Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Tea

We cannot all do great things, 
but we can do small things with great love.
Mother Teresa

To everything there is a season
and a time to every purpose under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

It seems I am always fighting this finite-ness of time and energy and stuff.  There is so much I want to do and as I write a little and garden a little and wait while a loaf of honey whole wheat bread rises on the warmth of the stove... it still doesn't seem like enough.

I wanted to do great things for God.  I wanted to change the world.  I wanted to grow all my own food and weave cloth and play a dulcimer and go to Israel and hike Alps to L'Abri with Stephanie.  I wanted to write deep books that make people think and perhaps a poem or two or three and I wanted to embrace all that is Beautiful.

But the dreams of youth were awakened by the passing of years and the finite-ness of... everything.  There were seasons with plenty of time and no money.  Then there were seasons of abundance but everyone was too busy with everyday living.  Just as Stephanie was old enough to appreciate Schaeffer's L'Abri... along came a surprise baby brother (albeit a nice surprise).

I truly believe eternity dwells within the heart of mankind (and womankind).   We feel the frustration of limitations.  Rarely are we satisfied with the time we have or the resources at our disposal.  We were created in the image of the Eternal and have battled time since Eden.

So... my ponderings this week were a reminder to myself that I must spend time with Him... and perhaps write out some thoughts regarding what I want to do, what I need to do, what I have to do, and what can be accomplished given... limitations.

For I am certain God does not expect the impossible... the difficult, yes... but not that which can't be done.  I cannot do it all.  I found myself about a week ago with a cluttered house, too few things done on the "To Do" list, a lawn in serious need of work due to last year's necessary neglect, a garden to prepare weeks earlier than expected, not enough time to write, a host of e-mails and letters left parked with no attention, and that's just the stuff that needed to be done.

It was interesting how He finally got my attention and slowed me down to listen... a pulled muscle along with interesting reading about one of my favorite Christian leaders, Jonathon Edwards.  I can't recall what exactly I read that gave me peace but I think it was just the atmosphere that came about by my reading... feeling myself inspired by someone like Edwards... which caused Wisdom to sift through my list.

The above verse in Ecclesiastes kept floating to the top of my thinking, reminding me that life comes in seasons and phases.  Priorities shift with the days and months and years.  Somehow He that is the giver of all Wisdom helps me sift through the list of all things to be accomplished and to prioritize them according to the day and the season.  With it came... peace.

A week later the essential lawn work which is my responsibility has been accomplished.  It looks pretty good if not perfect.  Two of the raised beds are now hoed and raked and ready for hubby to mix in some compost as seedlings and seeds await their new home.  However, the raised bed which won't be planted for weeks stands unattended, waiting it's turn in proper season.

There was even time available for a few Last of the Summer Wine episodes Friday evening and a couple Elizabeth George books perused Saturday night (her books are among those I reread for wisdom quite often).  Each enjoyed after dinner was prepared and dishes were drying in their red Rubbermaid drainer.

A lesson learned this past week... I just can't do life without Him.  It isn't possible.  I'd be even more a mess than I am without God's guidance.  I don't know why I'm surprised when He gives clarity in the midst of chaos.  He tells us numerous times in His Word that we have but to ask for wisdom and it is ours.  He reminds us there is a "time to plant and a time to harvest, etc.".

He knows we are made in His image to create and design and enjoy fulfilling work.  He is well aware of our responsibilities, whether to bring home the bacon or to cook it (and for some people... both).  He knows our longing to curl up with a good book or a favorite movie.  He gets it.  He wants to help and waits while we run around in circles.

Each day I have to ask for instructions for this twenty-four hours of my life.  What is essential today?  Given the season and my finite-ness... what must be done today and what can wait.  How can I make time to fulfill my destiny as well as fill my soul with Beauty? How can I be true to the passion within, the God given desire of the heart?  What can only I do, Lord?

Most of all, as the lovely quote from Mother Teresa reminds me... whatever I do must be done in love.   Without it I am but a "clanging cymbal".  The goal is not to check everything off my "To Do" list.

The goal is to accomplish the journey He has set before me and to serve Him by serving those He loves... my family, friends, and those He brings along my path.  Sometimes that is easy to forget when the list is really, really long.


Connie said...

Thank you. I too run around in circles some days . . . those are the days that I try to do everything in my timing, and in my way. Instead I know that slowing down and listening for that sweet voice that pulls me back to where I should be, is what I need to be doing. To a place of peace and well being. I think that is why when we start our day off with the Lord, early in the morning we are able to step out in the right direction and then it's easier to stay on that path. The world has so many distractions, and sometime they show up in laundry, dishes, shopping, fixing meals, working in the garden . . . whatever they may be . . . if we let them steal our day , without time for the Lord, then all the chores may get done, but the spirit feels dull and hungry. Oh my, I have rambled on and on . . .I'll end this by just saying, thank you for sharing and God bless you, Connie

Rebecca said...

Oh, Brenda. When I began reading this post, I was going to comment almost line-by-line. The further I read, the more I realized I could identify with almost EVERYthing.

In my opinion, this was one of best (if not THE best) you've written.

For me, it captures the essence of the inner and outer realities of life this side of heaven.

How I wish we could sit and share a bit of ourselves over a REAL Sunday afternoon cup of tea.

Vee said...

I run around in circles and fritter time away, which is worse. It strikes me that you are doing just what the Lord would have you doing. I don't know how many will wander through your blog today, but I daresay the attendance will be higher than many churches. It's another forum that the Lord has for His purposes.

Linda Chapman said...

I so agree with all you have said. I often feel like I have failed God.....because I HAVE failed him! God does not want so very much the THINGS I DO but he wants ME. And I am ashamed that in my business I forget this sometimes. On the drive home from Houston yesterday, I turned OFF the radio and the audio book.....and drove home in either silence where I could pray and then listen - alternated with singing. I carry an old hym book in the car at all times. Now I CANNOT sing.....but I can and I DID Praise God with my in a joyful noise!
Lovely, thoughtful post this morning. I am a new follower and looking forward to getting to know you better!
Linda C

Anonymous said...

Nearing my 60th birthday, I have come to see that most likely I will not complete all the projects I had hoped to. And we are going to be moving soon, "smaller", someplace...and I must decide what materials to give away, etc. Life changes. However, one should never give up hopes entirely either...sometimes life surprizes us. We made it to Jerusalem over a year ago, for 16 days. Something I never expected to happen. One must keep on plugging ahead and doing whatever we can.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda. This is exactly what I needed on a morning I can't make it to church. Much food for thought. I also agree with what Connie, Rebecca and Vee have said before me. They all hit what I was thinking.

Have a Blessed day!


Fixing My Thoughts said...

Rebecca beat me to my comment, so I echo her that I think this is your best post ever! (And I hope you do write a book or two.) Bess

Anonymous said...

Absolutely! This is one of your best Sunday posts yet.

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how much I needed to receive and read this post today. Thanks for sharing and passing on some much needed encouragement.

Mrs. H said...

You are so blessed by God with the skill of writing. This was a deep, insightful post that really struck a chord with me. Thank you!

Anita Archer said...

Even though I've been retired now for 15 years I still don't have time to do everything I want to do or need to do. But live is good. I do take time for blogging! 8) Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I love your cheerful new zinnia header. I'm growing zinnias, red ones, this year. It's been years since I grew zinnias, but I'm feeling nostaglic. I had the most charming garden when my older boys were tiny, just bright zinnias and marigolds. It was so beautiful in its simplicity.

I think it is a sign of wisdom to accept one's limitations, don't you? I am tired of fighting against mine!

Can't wait to read your new "project."


Mrs.Rabe said...

I am reading here now Monday morning. I needed to hear these words today, and I am certain I will reread them in the days ahead...

Blessings dear friend,

Suze said...

Boy - I am right where you are....working outside the home SO gets in the way of what I want to accomplish....but I have no choice. I have a half painted room, furniture from Ikea that needs to be put together and the old furniture it's replacing emptied and thrown out. Sigh. I love that you are able to feel at peace - I can drive myself nuts for days before I get peaceful relief and I just let it all go and do what I can.

HeatherMavis said...

I wish I read this sooner. I have been struggling with these very limitations - - again. It seems to comes with the seasons. I have expectations for myself - other things I know others expect of me. It's enough to make me freeze up and do nearly nothing . Then wisdom finally prevails. The Lord led you to complete thoughts and put a voice to them.
This is one to save. Thank you Brenda
Lord, continue to soften my heart so surrendering to your will each day comes with less grief less regret, but thank you for your Grace and your promise to redeem that which has been lost. In Jesus name, Amen

Front Porch Grace said...

Really, really good stuff here, Brenda. So timely. Especially with the deaths of a couple of close family members and all the deep thinking that the experience with true finite-ness brings.

Thank you, yet again.

Confirmation and encouragement all wrapped up in one beautiful post.

In His Grace,

Front Porch Grace said...

And may I add that I also want to echo Rebecca's comment.

Excellent post.

Would also love to sit over a real cup of Sunday afternoon tea. : )