There are some mornings when I’m reading my Bible, that I get a glimpse of a peacefully calm life where everything is peachy keen and I’m floating around wearing rose colored glasses with a dopey smile on my face. Because that’s what God can do for you. Let you know that everything is A-OK. That time with him can be calming and peace-giving to your hectic soul.
But then there are mornings when I’m reading my Bible that God takes the ideas I’ve formed over the last 27 years and blows them up in my face. I can see these ideals laying in a pile before me, and I see a grenade careening to the air hitting the pile with a thud the second before the mushroom cloud ascends and everything is obliterated to dust. Because that’s what God can do for you. He opens your eyes to see that while you didn’t necessarily have His Word wrong, you also didn’t see the bigger picture until that moment when he destroyed the old to make way for the new.
Hebrews 5 talks all about how Jesus was called by God to be a High Priest; to die on the cross for my eternal salvation. I’ve heard this a bazillion and one times every time I sit in a straight-backed church pew.
But what no one has ever told me before was that Jesus was in agony over his role in the Gospel.
I knew that He prayed to God the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane that He would be delivered from the cross. Obviously that didn’t happen. I really thought that’s all it was. A simple, “Do I have to? Really? Okay then, I’ll do it.” I had no idea that he cried, he pleaded, he sent up prayers of agony that His Father would release him from His calling. And God heard him. And instead of releasing Jesus from death, He allowed Jesus to learn true obedience through His suffering.
That’s when it hit me. Discipline, Suffering, and Obedience are not neat little ideas wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string to be given as presents. No. Instead they are abstract and complicated thoughts that have been put into a blender with the setting on high and have been pulsed so hard you can’t extract one without also pulling out the others. I can’t have suffering without also learning obedience and discipline. I can’t learn obedience without going through suffering and using discipline. I will never be disciplined until I go through suffering and learn true obedience.
For Jesus, in this particular example, it was obedience to His ultimate calling. He wanted out of what He had been preparing for for 33 years. He didn’t want to suffer humiliation or death.
I hear a lot about this calling Jesus has placed on all our lives. That we must obey the calling. That we must go forth and do it. That we must not be scared or use excuses but to know that He has called us for a reason.
And I believe it all. But I also think that we’ve started captializing it and putting it on a pedestal and shrouded it with fog machines and stuck a spotlight on it and preached it so many times that the Calling gets all the focus and all the attention.
But what about the day-to-day? What am I to do when God has Called me to His plan, but right now I still have to clean poop off the floor. What do I do about my Calling when I spend 40+ hours a week in a classroom teaching students–a calling unto its own, but perhaps not The Calling. What about those times when I’m being called but I literally don’t have a single dish, utensil, or pan that is clean in my house? Do I pursue my Calling then? Or do I pursue my latex gloves and a sponge?
It might sound a little crazy, comparing suffering through my daughter’s potty training to the suffering Jesus felt when He was told to go die for the world, but that’s what it is. Suffering. And perhaps spending three hours cleaning things that are just going to get dirty again isn’t going to save the world, but it is being obedient to my Jesus, who has called me to be a wife and mother alongside my other Calling. And you might scoff at the bags under my eyes formed from getting up early every morning, because who isn’t tired, but to me I’m suffering from lack of sleep. But I’m gaining discipline every time I obey God’s call to read my Bible.
I think this is something worthwhile to keep unpacking: Obedience in the form of Suffering and Discipline. And I’m starting to think all this talk about intentionality, discipline, and thriving in the midst of toddlerhood is overshadowing and belittling what is Most Important. Obedience in the day-to-day mundane.