For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
This summer is just...different.
So far it’s noticeably cooler, today being no exception. I happen to love mid-70’s with a breeze so I’m thrilled, but the kids aren’t as excited about freezing to death during swimming lessons.
And the house is much quieter these days. One of the neighborhood kids moved away at the end of the school year, and although she’s less than a mile away, we haven’t seen her since. Another kid grew up a lot this past year and is on to bigger but not always better things. I’ve had to be more intentional about reaching out to the the kids who used to occasionally wander over on their own.
I don’t know that I realized the good works for what they were until they didn’t start happening as easily anymore. Until I had to work a little harder for opportunities and track down missing kids at different houses like I look for pacifiers under couches.
As much as I loved having those kids around all the time, they made for a lot of work. Because, you see, good works are often hard works and messy works and uncomfortable works at times, and those things tend to piss off an already stressed and overwhelmed momma. Just a little bit.
There was dirty shoes on the carpet and cursing in the kitchen. There were broken decorations and trampled belongings as their teenage feet bounded around the house. There were mature conversations to be confronted, again, due to the presence of little ears. There was fighting and name calling and punching and figuring out how to talk about things instead. Encouraging one another and talking about Jesus and our day at the dinner table.
But when you put a bunch of sinful people in a little house together, when you squeeze them all around a table like a pack of hotdogs, you’re bound to annoy and frustrate each other. Relationships are where you do the messy, uncomfortable work of loving, stretching, growing, compromising, forgiving, and offering grace, again. And again. Doing good works is hard work and it will inevitably piss you off, but I’m convinced now that’s how you know you’re doing it right.*
There were a million annoyances; there was abundant chaos, and yet, so much richness. So much love and acceptance, trust and truth. And these days when we have quiet afternoons (by “quiet,” I mean still probably louder than 99% of other houses, because 5 kids) of reading and crafts and movies and I can hear the trees dancing outside in the summer breeze, I find myself missing it and hoping they’d walk through the front door.**
We tend to think that if we’re “doing God’s will,” participating in the work He has for us while we’re here, that it will be easy. That the road will be free of bumps and curves and we won’t stumble as the doors open wide ahead of us. But I’ve found just the opposite to be true. That death is unavoidably tethered to new life like winter comes before spring and the sunshine after the rain.
It’s God’s plan of redemption, of making all things new, of grace. It’s the way to a life that is rich and deep and exhausting and fulfilling in a way that a sterile, safe, comfortable life never could be, for it’s found in laying it down.
*Would you like to partner with us as we love, serve, and share Jesus with those who are vulnerable and hurting in Cleveland? We’d love for you to walk this journey alongside us. Find out more HERE.
**Y’all, as I tapped out the final words of that sentence on my dusty keyboard, I heard the telltale knock of the neighborhood kids at our front door for the first time in almost two months. No joke. God is busy answering prayers before we’re even aware of our need or have the wherewithal to utter them from our lips. Never doubt that.