I really didn’t want to write this blog post today.
The dreary, rainy morning adequately fit how my body, mind, and heart were feeling. Yesterday was my birthday…and it was a beautiful day. Literally and figuratively. I thoroughly enjoyed my sweet little family, was showered with kind words and affection, and tried my best to soak in every little blessing along the way.
This morning started earlier than normal. And it’s rainy and cold. After not getting normal naps yesterday and getting to bed late, my 5 month old didn’t sleep very well and my 4 year old was not only up too early, but also disobedient, resulting in having to be disciplined even before the sunrise. This tired Mama came out to a house that hadn’t yet fully recovered from a weekend without her husband and a Sunday morning full of college students. I was not excited for my morning workout and because I hurt my ankle somehow last week, what the workout lacked in energy it made up for in pain. Trying to get everyone else taken care of this morning, I almost forgot to eat breakfast and then took a shower only so I could be more comfortable in my sweat pants and hoodie.
More than once this morning I heard myself say…
“I’m so tired.”
“I don’t want to do this today.”
And, God, in his loving kindness and gracious patience with me reminded me of events from last week. A few moments spent as a family when I distinctly remember feeling the Holy Spirit prodding, “Listen closely and get some pictures. You’re going to use this later.”
Ugh. I was kind of hoping that didn’t mean I’d need it for my own personal pep talk. Yet I’m thankful for a merciful God who doesn’t allow me to wallow in my discouragement or sin…and instead forces me to get up and move.
So these words this morning are not necessarily written for you. They’re written for me. Because I need them.
Because my husband is a pastor, Mondays are always his day off. We try to spend at least part of the day out of the house and focusing on our family. Last Monday was a perfect day for a hike and because it’s one of our favorite things to do together (and I love anything that gives me an opportunity to take pictures), we loaded the boys up and headed out to a trail that we enjoy and has great views.
Isaiah loves to run and explore and because he’s also 3 1/2 feet tall and pushing 40 pounds we decided to skip the backpack and let him do the hike himself. As a mommy that knows her son, however, I volunteered to carry Toby in the baby carrier in case a tired Isaiah would eventually need shoulders that were stronger and broader than mine.
We started off and Isaiah was chatty and excited. He had insisted on bringing my red scarf that he had taken a liking to that week (Remember my preschool hoarder? My scarf was randomly added to his “collection”.) so we wrapped it around him and tried to keep it out of his way. He was proud of himself and enjoyed the scenery around him.
And then he tripped and fell.
And I held my breath…knowing that even though we weren’t very far into our hike, it may be coming to screeching (literally) halt.
Isaiah wasn’t badly hurt, but he was shaken up and discouraged. And he just needed his Daddy.
“But I can’t do it! I’m not a hiker! Daddy, I’m not a good hiker!”
We tried to encourage him. Gave him a drink. Tried to reassure him. But his confidence was blown and he just wanted his father to carry him for a while.
Again, I heard myself in my little boy’s cries. How often I get tripped up and then throw up my hands and say, “I can’t do it.” Or how often that week I had questioned my parenting, discouraged by children that don’t operate like robots or come with training manuals. The moments I’d cried out to my Father, “I just must not be a good mom!” or felt so tired that I wanted to quit and somehow get a break. The moments when ministry felt discouraging or in vain and I said, “I can’t handle this any more.” The times I was tripped up by distractions or when the extra responsibilities hanging around my neck became burdensome rather than bringing me joy.
The times when I needed Him to pick me up off of my knees and just carry me for a little while.
“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.” – Isaiah 40:11
How comforting to know that He’ll carry me and hold me close. But then He puts me down…calls me to walk…but promises to lead me.
After some encouragement from us, Isaiah agreed to get down and try to finish the hike. Adam didn’t leave him to fend for himself, but promised to keep a hold of him.
Some times holding on to his hand…
Some times giving him a little extra push when the trail got steeper…
Either way, Isaiah wasn’t left alone to do it by himself. His father’s hand was always on him or behind him…even when he wasn’t aware of it or didn’t think he needed it.
As we hiked, Isaiah noticed the red paint on some of the trees and asked what they were. Adam explained to him that they were red blazes to show us where to go and keep us on the path to the top. So Isaiah watched for the blazes. Stopping to point them out. Anxious to find another one.
Some days my own climb seems easy. Things come naturally and it seems easy to navigate what to do or where to go next. I naively feel think I can do it on my own.
Some days that climb is a bit harder and a little steeper. I sweat. I hurt. I feel lost and like I have no direction. I’m not super crazy about the spot on the trail that I’m on and would much rather transport myself beyond the tough stuff and into a level clearing.
“That place and position is most healthful for us in which we are kept most humble, most taught our own sinfulness, drawn most to the Bible and prayer, led most to live by faith and not by sight. It may not be quite what we like. But if Christ by His providence has placed us in it, let us not be in a hurry to leave it. Let us therein abide with God.” – J.C. Ryle
Isaiah learned to enjoy the hike…even the steepest parts…because he was also enjoying being with His daddy, who knew the trail better than he did.
Because he had already been on it.
Already knew the tough spots he would face.
Already gone before him.
“When He has brought out all of His own, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice.” – John 10:4
He didn’t need to hear the cheers or applause of the crowd, because he simply relied on his Daddy’s voice. And that voice became not only his encouragement, but his blazes along the way.
And just as it was with Adam, that Shepherd that has promised to lead me has also already scoped out the sights and knows that the climb is worth it.
Isaiah made it to the top, red scarf and all. And he was as proud of himself as we were of him.
You see, Isaiah could have given up. He could have sat down and pouted or turned around to go the other way. He could have chosen to keep walking but still complain the whole time rather than enjoying the time with his father. He could have ignored the blazes and tried to figure it out on his own.
But he accepted help. Followed his leader. Worked hard. Determined that he was a hiker. In fact, with his Daddy’s help, he was even a good one.
And when he could stop and catch his breath and rest his little legs, he could see that that crazy hike worth it…and even pretty fun. And that there was a whole lot more to see and enjoy.
Simply because he had let his father lead him.