I went for a walk with the kids this morning. I passed a dad running with his four month old in a jogging stroller a handful of times. After the fourth time he lapped us he laughed and explained, "I'm trying to stay close to his mama!" I wondered what she might be doing while he took the baby for a while. My husband was already at the office.
I could tell it was going to be a hard morning. Saturdays generally are. So we loaded up and headed to the park. It was filled with dads- pushing their kids on the swings, surprising them at the bottom of the tunnel slide, helping them on the monkey bars. I wondered what their wives might be doing.
My husband works 6 days a week. Our family time is limited to slices of sleepy mornings, tired evenings, and Sunday afternoons. Saturdays are difficult for me. The desire for a Saturday is one of the greatest idols in my life. The lack of a full blank slate day as a family is the scapegoat for all of my motherhood woes, marriage difficulties, unkempt eyebrows, physical fatigue, the feeling that I don’t see my family enough… you name the problem, I can find a way to blame it on a Saturday.
But it doesn't end there. If I don’t take these "if only" thoughts captive, I quickly move beyond them to resentment. I resent my husband's work (which provides for our family) and it eventually follows that I begin to resent my husband for "choosing" his job over his family. But ultimately, although I don’t care to admit it, my issue is with God himself. Isn't that the thing about idolatry? I can scoff at a golden calf, but is it any less ridiculous for me to place my faith in a day of the week than a crafted cattle figurine?
Original sin followed the whispers of a serpent suggesting that God was withholding from his children. Contentment flows from the knowledge that those who trust in him lack no good thing. Lusting after "Saturday" is a poison that prevents me from receiving and enjoying gifts from my Father. Rather than saying "Thank you Father!" when we receive unexpected family time, my heart bitterly mutters "Why can't it be like this more often?" Rather than praise God for the means of provision he has provided for our family, I grumble over the way he has chosen to provide. Rather than support and encourage my husband when he is weary, I pounce the occasion of his weakness as an opportunity to point out how he also needs a "Saturday." Rather than creatively look for ways to cultivate intimacy and closeness, I pull further away to support my case. Rather than see the opportunity to depend on and abide in the Lord on a day I feel my need of him, I flounder and wallow.
When we continually focus on what God has not provided, we are unable to steward well - or enjoy- that which he has.
But, when we take him at his word, we become increasingly less conscious of what we lack, and increasingly grateful for all he has given. When we remove our faith from our circumstances, and place it in his son, we get to experience his glorious sustaining power. When we refuse to play the blame game, we are better able to love and praise with joyful hearts by the power of his Spirit.
I want to live that way. As a child convinced that my God longs to give me good things. He is not in the business of giving his children stones when they ask for bread. And so each Saturday morning, before the day begins, I must arm myself with the truth of his word and beat back the thorns threatening to choke the joy of my salvation. Then will I see his faithfulness. Then will I see how he has given me more than I deserve. Then will I love, support, and encourage my husband out of the abundance I have recieved. Then will my grateful heart beat with contentment and peace. Then will I enjoy the day as one filled with possibilities with my babies.
My idol of a “Saturday” pales in comparison to abiding in the Ancient of Days, in whom all the life, joy, fellowship, peace, and rest for which I long are found in abundance.