The last Saturday in September found me leisurely driving through the backroads of southern Ontario headed north. The leaves had started to turn, the corn had goldened, and every turn and hill and valley revealed some new splendour altogether lovely. Aspens and pines replaced the maples as the rolling fields gave way to the granite rock that forms the Canadian shield and hugs the many lakes of the small communities surrounding Georgian Bay.
I didn’t really have time for this dash north to see friends, but then again, I didn’t have time not to go. Sometimes, what we most need is to leave the “To do” list in the drawer, the grading pile on the shelf, and the unit plan for another day. Sometimes, we need to be alone for three hours and worship the One Whose hands hold us, to revel in the rain that blurs the last few miles, to give thanks that faithfully, even when no one sees, He gives all these.
While up north, I had the chance to pop in on a friend with a bouquet of zinnias snatched quickly from my mother’s flower bed. My friend had had a hard few months. After years of caring for loved ones with terminal illnesses, she was simply deep-down-in-the-bones exhausted. We had a lovely little chat, and I walked away, gently in awe of that kind of faithfulness.
This summer another friend finally released her terminally ill loved one to the care of professionals, and while the strain isn’t gone, she’s finding, too, just how close to the edge of herself she came.
It would seem that we who love the Lord and daily go to Him for guidance shouldn’t get so tired, shouldn’t run so close to empty, shouldn’t find ourselves with no strength for anything but rest. It would seem.
But not all is at it seems.
I wonder if the most heroic thing in life is to do again the ordinary, mundane thing, (to do it again, and no one ever notices).
To mow the lawn again, to fold the towels again, to wipe the chalkboard again, to pray for that loved one again, to gently talk the mentally disturbed to a place of quiet again–this is the stuff of faithfulness.
The eleventh chapter in Hebrews, that Hall of Faith of those heroes of faith, says it all. Abel tended his sheep, watching them hour after hour, before he offered that sacrifice more excellent than Cain’s. Enoch diligently sought God and sought to please Him and sought Him so long that God let Himself by found by Enoch without the doors of death. Noah spent half a lifetime felling gopher trees and swinging his hammer and preaching to mockers, before he ever saw a drop of rain or heard the slam of God shutting the door of the ark. Abraham went out of Ur and every morning, he went out further and after days of wilderness wandering, he finally knew he’d found the Promised Land.
Generations later, the sons of Abraham found themselves once again in the wilderness. Every morning the dew left behind small round dots of “What is this?” It was manna, small round bites of the faithfulness of God. They tried to stock pile it and save it for another day, and it turned moldy and wormy. Their act of self-preservation mocked the daily faithfulness of God.
I’d certainly like to stock pile patience, to store up wisdom, to have an extra stash of self-control on hand, a pinch of gentleness in my pocket, but God doesn’t operate that way. There is a reason our Lord taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” God created us to need His provision, because ultimately, He created us to need Him.
We need Him every day. The Bread of Life is daily bread.
Maybe then, it is the constant “with-ness” of God that makes Him so amazing. He is not busy or sleeping or on a journey like Elijah suggested of the god Baal. He walks beside us. He waits with us. He holds the provision for each hour in His hand. He does not need to rain down fire to tend that flame of faith upon the altar in my soul.