Sunday, November 22, 2009

The harness to keep us safe...

"With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall." (2Samuel 22:30)

My youngest daughter, Maggie, will turn six in a few weeks. She is no wilting flower. She has a will as strong as her given name of Margaret Colleen. She is not bratty, mostly, just determined. One of the advantages of being the youngest child in a relatively large family is that there is always someone there to help you achieve your goals. It has given her the gift of knowing there is nothing she can't do.

After church one recent Sunday, we all came in to get changed and have brunch. I didn't realize Maggie had stayed outside to play. She was still in her pretty dress and Sunday shoes. A few minutes later my second oldest looked out the window and screamed "Maggie!" Not having any idea what was wrong, I asked her to stop yelling.
"No, Ma! Maggie is in the tree!"
I looked out our large picture window in the dining room and saw Maggie about three quarters of the way up our pine tree. This tree must be thirty years old to give you an idea of the scale of tree we are talking about here. It rises high above our house and sits between the pool and the gravel driveway. If she fell she would land in a drowning situation or one in which we would be picking gravel out of her brain...neither of which seems like a safe idea to me!
I quickly sent the kids out to help her and I followed along. When Maggie saw me coming she scampered back up! LOL!
This is not her first trip up a tree. A few months back her daddy had to get a ladder to get her out of one on the other side of the property. When he and I were laughing together about it, she hollered from on high, "Could you guys talk later and get me down from here?!"
So when Jack and Maggie were invited to a birthday party yesterday that included a rock climbing wall, I knew she would be thrilled. By the end of the day, she could make it to the top of the wall and do that slide thing away from it as she made it to the ground. I would so much rather have her in a harness when she climbs to new heights!
Watching her get the harness on the first time was almost as much fun as watching her scale the wall. It was not a natural thing to do as she secured the straps around her legs and little waist. It could be made looser and tighter depending upon who wore it. Finlay she was hooked to the rope that would keep her from falling and off she went up that wall.
I love that she is so brave and willing to go so high. In many ways that will be her greatest gift and her greatest challenge. My job as a mom will constantly be to teach her she can do all things through Christ, not just that she can do all things. He is the harness that keeps her safe not matter what wall she takes.

In the years I cared for Mom and Dad this played out over and over again. Sure I had the physical ability to care for them, be it as a student nurse or as a mom of five. I am just ADD enough to get all kinds of things done! LOL! But without Christ, I quickly lost my focus. Just because I could get it done, does not mean I did it with all the Grace He had for me.
Some of the walls I scaled in those years were daunting, but doable. When I trusted Him, I did my jobs as a calling not as a chore. Our parents know the difference between our love and our obligation. They know when we have our harness on or not.
Stopping to put on that harness was not my first thought. My first thought was to just jump in and start doing jobs or run and not do them. It took real discipline to harness up first in prayer before I took care of anything in my day.

One of the walls I scaled poorly was bathing Mom. I hated it. I would avoid doing it like the plaque. Since she was in bed all those years, there was no just putting her in the shower and calling it a day. I would have to bed bath her and wash her hair in the bedroom. Sometimes as I washed her down and lotioned her up, I would cry quietly so she wouldn't know I was upset...but she knew. She tried not to ask me to do it. As a result, Mom did not get washed up as often as she should have. That is one of those regrets I know my Abba never wanted me to live with. For my heart, it was simply a wall I was unwilling to trust to Him. I don't think I ever accomplished this task harnessed up.
My days of caregiver are over now. They are part of who I am today as a wife, mom, a nurse and writer. I am still learning that not every wall can be taken by shear act of my strong will. Some I can take just by the way He made me, but all the walls in my life need Him in order to be taken with grace. He is our harness to keep us safe as we take them...and when we blow it, He also is the ladder to help us down.

How about you?
What task do you have to accomplish today as a caregiver that seem like a ten foot wall to you? Are there things you avoid doing, just because it makes your heart sick? How do you plow through it? Do you seek your Heavenly Father in advance? Can you sense His harness around your waist? Do you need a ladder to help you down?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we offer all of our ten foot walls to You today. There is nothing we cannot do in Christ! Help us to remember to turn to You before we attempt to take it all on. You created us the way we are. You know what You would have us do and when. We know that You will give us the grace we need to bless our parents, our children our spouses and our co-workers in and out of season. Remind us with Your gently tug to turn to You first, not our own ability. In Your holy name we pray. Amen.

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