beyond the moment much better than I could. As all of this madness was going down and I was crying and panicking, do you know what she was doing? She was standing nearby, looking at me solemnly, saying over and over in her broken English, “I pray for you mommy, I pray for you mommy.”

Paul Tripp, the person who was actually speaking at those conferences that weekend, says, “You don’t live life in big moments. You live life in the utterly mundane. If God doesn’t rule your mundane, then he doesn’t rule your life.”

God was not ruling my mundane that day. I had decided that I was in charge of my mundane. Now, as I look back on that moment ten days later, I can see all the ways that moment could have changed if God had been ruling and if I had been placing my hope in what I don’t see. I could have taught my children to pray when things go wrong by stopping and praying with them myself (although obviously Eva was doing just fine with that on her own). I could have THANKED GOD. Hadn’t I seen such abject poverty only months before and here I was crying over a toilet when a toilet is such a blessing, such a gift. That toilet water that is probably still cleaner than the water my children used to drink in their poverty, it is a gift. And I could have taught Reagan that it’s okay when we don’t get to do the thing we want to do. Often God has better things for us.

And maybe you’re reading this and thinking, sheesh, it’s just a toilet overflow, no need to read all of that into it. But those little moments, as Tripp says, they really really do matter. We should not, we cannot, let these moments pass us by, day in, day out, without seeing them for what they really are. I don’t want to miss that God is in all things, all the time, everywhere, shaping, molding, teaching, loving. Even in, especially in, a moment like that.

You know what the really great news is? That moment is not wasted because I just failed so utterly and dramatically to handle it well. It is perhaps even more meaningful because of it. Perhaps my saying to my children, later that day, “Mommy was sinning. That was not a big deal and I should not have reacted that way. I need Jesus to help me have joy when things like that happen” was even better than my handling everything perfectly. Bob Kaufflin says, and this is a favorite quote of Josh’s and mine, “Our job is not to teach our children not to sin. Our job is to teach our children what to do with their sin.”

I hope, I pray, that the next time I have a moment like that (because the next toilet overflow is always right around the corner), I would respond rightly and teach my children through example. But how wonderful that even in our failures – really, especially in them – the grace of God is made apparent. How appropriate that I would feel my sin and my need for a savior so desperately here in this advent season, so that I can then turn and rejoice that the Savior DID come. That He already has appeared. That I can do nothing good on my own but through HIM can do all things to which God has called me. And that He’s coming again, and so I can hope in what I don’t see instead of hoping in what I see.

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him [Jesus], then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”