A couple Sundays ago a storm hit and we had to re-arrange a number of things that had been in place for quite some time. It was very frustrating and I balked at the tedium and disappointment of it all, wanting to blame anyone except the One who actually makes the weather. I said to Josh that morning that I felt able to surrender the big things to the Lord (our twins, our fertility, the growth of our family), but I struggled to surrender the little things – the tedious things, the things that don’t feel heroic.
But of course this was a dumb thing to say because it’s not true. Yes, I have surrendered all those things to the Lord, but it took years of work and sometimes I have to surrender them all over again. And there are other big things in our lives that I don’t surrender. I just don’t. I stew over them. I worry over them. I feed that ravenous pit that sits deep in my stomach.
The big things might seem heroic after they are actually surrendered, but in the moment it’s not heroism. It’s just plain hard work and it’s work that I don’t want to do. And when it comes down to it, it’s all the same work – the big things and the small. It’s the same place in the heart that says, “Here I am.” Or, “Please leave me alone, God.”
A friend recently painted a picture for me. An oak tree is so tall that it stands above all the other trees. It is so big that it ends up shielding others from the elements. Because it stands so tall and is so big the roots have to go down, down, down and spread wide, wide, wide. If they didn’t, they could not support the weight or the bulk of such a massive tree.
The oak can’t say, “Ummm…I’m not liking the oak thing. What about a birch? Or a maple?” The oak tree is an oak tree and it always will be. And when those roots start to grow they just keep growing.
I am not an oak. I am not a maple. I’m a sapling and when the winds blow I need stakes in the ground to support me because my roots rip up so easily. But I know oaks and lately their presence in my life has been so wonderfully powerful. You know what I mean. The kind of powerful conviction that is also encouragement because you think, “Yes. That is what I want to be and maybe, one day, I will get there.”
One of these women said to me recently, “I just want to obey.” Wow. OK. I guess all this other stuff doesn’t really matter. And another talked to me of the glorious Christian view of God’s great power moving all things to completion – our little lives are but a tiny part. Well, I guess if you put it that way…
As a wife, a mother, a sister in the church, a teacher, a musician, I alternate between the big things and the little things. It doesn’t seem to matter – they all have the power to knock me flat, ripping out the roots and killing faith in the process. Whether it’s the daily dying that my toddler boy requires of me or the big huge world of orphan care that leaves me feeling heartbroken and overwhelmed. It’s all the same battle. Do I believe the truth or the lie? Sturdy, strong, God-knowing faith does not suddenly appear in the heart. It is a gift that is won. I see that sturdy faith in others – the kind that says, “It is well with my soul” and I want it. But it’s not enough to want it. It has to be won with blood, sweat and tears. My blood, my sweat and my tears.