Today was… hard.
Today my heart was…. HARD.
We pulled into the driveway after school. I listed for Grace the things she needed to accomplish.
My list was met with rebellion and complaint: “I don’t want to feed the dogs, why do I always have to—”
I cut her off with: “Go to your room.”
I had no patience for it. Doug and I have been fighting this battle for a while, especially regarding her helping to care for our dogs. How many conversations have we had about how being a part of the family means everyone helps out? How many times have we talked about how God gave us our dogs to care for? How many times have I stopped her in her complaining tracks and required her to recite Philippians 2:14-15?
Do everything without grumbling or complaining, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God.
Well… enough times that everyone is blue. So—- enough is enough.
GO TO YOUR ROOM.
I left her there for over an hour. Jesus began to soften my hard heart. But it went from hard to… sad.
When I went to get Gracie for dinner I hugged her and said only this. “Gracie. From now on if you complain about the things you have to do as part of this family, I am just going to send you to your room. If you do not want to be part of the family, then you will be alone in your room.” I kissed her and said: “I love you, come on down for dinner.”
The remainder of our evening was pleasant enough, though we were both a little sad.
At bed time we snuggled and she asked: “Why are you sad today, Mama?”
“I don’t know…”
“Well, ask God why. He will tell you.”
*True* I thought. I sighed and answered: “I’m sad about the sin and brokenness in the world. I am sad because my heart is hard. I need a softer heart. I need Jesus so I can have a softer heart.”
“I’m sad too.” She began to cry. “But, I don’t want to say because it’ll make me cry more….”
“What is it?” I asked.
“I’m sad because I’m thinking about Margi.” (one of our dogs) “What if she goes away… and never comes back? I don’t want her to die!” Gracie began sobbing. “I have not taken good care of her. I’ve been so mean to her sometimes and she’s a sweet dog. What if tomorrow is her last day?”
I said gently: “Margi is an old girl, but I don’t think that tomorrow will be her last day. And you know there are two things you can do about this right now. You can pray to God and ask him to forgive you for how you’ve treated Margi, and you can start treating her better now for the rest of her days.”
Grace began crying harder and desperately hugging me. “But what if tomorrow is her last day???? I just don’t want her to die. Oh! I just can’t wait for the New Heaven and the New Earth- when Jesus comes, and there is no more sin and no more death and everyone wins. I just want Jesus to come today!”
I held her as she cried. Have you ever had a moment like that? Where you just wanted Jesus to come— today? Why do we long for His coming? Is it that our own sin is unbearable and we just want the ultimate freedom that the eternal presence of Jesus will bring? Is it that the brokenness of the world breaks our hearts too much? Is it that death lurks at the edges reminding us that any day could be the last for someone we love? Jesus, COME TODAY!
As I laid there with Grace crying in my arms I began to pray for us both:
“Lord Jesus, we love you. We need you. Restore to us the Joy of your salvation. Thank you that you saved us from sin and death. Thank you that you died for our sins. You set us free and call us your own. Lord, let us fix our eyes on you. Because of you we know we can have peace in this world. We know that one day you will wipe away every tear. You will make straight every crooked place. You will right every wrong. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal. Death is swallowed up in Victory! Restore to us, Lord, the Joy of your salvation.”
And Gracie said: “Amen!”
Jesus said: “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33.