The little ones who cling and cooperate
who listen to instructions
who raise their hands
and smile to answer questions…
They fill you up and keep you coming back.
They’ll do fine.
The ones who resist and refuse
who defy you to “make them”
who turn a cold shoulder or don’t turn at all
and scowl when you call on them…
These sap your strength and make you wonder why you tried.
They are the reason you came.
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. ~ Luke 15:7
New every morning. Or after a nap, a good run, a walk around the lake. It’s not the rising and setting of sun that sets my mood, it’s the respite. A time to let the mind wander and tippy toe over the field of neurons who happily spark and ignite one another on their merry way to thoughts, images, expressions and feelings. Completely unguided by the slave driver who, the rest of the time, cracks the whip….
Get with it! Shape up! You have a deadline to meet! Conference is coming, you know! People are gonna expect things from you! Are you gonna be ready? Heck, is anyone gonna come?
Oh my goodness, why do I talk to myself that way? Take a seat, will ya, and come back a bit later when a swift kick in the pants is in order.
Funny how that guy doesn’t take orders. He’s all about giving orders, but he uses every trick in the book to get his way. All of sudden, he’s got me moving but my motivation is fear and worry, not excitement and energy. Lord, I don’t want to row this life with fear and worry as my paddles. I want to set out to sea with oars of steel and a good strong stroke, waves take me as they will. You call the strokes. You be my Coxswain.
How good it would be if all I had to do was put some muscle into it and not have to keep looking up for land or landmark or buoy. But there are reefs out there and sharks, you know. There are swells that would swamp me and ocean liners that would smash me to smithereens. Who in their right mind would set out into that on their own?
Oh yeah, me. But the dangers that surround are not nearly as ugly as the ones within. The ones who question whether I should have set out in the first place. Turn back! While you still can!
And then the dark settles. I can’t see a thing, can only feel the muscles pulling at the oars. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. And I am strong and growing stronger. I am! I am capable. I have a body that listens and works with me, that recovers and tries again, that coordinates itself. Good grief, think of all those neurons and their signals to all those muscle fibers that contract in complicated sequence to choreograph a single pull. What an amazing feat is one stroke. And then another.
I can do this.
And I AM grateful. What an opportunity I have before me. How exciting this all is. Who would have ever thought this would happen? To me.
Suddenly the slave driver’s voice is different. Not shouts and commands but instructions and direction. My thanks for the miracle of muscle and motion has turned the tide. I see and hear anew. And the sun rises.
If we love with heart, soul and mind, is that enough? What about strength?
The Pharisees tested Jesus asking, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22: 36-40)
Heart, soul and mind may be turned to Him, but it takes strength to love your neighbor as yourself. Mental, physical and emotional fortitude are the work of a lifetime and the attention in every day. People are hard to understand, hard to reach and sometimes, very hard to empathize with. But the Lord, insists.
May you be strong enough to face the day, and may the day itself leave you stronger for tomorrow, for the love of yourself, in the service of your neighbor, by the grace of a merciful, all powerful and unimaginably strong God.