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Restless

So, it turns out that not taking the cough medicine with the word “narcotic” in the packet information was not a good decision tonight. I am awake and it is 2:40 am. I woke up coughing, then took the non-narcotic cough medicine so I wouldn’t be drugged all day tomorrow and apparently it is a stimulant. Awesome. Maybe I should use this time to wrap presents, or fold laundry, or organize our office/study/den (can’t quite decide what to call it) or…and that brings me to the place in which I really need the Gospel to make some serious changes in my heart – “distracted, fragmented, scattered” needs to be quieted, made present in just one place with just one person at a time, content…oooooh. That rings some internal bells: contentment!

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

I’ve always recognized this Marthaness of mine, but lately I’ve seen how it builds walls relationally. I am never “with” my children, though much of the time we are home together. When my sister stops by to visit, I’ll frequently be getting something done while we visit. When my mom wants to talk, I find myself responding to “time sensitive” texts and other messages. When I begin a task in one room, I take something to another room and feel the urgency of a second task, and then a third, and rotate among even more accomplishing very litte in the given amount of time.

This is not a new problem and I’m sure I’ve written about it often. But I’m starting to recognize it’s future implications with my daughter, who adores my company but is easily distant and eagerly rushing toward independence. It shuts my mom out or even down when she is excited about sharing something or discussing something. It tells my sister she is on the clock. It devalues people as it bows down to an elusive promise of a completed to-do list. I can never rest, really, because the “many things” keep yelling at me. (Did I mention recently that Elizabeth Turnage commented on my life being “full of the muchness of many things”? While that can be a richness to life, I think I’m feeling it’s toxicity.)

Jesus was never hurried. He was never anxious. I don’t think He was ever distracted. Little girls and good old friends were dying, but Jesus remained present where He was and attended fully and redemptively to them in the proper time. He was fully present with whomever stood before Him.

So, a good old moralism answer would be to “be like Jesus” and start being more present. Just love others better. Do unto the least of these what we I’d like to do for Jesus. But there is that old nagging problem of sin.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:15-25

I want to be still with Jesus, but my natural self keeps moving away and back into that demanding old kitchen. I want to be present with the hemorraging woman, but my natural self feels hurried to the dying girl and swears I’ll be back to help the lady in the street later. I want to rest in the boat, but my natural self is too busy bailing water and screaming at everyone while turning green with sea sickness that a nap seems absurd.

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! Josh. 24:14-16

My gods are environmental order, the completion of the always growing to-do list, and the tossing and turning of every whim which catches my ADD mind’s brief attention. It is helpful to see it this way, and know I can choose these gods or I can choose to serve the Lord with exactly His selected focus for me each moment. But here is the thing, if I could just make a new year’s resolution about it, I wouldn’t need Jesus. But I can’t, and I do. The pull of my heart to worship the tangible and the thing which promises the most immediate rewards (completed tasks for all to see!) almost always seems stronger than my desire to worship the Lord who can’t be seen and is asking me simply to be attentive to the story of the person He has set in front of me.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. Psalm 127:1-2 And here is the Good News – I am “the one He loves” as I stand hidden in the ONE He loves. He will complete the good work that He has begun. And, as Scotty put it, “I will boast in Jesus to the extent I don’t in me”. I can’t force His work in me, or hurry even that. But I will know it when I see it, and I will be grateful.

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