As I sit here and write, my baby girl Emmy ( ^ not this baby ^ ) is laying beside me crying. Not a hard cry as if she was angry or hungry, but more of a whimper cry. Why is she crying? Well, it’s like this: she’s having tummy time. Tummy time is important for developing a baby’s upper body strength, which later on down the road will help her with crawling, grabbing, lifting, and literally anything else she will ever use her upper body for. However, tummy time may be one of the most under-appreciated aspects of young child development. At least Emmy under-appreciates it.
Sitting here and listening to her whimper makes me think that it’s actually quite possible that she doesn’t see the value in tummy time. To her, it’s a waste. Right now, she doesn’t need her arms to be strong. Meghann and I do everything for her. Mostly Meghann if I’m going to be honest. The only things Emmy needs her arms to do these days are to wave around, and sometimes to push her sucky back in her mouth. And so to her mind, tummy time is not only uncomfortable, but also unnecessary. What’s the point of putting in the effort and going through the discomfort if it doesn’t make any difference to her right now?
But one day it will. And I try to explain this to her, but mostly she just seems mad. But between huffs, puffs, and half-hearted cries, I try to tell her that one day she’ll need her arms for crawling around the room, and after that someday for carrying books and toys, for climbing trees, for gardening with Mama, for playing a bagpipe, riding a bike with her brother, and eventually for helping her old dad to get around. And all of those things will be so much easier if she has a strong upper body… or at least not a weak one. I try to explain it all, but after looking into my eyes, she puts her head back down and goes back to grunting and complaining.
You know, all this kind of reminds me of us. And I’m not just speaking to how I like to skip arm day at the gym. I’m talking about faith and discipline and how sometimes hard times are there not to frustrate our plans, but so that we might grow and develop in ways that will only go to make us stronger, healthier, and more effective followers of Jesus. I think back on the Israelites as they wandered the desert complaining - not realizing that God was teaching them, molding them, and preparing them for that next big step of becoming one nation under God. I think back on Jonah, riding around the sea as a major contributor to an upset stomach, little knowing that God was preparing him in the quiet, unpleasant, and helpless moments to be a great prophet and evangelist. I think back on Peter as he was falling into the water fearing for his life, little realizing that one day he could look back and see that anything is possible as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus. I think back on Paul, blinded by the one true Light, and learning from experience to live by faith and not by sight.
I think back on my own life, losing my dad to cancer at 13 or 14, little knowing that it would cause me to spend the rest of my life relying on God Himself as my father. I think back on the hard times when work was scarce and things just didn’t seem to make much sense. It was those times that taught me the life-changing joys of doing everything for the glory of God.
I love Hebrews 12:11-12 where it says “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.”
Just this week we in BC received the news that we’re all having our Christmas holidays alone. I think you could almost hear the collective sigh of disappointed families, knowing that they were all going to spend Christmas apart this year. Personally for me, every time my mind thinks forward to Christmas, a part of me is sad, knowing that I won’t be able to be on the hilltop with my family. But Hebrews reminds us that even though we are facing some of the strangest and hardest times of our lives thus far… even though we’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, the harvest of righteousness and peace is going to be worth it all. We remember this time of year that Jesus came to bring peace on earth. Sometimes though, we don’t recognize it because it doesn’t look like we wish it would. Peace isn’t always gift wrapped in pretty paper. Sometimes it comes as the result of persevering through the hard times.
So this year in the midst of the lights and the wonder, it’s okay to feel a little sad for what we’ve lost. But don’t lose sight of the opportunities we’ve been given as well. Opportunities to train our feeble arms and weak knees so that one day down the road we’ll be ready for the next big adventure God sends us down. Don’t lose sight of the wonder of tomorrow on account of the troubles of today.
PC: tung256 from Pixabay