Every working mother’s dream is to cart her young child along to an appointment. I recently found myself living this dream when my childcare blew up right before a pivotal meeting that had been hard-won and even harder to schedule. Unwilling to risk a missed opportunity, I decided to just bring my son.
I was cautiously optimistic that this would not be catastrophic because he’s pretty cute and I parent in the age of iPads. He loves that iPad more than Gollum loved his Precious, so it was a safe bet that he’d stay quiet. And everything seemed to be going my way as my sweet boy quietly lost himself in a video game and I launched into my presentation.
Midway through the meeting, my son glanced up at me with a telling look of alarm on his face. I ignored him and kept on talking. I’d reached a key point in the presentation and didn’t want to lose anyone’s attention. Undeterred, his little hand tapped insistently at my leg, his eyes pleading with me to look his way.
Soon, his body started the telltale potty wiggle. The others in the room smiled sympathetically and politely asked if he had to use the restroom.
I apologized and excused us to hurry him down to the bathroom. I secretly worried that this interruption had killed the momentum of the moment. We returned a few minutes later, settled back in and I tried to resume where I’d left off.
Almost immediately, I caught a whiff of rotten eggs. There was no sound to accompany the scent, but it was unmistakable. My son was farting. And he spent the duration of the meeting releasing silent but deadly flatulence into that cramped little office. It was so ripe it nearly made my eyes water.
I knew I wasn’t the only one smelling it. But neither he nor the folks I was meeting with acted like anything was amiss, so I continued. I was terrified that the stench was a harbinger of an an entirely different caliber emergency, so I rushed through the remainder of the presentation, tossed some brochures on the table and booked it out of the office.
I drove away in stunned defeat. So much was riding on this meeting. I’d spent months laying the groundwork, preparing the presentation materials and trying to coordinate schedules. My goal was to clearly communicate our mission and demonstrate that my team was ready, able and professional. And not only did I have to bring my kid along, he peed and farted his way through the entire meeting.
I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. Me being me, I did both.
I wasn’t mad. After all, my son is young. He was extremely well behaved outside of his ill-timed bodily functions. And to be fair, he was very quiet. The people I’d met with were incredibly gracious and seemed receptive to my proposal. Still, I felt unprofessional and embarrassed and thought I’d flunked out on the whole thing.
Until my phone rang.
The team was thrilled. They loved what I had to say and were excited to partner with us.
I was elated. But more than the victory of the positive outcome, I celebrated the way God used the experience to remind me of truth.
When faced with a monumental task, its tempting to believe that everything rides on my creativity, my strategy and my execution. And when my efforts are sabotaged or I make a mistake, I feel the weight of defeat settle into my very bones.
In these moments, I’m forgetting that I am not God. The world is not on my shoulders. And trying to assume that mantle opens the door to needless stress if things don’t go well and sinful pride if they do.
Talent and work ethic matter, but ultimately it is God who works in all things and through all things and holds all things together. He will work his purposes in spite of me, not because of me.
Why would I exhaust emotional energy thinking it all depends on me when I can rest in His sovereignty?
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17
God asks us to be faithful and work hard for the Kingdom. But the creator of the universe doesn’t need us to accomplish His plans. It is no surprise to God that in a fallen, broken world, his imperfect children will do things imperfectly. So we don’t have to despair when we come face to face with our limitations. There is freedom in remembering that the Lord determines our earthly wins and losses. Both are held in His capable hands.
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalm 115:3
Far above any earthly measure of success, God cares about our hearts, our intentions and that we rightly give Him the glory in all things. He is always at work and promises to work all things together for our good.
It is such a gift that God made us finite. We don’t have to be Him. We don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to hit home runs. Every day, we just have to do our best as an offering before the Lord. Then we can rest, trusting in the knowledge that God will work His purposes through it all.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24