[This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today on Mother’s Day.]
I thought about writing a Mother’s Day piece. I really did. But as awesome as that sounded to me, it ruled out so many people. I appreciate these Hallmark holidays in some ways, but I also know that for many, days like today can be difficult reminders of dreams yet unfulfilled or even crushed, or of family relationships that haven’t been or aren’t what they should be. Without going into the many manifestations of that, I wanted to address the pain, frenzy, panic, and weariness out there today. I’m going to lay it bare.
We may not all have our Sunday best on, with a handful of flowers, reservations at the local restaurant, gifts on the counter, and a trip planned to see family. Maybe this week was full of pulling ticks off kids, walking in late to that work meeting, facing three days of piled dishes at once, a car that wouldn’t start, a kid who mouthed off, a relationship that looked like it was heading toward marriage and abruptly broke off, a bad job review, a betrayal of some kind. Maybe it was an argument with a loved one, a bad report card, a miscommunication with your spouse that doesn’t feel like any “Hallmark moment”—or holiday, for that matter—that you’ve ever experienced before.
Mother or no mother, maybe your week doesn’t feel like walks in the sunshine and tea with biscuits.
Maybe your week chewed on some rocks, spit them out, and crunched down on them again.
Let’s be honest: Sometimes, we simply go off the rails.
If we’re lucky enough to know our own red flags, we line up the wheels again and return to a slow chug.
But, at other times, we lay there in a heap by the rails, feeling completely disempowered as to how to ever get back up onto them again. We may be stuck, scared, depressed, discouraged, and even a bit wounded.
In our home, despite the right vitamin supplements, rest, sensory tools, medical interventions, downtime, and therapies, we still have times when we go off the rails. One of us spirals more easily than the rest, and then it’s like a strong pull threatening to steal our very breath and drag the rest of us into its unrelenting swirl. These are the times I have to remember a child who has been healed of many things already, the most remarkable being his significant food allergies a few years ago. I need to not focus on the storm around us but on the eyes of the One walking on water toward us.
“I am trying not to look down at those waves, Jesus. They are lapping at my feet, but I’m going to look into Your eternal eyes and know You can call this storm off whenever You want to—and that even if You don’t, You still won’t let us fall in while we’re looking at You. You are my blessed, holy God— —whether we live most days on or off the rails. You came to earth to meet us at the rails and extend Your mighty, loving hand. Amen.”
I chose this particular photo because it is the exact perspective I am referring to: when we are eye-to-eye with the rails we just fell from.
And no train is in sight.
I was at that place several years ago on a cold bench facing a raging ocean. I kept waiting for someone to lift me back onto the right tracks, but the world around me was radio silent. Then God reminded me, through the quietness of His Spirit, that He was with me and I was not alone. Regardless of my feelings (which, let’s face it, regularly confuse everything that is true and real), He was at the rails with me, extending a hand, waiting for me to take it and get back up again.
The cool part is: He didn’t demand I realign myself and go back to full functioning immediately. He sat there with me. Because you see, once you trust Him as your Savior and begin a relationship with Him, He will never leave you.
Whether you are in a good season of living healthy or you’ve made bad choices and/or simply can’t get it together,
He meets us at the rails.
That is the message of Christ coming to live and die as a man-but-also-God, defeating death and sin on the cross for us through His resurrection. When we believe in Him, we are never alone. He is always near.
Romans 8:38-39, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I also find comfort in this:
Psalm 34:17-18, ESV, King David writing/singing
Whatever rail you find (or have found) yourself by—either in the past, now, or in the future—please know He is with you, ready to help lift you up.
In Psalm 121, the Bible says: “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.”
Isn’t that awesome?
He is so near that He is the shade on our right hands!
Psalm 121, ESV, King David writing/singing
A Song of Ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
I don’t know where your heart is this Mother’s Day week. I hope it’s full of joy and peace. But if it’s not, or you know those who need this reminder, please consider this: The LORD is as close as the shade on your hand! Call out to Him. Start the conversation. He’s already talking, actually. He’s just waiting for you to consider His presence and your need for Him in your life—
—and for you to start talking too.
You are my blessed, holy God—whether we live most days on or #offtherails. You came to earth to meet us at the rails.
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) May 11, 2015
*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today on Mother’s Day.
**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesdays, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, and Christian Mommy Blogger.
More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).