I find I’ve been struggling with my will lately; “I” want to sit down and read something good, and feeding. But the other “me,” the foolish child “me,” has a million thoughts to distract her, or would rather check Instagram, or thinks we should find that “really good quote.” (“It’s important,” she says!) Ah, Lord – who will deliver us from the body of this death? Why is it that whenever we just want to do something valuable, like focus on our reading, there are so many little distractions? Why is it that when I come to the Lord in my heart in prayer, to dedicate my day, my life and my actions to him, next thing I know my own thoughts have run away with me? How can I serve my Lord, when I can hardly keep my mind stayed on him for two minutes together? With that I am reminded that life is not about perfection – thank God; it’s about caring, and trying, and falling, and finding the strength to get up and try again. It’s about coming back around to goodness, to love, to forgiveness, as a wave comes back to kiss the blessed shore. It’s simply the way we learn any of these great virtues and Christian practices we are aspiring to.
Sometimes I wonder if the importance is not so much in the actual things we “do” or accomplish, although God has made things in such a full and complex way, so that these have their own good also. Does it ever strike you – the level of perfection that is in every little thing that God has made? The lowest level and smallest leaf bears the closest scrutiny beautifully. But for us, in one sense, the good that we get out of being good to our spouse, loving our children, washing those dishes and cooking those meals, again, and again and again, is really, simply strength. Every time we can sacrifice for someone else without minding it, pick up after a loved one, or remind the kids to do their homework and not let it “get to us,” we are practicing “doing the right thing.” Every time we forgive a grievance, love our neighbor (or our “enemy”), and every time we try to love, obey and follow our Father, we build up our spiritual muscles up a little more. We tune ourselves again and again towards goodness, truth and beauty. We learn to trust God, and his plan and will for our lives more, and obey him more, and yield more areas of our life to him. Or we simply keep doing it over again, so it can “stay” done.
GK Chesterton has a great thought that he comes back to remind us of repeatedly. He says, it is easy to imagine that if you leave things alone, you leave them as they are. But you do not.
If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. if you leave a white post alone, it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white, you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post, you must have a new white post. But this which is true even of inanimate things, is in a quite special and terrible sense true of all human things.
– GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy
So if we want to be a good mother, or a loving wife, or a good student, or a patient friend, or a loving and forgiving Christian, or a true disciple of Christ, we also must “do it again.” We must wake up every morning, and remember who who we intentionally want and choose to be. As Christians we go into our day with the understanding that we must fight against entropy; against all the little distractions that so easily beset us. And we must keep making all our fence posts white. Thankfully we don’t have to paint the whole fence all at the same time. All we really have to do is take each segment as it comes, or the slats that we can see need a little work, and go work on those. All we really have to handle is what’s right in front of us: the actual task at hand. And when the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, there is our Lord Jesus Christ, shining and strong. Standing with us, full of the strength of the Father to hold us steady, and help keep us on track. We cannot lose if we will not quit, and God is the eternal master of “doing it again;” he can help when we run out of patience and strength.
It might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again;” and the grown up does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.
But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
– GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy
– Father, you are so alive, so strong, and magnificent. You do these amazing things, that our small, child-like eyes wonder at how you can possibly be so resilient and so powerful! And yet, we know we are your children; you have given us a shining drop of your life, and by your love and grace we live, and we breathe your life. Thank you for the gift of your life – what a beautiful and precious gift! Help us to remember that your life is in us. As we grow, help us to remember to stay connected to Jesus – to abide in the vine, to stay in your house and your spirit. Then our spirit and our life can be continually refreshed, and revitalized, and we can find the strength to be like you, and to “do it again,” as you do, now and always. Amen.
Painting my fences today – again. But the sun is peeking over my shoulder as I work, and there is a cool breeze. And Bear is by my side; so it’s not so bad. It’s kind of amazing, actually, to step back and see how beautiful a white fence is, glowing in the morning light! 🐾
Just a little flower, turning her face to find the sun. I don’t always feel his rays on me, but when I do, the warmth and the feeling is simply wonderful, and I never want to be in the shadows again. Isn’t he lovely?