The Game

As a teenager, I loved to play volleyball. There was something uniquely beautiful about the bruises on my forearms, and the ability to yell to your teammates “mine” as you scramble to hit the ball and make it soar back over the net. I especially enjoyed the ability to serve breathlessly into a group of women and yell, “ace” as it landed directly in the middle of their court unchallenged by any of my competitors.  Although my competitive nature came out strongly on a volleyball court, it has played well into other aspects of my life: drive for good grades in highschool and college and the meeting of my career aspirations and goals.

 Frequently, now as a mom, whose husband is the sole income provider, and I am  alone with my kids while he works 45-60 hour weeks just to make ends meet, I find myself competing with myself to beat my own score at things. For example, on Sunday mornings, I try to get all four kids and myself ready for church in less time than 1 hr and 20 minutes. So that, one day, I can attempt to have a peaceful Sunday morning and a leisurely coffee before my husband comes to pick us up for church.

I have yet to conquer it, but I’m training to make it happen.

Additionally, I will set the timer on the oven for 15 minutes and attempt to cross off my chore to-do list: dishes, one load of laundry folded and put away, vacuum the hallway, sweep under the highchairs. Or I’ll set it for 10 minutes and see if I can conquer the same amount of stuff in the less time. My reward: a shower while my kids nap. Sounds pathetic right? And I really cannot believe that I’m admitting this! (I’m not even sure my hubby knows). Most days it works–somedays it doesn’t.

Sometimes though, if I’m honest, competition isn’t really that fun. This week felt like a big game of unequally matched dodgeball. Someone on friday morning, lined up a few balls on a perfectly straight gym line and blew the whistle and the balls were being thrown hard on our side of the court for about 5 days straight: someones words had hurt, we found out a friend’s marriage fell apart, close friends sharing in our living room extreme struggles they are facing, my husbands loss of a job, and in the midst of all that strife we experienced the joy of becoming an aunt and uncle. Before any of these “metaphoric” balls could knock us emotionally or physically out, something strange happened.

It was almost like God hit slow motion on this game of unfair dodgeball and was beckoning us to fight with a different set of rules. We began to notice a small metaphoric snare drum sounding in our midst. rat-ta-ta-tat. 

He began to call from our arsenal the things we had been training with over the past year:

We began to pray on our knees, with words, in silence, yelling, while standing, and relying on scripture for the prayers we couldn’t utter. Psalm 25:17, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.” rat-ta-ta-tat-tat-tat. The snare drum was getting LOUDER.

We began to trust in the Shepherd. Psalm 23:1-4 “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me in quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.” The ra-ta-ta-tat-tat-tat rat-tat-tat was getting LOUDER still.

Then we began to seek community and encouragement from friends and family. Hebrews 10:25 “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do, but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big day approaching”. rat-ta-ta-tat-tat rat-ta-tat-at-ta-tat is just about resounding throughout our beings.

Then we did something that in the midst of strife we do not do very often, we enjoyed peace: peace with our situation, peace with God, peace with someone whose words had hurt, peace in knowing that we were taken care of, peace in the future, peace in the present, and peace in our marriage (something that usually in the midst of trials takes the biggest blow). Colossians 3: 15, “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.” By now, the snare drum is screaming RAT-TAT-ATAT-TAT-TA-TAT!

Some of these “metaphoric”balls hurt, some of them were painless, some of them we were able to dodge, some caused extreme anxiety at moments, but do you know what we’ve learned?
 Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus asked, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Did you catch it? Did you hear it? The rat-tat-tat-tat of a snare drum was simply God’s cadence or rhythm of His grace showing up in our lives that He is working to recover. What could’ve and should’ve been heavy was actually pretty light. Even despite the fact that most of the issues we faced this week are still not resolved, right now, I’m doing what a woman struggling to serve a BIG GOD can, I’m screaming, “Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!” AND I’m doing what Colossians 3:15 says I’m cultivating thankfulness.

My Sister Amanda and my new beautiful niece Evelyn Bradleigh

Response (please really answer):
Have you ever felt the unforced rhythms of grace? What are you thankful for today?
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13 thoughts on “The Game

  1. This is really resonating with me as I heard of my best friend’s family facing a huge tragedy…a little 4 year old boy was suddenly sick and diagnosed with Leukemia. He has already faced a blood transfusion, spinal tap and many other pokes. He has a 3 year future, at least, of twice a week Chemo treatments and now he may be looking at radiation if it has spread to his brain. He is the oldest of 4, one of which is still in mommy’s tummy. It’s devastating for any parent, family, friend. But we are reminded that God is bigger. He’s in control. We don’t need to have answers, we just need to trust.
    This verse speaks loudly in this situation, thank you.
    Psalm 23:1-4 “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me in quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.”

  2. This was absolutely perfect, it was exactly what I needed to read and be reminded at this very exact moment. To be honest, I literally have been sitting in a parking lot for about 5 min, it was what I felt I had needed at the time of anxiety. To get away for a moment, I pulled out my phone and started reading. And it put such a calm over me, and reminded me that at these times I shouldn’t be running/driving away. But instead finding peace. Thank you for sharing with us!

    • Kirsten, Glad you checked in today. God alone can give peace in the midst of anxiety. Pray and cry out for it–God says he will hear you and promises peace.

      Phillipians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

      8-9Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

      Don’t stop at praying! Then it says to fill your minds with all the good things in your life. You’ll feel less anxious! 🙂
      Ashley

  3. Insprirational, and perfect timing:
    I especially loved Psalm 25:17.
    However,The enire chapter is mine, Oh sorry I guess since I love you so much little mama, I can share it, but just with you. I am ranting and raving this week. shouting from my shower in tears:

    12 When people choose to follow the LORD,
    he shows them the best way to live.
    13 They will enjoy good things,
    and their children will get the land God promised.
    14 The LORD tells his secrets to his followers.
    He teaches them about his agreement.
    15 I always look to the LORD for help.
    Only he can free me from my troubles.
    16 I am hurt and lonely.
    Turn to me, and show me mercy.
    17 Free me from my troubles.
    Help me solve my problems.

    I love to stand on, kneel before, lay flat on my face before God with his words. I probably sound like a tantrum throwing toddler but I say, but daddy you promised!

    Thanks Ash
    Pam

  4. Ash- this brought tears to my eyes… I’m so very proud of you, the wife, mother, friend, and encouragement you are to those in your world. You are truly being used by God. Love you girl. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Cultivating Thankfulness « the chambers chaos

  6. While working my 45hr wk and trying to get us settled into our new place while still finding time somewhere that i can call quality for both God and Dev…I will carry Matt 11:28-30 in my heart. Thank you again Ash for sharing

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