Sunday, May 17, 2015

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Philippians 2, NKJV)

The passage reminds me of a children’s animated series several years ago, titled 3-2-1 Penguins. This particular episode, The Amazing Carnival of Complaining, featured a nefarious carnival owner who attracted children to his establishment, set them up for disappointment, and encouraged them to whine and gripe. This turned the children literally into little seeds of discontent, which he then used to pollute an entire planet. The main character of the series realized after a while that the remedy was found in Philippians 2:14, a verse his grandmother had conveniently quoted to him earlier. He encouraged the complaining children to find something to be thankful for. Duly exhorted, the “seeds” turned back into real children and the planet was saved.

Sometimes, of course, life dishes out far more than mere disappointment over a two-bit carnival. Maybe it’s having to stand by and watch someone else receive recognition while your work is passed over. Maybe it’s outright loss. Maybe it’s having to keep plodding on and serving others from your own place of hurt and need.

I think it’s no accident that this section falls next in line the week I’m taking over care of my medically fragile mother, because that last is what hits me square in the heart.

Caring for others is physically as well as emotionally taxing. I’m not as young as I used to be, nor as fit. I’m on my own for a week, assisting my stepdad and learning Mom’s medical needs and routines, while my family is home. I miss my husband and kids. I miss my bed, my coffee, my own car. But you know—I’ve longed for years to be more involved in my mother’s care, as her health has failed. To be closer and spent more time with her. To have the chance to minister personally, before God decides to take her home.

Well, He’s giving me the opportunity now.

Yes, this is hard. I was scared spitless going into it, and already I’ve felt overwhelmed at times. But God’s grace and strength have been absolutely present in the moment I actually needed them.

What I hadn’t expected was the joy ... the sheer blessing (yes, the word is overused but there’s no other word for it) of being here for my mother, to serve her and care for her in ways I never really have before ... in ways maybe others can’t.

Because ... it is a blessing. And I’m so grateful for it.

17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2, NKJV)


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