Grace at the End of a Bumpy Day

The sun is setting on a bumpy day at my house, and I am musing in the welcome silence. Actually, bumpy is to this day as damp is to the bottom of the ocean.  It was not a tragic day, not a catastrophic day, but it was a bad day. It’s over now, yet I am left with a sense of dissatisfaction and defeat, and I need to do something about that. How do I reconcile myself to the failures of this day? Where do I go for absolution from all I got wrong? Who can declare my efforts sufficient for the day and comfort my weary, frustrated heart? The answer that comes is one King David knew:

“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 61:2-4

Today was full of frustrating struggles to get things done, or to get them done in the right way.  The laundry piles and clutter that had accumulated over the weekend were making me edgy, and all attempts at leading my crew to clean up resulted in mutiny. Every moment of homeschooling was met with vociferous resistance by one of my children.  The other just wanted to bury his face in an electronic device and tune us out.  If I said the word disrespectful once, I said it twenty times–before lunch.

The unexpected acrimony in our home over routine tasks–schoolwork and chores–made me feel first confused, then annoyed. Later, as the struggle lingered despite my attempts at patient correction and motivation, it made me feel defeated as I resorted to red-button responses, also known as yelling and calling Daddy. It takes a lot to make me feel utterly defeated as a mom. Today was a lot.

Today left me feeling battered from the battle of wills and exhausted from my efforts to teach, train, correct and rebuke because, ultimately, I feel I lost the war for today. I lost it the instant I responded in kind, in my flesh. Though apologies have been given, forgiveness has been extended, and relationships have been restored, the effects of the day remain in my very soul, it seems. Where to turn?

I call to you as my heart grows faint.

I can try to comfort myself, but that never really works. Deep down, I know I’m either justifying my sin or magnifying my works in order to shift the scales of self-approval in my favor. My own self-soothing words and unconvincing pats on the back are a pitiful substitute for the powerful embrace of a loving, holy God who incisively distinguishes for me the Spirit’s kind conviction from the enemy’s condemnation. When I call to him, Jesus gives me uncompromising truth wrapped in unconditional love.

I could turn to others, vent to family or friends who would commiserate and try to prop me up, but that doesn’t meet my true need either. Only God washes away each sin as I repent, then builds me up, not by magnifying my actions, but his own on my behalf. Not by making much of me, but by drawing me near and enabling me to make much of him. As I receive his forgiveness and pour out worship, Jesus restores me.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

That’s where I find solid ground on bumpy days—in that shift of focus and the resulting right perspective. In the exchange of lies for truth, defeat for hope. In the receiving of forgiveness and redeeming love from the only one with the power to give it and make me whole. In resting in his faithful work in me today, knowing he’s not finished yet, so neither am I.

I can attempt to self-assess, self-motivate, or self-medicate—hello, cupcakes—all I want, but I can never self-soothe or self-justify my way to real peace. Family and friends, though well-intentioned, can’t validate me enough to bring me peace. Only Jesus can give me true peace that quiets my mind and fills my heart.

I call to him, and he leads me to himself. He is the rock beneath my feet, the refuge that covers me, and the everlasting arms surrounding me.  In him, I find grace that lifts my head from defeat, relieves my shoulders from the burden of sin, and refreshes my heart with perfect love.

Lead me, Lord, when I am weary and my heart cries out at the end of a bumpy day. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I! I need to dwell in the shelter of your presence and steep in the grace I find there until I am renewed in heart, mind, and soul, equipped with fresh grace to walk forward into a new day, still with you.

shutterstock boulder sunrise


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