Friday, April 13, 2012

Nehemiah: First Fruits

I love that this is a place to document sentimental happenings for our family.  I've described before, though, that there is some danger in leaving an impression that these sweet moments are our WHOLE life, or represent how I feel ALL the time.

Today, I just need to be real.

Because lately:
I am a little tired.
I am a little grumpy.
I am a little short with my children.
I would prefer to put on a movie for them and rest.

No, really. (and maybe we should remove some of the a little 's).

Last night, after taking all 3 of my angels (cough, cough) into a tuxedo store to try on the boys' tuxedos, I was MAXED.  In the course of an hour I had to discipline two of them for not obeying and one for pitching a huge fit, not to mention wrestling two squirming boys into and out of tuxedos.  To be honest, despite the fact that they needed some redirection, I was parenting out of my own frustration.  Again.  We got back in the van and I cranked up some silly songs for them and started praying for my heart and theirs.  (Yep, it actually is possible to pray to the tune of "Willoughby walliby wee, An elephant sat on me, Willoughby walliby woo, an elephant sat on you".  Its a mom skill.)

Wouldn't you know it, the Lord directed my thoughts back to a lesson from Nehemiah.  Of course He did.  Its like He knows me or something. CRAZY.

When we were in the midst of our party-of-eight craziness, there were certain lessons that jumped off of the pages in Nehemiah to me.  Like screamed at me.  But the studying wasn't always that way.  There were times I would have to camp out on a verse or section and really spend more time thinking and praying through its meaning for me, right now.

When I got to the list of "old testament rules" in chapter 10, I took a deep breath and made myself read through them and think about them.  One that was particularly challenging and relevant at the time, the Lord brought back to me last night.

Nehemiah 10:35 "We take responsibility for delivering annually to The Temple of God the firstfruits of our crops and our orchards" 

Nope, haven't been doing a lot of farming lately.  But the lesson is one I was in great need of remembering this week.  The lesson is about what God requests from me.  As I initially processed through the idea of "firstfruits", I found myself wondering why it really is that God wants me to give my first, my best.  Does HE really need that from me?  I really believe that even in my days of half-hearted parenting, when I speak in a way I wish I hadn't, when I just don't have the energy to walk to the park AGAIN, when I count the hours until bedtime, He is able to fill in the gaps.  But is that all He wants for us?  Maybe part of the reason he requires my firstfruits is because of what it will show ME.  Maybe he can only teach me when I choose to give my best so that he can restore me.

The clearest illustration in the Bible, a tangible one, is of a widow.  A widow that Elijah asks for bread.  Giving him bread would mean sharing the very last bits of oil and flour that she had, yet Elijah promised her that if she gave it to him, her oil and flour WOULD NOT run out.  She not only gave her was actually her very last.  And as a result, she experienced a miracle.  She experienced a refilling that I doubt she ever forgot.

I'm no where NEAR my last bits, never had to actually consider giving my very last to someone else, so the faith of this widow is astounding to me.  And I can the Lord show me the miracle of replenishing my supply, if I don't give to HIM (by giving to others) my FIRST and best.  RRL and I have marveled over and over again that so much about our lives was refilled when we felt like we were pouring out.  It shouldn't have been possible to survive with 6 kids under 5.  There should not have been enough time, enough money, enough patience, enough love, ENOUGH.  But there always was.  More than enough, actually.

The story in 1 Kings and the verse in Nehemiah were incredibly linked to me and the lesson seemed life (and attitude) changing. And yet I find myself there again.  Needing to be reminded, that if I meet all of my own needs first, if I dwell in the excuse of exhaustion, or feel entitled to be grumpy before I ask Him to help me meet the needs of can I give him Glory for working in my life.  What vessel will ever available to "refill" if I'm not pouring it out? 

This week, I found myself actually saying to some friends "I am NOT a nice mom right now.  And I think I'm probably just going to be this way for at least a few more weeks".  It was supposed to be funny.  I am 38-weeks-pregnant. 

I am a little tired.
I am a little grumpy.
I am a little short with my children.
I would prefer to put on a movie for them and rest.

And all of that feels pretty justified in the last days of pregnancy and with the crazy few months we've had.  Everyone GETS that I'm tired, slow and low on patience. In and of myself, that really is all I've got.  But WOW, that's not where I want to stay. I'm not saying that its not reasonable to take things easier in the last couple of weeks of waiting on baby C. And I am by no means saying there can not or will not be tough days in parenting. I'm just saying I want to start CHOOSING to ask the Lord to refill me instead of settling for "this is all I've got".

I want to give Him (by giving them) my very best. 
Because if I don't
I believe He can still redeem these days and help us raise children that will love and serve Him. 

But if I don't
What vessel do I pass across the table for Him to use?
What miracle will I miss seeing and what opportunity will I miss to get to share His great GLORY with others. 

He can use whatever I offer.  But he asks for my best, some days it is what feels like my last.

So today I'm praying that I'll be able to give:
Energy when it feels like there is not much left. 
Patience when it would be easier to react hastily.
A few extra hugs and snuggles and kisses when I don't even really want to be touched.

Because THAT is my firstfruits.  And I don't want any of us to miss an opportunity to watch  "oil and flour" be miraculously refilled.
over. and over. and over.


1 comment:

Courtney said...

Oh, I am right there with you, friend! Loved these thoughts! Instead of allowing myself to sink lower, I will ask Him to help me give Him my best! Love your heart!