Sometimes in life, a girl just needs to have a chandelier in her bedroom. I’m not one who rearranges furniture every season and really ever desires for things to be different. I plan my home and decor so that it’s homey and inviting and a place I’m happy to come home to, and then I’m generally content with it the way it is. But then sometimes I’m this whole other person who suddenly decides to impulsively rearrange my furniture and install a glam chandelier.
I’m not especially handy, but did take a class a year or so ago – DIY Home Repairs for Women. Yes, even in our world saturated with feminists shrieking choruses of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” there was a class geared to teach women some small home maintenance skills. One of those skills was changing out a light fixture. I never sat around wishing to have this particular aptitude, but now that I had it, I was ready to start my own HGTV special–I felt as if I could take on any electrical project!
That feeling of confidence quickly faded. Did you know that things don’t always go as planned, even when you’ve passed a class with flying colors? It’s true. I didn’t want to drag the ladder in for this project, so I decided that standing on my bed would be sufficient. Well, I guess I needed to remind myself that at my whopping 5’3” stature, I can’t really reach things by myself and that the mattress was not stable enough to give me any height advantage. I would have given anything for “go-go-gadget arms” to get the job done. I struggled for awhile and even dangerously perched myself on the very narrow footboard of the bed on my tiptoes–all to avoid the ladder. All I succeeded in was wasting time and prolonging the job.
I finally gave in and went to the garage to drag in the ladder and actually finished the job without an electric fire or emergency room visit. My mother would be pround of me.
This adventure taught me some good lessons in endurance. We’re weeks into our lives being flipped upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. At week one, we were hunkering down and learning to appreciate emptier schedules and time for bread making or family movie night..or at the very least trying to make the best of the changes. But now, it might be getting cumbersome and harder to live with. I remember telling someone that years 2 and 3 after my divorce were far harder than year 1 because at that point, you realize that this is your real life and you’ve got to find a way to live it and not keep hoping it just all goes away and you get to go back to “normal.” This is the new normal. You must find God’s purpose in your real, actual life. That’s sometimes very challenging.
Have a Good Foundation
So, yes, my bed made the worst foundation for me to stand on while trying to get this light installed. I knew it the moment I decided to try it. I especially knew it an hour into the process when I had exhausted every idea to try to gain an extra half inch of height, fully knowing that it was impossible to reach everything I needed to in this manner. It wasn’t until I actually stood on the ladder that I had the stability I needed to get the job done.
But how often do we do this in our spiritual lives? We’d rather do cartwheels on the bed rather than just go get the ladder and do what we know we need to.
I used to sing a Sunday School song growing up, “Read your Bible, pray everyday, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” But I often find myself on the other side of that song, “Neglect your Bible, forget to pray, and you’ll shrink, shrink, shrink.”
How often do we pray and ask God to help with fighting a sin but haven’t read His Word to give us a means of fighting it? Or memorized Scripture to combat that sin? Or actually confessed it as sin and sought repentance? Or how often will we talk to God about a sin but won’t humble ourselves in an apology to the one we hurt?
A good foundation will make all the difference. Are we reading God’s word so that it can change us? Are we looking for Him in Scripture so we can get to know Him more deeply? Are we memorizing Scripture? Praying for others? Is our foundation solid steel or lumpy mattress?
Theory vs. Practice
I had a job where we used to frequently use the phrase, “Good in theory; bad in practice.” We had an HR department that always wanted to try these great new initiatives. The problem was that none of the HR people had ever actually tried to do any of our jobs. On paper, these plans were innovative and profitable. But in real life, they didn’t make sense with how we needed to do our jobs.
In theory, changing a light fixture is securing the hot wires together and the neutral wires together and … Voila! Let there be light. But what that doesn’t take into consideration is the small, old electrical box, the fact that my fingers can’t actually fit in to do the wiring with everything secured the way the instructions are written, and that I don’t have three hands – one to hold the chandelier and two to do the wiring … among other adversity I encountered. In practice, there were more hurdles to overcome, more testing of information to see what worked, more problem solving.
Theoretical Christianity is built on theory; real Christianity is built in the trenches of practice. There’s no formula to gain the desired outcome. It’s messy. It’s stepping out on faith without having assurance of all the “right” answers. It’s trusting God and investing in and knowing the shortcomings of our children so that we can love them and show them God’s love without sending them through their day with a list of behavioral do’s and don’ts and hoping for the best. It’s sinning and repenting and trusting Christ’s righteousness more than our own to cover our sins. It can be high highs and low lows.
But it’s getting our hands in there and figuring out how to do the work. Learning how to trust God, how to lean on His understanding and away from our own, how to accept His sovereign will over ours.
In the end the only reason my light is hanging is sheer endurance. I wanted to quit, I thought about it so many times, but I just took the next step, and the next step, and the next…until the task was completed. Sometimes life requires the fortitude to grit our teeth and keep going.
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:3-4
Every day won’t be sunny and easy, but God is in every day, so we can endure. Paul is a lasting example of endurance. He had to persevere through many trials, including being left for dead, prison, shipwreck, snake bite, false accusations, arrests, rejection of his own people. God didn’t spare him trials, He just said His grace was sufficient and that His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Do we believe that? Do we live like we believe it? Press on today! May God strengthen us in our endurance and enlighten our paths.