A few weeks ago, we waved goodbye to Danny as he headed away for 6 days of travel to a different island here in the Philippines. As Izzy, Judah, and I ran back to the little apartment at the guesthouse, I took a deep breath. Part of me anticipating a long tiring week ahead, the other part of me breathing a deep sigh of relief to, “just be Mama” for the week. So much of our life right now, with ministry and the kids, is a balancing act, and one that I feel that I fail at daily. As I teeter through the tasks of the day with my little ones in tow, it is so easy to be thrown off into a sea of frustration over interruptions, distractions and the dreaded expectations.
So as we headed into our week, just the three of us, I was grateful for the freedom to stay in our pjs all morning and read books on the floor, knowing that nobody was coming by to visit. We headed out around the guesthouse property for a heart-shaped-rock-hunt, and we didn’t have to explain our “pointless walk” to the watching eyes of a village. We could run, in the rain and not be told we would all get a cold, and most of all, I could just enjoy being with my kiddos, watching them, observing their little personalities, and leaning in close to soak up the small moments of the every day. We had a precious unscheduled, full of cuddles and highly instagrammed week. 🙂
By 7pm each night, we were all exhausted, but after they were tucked into bed, I was looking forward to a list of things I wanted to get done each night. Catching up on emails, writing a prayer letter, scrolling through Pinterest and other very important things. That was until I realised I did not have my computer cord with me to charge my computer. After a few hours of battery life, the plans for my evenings were dashed. However, I did have a few books with me, a new candle, some nice tea and lots of quiet hours alone. I knew the Lord was drawing me to spend these times with Him, seeking Him in prayer over the struggles I have been having concerning balancing the calling of motherhood and the calling to be a missionary.
Balance: an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
It didn’t take long for me to realize where I had got off track. I had set up the precious calling of motherhood and the privileged calling to be a missionary on a scale and I weighed my day out in light of what I accomplished in each field. Each night, one feeling less than the other, each night, one looked at in light of success and the other of failure; and it had drained me. I love being “Mama” to my little Izzy and Judah, there is no greater joy than watching them grow, listening to their stories and entering into their love of life. I also love to have a part in teaching, encouraging and praying for the ministry we have in the village where we live. I especially enjoy this with the ladies and entering into the joy of watching them grow in the light of God’s Word.
So as I spent night after night reading and seeking the Lord, this was the prayer of my heart; “Lord, show me what you want me to do, and where do you want me to spend my time? Help me to know your will for this stage of my life.” I read some books on motherhood, Bible Study books and His Word, seeking answers, wanting to know the right way to find the right balance which all weighed so heavy on my heart. I don’t know what I read exactly, or on what night the Lord helped me to see a blind spot in my life, but all of a sudden “balance” seemed such a ridiculous thing to be chasing. A word I had burdened myself with that He did not require of me and that would always allude me. Callings are not to be balanced, not to be ticked off in boxes, they are to be lived, to be enjoyed, to be held loosely and gratefully in our hands as we obey the Lord in how we are to handle these gifts He has given us, for His eternal glory.
It would be so easy to be given a list each day, of tasks to complete, and a time frame to do them in. However, when the Lord called me, all those years ago, to “Follow Him,” He didn’t say to what necessarily, or to where, but step by step, He has led me and guided me to now. He has led me faithfully to this day, and He says the same today, “Philippa, follow Me.” And as I listened to my heart and the tender voice of the Lord, I knew I wasn’t going to get the answers I thought I wanted. I was getting something even better; a gift, an invitation to stay close to Jesus. To listen daily, moment by moment to His leading and guiding as the Holy Spirit says, “Go here”. Lift up that little one on your knee and hold him close for no other reason than he wants you and he needs you. He is not a distraction to your Bible Study preparation. He is your calling in this moment. And the lady, calling at the door while you are reading a book to your kids on kindness, is not a distraction. She is an opportunity to use your tone, your attitude and your responses to show your kids what kindness looks like lived out, right here and now, and to let them join with you in being a blessing to the people God has called you to serve. It can be somewhat easy to agree to hand our lives over to the Lord in one swooping phrase, but so much harder to put our wills our wants and our desires into His hands moment by moment and to keep our hearts there.
I had few answers at the end of the week, but maybe instead a new vision. I am going to free myself from the burden of balancing life all out, because really, the Lord never asked this of me in the first place. The only way for me to stay upright and steady is to lean in to Jesus, laying my mother-heart and my missionary calling at His feet, as an offering of obedience to follow Him, firstly as His child. Not burdened with the things He requires of me, but kneeling in the flurry of activity, to be still and worship Him alone for all He has already done! Living a life in light of balance as a trophy, is to totally miss the mark. There is nothing safe and calculated about following wholly after the Lord. It is wild, free and all together wonderful to be fully alive and walking in close communion with the God of this earth. The Holy God of Heaven and earth who meets me at the kitchen sink and says, “This is pleasing to me today, will you meet me here?” And so often I want to be more, to do more, to achieve more for Him, and He says, “Philippa, be less, so I can be more in you.” One of the first memory verses we learned in Bible School, God pressed deeply into my heart. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” And so at the end of a week where I sought to find answers on balancing family life and ministry life, Jesus came close and showed me the scale to tune my ear to, the inside voice to listen to is this; more of Him, and less of me.
I want to give Him my schedule.
I want to give Him my service.
I want to give Him my plans.
I want to give Him my gifts.
I want to give Him my time.
I want to give Him my life.
He waits for me to say;
Give me Jesus.
Micah 6:8 …..”and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.”