When The Numbers Don’t Add Up

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by Randi Peck

Three bags propped up against my wall serve as a teasing reminder that my life will soon, yet again, be turned upside down.  The highlighted box on my calendar stresses that a mere twenty-five days remain until my due date- a date my son will surely scoff and point at, as he passes it by.  For whichever day he does decide to christen his birthday, four loads of blue laundry remain to be washed and organized.  Thirty-one thank-you cards beg me to mail them before my 18-month-old daughter gets a hold of them with her sparkly crayons.  Two hundred dollars worth of groceries need stuffed into our minimal kitchen storage space, preparation for the weeks we will bunker into survival mode.

All this for one baby.  One baby who, despite all the joy and laughter and fullness he will certainly bring to my heart, will be completely ignorant of our sleep habits.  One baby who will be much more concerned about his next meal than whether or not his mother has showered. One baby who will temporarily, single-handedly overthrow any balance and order currently governing over our household.

Balance. *Sigh*.  I can’t count the number of times this word has popped up in my husband and I’s conversations.  We tweak schedules and crunch numbers, plan vacations and prioritize friendships, all in pursuit of finding perfect balance… That’s the key, right?  I mean, that’s what we’re told: That if we eat six vegetables a day, while exercising five times a week we’ll remain untouched by disease.  We are promised that with the combination of eight hours of sleep, one hour of sunlight, and 45 minutes of yoga each day, all stress will dissipate.  Even in our walk with the Lord, we create formulas to live by: twenty minutes of prayer, thirty minutes in the Word, and church service twice a week.  I could go on with every area of our lives, you name it: finances, school, sports… it’s more than we can manage! Before we know it, we’re consumed with reaching the right equation, shifting the contents of our life- right, then left, then right, like a combination on a lock- all the while, oblivious to the fact that the key is right in front of us!

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need…”

Aha! There is a secret- a key.  Don’t keep us waiting, Paul. What are the magic numbers?  What is the correct formula?  Give me a pie chart or a bar graph- oh, and a budget spreadsheet while you’re at it…

“… I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

The secret… Simply, that Christ is more than enough for anything we have crammed onto our plate.

God is waiting for us to stop obsessing over whatever sleeplessness, overdue notices, or sins that seem to tip the scales of perfect balance into seemingly irreversible and desperate circumstances; that we might instead turn to and trust the One who holds it all in his hands. For through him, every deficit we acquire is swallowed up in His grace.

We need this good news.  For if artfully balancing our schedules, money, and relationships is the answer to happiness, then we are left to despair.  What hope does that leave the mom of a newborn?  What hope does that offer the mother of four whose husband is terminally ill? What hope does that give to the college student, scraping to make rent, and headed to their final exam on two hours of sleep and three Red Bulls?

Now obviously, there is great value in pursuing order for all God has entrusted us with.  I would never argue the science behind healthier diets or scheduled time with the Lord. But in those times we lack order, we must remember that God supersedes science. In fact, I believe God is not only completely aware of these desperate and overwhelming situations we find ourselves in, but he is the very one often dishing us more than we can handle, in hopes that we would find the beauty in his words,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

*Sigh*. I can rest in this season about to hit me like a freight train without striving and struggling to get my body, house, and schedule back in order within a week.  This season- when I may only get three hours of sleep some nights.  When my husband and I have to skip date night for six weeks in a row.  And when I will probably have to postpone my shower for the second day in a row because my daughter spilled 35 peas all over the floor at the same time my newborn fills his sixth diaper for the day.

Your imperfect balance probably doesn’t consist of peas and potty diapers, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Maybe your equation consists of too many doctors’ bills or not enough time with your family.  Maybe you struggle to maintain too many friendships or suffocating deadlines at work.  Whatever weighs you down, know that the formula remains the same for us all:

One God who is enough for all my “not-enoughness”.  One God whose grace flows into each detail of my day and overcomes its stresses and frustrations with joy and triumph.  One God who is perfectly capable of giving us physical strength when we missed our workout, emotional healing when we can’t afford counseling, and financial provision when the landlord is calling.

One God who is the perfect key to our imperfect balance.   

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