Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Strength for the Day

Last night one of my children woke me up distressed about having a bad dream.  She said it definitely wasn’t from watching “The Predator” at a sleep over the other night.  After sweeping her room of drooling aliens and affirming God was with her, I told her to fix her eyes on the picture of the Virgin Mary in the hallway.  I assured her Mary, mother of all mothers, would watch over her all night because this one was going straight back to bed.  Crawling into sleep-number serenity, I lamented the fact that I’ll never get a good night’s rest. But in the darkness God reminded me I’m very blessed to have her under my roof because in five years she’ll be on her own, learning to deal with adult-sized fears.  
I remembered the sleepless nights when my children were newborns. As they grew, I trudged through days in which my four-and two-year-olds wanted to play cowboys and indians and all I wanted to do was take a nap while my two-week-old slept. I made three meals a day for my Tasmanian devils, wiping up baby food explosions around the high chair after each meal.  I learned that although velcro fasteners on shoes and pants made dressing my toddler easier on a tight schedule, it also made it easier for her to immediately undress herself again and perch proudly in her fuzzy Elmo chair to watch Barney. I was utterly exhausted after baths, teeth brushing and bedtime rituals every night. Despite the overwhelming love I felt, especially when I noticed little toes with remnants of nail polish peeking out from under the covers, it seemed like those long, arduous days would never end.
Likewise, my mother, in her 60’s, weathers long, strenuous weeks helping care for her ailing, elderly parents who need attention 24/7.  She stays overnight with them 5 times a week, barely sleeping on the sofa, because my grandfather, suffering from Alzheimers, roams the house.  Night after night she also monitors the blood sugar of my bed-ridden grandmother, checks her oxygen levels, cleans her up, rolls her over and feeds her, along with a litany of other chores.  The mental and physical stress week after week and the pain of seeing her parents’ health degenerate sap her energy and motivation, but she perseveres.
We all have phases of our lives in which we have no other option than to rely on God for stamina to get through the day.  He is our strength as we struggle up steep mountains and as we descend into the stagnant air of the valleys.  But there is another situation that is even more grueling.  It is when God calls us to trudge along the same dreary path day after monotonous day, laden with responsibilities and seeing no encouragement or hope along the way.   Often the most difficult part of a trial is the extended time frame we must endure.  A short, unpleasant experience is easily borne, but when heartbreak drags on for weeks or years,  our soul loses its strength, as in the case of my mother.  As we toil along the course God has laid out for us, we must keep in constant communication with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.  He can help us live above our circumstances even when we think we are at the limit of our strength.  We must remember God Himself shaped this difficulty, and even though we strain under the weight of our duties, “we can believe that (these) days... are the most significant we are called upon to live.”  Robert Collyer quoted from Streams in the Desert 
Psalms 71:16  I walk in the strength of the Lord God. God goes before me and makes a way.
     Lord, I can’t go forward without you. I need your supernatural strength and your supernatural love to do this today.  Teach me what you want me to learn through my circumstances and help me to live above them. I know I am in the exact place you want me to be.  Protect me from discouragement and doubt that Satan uses to destroy my faith. I’m thankful that you go before me, making a way in the wilderness that seeks to swallow me up. As I strive to bloom where you’ve planted me, help me every day to see the beautiful ways you show me how precious I am to you.

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