A paradox. “Labor to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4:11
So, I am enjoying a temporary gig lately. I get to hang out with the most recent addition to the family tree while his mom is checking off the last few items on her to-do-to-graduate-with-a-degree-in-music-education list. Little Fighter has beefed up to 6.5 lbs. And among his current favorites is waiting until the shouldered burp cloth has been abandoned before urping a spectacular offering.
Much of the day is spent sitting in a rocking chair, relishing the honor. The voice I used to have for singing to my own littles has been m.i.a. for the better part of a decade, and since warbling isn’t what I hope to be remembered for, the communication is limited to whispers, smiles and a silent willing him to know how valuable and precious his life is.
My responsibilities are few: feed, burp, change, rinse, and repeat.
Some days my efforts are less than stellar. I’ve yet to distinguish the hungry cry from the need to burp or change the diaper cry. And about the time I think I have a handle on which is which Little Fighter schools me. Those are the days that rest eludes us.
It was sometime in the middle of week #2 that I started to connect some dots. This temporary gig is exactly like my usual one. The correlation is clear. Teaching is feeding. Counseling involves the other stuff. Feeding is fun. Feeding makes you feel like a hero. Burping isn’t fun. Burping makes you feel like a villain. Changing isn’t fun. Necessary, yes. Fun, no.
Little Fighter is usually pretty sure hunger is what he is feeling and that a bottle will cure his ills. Whenever I’m duped into believing him, and waylay the efforts to coax a reluctant burp at reasonable intervals - well let’s just say the evidence is irrefutable. The solution isn’t to pack in more.
Grown-ups aren’t much different. Most complaints are flavored with a hint of feed me, give me something that will ease the discomfort I feel. But very often the problem is that room must be made for the new. The Bible calls it repentance.
For example: if I was taught (fed) the idea (and chose to believe it) that my salvation in Christ was contingent on my ability to live a sin-free existence (which I was and did), when the teaching that the cross of Christ didn’t need any help from me in bolster The Lord’s sacrifice was introduced to me I was incapable of reconciling the two concepts. Room either had to be made by expelling the former or I would be forced to reject the latter.
Or maybe I was taught that God’s wrath and disappointment in me is all I had to look forward to in the future. Then, when learning that God’s wrath was satiated in the Cross, I have another choice to make. Will I continue believing that God is angry and full of wrath or will I expel that idea and make room for the truth that Jesus took all judgement and in so doing, redeemed me from the laws that govern sin and death?
This concept isn’t reserved for spiritual things. When I expelled the idea that my value, worth, happiness, and purpose wasn’t the responsibility of anyone else but mine, room was made in my heart to explore the truth and justice that define my authentic self.
Trust me, it’s a messy prospect, not everyone can stomach the process. Nor should they be expected to. Sometimes Little Fighter acts as if I am torturing him when the pain he feels is being caused by something that must be expelled. I can either silence his complaints by trying to feed him more, or patiently pat his back until he baptizes me with the legitimate source of his discomfort. The choice is mine. It’s going to come out sooner or later. The less I’ve let him eat between times makes a big difference in how much clean-up is involved.
Someone is having a struggle in the resting department. That’s my battle cry. Bottle warmed? Check. Burp cloth? Check. Fresh pamper? Check.