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"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

On Trying and Failing and Trying Again


It's Sunday morning.

Seven o'clock.

The red digits across the room from me are trying to convince me that it's really 8.

My body knows they're lying.

It's seven o'clock.

I never get up at seven o'clock.

About once a week I get up at 5:15,

But that's usually with the promise of a three-hour nap later,

Not with the promise of church and helping with this and helping with that,

And I really want to go to church, but I'm just so tired,

And, really, who ever came up with the idea of messing with my internal clock, thinking it was a good thing?

With the kind of sleep I've gotten the last two weeks, it feels more like jet lag,

Somehow, I manage to drag myself out of bed,

Get dressed,

Skip reading my Bible,

Grab a homemade protein bar to eat in the car,

(Wondering, of course, why I'm actually hungry at this hour of the morning)

And arrive just barely in time for the service to start.


Somehow, I make it through both services,

Although, beginning of the second, I was pretty sure I was going to fall asleep,

And I help clean up in the choir loft while children argue about where we're going to eat,

And the littlest is outvoted and so I drive us to Taco Bell,

Look at his pleading face and consent to buy him some cinnamon twists, even though he should really have a more balanced meal to warrant dessert,

And then accidentally order him one more taco than he wanted.

We've made it through most of the meal

When he stretches and moans

And the others and I ask if he's really going to eat those cinnamon twists,

And he picks them up and starts eating,

Hands me one, being the nice brother that he is,

And I have the whole thing in my mouth

When he offers one to another sibling,

Who says, "I'm trying to cut back on sweets."

Sweets.

Oh.

And it's too late now,

The sugary thing half chewed-up,

When I remember that it's more than just those new Icees I saw advertised when I walked through the door that made it on the list of things I decided to give up for Lent,

With the explicit intention of including Sundays in that season.

I'd known that I wouldn't be completely successful in many of those,

But this, I thought, I could do.

Apparently not.


And I remember why I decided to do something for Lent this year,

That it's not about legalism, but love,

Not about not failing, but about continuing to try,

Not about being enslaved to some ridiculous law that I came up with,

But about reminding myself that I'm not a slave to sin,

In a way, proving to myself

That, no matter how many Reese's I've pulled out of my locker in the past two semesters,

No matter how many cravings for chocolate I've indulged . . .

That I probably shouldn't have . . .

No matter how many trips to the school café,

He's still worth more to me.

He's got to be worth more to me.

And, honestly,

Tired as I've been these past two weeks,

I know that have loved too little,

Know that I have fallen again and again and again,

And will probably continued to do so until Easter . . .

And for the rest of my life . . .

But it's not always falling in the same ways,

And it's not always falling just as hard every time,

And there is not only grace, there is sanctification,

And, slowly,

Ever-so-slowly,

I'm becoming less me and more Him.


That point?  It's already been proven.

I didn't eat because I wanted,

I ate because my brother gave me a gift,

Sacrificed part of his dessert for me,

Because he showed me love and I chose to accept it.

I would've refused if I'd had the presence of mind,

And I could make my usual boatload of excuses for forgetting,

But, when it comes down to it, I'm still prone to wander,

Still prone to forget.

I've never had it all together.

The stack of letters I need to respond to keeps getting taller,

Writing materials spread out on the couch,

Curly script begging me to answer,

Two weeks' worth of blog posts

On all the blogs I love to read

And just never seem to have time to,

And, when I do, there's never time to slow

And savor,

Write long comments and read long answers,

And that nap my body would really like me to take today?

It's probably never going to come.

But all my failings?

They're where His Grace shines most brightly.

All my imperfections?

They're where His Perfection is most clearly seen.

And that's not a reason not to try,

But a reason to try

And fall

And repent

And try again.

And the more I fall,

The more I understand

Just how precious and priceless

His gifts of Grace,

Mercy,

And unconditional Love

Really are.

"O, the deep, deep love of Jesus -
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me . . ."


Reasons 3442-3488 today,

Always seeking Him,

Always seeking to know and love Him more.

Counting:

  1. He removed the burden from His people's shoulders (Psalm 81:6)
  2. He set His people's hands free from the basket (Psalm 81:6)
  3. His people called and He rescued them (Psalm 81:7)
  4. He answered His people out of a thundercloud (Psalm 81:7)
  5. He tested His people at the waters of Meribah (Psalm 81:7)
  6. He will warn his people (Psalm 81:8)
  7. He will warn his people if they would only listen to Him (Psalm 81:8)
  8. He brought His people up out of Egypt (Psalm 81:10)
  9. He will fill His people's mouths (Psalm 81:10)
  10. If His people open wide their mouths, He will fill them (Psalm 81:10)
  11. He gives those who will not listen to Him over to their stubborn hearts (Psalm 81:11-12)
  12. He gives those who will not listen to Him over to their own devices (Psalm 81:11-12)
  13. He gives those who will not submit to Him over to their stubborn hearts (Psalm 81:11-12)
  14. He gives those who will not submit to Him over to their own devices (Psalm 81:11-12)
  15. If His people would only listen to Him, how quickly He would subdue their enemies! (Psalm 81:13-14)
  16. If His people would only follow His ways, how quickly He would subdue their enemies! (Psalm 81:13-14)
  17. If His people would only listen to Him, how quickly He would turn His hand against their foes! (Psalm 81:13-14)
  18. If His people would only follow His ways, how quickly He would turn His hand against their foes! (Psalm 81:13-14)
  19. If His people would only listen to Him, those who hate Him would cringe before Him (Psalm 81:13-15)
  20. If His people would only follow His ways, those who hate Him would cringe before Him (Psalm 81:13-15)
  21. If His people would only listen to Him, those who hate Him would cringe before Him, and their punishment would last forever (Psalm 81:13-15)
  22. If His people would only follow His ways, those who hate Him would cringe before, and their punishment would last forever Him (Psalm 81:13-15)
  23. If His people would only listen to Him, they would be fed with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:13-16)
  24. If His people would only follow His ways, they would be fed with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:13-16)
  25. If His people would only listen to Him, He would satisfy them with honey from the rock (Psalm 81:13-16)
  26. If His people would only follow His ways, He would satisfy them with honey from the rock (Psalm 81:13-16)
  27. He presides in the great assembly (Psalm 82:1)
  28. He renders judgment among the “gods” (Psalm 82:1)
  29. All the nations are His inheritance (Psalm 82:8)
  30. He alone is Most High (Psalm 83:18)
  31. He alone is Most High over all the earth (Psalm 83:18)
  32. His dwelling place is lovely (Psalm 84:1)
  33. He is the LORD Almighty (Psalm 84:1)
  34. Even the sparrow has found a home, a place near His altar (Psalm 84:3)
  35. Even the swallow has found a nest for herself, a place near His altar (Psalm 84:3)
  36. Even the swallow has found a nest for herself, where she may have her young, a place near His altar (Psalm 84:3)
  37. Those who dwell in His house are blessed (Psalm 84:4)
  38. Those who dwell in His house are ever praising Him (Psalm 84:4)
  39. Those whose strength is in Him are blessed (Psalm 84:5)
  40. Better is one day in His course than a thousand elsewhere (Psalm 84:10)
  41. His people would rather be doorkeepers in His house than dwell in the tents of the wicked (Psalm 84:10)
  42. He is a sun (Psalm 84:11)
  43. He bestows favor (Psalm 84:11)
  44. He bestows honor (Psalm 84:11)
  45. No good thing does He withhold (Psalm 84:11)
  46. No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless (Psalm 84:11)
  47. Blessed is the one who trusts in Him (Psalm 84:12)



(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  So amazing to think of who He is like this!)

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>

Counting in community:



3 comments:

Kelli Woodford said...

so good to hear your voice again, friend.
you must have a precious family. what a treasure that they have a sister like you to take them to Taco Bell and share sugary gifts with. you are touching lives deeply by your simple love, i am sure. He always makes the "little" enough to go around.
bless you.

Kelli Woodford said...

i love the simple way you love. you must be such a blessing to your family -- Taco Bell and cinnamon twists and all. do not underestimate that. your little ways of loving are larger than you think. and the beauty? just like that small boy's lunch, when offered to Jesus, even the ridiculously insufficient becomes enough. you are loving well, friend. you shine.

Mary said...

Oh, thank you so much, Kelli! They are precious indeed. Yes, He does always make the ridiculously insufficient enough - abundantly more than enough (baskets of leftovers and all). So amazing how He does that! It's all Him shining through me, Kelli - and through you, too! Thank you for your words, friend. They always mean so much to me!

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