Imagine my surprise upon discovering that I, a 34 year old mother of four, had only packed two pairs of underwear for an entire week of vacation. I could picture the remaining pairs freshly washed, folded, and stacked on top of the other clothes in the laundry basket. Thankfully, a super Wal Mart (I’m not too proud for Hanes Her Way) came to the rescue.
This reminds me of a very helpful illustration from an article I read several years ago called The Present Glories of Redemption by Paul Tripp (from the Journal for Biblical Counseling Volume17 no.2). He was saying that our redemption ensures that we have everything we need to live a life for the glory of God. He compared it to having a suitcase perfectly packed for every occasion we encounter in life; the significant and the mundane.
I remember when I first read that article. My twins were two years old. The day before they had astounded me by taking handfuls of toilet paper, dipping it in the toilet, and throwing it by the globful on the ceiling and walls. They then proceeded to flush Duplos (jumbo lego blocks) down the toilet, causing it’s demise. What amazed me is that all of this happened while I was on the phone for what seemed like only five minutes. A plummer friend of ours tried to fix the toilet, and in the end he had to take the toilet off of its base, pry out the perfectly shaped for mischief Duplos, and re-attach the toilet. When I first beheld the scene before me (which, by the way included soaking wet toddlers), I admit, I yelled at the boys (I’ll spare you the ugly details), separated them on different towels in the room, and began cleaning up the mess with much complaining in my heart. The next day when I read the article, I was convicted not just about how I had treated my sons (I asked their forgiveness eventually), but also for my unbelief. Did I really believe that what I needed in that situation (self-control, patience and wisdom) would be there in my “suitcase” even in those unexpected moments that were generally met with sinful, knee-jerk reactions?
Guess what? The next day I was able to find out the answer to that question. Once again I came downstairs (this time after putting their baby brother down for a nap) to a newly familiar sight: soaking wet twins dipping duplo men in the toilet. One of them looked up sheepishly and said, “I wost my guy!” I said, “You washed your guy, or you lost your guy?!” (You see, washing meant he still possessed the guy. Losing him meant he was flushed and probably lodged in our newly repaired toilet). “I wost him.” After several frustrating attempts at getting him to annunciate, I tried to flush the toilet. The familiar, “clink” indicated he, indeed, lost his guy. And I was about to lose my temper when I remembered my “suitcase”. I opened it by praying quietly, “O God, please help me to glorify you in this. I need patience, self-control, and wisdom here.” After a deep breath I discovered that indeed, my suitcase had been packed.
Truly one of the glories of the gospel is that we are actually able to make the right choices in the moment of testing however big or small. I am definitely not saying that I always respond to my circumstances in a way that glorifies God. How aware I am of times even today when I didn’t respond with the patience or kindness that I should have. But it is so helpful to know that every thing I need for life and godliness is available for me because of Jesus’ work on the cross. So when all of my kids need me at the same time, when my husband comes home late from work, when I absolutely do not feel like doing laundry, when I’m running late, when I am wanting to comfort a hurting friend, when I’m anxious about leading a meeting, when my kids do not want to do school, when I don’t want to do school, whatever it may be – I can open the suitcase and find what I need in that very moment. My bags are packed!
2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV) 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.