The morning started as most weekdays do. Alarm (iPhone or singing toddler, both equally effective), feet to the floor, food in tummies, and go go go. It was a Wednesday morning with a 7:15 am departure time locked in for tennis training before school. Now, any sensible mother of two, with full knowledge of the timetable ahead of her and the later than usual Autumn sunrise (causing the household to sleep in), would’ve realised, surely, that some planning and preparation was needed to get us out the door on time.
Alas, such planning had not ensued.
Late to bed post-Netflix binge, failure to set the alarm, lack of foresight to pack a school lunch the night before, and, most ridiculously, the expectation that a 9-year-old can rise from the depths of sleep and emerge from the house fed and ready for the day in less than half an hour, while mother does shuttle-runs of the house tending to things that don’t really need doing and losing all sense of practicality in the rush.
What did ensue was gritted teeth, bubbling over tempers, words that couldn’t be unsaid.
I dropped the budding tennis champ off at the courts and exhaled: “Have a great day buddy. I love you”.
He turned, deflated, “Yeah Mum, bye”.
Nothing about the events of that morning had set my son up for a great day.
What is it about those small choices that snowball into a series of events that whip me into a frenzy and impact not only on me but those around me, leaving me depleted and begging God for enough grace to just make it through, to hold my tongue, and to breathe?
God, in his unending mercy, speaks to my spirit and takes me back to those small choices. Why, daughter of mine, did you choose this?
This is often my bent. Organised in many ways, faithful in some. But often frenetic in my approach to things that matter, the valuable things. Everyone’s list will look different but for me, things like spiritual disciplines, a running plan, development of talents, the finishing of half-read books. Those things that require self-discipline, deliberate choosing, taking one small step in a particular direction at a time because you know the outcome will be a good one, a Godly one, a wise one. I’ve never been too good at these small choices.
Now, I’m not trying to say that every moment of our lives as believers, should be ruled by rigid self-denial and legality. “Mother, thou shalt not watch Netflix, but be a responsible parent, rising early to ready your family for the day” (although maybe there is something in the Proverbs 31 woman and her noble character!). But the opposite is also a falsehood. Our comfort-culture, the “treat yo self” adage, the call to indulge, you need that me-time oh, tired parent… that perspective does nothing more than to perpetuate a lie that it’s all about me, my needs, and my ease.
God calls us to wisdom. Wisdom in the small choices we make. Wisdom, coupled with incredible freedom in Christ. The freedom to choose self-discipline, the freedom to choose or not choose what we prioritise, what we chase after, how we run our homes, how we do (or don’t) organise the school-run.
The book of Proverbs refers to the word wisdom 55 times (in the NIV). Perhaps it’s worth some of our attention.
Proverbs 2 talks about the value of wisdom. It urges us to treasure up, turn our ears to, incline our hearts, call out for, raise our voice for, seek out and search for the wisdom and ways of God. It is this pursuit of God—a reverent awe of his ways that are higher than ours—and allowing that pursuit to shape our every day and our moment to moment, for which we ought to strive. I the small choices, too. Even in the smallness of Wednesday morning tennis drop off.
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.