perfect little lines

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Flying home yesterday, I saw some beautiful landscapes out the window. This particular sight really appealed to me. Any guesses as to why?

You probably figured it out: I love the perfect little lines. I love how the land is divided equally and exquisitely. How I long for my life to look like this landscape! It brings to mind a familiar scripture:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Until now, I never really noticed all of the criteria in these verses for straight paths. We must trust completely. It requires a consistent leaning on His wisdom and guidance instead of our own understanding. We must always submit to Him. Only then will our paths be straight, smooth, and level.

Let us not forget that since our lives are so intertwined with others, that straight paths are also contingent on other people trusting, leaning, submitting to the Lord.

When I looked out the window a bit later, God showed me that life is much more like this landscape:

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He drew my attention specifically to the river. Life is full of twists and turns as we operate in a fallen world, dealing with our own failures and those of the people in our lives. Like a river, our lives often double back over territory we thought we’d already covered. Sometimes it runs deep and we feel like we’re in over our heads, and sometimes it’s shallow and we find a rare ease.

The problem lies in expectations. I continue to long for perfect little lines. I anticipate predictable territory laid out in one mile squares. So much of my disappointment comes from my desire for ease in the midst of a challenge or adventure with twists and blind turns.

This morning it occurred to me that God has the great advantage of seeing things from this aerial, heavenly perspective while I see it only from the ground. I can’t see where I’m headed like He can. Since life isn’t laid out in perfect little lines, I can’t see what’s coming next. I just have to keep trusting that He is guiding me and getting me back on track when I lose my way.

God says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3) If our lives were laid out like that first Kansas landscape all nice and straight, then we would clearly see what is before us. However, God has managed to use the twists and turns to show us great and mighty things that we would never know otherwise.

Cause my heart to trust You, Lord, and release me from my desire for what is safe, orderly and predictable. Increase my desire for You, for Your Word, and all of Your ways.

the one thing

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I went to the laundromat yesterday morning with several loads of laundry. My washing machine at home has not been working this week, and I had to go out with twenty dollars in quarters to get it done!

It was actually nice to get it all done at once. Normally, it would take me a few days to get that much laundry done, but I finished it all in less than 2 1/2 hours. And I learned something valuable.

I am so much more productive when I focus on one thing at a time.

The nature of motherhood requires multitasking. But at some point, we cross from efficient multitasking into overwhelming busyness and our lives resemble the spin cycle of a washing machine.

I think we fall into the spin cycle because we are unable to prioritize unmet needs and unfulfilled responsibilities. We simply put too many things on our to-do list because it pains us to leave things undone. I am learning to go to the Lord and have Him to show me what He would like me to do. He can sort through everything and guide me toward what will be most fruitful and beneficial to my family in a particular day.

This passage comes to mind:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I often get annoyed with how these verses are used and interpreted in Christian circles. It’s likely because I am so much like Martha in the passage. The truth is that stuff has to get done. There are things that will never get done unless the momma stays up late or runs herself ragged. There’s not a lot of time to sit like Mary did (not in the demanding motherhood season that many of us are in). It takes some serious effort to set aside and guard the time to sit with Jesus.

We often think that the “one thing” we ought to be doing is always super spiritual because of the context of this passage. But what if Mary knew what the “better” thing was because Jesus communicated that to her? Maybe she asked Him what she could do, maybe He impressed it on her heart that evening, or she saw it in His eyes. Martha missed it because she had her eyes on all of the unmet needs and unfulfilled responsibilities. Mary knew what was needed because she had her eyes on Jesus.

What if I kept my eyes on Jesus and He showed me the one thing I should make a priority in the moment? He knows all things. He knows what my entire day holds. I could escape the spin cycle and actually be more productive, working from a peaceful place rather than a harried one. I could go from one thing to the next and not buckle under the weight of my to-do list. How can other things stress me when I am doing the one thing that He’s asked me to do?

Lord, show me! Lead me! Speak to me about the one thing I can do each moment of the day. I love how Your peace floods my heart when I have my eyes on You. May Your Spirit continually remind me to seek You, ask You, lean on You.

photo credit: christianwifelife.com