Thursday, November 3, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

 The weekend before last we planned to meet my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and the cousins for our annual Fall foliage train ride on the Kiski Junction railroad. A series of mishaps, including an ill-advised stop for doughnuts, a wrong turn in the middle of podunk Pennsylvania, and getting rear-ended by a teenager on his way to karate practice - no joke- meant that we pulled into the train station as the red beauty pictured above was pulling out, with my parents, sis, bro-in-law, and cousins all waving sadly from the caboose. Chloe burst into tears. I muttered a few nasty words under my breath and then accused Greg of ruining the morning for me tried to cheer her up by promising her that we would go find a park, eat up all the doughnuts, and take the next train in a couple of hours. 

A little bit of sunshine, a little bit of sugar, and the very odd but much appreciated mural of elephants on the side of someone's garage by the park was all it took to get smiles back on the faces of these kids...

but the morning's misadventure really got me to thinking...

Why is it that I so often feel as though I'm taking one step forward and two steps back in my Christian walk? When is it that I will finally "arrive" as the person I long to be, all the time?

After our morning at the odd little park we found in the heart of podunk, we made our way back to the train station and hopped on for the 2:00 pm ride. We had the pleasure of meeting this sweet lady, who worked for the railroad and was a veritable powerhouse of information on all things locomotive.

She told us not only a nearly encyclopedic history of the Kiski Junction Railroad, but also all sorts of interesting little tidbits about trains in general. The difference between diesel and electric locomotives, for example, and the fact that train whistles actually have specific meanings. Those engineers aren't just tooting merrily along as they cruise across the country - they're actually communicating with one another! Who knew?! Two long whistles mean the train is moving forward. Three short ones mean the train is going in reverse.

I wonder if God sometimes would like to adopt the same system with me...

So often I get caught up in worldly desires, and allow myself to be fooled into thinking that if I just get this one last thing, do this one last home improvement, make a little more money, or have a little more time, I will be filled up with the contentment that all too often eludes me. Toot toot toot!!

The next day I ignore the dirty floors and sink full of lunch dishes and spend time reading my Bible and in prayer. Toot toot!

Then Greg calls to tell me he's going to be late because he's sitting in traffic and, in despair, I accuse him of making up the "so-called traffic story," lose my temper with him and then the kids, and then feel like a failure for losing my temper with him and then the kids. Toot toot toot!

I am truly sorry. I ask for his forgiveness, and I ask for the kids' forgiveness, and I pray for God's forgiveness.  Toot toot!

The next morning I wake up and waste time reading blogs and catching up with the ridiculous lives of ridiculous celebrities on, and then am frustrated and short-tempered when I realize I haven't gotten any of the things God has actually called me to do done. Toot toot toot!

Later, I take time to just be quiet. I nurse the baby. I'm grateful for the silent phone, rather than wishing it would ring. In the stillness of the day, I am filled with thankfulness for all He has lavishly blessed me with. Healthy children. A husband who seeks and models Him to our family. A full refrigerator. The beauty of the changing dogwood from my window. Forgiveness. Grace. Salvation. Toot toot!

Sometimes the knowledge that I'll never "arrive," this side of Heaven makes me tired. 

But then I am reminded that I am precious to Him: "The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you." (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

The truth of that promise is almost more than I can comprehend. The creator of the universe didn't set His affection on me because I succeed at being perfect, if even for one day. 

It has always only been because He loved me.

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