Life Outside the Garden

It’s no secret I’ve been having a hard time of motherhood lately.

There’s the normal busyness of having three kids, compounded by baby T’s feeding difficulties, longer than usual work hours for my husband and a continuous string of illnesses in the family for the last two months.

Anyway, I recently started reading to the kids from the Big Picture Story Bible before bed, and tonight I read a couple of chapters with them.

We were reading about life after Adam and Eve had to leave the garden, and this page just struck me:

 

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Wow, I just relate to everything about this picture and the words!

(Let me be really candid…)

The crying, inconsolable baby. Being needed constantly.

The physical separation from my husband for long, long hours of the day while he’s at work. The feelings of envy, even knowing that he is working hard – surely it would be easier than this!

Ailing, aging bodies. The constant illness as a reminder of how fragile these bodies are – that we are indeed heading towards death.

 

But the wonderful thing is it doesn’t stop there.

Yes, there are moments (sometimes, really long – like months long – moments) that remind us this world is cursed.

But life in Christ is so good.

With Christ, there is always a God who understands and to whom I can pour out my heart. I’m not separated from Him like Adam and Eve were.

With Christ, I know that although my back aches from holding these little ones and every inch of me is tired, one day I will enter His perfect rest.

With Christ, I am filled up so that I can pour out – both literally (breast milk) and figuratively (love). I don’t have to give and give without receiving. In fact, I can’t give unless I first receive.

With Christ, I can forgive and be forgiven. My husband and I might have conflict, but there is great beauty in showing each other the grace that was shown to us by God.

With Christ, there is new mercy each morning, because He is faithful!

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Count it all Joy

I’ve got more joy in my life at the moment than I can count on one hand. Joy of the James 1:2-5 variety, that is:

Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Mum and Dad are going home tomorrow.

As if that wasn’t enough to make me feel like crying (it is!), there’s also the fact that Mr H is sick with a cold and an ear ache. Baby T has an infected belly button and a cold, which makes feeding him difficult. And the company that collects the garbage is striking, so now we have a bin full of rubbish and, with 2 and a half kids in nappies, our household waste is fast accumulating.

Honestly, it’s too much.

It’s too much going wrong, too much hardship, all at once to be a coincidence.

Neither is it a coincidence that James 1:5 is the passage Mum quoted to me yesterday when I asked her (semi-rhetorically), how am I going to cope when you leave?

“If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God,” she answered me.

Nor is it a coincidence that James 1:2-5 was the passage on the cards for me to memorise today.*

 

No, these trials are gifts, straight from the hands of God, sent to test and strengthen my faith. Sent to develop my character. Sent to drive me running, desperately, into the arms of the Father who loves me, again.

Some of you may read that and think it’s really messed up. You might think, why would you want to follow a God who makes you suffer so that you think you need him? Who breaks your legs and then provides the crutches?

But the truth is that I do need God. We all do.

Even when life is going so well, and things are falling into place and I start to think “Look how good this life that I’ve created is!”…even then, I still need God. Even then, he is the one who sustains and prospers me.

But the thing is, if we’re just cruising along, thinking we don’t need God (or, in all likelihood, not even thinking about God at all, really) we are actually in denial of reality. We are living a lie.

So, for God to send us trials is actually a loving, merciful thing to do. Because these trials shake up our false perception of the world and make us see the reality, that we do actually need Him.

It’s in this spirit that I am graciously receiving these trials, and counting them all as joy. Sure, I will probably shed a few tears over the next few days (and I don’t mean the happy kind).

But you can bet I will be clinging to Christ with all my limited strength, and He will be clinging to me with all His limitless strength.

And I will get through the next day and then the next, with a strengthened faith and a steadfast heart.

I am so thankful for a God who loves me enough to give me just what I need, whether trials or blessings.

 

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Gratuitous baby picture.

 

*I’m currently using Jami Balmet’s “A Heart Prepared” to memorise and meditate on the Bible, particularly during those late night feeds. And the wonderful thing is, she is offering it free to email subscribers at the moment! Get it here: https://youngwifesguide.com/free-scripture-memory-card-ebook-printable-cards/