Right now we're studying the book of Daniel, following along with a Beth Moore study. A few weeks ago we delved into the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three men who refused to worship the king and were thus thrown into the fire. Under God's protection, no harm came to them, and when they came out just as they went in, the king's men were obviously shocked. They noted that not even their clothes were burned and there was no smell of fire on them. In the discussion that followed, we talked about how you can't really even get near fire without walking away smelling like smoke. And how often we walk around, being thrown into the fire of our day, coming out smelling up everything around us with all the leftovers.
Like me for example. The message hit home in a major way. How often (daily) do I spend my day meeting the needs of all my kids - meals and drop offs and pick ups and laundry and sweeping and correcting and cuddling and snacks and soothing and changing and wiping and snacks and time outs and answering questions and snacks and homework and you get the picture. It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. The highest highs and the lowest lows can all be experienced in a day of parenting. It's beautiful and fulfilling and tedious and grueling and wonderful. If I am being honest, it takes most of what I am every day. And by the time 6 o'clock rolls around and my husband walks through the door, I'm tired and ready to get the bedtime routine underway. And I'm often cranky, if I'm being honest. And boy oh boy, do I smell like smoke. I want my husband to know it's been a hard day. I might not say it outright, but he can tell. But guess what? He's had a hard day, too. He's met needs all day long. He gives and gives and then comes home and gives some more. Usually without huffing around. Usually with joy.
It was convicting to say the least. I love serving my family. There are days when it takes every last bit of my will to do it without letting everyone around me know it's hard. And honestly, that just makes me angry. At myself. Because I love these people with all that I am and I'd actually like them to know it.
There's a verse that comes to mind in all of this.
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2
Oh Lord, let me smell of incense and not of smoke. Help my heart to be filled with joy - not based on circumstance, but because I know you are in the trenches with me. That you are my portion and you have given me a great, immeasurable gift in this family. Yes, at times it's hard. It's refining and challenging and if I let it, strengthening. There are a million more beautiful, endearing, humorous moments than hard ones and I don't want to miss those. Change me every day, God, to be more of who you've created me to be. To be one who can go through fire and come out with no smell of fire on me.