But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Mark 10:31
I so badly want to be first. I want to be the Super Me, good at everything.
I realized this especially as I went on a short vacation this past weekend and spent time with family.
I wanted so much to serve everyone, say meaningful things to them, let them know how special they are.
I wanted so much to transform each moment into something golden, to savor the time.
But the reality was that I had several physical challenges. I was tired. I had a sore throat. Some of the time my IBS was acting up.
How could I be Super Me when I was just trying to stay engaged, when the zing of energy and inspiration wasn’t there?
So I stayed in constant interaction with God. Hour by hour, situation by situation, I laid my requests before God and responded to His promptings. And He gave me direction. He helped me to play with my granddaughter even when I longed to veg on the couch. He helped me to get out of bed and pray in the morning before everyone got up, to give and help when I was tired, to take the initiative, to say encouraging words.
I guess I wasn’t Super Me at all. I was Christ living through me.
And now I realize something really cool. My plan is to do all kinds of awesome things for God and become an increasingly spiritual great person.
God’s plan is that I go through challenges that make me feel weak, even to the point where I can’t do the things I want to do, and I rely on Him more.
So at some point I will cross the finish line and receive eternal life. But I’m not going to sprint all the way there with my wonderful deeds.
Nope. I’m going to wallow towards the goal through the swamp of my challenges, pulling one foot out of the mud, and then another.
Not first, but last.
How do I make peace with being in the swamp when everything in me screams that I’m failing if I’m not running full tilt?
How do I like myself when I don’t even FEEL like running?
Because it isn’t that I don’t like being stuck in the swamp, it’s that I don’t like the version of me who gets stuck in the swamp.
“Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” Romans 12:3
I need to be honest with myself. I’m not Super Me. I’m just a regular person with strengths and weaknesses.
And I don’t like the weaknesses. I don’t like feeling useless and unproductive.
Coming home from vacation, I realized that I wanted it to be a succession of perfect memories
Instead I captured only glimpses, the peace on the beach with the wind blowing and the waves breaking cool against my legs, the beauty of sunflowers in the field, the laughter in my heart as my granddaughter tells me she’s having the time of her life.
Maybe I am the same way. I only experience glimpses of the Super Me in my ordinary human life.
And that has to be enough.
Even before I went on vacation, I wasn’t feeling good. I was super tired and foggy headed. My IBS acted up. Each day was one long series of pushing through.
And then, late in a listless afternoon, I listened to beautiful music.
It was amazing. I had a deep sense of meaning and connection. My heart felt restored.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” Isa 30:15
I remembered that quietness can be just as meaningful as activity.
You know, it occurs to me that when Jesus said the first would be last, that didn’t mean that the people who are last won’t receive as many blessings as those who are first. They ALL receive 100 fold, now and in the life to come!
I think if I’m not running on all cylinders, it’s a sign that I’m not doing things right, that I’m not in sync with God.
But I’m realizing that I can find God just as much in being last, as I can in being first.