The words things are not always what they seem keep running through my mind. Those words take me back to a crazy time in my life when my boys were small.
I was a stay at home mom that home schooled my three boys ages four, five and seven and babysat as many as four other children at a time. I was active in our church, going to rehearsals, bible studies, and practicing hospitality by hosting dinners for other families at least twice a week. It was a crazy busy time.
One morning I had no kids to babysit and I had just injured myself so I was laying in bed. I heard my boys up and roaming around but I just lay still as I could, hoping they would not know I was awake.
As I was beginning to think my quietness was working, I heard in the other room something heavy drop and that noise was followed a few seconds later by a small voice saying, “It was not my fault!”
Let me tell you at that moment I was fuming. My precious quiet morning had been spoiled and they were in there clearly doing something that they should not be doing.
I threw the covers back and injured or not made it quickly to the living room my anger mounting. Grumbling to myself’ ‘ How dare they get into mischief. Is nothing I am teaching them sinking in? Can I not get a moments peace for anything? I am SO tired!”
As I come into the kitchen my anger was quickened by the sight before my eyes. The boys had gotten into the purple grape juice and somehow managed to spill it all over the table, the white walls, their clothes. Purple grape juice was dripping onto the floor from the table and even off the top of the dogs head and onto her paws as she lay there under the dripping. She looked at me with her pitiful eyes and an expression saying, “I didn’t do it.”
My top was ready to blow. I was about to yell at the boys about the mess they had made, about how grape juice stains and how they were not to get into the grape juice without asking! When a voice in my heart that I knew well had spoken to me.
So I did, I stopped right there in my tracks and still fuming asked, “why?”
There it was again that voice and this time it said. “Look”
So I looked closer. With the mess in hand they hadn’t noticed me standing there. My five year old was handing my four year old a towel. The three of them were working together to clean the mess. Just as I thought this was the lesson I was to see, I saw it. They had three half pieces of bread sitting on the table and three cups among the puddles of grape juice. It was dawning on me that every lesson I was working so hard to teach them truly was sinking in. Some more slowly than others.
When the boys saw me, they smiled. ” Look mama, we are having communion!” said my five year old with pride.
Let me tell you my heart was bursting and suddenly I was struck by how damaging my fuming could have been to those tender hearts. They were not being malicious, or bad. They were taking a lesson that I had taught them and excited to use it at home. They were sharing with one another and taking care of one another and I almost crushed their spirit.
Years later as I look back, I can’t help but relate this to other areas in my life. How often do I rush in and want the mess cleaned up, without looking at what good is coming from that very mess? How often do I not hear that voice that I once so clearly heard that day?
Things are not only what they seem on the first examination. We do not always have the whole picture, only what is stirring us and making us uncomfortable for the moment.
This is my challenge to my friends this day. Reflect back on some of the most frustrating moments. Were there times when the frustrating moments were all you saw and glimmers of hope, life, joy, friendship or an outcome you never expected overlooked?
Sometimes we want to barge ahead and name it, claim it, change it or pray it away and we forget to see the work that is really being done.
Things in this life, are definitely not always what they seem.
And thankfully if there truly is nothing there except a big old mess, we have the back up necessary to clean it up!