You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Sometimes life piles on top of us, doesn’t it? Whether it’s the kids or work or the weight of ministry or let’s just say it, laundry. Life can be overwhelming! The other day, all at once, I had dinner burning on the stove, one child who was bleeding, another who could not find a single pair of underwear, two more in need of a referee, and a husband who needed me to answer the phone.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 18
Key Verse: “You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.” Exodus 18:18

It’s moments like that we moms need an automatic reply button. “I’m sorry, but I’m out of the office today. If you need anything please just do it yourself. If it’s underwear you’re looking for then either check the dryer or wear your brother’s. Thank you and have a great day.”

Oh it’d be nice, wouldn’t it? But not just for me, I think Moses could have used something similar. With one or two million people in camp, and only one man to settle disputes and answer questions about God’s will for this or that, Moses was a busy guy.   So busy in fact, when Moses’ father-in-law arrived he was a little stunned. “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” Sounds just like my day!

But with that many people, can you imagine the line? It was probably wrapped halfway around camp. “I’ve come to speak to Moses. Well get in line brother, so has everyone else.”

There’s no doubt Moses was left with little time to do what mattered most – commune with God. With just 5 people vying for my attention, I know how challenging it can be to carve out time with the LORD. I can’t even fathom millions!

Yet Moses trudged through, that is, until Jethro got there. “Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone” (v. 17-18).

Jethro had come to bring Moses’ wife and sons back to him. At some point, perhaps after the circumcision incident on the way to Egypt (See Exodus 4:18-31 for a reminder), Moses had sent them back home. Most likely to protect them.

But now it was time to reunite. So Jethro, anxious to hear how everything had gone, brought them to Moses himself. Verse 9 says after Moses filled him in on the details, Jethro rejoiced “for all the good that the LORD had done to Israel.”  Then Jethro blessed the LORD, bringing a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; “and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God” (v. 12).

It was a blessed night. A sweet time of fellowship for Moses. But then morning came and it was back to reality. Back to the people; giving Jethro the opportunity to see how Moses usually spent his day. At the front of an endless line of upset people.

So he gave Moses some advice. “Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times” (v. 21-22). Jethro goes on to say the difficult matters they can still bring to you Moses, but the small stuff, they can decide on their own.

In other words, “Moses, get some help!”

Oh the treasure to be had here my tired friend. We aren’t meant to bear the burdens of this life alone. Come what may – we can ask for help. Even in ministry! Yet how often we still try to do it alone! (And by the way mama’s – motherhood is ministry.)

With the mantra, “It’s my cross to bear,” we often trudge through on our own because it’s my kids to deal with or it’s my mess to clean up or it’s my God given calling or my path to walk. Thinking to ourselves, whether it’s big or small, “God chose me so I’m gonna have to figure it out.”

But what if your burden, is someone else’s blessing?

Scholars differ on the timing of Exodus 18, but it’s possible Jethro didn’t come to visit until after all was said and done at Mt. Sanai. (i.e. after the law had been given and the Tabernacle built). If so, Numbers 10 and 11 may add more to our story. And just look what God does for Moses! “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel…And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone” (Num. 11:16-17).

Can you imagine the blessing for those men? The Spirit of God resting on them! What a confirmation of faith. Yet if Moses hadn’t reached out for help, they would have missed out on the blessing.

God draws wide circles my friend. Doing more with our messes than we can imagine. It’s one thing to figure something out on our own, but it’s quite another to share it with others!

This concept is all over the New Testament. In Acts 6 the disciples chose deacons to help bear the weight of ministry in the church. In First Thessalonians 5:11 we’re told to “Encourage one another.” In Galatians 6 we’re told to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2). And thereby imitating Christ, who carried the weight of our sin all the way to the cross.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

We have a God who never intended for us to go it alone. It’s why He gave us His Spirit; the Helper. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16). See, it’s OK, He knew we’d need help!

Yet more often than I’d like, instead of reaching out for the help of my gracious God and Savior, I get caught up in the frenzy of life and unravel.

But the bottom line is, we don’t have to do this life alone. “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2). And you know what else? God likes it when we not only look to Him for help, but we do it together. Hand in hand, the body of Christ working together as one.

It’s all right tired friend, go ahead and ask for help. You never know when your mess might be a blessing in waiting for someone else.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you more often try to go it alone or with the help of the Father? How is the body of Christ a support for you to lean on?
Who can you encourage today? Is there an area of life you need to reach out for help?

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The Miracle that Can Happen When We’re Tired

Married to a farmer, fall is an exhausting time for me. It doesn’t just mean brisk beautiful mornings at our house, it means long 18 hour days in the field for my man and even longer 18 hour days at home for me.

Devotional Scripture: Mark 6:30-44
Key Verse: “And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31

Doing all the things, from forcing my four year old to please eat two more bites of chicken,  to explaining why it’s really NOT OK to eat boogers, teaching spelling words that won’t stick, and killing ferocious spiders.

Basically while the world is happily posting pictures of pumpkins, I’m just trying to keep from sticking my head inside one. Maybe you can relate. Exhausted from a spouse required to work more than you’d like and the constant needy-ness of small children, you’re overwhelmed. Tired. Or perhaps just overloaded with responsibilities and problems that just won’t go away.

There’s no disputing life is busy and at times downright draining. The concept of rest plays hide-and-seek with us way more than fair, while we sputter along on empty, thinking we’re the only ones with this problem. But even the disciples needed a break and didn’t get one. Mark 6:31 tells us Jesus and his crew were so busy, they had no time to eat! (Can I get an amen?) People were in and out and coming and going and life was crazy!

So Jesus says to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” Ahhhh, ok Jesus, that sounds lovely. So they got in a boat to make haste but when the people saw them leaving “they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them” (v. 33).

“Sheesh would you people just please give us a little space!” If I were the disciples, I would have been sittin’ in that boat displaying my best pout face. And promptly requesting he make them all GO AWAY. This is MY time to regroup and relax and I deserve it. Have you seen all the work I’ve been doing?

But Jesus didn’t make anyone leave. Instead he taught the crowd right there on the shore, smack dab in the middle of their hopeful moment of reprieve.

When it got late and the disciples saw their chance, they said to Jesus, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat” (v. 35-36).

But again Jesus didn’t make them leave. Instead, he told the disciples to feed the crowd themselves. (Um, excuse me?) Knowing they were a bit taken back he offered a little guidance. “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

They returned with five loaves and two fish and the rest is history. Jesus fed the massive bunch of them right then and there with just a small amount of provision, until every last one of them was satisfied.

It was a miracle we’re still perplexed by today. A miracle clearly displaying the power of our sovereign Savior. Yet just think what the disciples would have missed out on if Jesus had said to the crowd, “Hey ya’ll need to leave. I’ve promised these guys some rest.”

Because there’s no doubt they needed rest. They had just returned from a ministry trip, walking two by two, from town to town, with merely a walking stick in their hand. (Mark 6:7-13) They had been in homes of strangers for who knows how long, proclaiming the hard to hear message of repentance, casting out demons, and healing the sick. They were tired. They were overworked. They were hungry.

And they were more than likely a little scared. It was while they were out and about that John the Baptist’s head got served up on a pretty little platter. I can only imagine the questions this strange turn of events raised in their minds. They needed to regroup. They needed to think and rest and be with their LORD. But first, first, Jesus wanted to show them a miracle.

Because it’s only when we trust in the sovereignty of our Creator that rest will truly come.

So if peace and quiet doesn’t seem to be on the docket today. If it gets pushed further into the depths of chaos and kids and laundry and dinner and unexpected phone calls or fevers or tantrums or wishful thinking, maybe it’s because instead, what God really wants to do, is give you a miracle.

The miracle of His Spirit at work within us. Giving us patience when we didn’t think we had any left. Overflowing us with love when we don’t think we can love. Soothing us with peace when we don’t have any peace. Restraining us with self-control when we are way beyond self-control. Or helping us respond with gentleness or kindness, when it’s not even a little deserved.

None of that is a work we can do in and of ourselves. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are a supernatural work – a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). And when we’re tired, when we’re really really tired, that’s when we see it best – the work of God in us and through us. Because his power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)

So if rest doesn’t come right away. If it gets interrupted and tossed out the window by little people or little problems (or big ones at that), don’t worry. God knows we need rest. He knows it’s hard and stressful. But he also knows more than anything else we need to learn to trust Him.

Therefore, before the ease, the miracle.

Contemplate and Evaluate
When have you experienced the miraculous work of the Spirit in your everyday life? How can you experience it even more?



Hey Mom You’re Doing a Good Job

A little something extra this week…No it’s not from the book of Genesis. It’s something that’s rolled around in the recesses of my heart and found its way to my keyboard one day. No matter where we are at in life sometimes we all just need to hear that….we’re doing a good job. For me it’s being a mommy. So for all you mommy’s out there…I just want to say…you’re doing a good job! Keep at it. Don’t loose heart. And it’s ok if you don’t enjoy every moment…

It happened again yesterday at the end of a long doctor’s appointment. One that made me wish I had caked on the deodorant and brought more than three packs of fruit snacks. The kind of appointment that sends us to the ENT today for one precious but cranky baby boy. I was tired. imageNothing new…I’m always tired. And those words fell upon my tired tender heart yet again. That kind nurse, while gazing at my sweet boys, lifted her eyes to me and said “Enjoy it. It goes fast.” And there it was. Those words. That phrase so often repeated to me at the grocery store, church, out for a walk, wherever I go! That phrase…again. Those five little words that pelt the deepest most secret spots of my heart with guilt.

“Enjoy it. It goes fast.” So I guess I’m a failure. Because I didn’t enjoy the last four days of ceaseless crying. I didn’t enjoy the unending cycle of vomit, diarrhea, and potty training accidents I’ve been knee deep in all week. I didn’t enjoy it at all. In fact I failed miserably at enjoying any of it. I longed to escape to some place warm and sunny and germ free where the only person I have to take potty is me. This past week was long and exhausting mentally and physically. Did I fail because I didn’t enjoy it? Where did I go wrong? Was it not enough that Iimage stuck it out and faithfully served my family this week, all while wading through muck and mess? Please don’t tell me to enjoy it. Not right now. Instead could you just tell me I’m doing a good job. Tell me to keep up the hard work that is good parenting. Tell me the reward is great. Tell me I can do it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Remind me that I can clean the messes with a good attitude because Christ can and will enable me. Please just tell me I’m doing a good job.

“Enjoy it. It goes fast” says the gray haired lady at the grocery store. I smile and say thanks wondering if she heard the tantrum from Mr. Two Year Old because I wouldn’t buy him a donut. Was I supposed to enjoy that part? Because I didn’t. It was embarrassing and loud. I’m stressed, out of suckers, and tired of simple tasks being so hard. I want to enjoy it but right now…right imagenow I’m not enjoying it. Please don’t tell me to enjoy it. Instead could you tell me your kids threw tantrums too. Tell me it’s normal. Tell me I’m normal. Remind me to cast my anxiety on God because he cares for me. Tell me you remember how hard grocery shopping was with little ones. Tell me I’m not a failure. Tell me it’s ok to not enjoy every moment. Please just tell me I’m doing a good job.

“Enjoy it. It goes fast” says the cute couple at church. I want to I really really do. But do you have any idea what I went through to get here today? I got up three hours before service just so I could shower and dress four pairs of little legs and feed four hungry mouths only to hear them bicker all the way to church. I will go home to a pajama bomb all over the living room floor, a fruity pebble explosion in the kitchen, and little people ready to eat again with no lunch in the works because I didn’t have time. Enjoy it? Maybe by two o’clock I can enjoy a deep breath and a few minutes of quiet. But right now I’m thinking about what’s waiting for me when I get home and I imagedon’t find it enjoyable. Please don’t tell me to enjoy it. Instead could you tell me I look pretty today? Tell me motherhood suits me. Tell me you remember the days of getting little ones ready for church. Tell me it wasn’t easy for you either. Tell me you’re there for me. Tell me you’re praying because you remember the hard unending toil of raising little people right. Please just tell me I’m doing a good job.

“Enjoy it. It goes fast” says the mother two stages ahead of me in life. And the guilt pummels at my last bit of resolve. I look at how put together she is and place the unrealistic idealization upon her that she must have enjoyed all of it. The long nights of her husband working late. The fixing of dinner with little arms and legs clinging tearfully about her ankles. The endless parade of toys around the house. The public tantrums. The vomit. The endless amount of work without pay. And I wonder…did she really enjoy it? Did I some how miss the memo on how to enjoy those parts? No I don’t think I did. My tender heart squeezes at the realization. It’s not all fun. Parenting little people is hard sometimes…really hard. And some of it is amazing…really amazing. And enjoyable! But I don’t need to be told to enjoy those moments. It happens naturally. I enjoy the enjoyable! But what I need right now. What I need today is for the mother two stages ahead of me to look me in the eye and tell me I’m doing a good job.

To the mother at IHOP who told me my children are well behaved. Thank you. Your comment was a soothing melody I carried around and cherished all. day. long. Because your words, they told me, I was doing a good job.image