It came to me in the middle of the night. Well at about 5am in the morning to be precise. It was the end of two hours of being up with a poorly sick boy, who wriggled all over me, who wouldn’t settle, who cried and cried in frustration and who, even Iggle Piggle in all his magnificence couldn’t soothe. I’d brought him downstairs to give him porridge in the hope that warm food in his little belly would work wonders and help him get back to the sleep he so desperately needed. As his eyes flickered and his eyeballs rolled back in his sockets I knew the fight was drawing to an end. Soon sleep would have it’s victory. I picked him up, cuddled him close, swayed back and forth and sang again the hymns that seem to help us all in these battles. ‘Come thou fount of every blessing’ is a winner in such times, as is the brilliant ‘It is well with my soul’. It’s hard to sing hymns and swear at your child in the same breath. My frustration and anger at being kept awake for yet another night melted slowly away as I sang of grace and a love that will not let us go.
It was then that I realised it all over again. I wasn’t promised an easy life. I battle so much with accepting sleep deprivation, exhaustion, lack of time to call mine, lack of space, lack of a bed without small people invading it. I battle so much with not everything working out how I want it to in my life and my friends lives. The world around seems to promise us so much, the message is we can have it all, and if we don’t have it all then we must be lacking in some way. I believe the lies that say I am in charge, life shouldn’t involve sacrifice, I must get the comfort I deserve, I must get my way, I must get my peace and quiet.
But life just isn’t like that. It’s not like that for so many people. We live with long term illnesses that don’t go away, that require sacrifice to deal with on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. We live with pain and heartache and struggle. We live with children facing illness that we wish we could take away in a flash of a magic wand. We live with elderly relatives who need our time and energy to give them dignity in a fading world. We live with not getting the job we want, or the life we want. We live with the reality we are presented with each day.
(I’m not advocating a stoic refusal to embrace the good things of life, or saying we shouldn’t have nice holidays or time off or have easy times in this life. I think I’m just starting to accept that I am not entitled to them, nor are they the only things to be aiming for in life.)
Life is about sacrificial love. Compassion for each other and ourselves. Realising we are not at the centre. Trusting that someone else has the plan worked out and is enough for us. Trusting that the Lord is our Shepherd and so we shall lack nothing. Even if we feel like we lack everything.
As I sung out ‘It is well with my soul’ I heard again the voice who calls me beyond what I think I need to a life of deep love and sacrifice. I heard the voice of the one who is enough for me, who knows that life isn’t about my collection of experiences or friends. Who calls me to follow his example of being a fragrant sacrifice of love poured out. Oh how I long to rest content in that life and not seek after the shiny stuff that fades in my grasp.
Your correspondent, intrigued by the revelations that come at 5am in the morning…