“We are never more safe, never have more reason to expect the Lord’s help, than when we are most sensible that we can do nothing without him. This way of being saved entirely by grace, from first to last, is contrary to our natural wills: it mortifies self, leaving it nothing to boast of.” ~John Newton, Letters
Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfil thy law’s demands;
The labors of my hands.
Get up half an hour earlier because Daniel will be working with his dad and grandpa all day. Katie and Verity are still dry; take them to their potties right away. Have Peter fill the humidifiers. Need to eat. Make sure to fit in phonics flashcards with the little boys and catch up on our history reading. Sit down and breathe in the sweet scent of clean heads.
Ask John Michael to do his “cleaning the glass” chore before the therapist gets here. Ask Laura to write baby bath on the grocery list before I forget again. Have Joshua scrub up some sweet potatoes and put them into the oven to eat with our supper.
Need to make that phone call before office hours are over. Must choose photos for Katie’s twelve month post-placement report. Take a few more “Photos of our Family and Home” for Tommy’s country.
Jot a note to ask Daniel for a complete inventory of what’s in our two refrigerators and five freezers so I can finish reorganizing the meal planning and freezer cooking. Must fold and put away the little girls’ laundry and lay out tomorrow’s clothes. Answer a few more emails before the lapse of time grows to downright insulting lengths. Need to keep my eyes open a little longer to be a sounding board for a teenager.
Plan and prepare for three birthday parties this month.
Plan and prepare for a couple of field trips. Have leisure time on field trips; take plenty of photos.
[“Bamboo,” says Verity.]
[She loves water so much it’s mind-boggling that she never got to play in it before she came home.]
Plan and prepare for company for supper again this week. Just two therapy sessions this week. Compensate for one of our household helpers being on vacation. Do all this and much, much more…with washing machine broken down, slow cooker broken down, and sick children. Verity cries every time someone coughs, sneezes, or blows their nose. I am left sweating and exhausted every time I work with Katie to transition her to her new adaptive toilet seat.
The labors of my hands. What if I was The Supreme Mistress of Organization and never forgot a detail? What if I was always ahead? What if I never ran out of energy? What if I could somehow make every aspect of our lives run flawlessly at all times? What if we adopted a dozen children with special needs from horrific conditions and I sacrificed all my time to care for them until the day of my death?
Would that be enough to impress God and satisfy His holy demands on my life?
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
Tears. They flow for the harsh brokenness and pain that we as humans inflict on one another. But not enough tears. Not enough tears over the offense of my own sinfulness. Never enough to reflect the staggering tragedy of a people in rebellion against the God who made them and sustains them.
But what if my heart remained soft and broken every moment of every day? What if I never grew weary or distracted or impatient or downcast? What if my zeal for Him always burned white hot? What if I begged Him continually for mercy and forgiveness?
Would that be enough to pay for my sin?
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.
Being a good wife, being a good mother, doing good deeds, thinking good thoughts, maybe just having good intentions?
Is my goodness good enough? Sporadic, pitifully insufficient, fatally flawed human goodness? Can I offer that up to a God who defines what is pure and good and true and holy and just and right?
Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Full? No, ma’am. My hands aren’t full. I am empty, exhausted of resources, drained dry. Destitute. Anything more, and it would be too easy. Or at least too possible. I wouldn’t be desperate for Him if I was satisfied without Him.
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
So needy of a God who will free me from the clutched remnants of my stiff, proud, pathetic, soiled rags of righteousness. So needy of the protective covering only He can give me, the royal clothing that marks me as His child.
So desperately needy of all the grace He has to give me. All of it. I am empty-handed and free to receive what He so freely gives.
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee.