One kid had an ear infection and then a fever; another had a fever and then an ear infection. Two of them just had days off school.
Out of the last 10 work days, I’ve had a little helper at home for 8 of them.
When this happens, part of me wants to be happy to spend extra time with the kids. But often my first response is just to feel an extra weight placed on the scale of things to do.
I don't have time for this! I have emails to send! I have ads to make! I have things to do!
Each day I'm not working as I want to, the weight increases. But who adds the weight? Is anyone watching me, tallying up the hours? If I asked you, would you tell me to hurry up and work harder, to go faster?
No. The weight is internal. It’s in my head. I’m the one adding it. It’s the weight of my own ambition.
Now the weight isn’t entirely bad, if it focuses and motivates me. But it turns bad if I focus on all of the things to do and let them outweigh the good God has willed that is in front of me.
At that point, I begin living in an imagined future instead of the miracle of the present. The difference between that imagined future and what is happening here in this moment can cause discontent. Now that ambition has turned into something bad, as it draws me away from peace.
I think the life of the Christian should be marked by a well-maintained tension between ambition and contentedness: Ambition to care for and improve the lives of others, and deep contentment with all that has been done for us by God. Ambition to use the talents I've been given, and contentment to know that in the theo-drama my plan for my work doesn’t really matter. Christ has done it all already.
If I didn’t have ambition I wouldn’t work. If I didn’t have contentment, I’d never stop. It’s a balance, a tension. But how do we maintain the balance? When the scales of ambition and contentment get out of whack, how do we tip them back?
Gratitude. It’s a simple habit, but it works like magic.
Wednesday, as I held our daughter for her third fitful nap of the day, I felt the scales tip too heavily toward ambition. I was annoyed and I wanted to finish the next thing to do.
Fortunately, habit kicked in.
“Lord, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work.
I’m grateful for medicine that makes ear aches go away.
I'm grateful to hold Emma. She won’t always be this small. She’s already getting big."
A habit of gratitude to God can tip the scale back.
Friends I hope that you can see today through God’s eyes. I hope He shows you the miracles that are hiding under your nose, that are lost in the everyday ruckus. I pray that God blesses you with contentment and ambition. I wish you peace.