Monday, June 24, 2013

journey through the toil

It's summer time and everyday I fight the temptation to let my boys zone out in front of the computer or television. So, after a lot of coffee this morning I decided to get my boys outside and do a little gardening with them. And I do mean a little gardening. Is it really even gardening if your husband already did the prep work? But moving started off with me telling the boys about my plan for planting beans. I had envisioned them smiling and reacting with joyful enthusiasm. Okay, that might be a little optimistic, but my boys really do love to garden so I expected they'd be somewhat excited. Instead, my youngest wanted to run in circles in the living room and my oldest acted indifferent to the idea. Hmmm...

Already, this wasn't going how I pictured it would in my mind. I guess I had hoped we would gather around the garden together and laugh while we dig in the fresh dirt, all the while I would be sharing motherly wisdom about life. If only it actually ever worked out that way. I then decided that their indifference was okay. I would just head out with my gardening tools and hope they would follow. My oldest joined me as I figured he would. It was fun for maybe five minutes until the mosquitoes decided they were hungry for the Legate breakfast buffet that featured me and Isaac as the main course. On top of that there were gross white bugs that had infested the garden soil. Ugh.

As I watched my itchy little boy head for the house, I couldn't help but feel disappointed for him and for myself. This whole gardening thing had gone differently in my mind. I was frustrated that even the simple little things in life can easily turn to disappointment. Add the little disappointments to the big disappointments, and one can easily start to feel frustrated. I was determined to complete this planting fiasco, despite the gross white bugs in the soil and the itchy bites that now covered my legs. As I was left alone with the garden and the mosquitoes I began to think about how this world really is cursed. From the little things in life to the big things in life, so much can go wrong. I pulled at the relentless weeds coming up around the tomato plants; a reminder of the story of the fall of human kind in Genesis. To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life."

Clearly, this is not our home. Sometimes this fact is painfully obvious to us. There are times we feel like a foreigner in this land and we scream in our hearts, "Why is this so hard!?". Other times we feel too at home here, sheltered from the storms of life. Too often we forget that God gave us each other for a reason; to encourage one another through the "painful toil". Community is so important. There are real people in our community, families, and churches who are drowning in disappointments and sorrows, too afraid to show their true burdens. They walk around with the mask of perfection firmly fastened, pretending to be unaffected by the painful toil in this life. (I know this because I used to be one of them.) And who can blame them? The pain of rejection and fear of being judged has shut the mouths and hearts of hurting people. This will be something I mention in my next post because it's a real problem in the church today and something I'm passionate about.

Mosquitoes and weeds in my garden are the least of my trials in life. The weeds I fight the most are not in my garden but in my marriage, my family, and friendships. I toil in these "gardens" every single day. And my whole reason for this blog is to show you that you are not alone in your toil. I am not perfect. None of us are perfect. And we need to be okay with that; with being perfectly imperfect. Does this mean we should be okay with living a sinful lifestyle? Never. Because that's not what God wants for us. He wants us to strive for holiness. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship." (Romans 12:1) But we don't get there by pretending. We get there by taking off our masks and letting God use our stories of how we've journeyed through the painful toil.

"...for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:4-5)

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