I woke up without an alarm before everyone else in the house (a minor miracle considering how much I like to sleep) and had a whole hour alone to sip coffee and finish the book that I've been lost in for days. Buoyed by the incredible, redemptive plot of Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series my heart was pondering how God really is in everything...how His Plan is often a slow unfurling...how we need to keep our perspective and not get sucked into circumstances.
As each child stumbled downstairs, the aroma of bacon mixed with coffee hung in the air. Like I said, the morning had such potential.
Then we realized we didn't have enough milk to make pancakes...or to fill cereal bowls...and the snowball of Sunday morning chaos was set into motion. I forgot something I needed for my Sunday School lesson. A boy's dress shoe was declared missing as we were hurrying to load--launching an all out family search throughout the house for almost 5 minutes--which made us late. I wish I had handled it like Mary Poppins, with creativity and joy. But back here in real life, anxiety, more contagious than a stomach bug in our home, quickly spread. Its symptoms were blame, snappiness and tears.
At the stop light halfway to church my husband glanced down at my coffee cup precariously balancing on my cup holder and quipped, "You know that is going to spill this morning too, right. Have you prepared yourself?"
When we made it the short 4 minute drive to our church parking lot I realized I had not yet managed to put on my make up. My ADD child burst into tears because he had forgotten to take his medication--or to eat his breakfast (a bad combo for our already frazzled kiddo.) My husband and I did a quick tour around the Sunday School classes--surely we could round up a doughnut or a biscuit. But, alas, we are Presbyterian not Baptist ;) and there were no breakfast foods to be found.
As the call to worship began I sent my husband and 4/5 of our brood to be settled into the service while I took P on a quick ride to a convenience store a few blocks away for peanut butter crackers and a breather. A minor skirmish occurred with another child on the way out. He didn't want to stay at church and laid out his case for why he should be allowed to come with us. He did not take my answer well and continued to plead. Through clenched teeth and with a threat of docking his allowance I sent him back into the service. As he turned to walk away I watched the look on a deacon's face a few feet away. At first I thought he was trying to see if I needed back up, but realized he may have been observing to see if my son did.
As I cranked the car P said, "Can you turn on some Christian music, Mom? We need it."
I exhaled a slight smile and heeded his request, knocking over the coffee cup in the process, wondering why my flesh falls for this so often. My heart soaring on heavenly thoughts, eternal perspective, godly pursuits and then something as insignificant as a lost shoe becomes a pinprick to my hope & joy-filled balloon. I crash from the serenity and peace of a 50,000 foot view to being lost in the weeds over such silly things. A reminder of how fickle the human nature can be!
We found the shoe. We were right on time for church. I rounded up what I needed for the Sunday School lesson. The hungry belly was fed and back in the service by the announcements. I bought two gallons of milk after lunch.
In the grand scheme of life...these were all such little things. What mattered most was my heart response and, frankly, it needs some work.
The world is breathtaking from the right perspective. Weeds, potholes, and other minor defects blur into a beautiful landscape, not in spite of but because of the texture and depth they add. And so it is with this life. What seems overwhelming up close is awe-inspiring with a little bit of distance.
Most of us gird ourselves for the big chapters of life--the devastating phone calls, the major losses and life changes. It's inspiring to watch people rise to the occasion and be champions of the faith. But may we not forget that we are called to be faithful in even the little things.
Yes, our children learn about having a real personal relationship with God from sermons, music and Sunday School--but they get to examine its authenticity in OUR lives through things like lost shoes and anxiety-riddled mornings. Lord, I pray, you will meet me there and pull me out, bearing YOUR fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
Tomorrow is a new day.