My son stepped out on the front porch this morning.
He was, thankfully, fully dressed (not just hanging out in his pajamas or, what’s worse, a t-shirt and diaper).
He even had on his winter coat and his wooly tiger hat.
But he was still wearing his Batman socks. No shoes. Just socks.
Who has time for shoes, anyway? His sisters had just completed the morning dash: shoes, coats, hats and gloves, backpacks, lunch bags.
He tried to sneak outside with them at first. He wove himself into the line and stared determinedly straight ahead, hoping to avoid my gaze and maybe escape my notice while he slipped out the door.
Of course, I scooped him up out of the line and told him to say goodbye to the girls.
He cried instead, grabbing at their coats to either make them stay or allow him to go.
Finally, we stood at the door watching for the bus. He pushed the door open, a little further, a little further, until he finally stepped out onto the damp porch, Batman socks and all.
Then the bus arrived, and he cried some more.
Now, this is not the first day of school.
We are now five months into this school year, halfway to summer vacation.
Still the mornings involve tears and wet Batman socks.
My son doesn’t just have to do the hard thing and say goodbye to his sisters. He has to do it day after day, week after week, and it never really gets easy or even easier.
I realize as I watch him that sometimes I think obeying God means doing it once and being done.
There. I obeyed. Now can I go back to what I wanted to do?
Or I think that doing the hard thing is a one-time sacrifice.
There. I forgave. Now I’m over that.
Or, I fixed my attitude. I took charge of my emotions. I chose worship over self-pity. I shut down the lies of insecurity. I fought for contentment over jealousy.
But God sometimes asks us to do the hard thing and then to do it again and again. He asks us to walk in daily obedience, as Eugene Peterson calls it, “a long obedience in the same direction.”
It’s taking that first step of obedience and then keep on keeping on, step after step after step without turning back or giving in or giving up.
We are dying to self daily and loading crosses onto backs morning after morning.
We are choosing forgiveness over bitterness today and tomorrow and the day after that.
I read about Moses meeting with God on that holy mountain:
The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up (Exodus 19:20 ESV).
Moses was an octogenarian mountain climber, scaling Mt. Sinai for this meeting with God’s glory.
But he didn’t just climb up once. Oh no.
He gets up to the top and God tells him, “Go down and warn the people…..Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you….So Moses went down” (Exodus 19:21, 24, 25).
Then he had to go back up and draw “near to the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21)
Moses then “came and told the people the words of the Lord” and the Lord told Him to come up again (Exodus 24:12) so “Moses rose with his assistant Joshua and Moses went up into the mountain of God.”
Up and down and up and down Moses went. God called him up. Moses climbed up. God sent him down. Moses walked down.
At some point, I might have said “Enough, God. I’m good here. I’m too old and too tired for this. Just tell me what you want me to know because I don’t want to do the hard thing anymore. No more climbing the mountain.”
But Moses would have missed God’s glory if he had given up or refused to continue.
And the beautiful, most amazing thing is that while Moses came up, God also came down.
The Lord met Moses there on that mountain.
He does the same for us.
Yes, what He calls us to do might be difficult.
Yes, He might ask us to do it again and again and again.