One Hand Only

A few days ago, the kids and I were hanging out in the living room. I was sitting on the couch watching them all perform “tricks” for me, which appeared to involve various feats of balancing themselves on the furniture or the floor in some creative way. “Mommy, wook at me!” Jessica invited as she balanced herself with her head, both hands, and only one foot on the floor. She extended her other leg up behind her.

Immediately, the other kids tried to imitate her. Her trick wasn’t that hard for them, so I decided to throw in a little twist. “See if you can balance with only one hand on the floor,” I challenged them. “Not the other hand, and not your feet.”

They tried for about half a second before Kenny sat down on the floor and said, albeit cheerfully, “I can’t do that.”

“I’ll twy,” Jessica said. I watched her try a little longer before giving up and sitting down.

At that point, Lindsey, who had been trying the whole time, turned herself upright and looked at me. “I did it for a little while,” she said.

What a fantastic illustration of the responses we sometimes give to God when He asks us to do something. Take motherhood, for example. God asks us to parent a child going through a difficult time, or a special needs child, or simply a child who won’t sleep through the night. We try for half a second and then say, “I can’t do that.” We’ve failed. It won’t work, so there’s no use trying.

Or perhaps we’re willing to try a little longer. Perhaps we don’t mind attempting to parent three kids ages three and under. “I’ll try,” we say, but we soon find it difficult, and we give up and sit down. “This is just too much,” we say. “God’s going to have to lighten my load.”

The third response is the best. We simply get to work, and we try to the limit of our endurance. When strength is gone, we say, “I did it as long as I could.” Not “I failed,” but “I succeeded for awhile.”

Make no mistake about it. We all will come to the end of our endurance. God knows that, and He doesn’t count it as failure. Failure is when we look at the evidence in front of us, and we don’t try, because we just don’t see any way it will work in the first place. Or failure is when we give up too soon.

That day in my living room, I didn’t help my kids balance as I told them to. Had I helped, they would all have succeeded. That’s the point. When God asks us to do something, He will help us. Why then do we ever refuse to try, or ever give up? We know we have His help. God never calls us to do something He won’t help us to perform. So knowing that we have His strength and wisdom to get us through, why would we ever consider doing something other than availing ourselves of the help He has stands ready to give? Then, like Lindsey, we could try to the limit of our endurance. The only thing is, our endurance would go a whole lot farther, because we would be operating in His strength.

In whose strength are you fulfilling your calling as a mother? Are you taking advantage of God’s strength, or are you relying on your own?

Parenting is hard and exhausting at times. Believe me, I know. But when we call upon God instead of trying to balance on one hand and our own strength only, we will make it. Not we might; we will.

Psalm 28:7—The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

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