Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
This verse is not as easy to obey as it sounds, I’ve found.
I’ve mentioned before that people have told me how amazed they are that I’ve been able to stick it out with all that’s happened with my son’s illness. My stock response is, “Well, it’s not like I really had a choice in the matter.” To a certain extent, that’s true – I could never really consider walking away from my son, from my family, with a clear conscience. I have to live with myself, and I couldn’t do that if I’d abandoned them, no matter how much I felt I wasn’t up to the task.
At the same time, though, there are moments where it can be really hard to stay. I reached one of those moments just last night.
It wasn’t that anything specific happened. It had been a pretty relaxing weekend, all in all – I’d taken care of what I had to with Sean (mixing meds, hooking up feeds, lifting him from point A to point B), and made sure the dishes were done and the house was picked up. But otherwise I got to spend my time reading, catching up on e-mail, and reading some more. I even finally got to watch The Shawshank Redemption, thanks to Netflix’s online feature (now that we have a computer with enough juice to actually run it – more on that in a later post).
And yet Sunday night, I found myself on the verge of tears.
Reason: because it seems like my life isn’t going anywhere. Every day, there are the same tasks with Sean, the same responsibilities with the rest of the family. I don’t have a job outside the house, so I can get to feeling a touch isolated, and I know from experience that attending a Sunday morning service would not do much to solve that. (See any of about thirty previous posts.) I don’t have any big goals to shoot for right now, and what energy I might use to create and achieve some has largely been drained away by the crises of the last nine months. Frankly, I have become rather weary in doing good – and I wanted to run away.
Thankfully, one thing I’ve learned in my life (at least, I hope I have) is that I really don’t have anywhere to run away to … except to God in prayer. So that’s where I went. And what He said to me, while not what I was hoping to hear, was definitely a help.
(I feel like I need to add a disclaimer here … when I say “God said something to me,” that’s pretty much what I mean. I honestly believe that God speaks to everyone, and that the real question is whether or not we’re willing to hear Him. I believe that prayer is supposed to be a conversation between God and man, not just a monologue where one person talks but doesn’t listen. And I believe He actually says things to me, in a linear fashion, using words and everything. I don’t think it’s because I’m so deeply spiritual – since I’m not – or because I’m somehow better than anyone else – which I’m decidedly not. In fact, I think He communicates to me in words and sentences because I’m usually too dense to understand it if He does it any other way. I’m no special case, in short. Back to our story.)
What He said (and understand this isn’t an exact quote, just a synopsis) was that I am precisely where I’m supposed to be right now, doing precisely what I’m supposed to be doing. This is my time in the wilderness to build character and depth, and everything is going according to plan. So don’t worry about what else I might be accomplishing that I’m not – simply stay the course and keep doing what I’m doing.
Now, I understand that when you ask God a question, the answer you get may not be the answer you wanted. (In fact, that’s one way that can help you be sure it’s God who’s speaking and not your own ego.) But boy, I was really hoping I’d missed something and there was more on His holy tach screen for me to aim at. Turns out, nope, I’m right on track with His will in this matter … whether I like it or not.
At the same time, it was a great comfort to know that I hadn’t wandered away from His plan for me, that I was in fact right in the middle of it. While it’s been difficult (understatement alert!), it’s good to find out that the difficulty isn’t without a purpose. And furthermore, it helped to know that, as hard as it can be to persevere, He isn’t asking any more right now than that.
Perseverance, while it can be hard and tiring (and, candidly, boring), is promised by God to be worth it:
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:2b-5)
Now, I’ve hardly suffered at all in comparison to Paul, or to many modern believers in Africa and Asia. But there have been some unenjoyable times recently for me – I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that. If there is no point to the hardships I’ve been going through, then honestly, why bother going through them? What God is saying, in the passage above, in the one at the start of this entry, is that yes, there is a point. And the point is to change us into the type of people He wants us to be, with the circumstances outside us and His Spirit inside us working together to reach that goal. And deep down, much as I resist it on occasion, I really do want to become the person He wants me to.
And so I got up this morning and prepared Sean’s meds, carried or wheeled him where he needed to go, worked him through his exercises and ran his formula feeds. I ran the clothes through the washer and dryer, then folded the kids’ stuff and the towels and the rubber bed sheets. I cooked dinner, picked up abandoned items and made sure Charlotte and her neighborhood friends played nice. And I kept moving. I feel tired now – heck, I can’t remember the last day I didn’t feel tired – but I didn’t stop doing the right thing, even when I was bored with it or annoyed by it or sick of it. In a nutshell, I stayed faithful – not by my power alone, but by the power of the God who’s still willing to live in me and speak to me, no matter how down in the mouth I get.
I’m not giving up. I wonder what the harvest will be like …