A Morning Story

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Confession: I woke up cranky today. I was impatient with my kids, griping about what they had or hadn’t done and short-tempered with inanimate objects like a box of cookies that wouldn’t easily open while I was packing lunches. I was stomping around and sighing deep and bitter sighs over an accidental apple juice spill when the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that it wasn’t my kids’ fault I stayed up too late and then overslept as a result of it. It wasn’t my kids’ fault that I was feeling anxious about spending most of today in a dentist’s chair (). It wasn’t my kids’ fault that I hadn’t gotten my ideal morning routines done, but it certainly was MY fault that I was behaving badly and starting their day off with Grumpy-Mom. He reminded me of gentleness, patience, and self-control. He reminded me that it is my job to teach them what it looks like to reflect Jesus even when emotions don’t measure up and circumstances aren’t perfect.

I stopped fighting with the uncooperative box of Oreos and apologized to my children. Without hesitation, they forgave me. They were sorry I was having a hard day and they wished me a better morning. They loved me so well in their compassion. Their kindness humbled me — and showed me a glimpse of God.

This is His way, to not only forgive – but to forgive with abounding love and mercy, encouraging us to move forward in His grace without condemnation lingering on our hearts. His forgiveness is whole and His redemption power fully covers our sin.

So, all that to say- if you happen to have started today or this week (or even this year!) on the wrong foot — stop. Take a breath. Make the apologies you might need to make, to your people and to the Father. And then move forward in His grace and in the unfailing kindness of His love. Know you are forgiven and it’s the next moment that matters. Leave behind what has been and press on, trusting that He is ever-transforming us into His image if we keep surrendering our hearts, our minds, and even our crankiest of mornings into His keeping.

I am grateful today for mercy. I am thankful for love that keeps on loving, never giving up on us.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”
-Lamentations 3:22-23

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On Watching My Daughter Stand Alone Outside of Her Classroom

At my daughter’s school, it’s a bit of a walk from the drop-off point to her first grade building. Although teachers are posted along the sidewalk from one place to the other, I still have the habit of pulling into a spot near Kailey’s building where I can see her walk up the ramp, across the porch, and through the door into the safety of her classroom. She can’t see me – and doesn’t know that I pull over to watch her little trek – but I can see her. It gives me peace of mind to know that she is where she is supposed to be.

It has been a hard transition for her to go from Christmas break back to the every-day of school. Although she quickly adjusts and enjoys her days at school, the actual separation from home is difficult for her on some days. Yesterday, I had to actually walk her into the classroom – crying – because she didn’t want to get out of the car by herself and she didn’t want to stay at school. She was unhappy about leaving home again this morning, but she made her way out of the car when the time came.

When I pulled around, it took longer than usual for her to make it to the ramp leading to her building. She was walking slowly and when she reached the door, she just stopped. Instead of opening it, she took a step to the side, her head bowed and shoulders slumped. From across the field and the parking lot, this mama’s heart broke. My girl was sad and, for whatever reason, could not find the courage or will to go through that door. She stood there, alone, and didn’t make a move.

I contemplated my options. I knew full well that what was best for her in the long run was giving her the space to make the decision to walk through that door, but I still just wanted to leap from the car in a wild dash to her side so that I could scoop her up and keep her by my side all day long.

But then something wonderful happened. Another little first-grader made their way up the ramp and onto the porch. Instead of rushing by Kailey, that child stopped at her side and began talking to her. I guess I’ll never know what words were said, but after a few moments…Kailey’s classmate opened the door and they went through it, together.

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On Monday, when I was reading about Simeon in the second chapter of Luke, a phrase caught my attention. Luke tells us that Simeon had been waiting for the consolation of Israel. I did a little digging and found that consolation comes from the Greek word of paraklesis.

I already knew that the idea of consolation was one of comfort, but I loved finding out that its root can be described in the simple Greek phrase of para-kletos: a call to one’s side.

When Simeon was waiting on the consolation of Israel, he was waiting for the Messiah to be called to their side, to aid and encourage…to support them and to be their advocate.

The words of Zechariah’s song over his son (and Jesus’ cousin) – bold and passionate John – seem to light up on the page while I am thinking about this Consolation – you will prepare the way for Him, to give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. (Luke 1:76-79)

My daughter needed a consolation this morning. She needed someone to come to her side, to encourage her to take the steps she needed to take so that she could make it to the place she belonged. At a moment when she could not make her own way, someone did come along to help her through that door.

And that’s exactly what Jesus did for us. We were standing outside of God’s presence, unable to make it through to where we really belonged.

The Father, there all the time, knew we needed help. He knew we were alone, broken, and home-sick. And although I didn’t have the ability to send someone to Kailey’s aid this morning, God knew exactly who to send to our sides – His own Son. And while He gives us the free will to take those steps toward Him…we have the chance to choose Him because He could not bear to see us remain in our darkness, in our sorrow. He could not bear to see us alone, our hearts home-sick for Him. So He spoke the word and Love leapt down from Heaven in a wild dash to rescue us.

Jesus came to us, “personally alongside us”*. He stopped where we were. He spoke words of encouragement, words of truth about God and about us. He not only held open the door – He became our Door, our Way to the place we were meant to be. He “guided our feet into the path of peace”. He became, in every sense of the wonderful word, our consolation.

And although Jesus is not here, today, in flesh and blood to be by our sides, He told the disciples it was expedient – needed and best – for Him to go away so that He could send the Comforter to them. (John 16:7) Just as the Father sent Jesus to us when we needed Him most, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit so that we would have an advocate to help us and to be with us forever. (John 14:16) This word- Comforter – for the Holy Spirit has the same background as Consolation – again, it is parakletos. The Holy Spirit is with us, always, as our comfort and our teacher. (John 14:17)

In other words, we are never without the love of our Father, whose tender mercy saw us far away – even when we couldn’t see Him- and brought us close through the blood of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

Whatever you are going through today – if you feel like you are alone and unsure, standing in front of an obstacle that you can’t quite face – please know that you are not standing there alone. You have a Friend right there at your side and He will wait with you. He will strengthen your heart and help you take your next steps. He will go through every door – every circumstance – with you.

Yes, Jesus came to be the consolation of Israel…and today – right now – He is ours, yours and mine – He is the consolation of our hearts. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. –Deut. 31:8

(*this phrase is from a word study on parakletos, found on beyondthepulpit.org)