Several months ago Clint came home from work with a surprise. He pulled a tiny princess coloring book out of his pocket and handed it to Aubrey. Sheer ecstasy erupted. She danced in circles, hugged him at least ten times, and profusely thanked him. Then she sat down and colored every single page.
While she was occupied, I turned to him and asked, “Where did you get it?”
“The trashcan,” he replied.
It still makes me laugh. I can picture her intently bent over each picture, carefully coloring, while Clint and I crack up in the kitchen.
Sometimes when I feel truly depleted, I think about Aubrey and her coloring book, and I wonder how much of what I treasure in my life is actually garbage. I’ve never been physically anorexic, but there are spells when I feel spiritually anorexic. I feast on all sorts of garbage—entertainment, distractions, rigid scheduling, my own ability to perform—everything but Jesus. As a result, I’m crammed to the gills and starving just the same. And somehow in this state, I manage to keep going for a really long time. After all, the dishes always need washing, the kids always need feeding, and the floors always need sweeping. So I truck along like the Energizer Bunny, ignoring all the signs of spiritual starvation, until one day the battery of my own effort finally runs dry. Something touches this raw, cavernous hunger in my soul for Jesus, and before I know it, I’m crying and I’m not even sure why.
It’s ironic isn’t it? God is ever present—the feast of His presence lies before me, and I pass the days munching on cocktail peanuts. And I wonder why I’m so hungry. The first blessed assurance God has given me in this journey, is that the food is there. It is possible for all the longings of my heart to be satisfied in Jesus. But how? How do I find fulfillment in Christ amid the daily drudgery? These two principles are helping me more than any other:
Practicing the Presence of Christ
Running a home is incredibly monotonous. Not only are the tasks menial, few ever remain “finished,” which can make you feel a little like Sisyphus endlessly rolling the rock (or laundry basket) uphill. But what if we changed our perspective to recognize the vast reward in the “doing” rather than the “accomplishing”? Unlike the world, Christ does not ask us to achieve. He asks us to be faithful. Thus, as Oswald Chambers writes, “drudgery is the touchstone of character.” Look at Jesus Himself, who washed the disciples’ feet. Can’t you picture Him changing diapers with great joy and love? I can, because no calling from the Father was ever too menial for Jesus. He came to serve, to love the least of these, and to do it with or without the praise of men. How then, can I refuse to do the same for Him? Brother Lawrence, who lived out his days as a kitchen aide in a monastery, wrote, “I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.” Like Brother Lawrence, you and I can practice the presence of Christ every time we wipe Desitin on a rash-y bottom, and rise happier than a king! And therein lies the secret to running a home with joy and purpose. We are doing all things as an act of love and worship for Him (I Corinthians 10:31).
Resting in the Presence of Christ
I find that practicing the presence of Christ in the hectic chores of the day is always easier when I spend quiet moments resting in Him. Sometimes these moments come first thing in the morning, sometimes during nap time, and sometimes last in the day. Either way, they are crucial because these are the moments when I feast. I lay all my longings before Him, and I am overcome by His intense love for me in spite of my unworthiness. To quote the Jesus Storybook Bible, His love makes me lovely. His love makes my life lovely.
At times I’m tempted to skip these moments with God for love of a lesser idol, and at times I’m tempted to fulfill them dutifully and rigidly like a slave. I know both attitudes must break His heart. Yet graciously, every time I come to Him—whether for love of Him or love of myself—He meets me. At the height of my joy, He meets me. In the pit of my sorrow, He meets me. In the thick of my drudgery, He meets me.
Surely, you and I don’t have to run on empty! Not with a God like this. We can run on His power and by His grace. We can run through the happiness, through the failure, and through the ten million dirty diapers ahead. We can run in the very presence of Jesus.
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