My oldest daughters were still preschoolers when our library hosted a dance party for kids. We decided to see what a dance party for tiny tots looked like.
There was some Hokey Pokey and something like Sweatin’ to the Oldies. My kids jumped into the middle of the room and boogied down with the best of them while I sat criss-cross applesauce on the edge of the circle and smiled.
And I marveled at one of my mom friends, who hokey-pokied with the best of them, dancing with her only son.
How does she do it? I wondered.
People asked me the same question for years as I worked from home with young kids, balancing work production with Candy Land breaks, juice cup refills, baby doll changes, and searches for Barbie’s perpetually missing shoe.
But I told them that it wasn’t so amazing for me as a momma to three. My kids played with each other (with periodic fights, of course). How much more amazing was the mom with one child!
Besides, somehow we made it through despite the hard days. The kids ripped the house to shreds and pieces while I worked and I couldn’t come behind them and clean up or cajole them all day to pick up their own blocks, Barbies, babies, Little People, dollhouse, movies, crayons, and dress-up.
Some days I felt like capital-F Failure mom for too much TV time and too little creative play. There were times I rocked a tiny screaming baby while crying from fatigue myself and I thought: I….can’t….do…..it….all. That’s a realization that hurts.
Some nights I coached myself in preparation for my husband’s call on his way home from work: Good wives don’t explode about their day to a weary husband stressed with his own stuff. Good wives don’t complain about fighting children and the two-year-old who dumped a bar of soap in the fish tank. Good wives don’t cry on the phone while they are making dinner in the kitchen, hiding out from the living room that is covered in princess dresses and tiaras, with a screaming baby on her hip and two preschoolers in the play room battling out who had the doll first.
But of course, my husband would ask the question: How was your day? And what do you do then but explode into an unintelligible mess of tears while you stir the spaghetti?
So often, we miss this grace, this invisible presence of God and the way He helps us through. We think grace is only the obvious, only the easy, only the deliverance from and not the deliverance through.
Yet, sometimes there’s nothing simple about it. Sometimes even grace is messy and difficult.
Occasionally, grace is God stretching our miniscule faith. We feel the aches and pains of growth, the throbbing in our souls and we think, “I can’t do it, not one minute more, not one single day.” But there we are, rising with the sun again, giving it another try, and leaning hard on Jesus, somehow making it through.
This past week, I paused for thanks, amazed that somehow God helped me have a productive day even with three daughters home on summer vacation.
That’s when God shone light on the invisible grace from all those past years. In the blindness of the moment, I’d missed it.
He used almost seven years of me typing medical reports at my computer with kids at my feet to prepare us for the here and now of me writing with young children.
God doesn’t waste the tough days, difficult seasons, dry spells, or training times for any of us. He’s a Redeemer of each season, a recycler of past refuse, a Creator of all things beautiful in their own time, and He is surely working in you today in preparation for tomorrow.
That’s how God worked in David:
He chose David His servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
He brought him from tending ewes
to be shepherd over His people Jacob—
over Israel, His inheritance.
He shepherded them with a pure heart
and guided them with his skillful hands (Psalm 78:70-72 HCSB).
God didn’t need a palace-trained king. He needed a shepherd for His people, so He taught David out in the fields, long before this shepherd donned the crown and the robe and ruled as King of Israel.
God had a plan all along.
We may only see the now-invisible grace in the looking back.
For now, we have to grip on with white-knuckled determination, knowing that He’ll use this for His glory, knowing it won’t be wasted, knowing somehow He’ll prepare us for the future with Him.
…Knowing grace is here even when it’s invisible.
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