The first love challenge stick I pulled from Tim's jar read, "Help me find ways to organize." My heart immediately argued. "Ugh. The first one? Can we start easier Lord?" I wanted to put it back so badly and pretend I had never seen it. I pictured the basement. The entire garage. His tools and electronics lay cattywampus all over these spaces, hazardous to all who came near, especially to my accident prone self. "It's a beautiful day and you want me to spend it in the dark basement with the cobwebs, mouse poop, and tools that I have no earthly idea what to do with? What if I get hurt? What if I don't know what to do with something? How am I supposed to organize these tools when I have no idea what they are supposed to be used for in the first place?" My arguments were solid. I was making several good points to myself.
But you know what? I lost the argument. Why? Because God cares for my ugly, cattywampus heart. He clears the cobwebs and makes me beautiful. Marriage reflects how God loves us. I'm supposed to love my husband like God loves me. That's a tall order and my heart just can't do it. I can argue all day about how impossible that is. But God can make our hearts oatmeal. And the arguments our hearts make? They can turn to oatmeal too.
So I spent two sacred nap times rearranging, putting alike looking tools together and hanging them on pegboards. I took some warm sudsy water and wiped down up all the poop and dust and dirt and unrecognizable substances. I tried really hard not to gag. And the lyrics to that Hillsong United song, "I found my life when I laid it down," kept playing in my head.
I don't know what you think of when you hear the word "Obedience," but now when I hear it, I think of this moment. When God so clearly told me to do something and I didn't want to do it. I think of when I was called to lay all the good stuff naptimes are made of, like getting ahead of life and "me time." I think of the hardness in my heart. Sanctification is full of these moments, full of wanting to trade in this Christianity for a different one that might be easier, or at least one that didn't require us to have to organize our husband's tools.
But that is not who Christ is. He laid down EVERYTHING for us. His very life he gave on a cross. If I can't lay down a few hours to help my husband, what kind of Christ am I following? Because it certainly isn't the Christ who willingly sacrificed himself for our sake.
The outcome was phenomenal. I could tell you that God miraculously made the clean up fun or that all our marriage problems were miraculously solved, but that was not the case. What God did do was ultimately more rewarding. He softened my heart to His voice. He allowed me to say yes to Him. He showed me I could do hard things for his Kingdom. He pulled me closer to Himself.
Did Tim love it? Absolutely! And it was a joy to surprise Him with something I'm ashamed to say I never considered doing for him before this challenge. But the joy eventually fades and the high of that moment will be old news. And surprise! Our basement is already messy again. And what if Tim didn't love it? What if he didn't care? If God calls me to do something, I shouldn't do it to please others or to make me feel good or for the temporary outcome. I should do it to please God. I should do it because it puts me in the posture of saying yes to God, of following his lead, no matter the task or the outcome. This is the very essence of an Oatmeal Heart. Putting God's will above my own. Ultimately, intimacy with God is the very best thing I could pursue for my well-being and the well-being of my marriage.
And you guys. This was stick #1! Just a preview of all the Oatmeal God is stirring up in this place!