Last night it was a prayer.
This past seven days has been rough. Short version, the joy of getting the girls back into school has resulted in the non-joy of school in any country : illness. School in Haiti? Serious staph infection.
Maybe it didn't come from school, I don't know. Maybe it came from me. Two weeks ago I had a serious abscessed shoulder, flaming red, swollen, fever, pain, sleepless nights.
I was finally getting better with antibiotics when last week, Lily came home from school complaining about pain in her ear, and a painful hand. Long story short, the last 7 days have been full of a continual high fever for Lily, excruciatingly painful screaming sessions of lancing and draining, digging around town trying to find meds, sleepless nights, all the finaglings of trying to get a 6 year old to twice daily down the nastiest meds on earth.
The first few days without good sleep you hang. You drink more coffee. But by days 4 and 5 and 6...you are tripping over pebbles and slurring through your Creole, tearing over your screaming infected child and grasping foggy and hard at kindness and patience and grace.
Of course, Matt and I both started teaching this week...a lot of hours, more adjustment, running home on breaks to feed baby, Lily home from school. Of course, this is the week Joyce is here to help EBS with accreditation...extra meetings. Of course, this is the week a fun family of five arrived to live life alongside for a few weeks, and we are not. incredibly. fun.
Yesterday Matt and I both woke up with sore throats and started desperately fighting the reality of no sleep and sick kids.
It was a long hot day of teaching Wednesday with Lily next to my desk, accreditation meetings, forgetting entirely to pick Sofie up at school (bonus parenting point), and then rushing off to weekly Bible study that Matt teaches at the OMS campus 15 minutes down the road. By the time we were finished there and in the van on the bumpy ride home, we felt horrible. And exhausted. And Lily was complaining of her teeth hurting...and upon checking out her mouth, we learned that ALL FOUR of her molars are at various stages of pushing through, swollen, bleeding and painful. Of course.
Crock pot dinner 45 minutes late met a very measly crew of coughs, whines, fevers and exhaustion. The only praise I could think of sinking down into my chair for chili was, "I am SO THANKFUL we don't have any guests eating with us tonight!"
It was my turn to pray, and I held Sofie's grubby little hand and Lily's burning up one, rythmically bouncing Nora's chair with my foot and searched for words.
And that's when the truth came out.
"Lord," I pleaded. "We thank you for this day. We thank you for this food that so many don't have tonight. And Lord, please. Please. Heal us. Touch our family and make each one of us feel better, so that we can..."
So that you can what, child?
"...so that we can be happy. So that we can have joy. So that we can do everything we need to do with a good attitude."
Consider it pure joy when you face trials of various kinds.
"Heal us, so that we can love each other well."
Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.
"Touch our bodies, so that we can get back to loving others well."
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, and be thankful.
Give thanks always for all things....
I have learned the secret of being content in all circumstances...
Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do it all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks...
As I quieted my heart and thought about what I was saying out loud, His small voice washed word over word over word over me, silencing me.
How many prayers do I pray with the unspoken..."So that I can be happy" motivation? As if God is more concerned about my happiness than my holiness?
I heard the ridiculously bold and arrogant and foolish conditions I was giving God of the Universe, acting like I KNOW what we need. Like I KNOW what is necessary. Like I HAVE some right to let Him know what working conditions I require in order to comply. Like I have some right to tell my Loving Father how He needs to take care of us.
Modeling it to my children, nonetheless.
This morning, upon finally getting Lily to down her meds, I went to hug her and brushed her ear. She burst into tears, and upon looking at her ear, I discovered yet another large abscess simply pouring infection upon touching it. More draining and tears and awfulness.
And I am again faced with the choice I've been failing the past few choices.
Does. It. Matter, big picture, between me and God?
Is. It. Required in order for me to live Christ?
Because I am convinced that there is NOTHING allowed.
We can't keep ANYTHING that gives us an excuse to not be, to not live, the way our Holy God asks us to live.
I can't live graciously and patiently and lovingly, as He has asked me to, ONLY when dot.dot.dot ANYTHING.
I can't rejoice in the Lord always SOMETIMES.
I can't let the peace of Christ kind of rule-ish in my heart.
Can't do it all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks with some things.
I believe that with His great help, obeying His Word is possible. Living His standard is possible. I believe that what He asks us to do He is actually asking us to do! I believe that when He says, over and over and over, to rejoice in all things, that He means it is possible to rejoice in all things!
Suddenly, last night, praying stuffily over chili, I realized that I have been living contentedly short.
And I am content no longer.
We are sick today. I would love your sweet prayers, especially for our dear Lily girl.
But sick or not, I am rejoicing. Lily or not, I am rejoicing. As I would have it or not, I am rejoicing.
Not because of how WE ARE, but because of WHO HE IS. That is how it is possible, family. Not because of what I'm doing today but because of what HE'S doing today. Not because it's easy-comfy to love and be patient and to rejoice today, but because it's a CHOICE.
I'm praying today for healing, if it brings Him glory. But mostly I'm praying today that He will help me CHOOSE HIM over and over and over.
"Prayer changes things" is not as close to the truth as saying, "Prayer changes me and then I change things." Prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person's inner nature.
I'm praying today because talking to Him changes ME. Praying today makes me rejoice in circumstances I was NOT rejoicing in yesterday. Praying today makes me more like Him, and as Francis Chan shared in that sermon I just gave you a few days ago, ME more like HIM is the WHOLE POINT.
The only point. The only point is the CAKE.
God's not concerned about how the bitter baking soda tastes to me. He's going to be with me through the salt. His main concern is not about how gross the egg is. He is not concerned about the chalky flour or the greasy butter or the searing heat of the oven. He's not going to let me settle for just sugar.
God is concerned about the CAKE of my life. He is concerned about my life being a fragrant, sweet cake unto Him, nourishing others. And I can rejoice, because though I don't understand today, though I wish it felt different, tasted different, I know He's baking.
I rejoice greatly in the Lord today because I want to be worked on by Him most. I want to be fragrant to Him most. Because I want to be cake.