It seems like I blink and suddenly the clean kitchen has been hit with a tsunami wave of clutter: dirty dishes scatter the counter, and drawers seem to have turned out everything inside them. My kitchen table is littered with eBay items to sell, in-progress paintings, and random tools that need to go back in the garage. And then the living room has its own story. Where did all of my hard-core cleaning from yesterday go?
Sometimes it seems like there's a never-ending list of frustrations building with my body as there are with items to be done around the house. I ache for things to be done and final -to arrive. I ache for rest from the constant reminder of imperfection. Maybe this is God's way of keeping me humble and at His feet. The heart behind the nature of my desires is to be a good wife, to steward well our blessings, and to take care of my body as the Lord's temple. Yet, while these are good desires, they are not in seniority to God's plan. It can be God's will for days like today to be where I feel like Bilbo Baggins, "Stretched thin, like butter across too much bread." Through God's sovereignty, my list of frustrations meets its end. All of my to-do items meet their match. Hallelujah!
Jesus is building his kingdom through each of us in the light and dark days. As we are stretched -like an arrow pulled back so tightly you would think the string would break- the Lord stretches us to rest only on him. We are tested to find that he is the true and right foundation: the author and perfecter of our faith. God does not take us through trials where he does not have a much greater good and reward for us in mind than our momentary struggle. The best is yet to come.
Better yet, the more we are spread thin and made to rely on Him we are able to see greater pictures of His plan! To die to ourselves is gain! The crazy thing about this is that none of this would happen if we would not struggle, suffer, or go through pain. In our states of perfection and comfort, we deny ourselves the opportunity to see God's power at work in the real, raw, undeniable ways when are vulnerable and living in total surrender. When our pride is pinned down, and we are going through seasons of suffering, pain, and hardship, we are made to realize the frailness of our nature and made to seek and trust only God for our source of comfort. Our selfishness, pride, and our own sin would be in the way of allowing us to see the beauty of all that God has for us if we did not go through these seasons. What plans we think are so vital and important to achieve -in the timelines that we set- are so infinitesimally small compared to the compounding glory of God's greater plan and His goodness. As C.S. Lewis says, we are far too often content with our mud pies.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” -
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses
When the Lord releases the season of pain, suffering, frustrations, and limitations from our lives, we will soar with a greater perspective than we had before. When we are released from our season of trials, and we are able to finally soar with such marvel and victory at how he was working in ways we could have never thought to see, we are humbled yet again in awe at the good and generous God who is our truest love. While our amazement could be tempted to turn prideful, instead if we allow the Holy Spirit to continue his work we are refined into a deeper state of humility and commitment. This time it is in awe and with joy at the Lord's marvelous workings: for the present and coming blessings of what was sown in the season before are only to be credited with a God who is truly Lord over all.
So next time, when I feel anxiety arising in my heart and patience thinning, I can rest in knowing that even if what I desire cannot unfold I can trust that God will work all things out for my good and his glory. I can be at peace as I am stretched thin, because I know He is faithful, and there is a greater plan in place that will bring a smile to my face when the Lord reveals it. He loves to surprise his children with good gifts -because he is a good and righteous God. By choosing to keep God as Lord in my heart -and not my desires- my priorities find their place at the foot at the cross, and the Price of Peace meets me there.