My life feels busy—sometimes crazy busy. While homeschooling five kids who are in various activities, it feels like a lot of juggling to make it all work. And although I aspire to have a clean and organized home, the reality is that I am so not there. I can even feel the chaos creeping in—a few more dirty dishes in the sink, a few more books piled on the counter, a few more puzzle pieces left out. Then, if I’m not careful, it’s full on crazy-town house, where there is crusted play dough on the carpet, piles of dirty clothes, and don’t even ask about the kitchen. What happened? Why is it so chaotic? Because kids? Because I’m a bad house keeper? Because my hubby doesn’t pick up the slack?
It’s not really any of that. It’s that my surroundings begin to dictate my feelings, and I have let the chaos in. It enters through my perception of my circumstances. Because the truth really is that even if I had a perfect system and was on top of my schedule and my house was perfectly clean and my kids were actually tiny self-cleaning robots, these things would not guarantee my sanity—and I would not automatically have peace. Because there would always be something else. Because the enemy doesn’t play fair, and even if I had the best hand, he’d throw in the ace he’s hidden up his sleeve. He cheats by whispering: You aren’t good enough. You haven’t cleaned up enough. You are failing miserably, and it is your fault. And nothing could be further from the truth.
Because it’s not an equation. Because a clean house doesn’t equal success whereas a messy house equals failure. Because there are seven of us and we are all still learning how to live together. Because we all need grace Every. Single. Day. Grace says, I refuse to judge you for your sticky floor because I see your heart and know that making pancakes with your toddler says love so much more than a freshly mopped floor. Grace says, yes the space is cluttered but let’s work on this together as a team—without blaming or casting judgment on the sloppiest child (who also may be the most creative). Grace says, in the midst of the chaos—the whirling storm of judgment beating down on your soul—choose peace.
In the gospels, there is an account of Jesus calming a literal storm. Jesus was with his disciples late one night on a boat, and a “furious” storm broke out, where waves were actually crashing into the boat. The storm was so terrible that the disciples thought they were going to die. And in the middle of this awful storm, Jesus was sound asleep. He was at complete peace in the middle of complete chaos. The chaos was around but it was not within. “The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:38-39)
I am reminded of Jesus on that boat when I think about my daily struggles. When I choose to reject those critical voices within, the storm calms and there is peace. Because there will be seasons that things don’t look perfect on the outside. There will be sticky counters and messy projects and piles of laundry. And so the storms will rage. But looking past the outward, going deep within—that is the place to find rest. And this is a reminder to me, to choose peace in the middle of my mess.
Starting Off Fresh
As we close 2017 and enter 2018, it’s that time of year when most make New Year’s Resolutions, hoping that something about starting off fresh will motivate them to do things differently. Should we really create a “New Year’s Resolution?” Should we make more resolutions that we don’t even keep? I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago! All resolutions do is put pressure on you. And you cannot live up to them anyway. Lose this weight, stop eating that, read this “self-help” book, do this “best new you” tip, be this, better that, learn this language, whatever it is – the resolution, it can be hard to maintain.
Sure, they are all great goals, and goals that maybe we should attain, but why only at the New Year do we make them? And halfway through the year you haven’t even completed that so-called resolution, and you haven’t felt any better about yourself – in fact sometimes we wind up feeling worse! UGH!
Putting God First
What you really need to do is turn to God and PUT GOD FIRST! Don’t look to your spouse, your family, your friends, your pastor to tell you what you need to be doing. Don’t look to some “resolution” to make you better. Look to God and put God First. He’s the one who can really help you get to where you need to be anyway. We know this because of what Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength.” We have this promise and it includes helping us put Him first. How you might ask, by giving us a gentle nudge to pray, to read our Bible, to go to church when we don’t want to.
In the worship song First by Lauren Daigle her lyrics so eloquently share how we should be putting God first. “Before I bring my need, I will bring my heart. Before I lift my cares, I will lift my arms. I wanna know you, I wanna find You. In every season, in every moment. Before I bring my need, I will bring my heart and seek you…First. I wanna seek you, I wanna seek you, First.” As Christians, we should be putting God first anyway… Right? It should be something we should be doing daily. We should follow the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he went to pray early in the morning. We should be waking up in the morning, spending our first part of our day with Jesus. We should be praying…first. He should be…FIRST. When our focus is on the right thing, everything else with us, our spouse, children, friends, job… EVERYTHING, it all falls into place.
No Resolution we make will be completed if we do not have Jesus…FIRST! The key to any success in our lives is, you guessed it, Jesus, FIRST. So, this year, when the people around you are making New Year’s Resolutions, why not make your “Resolution” to put Jesus…FIRST.