“Filling in the Gaps”
I am enjoying the sermon series this month of “The Duct Tape Gospel.” It’s fun trying to notice all the ways God applies “Duct Tape” to keep things together in my life. Thank goodness! There seems to be a lot that needs to be held together lately!
I think today I will piggyback on that notion of God holding things together for us and add in the notion that He also “fills in the gaps.”
As I visit with various groups of folks from the congregation, and glance at Facebook posts, I see a lot of self-doubt, especially for parents. Have you noticed how many posts on Facebook have to do with “epic failures” of parents since the “stay-at-home” orders in March? I can see they are trying to have a sense of humor. I just remember what it is like as a parent to question everything you do. I still remember those days even though my “baby” is in her 30s and has children of her own now.
I’d like to share a lesson I learned that only comes with the 20/20 vision of looking back over time. We don’t see this when we are in the thick of it. It’s only looking backward that we recognize how God “fills in the gaps” for us. Here’s how I know this.
As a parent, you only have so much energy. So, you pick your battles. Some battles are just not worth fighting. For instance, I distinctly remember yelling at my daughter that I was tired of fighting over whether or not she’d wear a coat to school on cold winter mornings. I yelled something to the effect of, “If you get sick, I’m not paying the doctor bills!” This was, of course, an idle threat. We both knew I’d pay the doctor bills. But I stopped the morning battles. She survived the winter without illness. And I learned she was fighting me because there was no room in her locker for a coat. She explained, when I was calm, that her walk from our door to the bus and from the bus into school was so short she never had time to get cold. Funny thing, when she got to college and it turned cold outside, she made a special trip home to buy a winter coat. Seems the walk from the dorm to her classes was a little longer and she was getting very cold!
A lot changed when she went off to college. As she was growing up, I also stopped fighting with her over menus. She grew up eating a lot of mac ’n cheese and hot dogs. She was a very picky eater. I gave up the fight and served what she would eat. Again, when she went to college, her peers noticed her limited range of menu and made fun of her. She laughed with them all through college until she came home for her semester of student teaching. We just happened to be offering a healthy eating Bible study at church called “First Place for Health.” The study emphasized that we go to God first about all things in our lives including food. We both learned a lot about nutrition and health. Both of us started trying new foods, especially more fruits and vegetables. She now eats asparagus and brussels sprouts! Her children love pasta as much as she did but, they also eat cucumber slices and strawberries as treats.
At the time that we sat in that Bible study, I remember thanking God for “filling in the gaps” of my parenting failures. Where I just had no more energy, or lacked creativity, God had a plan. Methodists often refer to this as God’s “Prevenient Grace.” It’s the grace where God knows what will be needed and sets a plan in motion to provide for us, even before we know we have a need.
Pastor Choongho Kwon preached from Philippians chapter 4 this week. I encourage you to take time to ponder this chapter, especially verse 7. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So, to all those parents feeling overwhelmed right now with children at home 24/7, take a moment to relax and ponder this scripture. Trust that no matter what your “epic failure” might be, God has a plan to provide.
Or maybe you are an essential worker who has been working this whole time and you are feeling the weight of missing out on extra quality time with your children. Stop. Breathe. Allow yourself to let go of that weight. Trust that God will “fill in the gaps” in amazing ways that we cannot even dream of at this moment! Allow the peace of God to enter your heart.
To those who are not parents, you too can trust in God’s prevenient grace for your life. Trust that God will fill in the gaps. Put God first in your life and allow His peace to enter your heart and mind.
As we continue our journey through the wilderness of these pandemic times, remember we are the “pioneers” of living in the pandemic wilderness. May our children, or grandchildren, look back when they get to college and recognize all the ways God filled in the gaps along our journey.
God’s peace be with you,