Originally posted on 1/13/2012 as Why I Need Shoulder Pads
I’m thinking about bringing back shoulder pads.
This may help me, you see, because I’m discovering that my shoulders just aren’t big enough to carry it all.
During the Christmas break with my daughters, we played games, made cookies, went on trips and visited friends. We relaxed. We read. We created art projects.
We also worked on character.
That wasn’t intentional, surely, and yet somehow when several of you are sick and you’re spending a quiet day at home, all day, all together in the same little space, some of the weaknesses in your soul start sticking out all over the place.
Someone was liable to be hurt.
So, we worked on some things. How to show kindness to one another. What the Golden Rule really means. How people don’t always do what you want them to do and manipulation and threats aren’t really the answer.
Then we started back to school and suddenly we were cramming in homework, devotions, after-school activities and church programs back into the schedule. We went a whole week with only one daughter practicing the piano one time and the math flash cards collected dust on the shelf.
My shoulders were bearing the heavy burden of caring for these girls and “training them up in the way they should go” and knowing that I was too weak for the job.
I had to be the perfect mom for them. I had to catch every character weakness and fix it. I had to identify every gift and develop it. I had to promote every spiritual discipline and keep up with every concern of their heart.
And if I got it wrong or if I fell short, they wouldn’t be Christian enough, wouldn’t be equipped for life, wouldn’t be successful, wouldn’t serve the Lord with their gifts, wouldn’t have strong marriages . .
Suddenly, my shoulders were feeling pretty wimpy.
This isn’t just about moms and the responsibility we bear when God gives us these children.
It’s about feeling like your marriage depends entirely on you saying the right words and showing the right kindness, but if you mess up, adultery is inevitable and divorce a sure thing.
It’s feeling that the ministry can only work if you’re smart enough, creative enough, work hard enough and somehow have a super-connection with God that grants you favor, but if you fall short then no one will come or be blessed.
It’s thinking that if you just say the right magic combo of words, your friend will accept Christ, but if you forget a verse or stutter, they’re doomed for eternity.
We begin to feel like everything depends on us.
It doesn’t. Praise God!
This doesn’t mean I go on a Mom Strike and cease all cleaning, homework-helping, and dinner-cooking. As Oswald Chambers frequently wrote, we always give God “My Utmost for His Highest—my best for His glory.”
That’s our job, really, to offer our best sacrifice of service to God in every arena of our lives. We faithfully serve Him in all that we do.
But we leave the results up to Him. That’s His job.
Moses did his part well. We are told that he “was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action” (Acts 7:22). Still Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt.
It was the same for Stephen, the first martyr of the church. As the enemies of the early church prepared to stone him, Stephen delivered a brilliant and articulate sermon, filled with knowledge and insight that was directed by the Holy Spirit.
Still, the members of the Sanhedrin “covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him (Acts 7:57-58).
Had his speech fallen short? Did he need a few more semesters of Public Speaking at the local community college before trying another sermon?
Of course not. He gave his best. He did all that God asked of him. The note in my Bible says: “He had the gifts, the boldness, and the brilliance to be a powerful witness; yet even His witness would be rejected by the religious leaders. Hearts are opened only by God, not by our gifts, boldness, or brilliance.”
This means that our best efforts are enough and that the offerings of obedience we bring to God are acceptable to Him.
We heed Paul’s encouragement that “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men (Colossians 3:23). Then we leave the rest up to God.
We stop trying to carry burdens of responsibility and guilt on our own shoulders. We trust God to use us according to His plan, to help us in in our weaknesses, to strengthen us for each new day and to shower us with grace when we need it. After all, this never depends completely on us or rests fully on our shoulders; it’s always about Him.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King