Only two of my four children were awake, making the noise and drama levels bearable enough so that, thanks to a godly friend’s encouragement, I had managed to finish my daily reading for the third morning running and pray for a couple of minutes. One of my verses had been about being filled with the power of the Spirit, so I sprang out of bed ready to enjoy a fantastic Spirit-fuelled day! I can already see you, reader, smiling at my naivety.
Fast forward half an hour, and matters had taken a slight nosedive. Fumes of disinfectant now filled the air as my little girl had slept so deeply that, having confused bed and toilet, she met me at her door trailing the evidence behind her across the carpet. This mingled with the smell of congealing porridge which she had refused to eat and which I hadn’t yet got around to feeding the baby. I had wasted precious minutes searching for a sparkly shoe and a pair of school trousers, resulting in laundry all over the kitchen floor. Meanwhile, I thought my oldest two were at least putting on what clothes I had found; so when I discovered them dressed as a dragon and a knight I was less than amused! Finally, the baby, suffering from conjunctivitis, was still looking generally crusty, having put up a valiant fight against his eye drops and a face wipe.
I found myself thinking dark thoughts toward my husband, who had rushed out the door pleading he was late for work; dark thoughts toward my children for not being lined up well-fed, shiny-faced and suitably dressed at the front door; worst of all, I was thinking dark thoughts toward my God. I felt that, given that I was just getting back on my feet after a period of spiritual apathy and I had read and prayed like a good Christian should, this was not the Spirit-filled experience I had been hoping for in return.
‘This is not the day I needed today’, my inner monologue raged; ‘this is just not the day.’ And then a still small voice said, ‘but this is the day God’s given you, this is the day.’ From the dim recesses of childhood memories suddenly came that Sunday school chorus:
“This is the day that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 KJV).
I confess a wry smile crossed my face. Of all the words to come to my mind as I wrestled the baby into his coat! I found myself praying aloud, something I rarely do, thanking my Lord for reminding me of this verse just when I needed it. I thanked Him for four healthy (if infuriating) children, and a lovely, crisp winter’s day outside after weeks of rain. I asked Him for help to get through this day, the day He had made for me, and then said a humble ‘amen’.
I realise that, in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t really a bad morning. There are many people who each morning face much worse than I do, and for whom rejoicing in the day God has made demands far more than it did of me. But can I at least encourage those with young families like mine: don’t just start the day right. (And certainly don’t start the day right because you think God will reward you with a nice day in return; read Job to see that’s not how our God operates.) Keep having fellowship with God throughout the day and cast yourself upon Him. If we want to be filled with the power of the Spirit, then we’re going to have to oust those ungracious, ungrateful feelings that often fill our hearts.
Secondly, to those who work with children in some capacity (Sunday school teachers, camp leaders, those who are spiritual if not natural parents), even when it seems your charges are retaining nothing please keep on teaching them the Word of God by memorisation, choruses or whatever means, because the Lord will use it exactly when it’s needed.
In the end, we arrived fifteen minutes late at school to find the staff and pupils in the playground. A faulty fire alarm had gone off, and by being late we had been spared fifteen extra minutes waiting in the cold. A good job, as I never did find my oldest’s trousers, and had to put him out in school shorts . . . in November. My daughter had to go to nursery in her third favourite pair of sparkly shoes, but she was beginning to get over it when I left. When I got home, I finally managed to get the drops in my baby boy’s eyes and then dashed off to our church’s toddler group, still humming my chorus:
This is the day that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. This is the day - hey - this is the day, that the Lord hath made!