Sweet little Eowyn does not like to be left behind when I go anywhere. "Mii-mee! Mii-mee!" (with me) and the sweetest little puppy dog eyes usually begin the moment she realizes I am leaving. Today it was just for a few ingredients at the store for dinner so I took her with me. When we go to QFC she loves the little kid shopping carts (you know, the cute little ones that adults are too tall to steer, but are sized just right for running into ankles and shins). So she gets her cart and I do my best to keep her from running over every store display;giving the wine aisle a big berth.
We made it through the store today with her little cart and minimal display casualties. As usual, she insisted on throwing every item in the cart at full strength (I don't buy eggs with her). When we were ready to pay she watched the cashier carefully to make sure he rang everything up correctly. On the way out to the car my hands were full and I wanted to keep her with me in the parking lot, so I asked her to "help me" carry the milk that was in my right hand. She agreed for a few seconds, holding onto the handle with me, walking at the same pace. Then she decided that she could carry the milk all by herself. And that is where forward progress ended. She grunted and shuffled as she struggled to hold the milk up off the ground AND walk forward.
There are so many moments in parenting that I feel Father God watching me saying, "Uh huh, do you see yourself in this? Isn't this familiar? You're no different with me than that little child is sometimes!" Ooops. Yeah, you're right. I convince myself that I am somehow more mature or better than the two year old, but in some ways I am worse!
As Eowyn took the milk from my hand today I had one of those moments with God. He said, "Sometimes you take the milk from my hands and struggle, instead of doing it with me and letting me carry the weight." We like to think we are so big and strong until we take from God what is meant for only him to carry and we find out how small and weak we really are.
God invites us to join him in the work of his Kingdom. He gives us jobs, positions, authority, power, strength, and keys to get the work done. He gives us what we are ready to carry as we grow. But some things are never ours to carry, while others are to be carried hand-in-hand with God. Eowyn wanted to be big and significant today; I love her heart. And God feels the same way about us. He looks at us grunting and shuffling under the weight of his burden that we took with all the right intentions and motivations, and he smiles. But we need to learn to recognize when God is holding out his hand to us so he can carry the weight. He doesn't intend for any work to be done on our own. It's easy to feel this on our bad days when we feel unworthy of doing ministry or incapable of having any good outcome. In these moments we might be more inclined to acknowledge our dependence on God. But the truth is even our best days don't qualify us. It is Christ in us that is our hope of glory (Col 1:27).
Throughout the entire process of pursuing our call to Northern Ireland, I have tried to "carry the milk" so many times, thinking I was doing God such a big favor by working so hard. But it was him the whole time.
I spent 3-4 months emailing churches and ministries to find someone we could work with. God did it through one person at a conference.
I spent months looking at houses on rental websites, but God said I wouldn't find it on there. We didn't, it came through one person listening to God and willing to trust him.
In one week, through one person, our visas were fully funded. I didn't even have a chance to carry that one!
I fumbled our visa paperwork, struggled through the application process, messed up John and Judah's middle names...and the visas still came back in less than 2 weeks (average is 6). We are still waiting on Judah's. I have communicated with the right people but I know that God will ultimately be the one to bring it through. I won't be caught trying to fix this on my own!
But this last piece is the hardest one to not try to take out of God's hands: our funding. God says in Matthew chapter 6 that our provision is HIS burden, not ours. The birds don't even sow seeds to reap from them! They do what they are designed to do and God takes care of the rest. My personal challenge is to not try to do God's job for him. I will just have to "help" by holding on and walking with him.