“Is there anything I can do for you?”
That’s what I ask, but there isn’t anything right now….and that’s hard.
This, after all, is a love note I write to my family: one husband, three daughters, now one tiny son. In lunches packed, laundry washed, games played, songs sung, books read, homework helped, appointments made, chauffeuring done, I say, “I love you.”
But this is his message now to me in these first two weeks of life with a newborn, and it’s beautiful and yet all so overwhelming because part of me rebels and revolts, thinking, “I should be doing this.”
Yet, it’s my husband clearing up the dinner table, washing each dish, and there he is driving three far-too-busy daughters to dance classes three times a week and shuttling children back and forth to school and then from school day after day.
He pushes the cart in the grocery store and carries the baby carrier into the church. He serves the cereal in the morning and then bounces a restless newborn while I fix ponytails and bows into long blonde hair.
He forgoes sleep so I can sleep.
He’s been serving me all along, all these years of working hard and caring for me in many ways. But now it’s all-the-time service; it’s middle-of-the-night and throughout the day every day and it’s taking over my jobs and chores in addition to his own normal tasks.
I find it so hard to rest and accept the gift of love…to allow someone else the chance to say:
“I love you” as I wash this dish.
“I love you” as I care for these children.
“I love you” as I sacrifice and as I serve.
It still feels like it should be me giving, not receiving…doing, not resting….loving, not being loved.
Yet, I sit for so much of every day and every night now, cradling a newborn, feeding him, changing him, cooing over him, praying for him, running my hands over his soft skin and kissing his totally kissable cheeks.
And I think….
What if this helpless babe refused my help?
What if, in his need, he declined my acts of love?
He’d be utterly desperate, hungry, filthy. He’d be completely incapable of thriving. He could try as he might to function with determined independence, but he’d fail and he’d suffer.
He needs me to love him.
And I need to let others and let Christ love me with this unmerited, unselfish, undemanding grace, as well.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God” Galatians 2:20-21.
Nullifying grace. How could we do this?
How could we take the amazing grace of God as it pours down all over us and soaks us right through and reject it, make it thoroughly null and void and ineffective in our lives?
Surely it’s by trampling all over this sacrificial gift of God of blessing and forgiveness, salvation and daily mercy, with declarations of our own independence.
It’s refusing the gift and trying instead to earn it. It’s refusing to receive and demanding instead to be the one doing, serving and giving always.
It’s shaming myself for imperfections and living trapped in self-condemnation instead of accepting the freedom Christ offers.
And really, deep down is the ugly truth, it’s making faith all about me and my performance, and not at all about Him and His sacrifice.
Like Peter, I’m tempted at times to refuse the humility of Christ as He bends low to wash my feet. How shocking to see the Messiah on His knees.
Foolish Peter—he didn’t know how much He needed a Savior who served, so he told Jesus at the Last Supper, “No…you shall never wash my feet” (John 13:8 NIV). Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
Foolish me, how I forget that I need:
Without them, I have no part in Christ.
Peter submitted. He stopped protesting and willingly accepted the gift: “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:9).
This is what I need to learn…the submitting.
Sometimes, I need to let others give to me when I am needy and when I am weak.
And grace from Christ….that’s not something I need “sometimes.” It’s grace I need moment by moment, day by day, new every morning.
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 © 2012 Heather King