Funny how God nudges us into being sometimes.
My Mr. is in a state of stress at work. For him, as for a lot of us, stress equals insomnia. It doesn't take much to rouse him. And once he's up, he's up for a good long stretch. I'm sending up a prayer for him and his sleepless stress, and for all the insomniacs awake right now. Peace and stillness, Lord, shower them with peace and stillness. Gently drift them back into luxurious, rejuvenating sleep.
So here's what woke him tonight: our dog. The third child. The one with tons of shedding fur and the sweetest face. For some reason, he's decided tonight is the perfect night to sleep outside.
Since I don't have to work tomorrow, er, make that today, I took over the challenge of getting the pooch back in the house. Flexibility. It's one of the gifts of my cobbled-together part-time professions.
And though I don't like being stirred from sleep by a restless dog or an anxious husband, tonight it has been a gift.
It's October. Two-thirds into October. Where I live that means frosty nights and forceful winds, a threat of snow, pulling out winter layers and piling them on over summer-thinned skin.
Not tonight. Tonight we're enjoying the last flirtations with Indian Summer. When I say "Indian," I say it with complete reverence for the indigenous peoples who love the land and its cycles and its surprises. Who celebrate the last sighs of warmth before the earth goes to sleep for a long winter's nap.
So I sat on the front stoop, watching our pooch settle in the crisp oak leaves, a safe distance from my ploys to bring him inside. I sat wondering at this nocturnal gift of warm winds, whispers from falling autumn foliage, a silent night overlooked by a sleeping world. Sighing prayers of gratitude for the surprising gift of watching one contented dog nestle in to sleep among the scattered leaves.
Flexibility. It takes life's surprises and stretches them into satisfaction.
Now that I've been nudged awake to celebrate this gift, now that the family pet has been persuaded to sleep indoors, lest he wake everyone again with the 5:00 a.m. arrival of the newspaper (hmmm, a digital subscription makes more and more sense), my own slumber plays hard to get. And with a 31 Day blog challenge nipping at my heels, I write.
Flexibility. It embraces life's opportunities and makes the most of them, with peace and gratitude, not begrudging groans.
I write this, and the irony does not escape me. This feels out-of-body foreign. For I have historically been the insomniac, recovered now with better diet and exercise, with gentler ways of being. Traditionally I would be grudging and groaning against this early morning alertness. Where does this flexibility come from? What has forged this relaxed embrace of the uninvited nighttime interruption?
Only one answer makes sense. This is a gift from God. This is the Holy Spirit, getting comfortable and snuggling into my soul. This is the moments of being still, of being me and humble before God, slowly and certainly coming to fruition.
When we rest in the Lord, the rest of life loses it's hard edges. Grace embraces us and imbues us with resilience. Flexibility. It should be listed as a fruit of the Spirit.
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I can see it fitting in, right between peace and patience. When God grants those two gifts, we have the flexibility to take life's surprises and stretch them into satisfaction.
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Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:16bFaith led Ruth into flexibility. Her flexibility led her into a new marriage that produced a son, then a grandson, then a great-grandson named David. And you know where the story goes from there, all the way to Christ.
Today let's settle into stillness. Let's follow Ruth's lead and create space for our faith to make us more flexible.
You and I both know I like to make my own plans, to lull myself into a false sense of control. And we both know how well that turns out: one step forward, three step backwards, and a stumble off to the side.
Lord, in this moment help me to be still and listen to you. Open my mind, my heart, my ears and my eyes, so that I may understand where you want me to be more flexible.
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. Proverbs 8:34As I watch and wait for your plans to unfold, show me where I can bend a little more in my habits, in my relationships, and in my work. In the gospels I see Christ's example of being interruptible, accessible, and approachable, even when he most desired rest and seclusion. Help me to adopt that kind of flexibility as a means of showing your loving kindness, as a way of being your hands and feet in this world.
I am grateful that I can be still with you now, Lord. I am grateful that in this stillness, you sustain me so that I can stretch and handle life's strains later in my day. Be my faith and my flexibility, so that I may glorify you.