The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
In February, when we moved into our new place, we saved just a bit of money from the sale of our old house so that we could buy a new couch set. We'd never purchased new couches before, so it felt exciting (I mean, as exciting as a couch purchase gets). Our dilapidated furniture had seen several homes and several decades. We were happy to replace it with a nice, sturdy, middle-of-the-road sort of set.
The cushions were tight, the pillows were full. And we could tell that these would last for a really long time. The kids were excited too.
"Just be gentle on the couches, please. We want them to last."
Five People. Three of them with constantly renewable energy.
Do the math.
Our couches have become forts. They've become beds. They've become trampolines (without permission). And they get no Sabbath rest.
Our couches have aged 10 years in 10 months.
The creases now remain when someone stands up. The back cushions sag a bit. The padding is a little lumpy. And I am starting to feel the structural beams that are embedded in the armrests.
I've been thinking lately that I guess our couches aren't as sturdy as I thought. It's easy to look at something that's worn and decide it just isn't tough enough.
But maybe I'm incorrect? Maybe the wear and tear is simply what you expect in this situation? Maybe that new(ish) couch is doing exactly what is expected, and I need to stop being disappointed and thinking that there is a problem with my kids! Whoops, I mean, myself! Whoops, I mean, my couch...
Sometimes lessons come in strange ways. And today I'm seeing Christ in couch wrinkles. (Maybe folks will pay good money to come and see Christ in my couch wrinkles. Like the Jesus-face-on-grilled-cheese sort of thing?)
Today God is inviting me to sit back in wonder at how the couch is still standing after what it's been through. How it's still holding our family up! I can't believe that bad boy hasn't cracked in half yet, honestly. It's pretty amazing. Praise God!
Maybe today is the time for grace to win. Maybe all the time is the time for grace to win.
So much of the journey with Jesus is becoming a grace-filled person. To let God's grace fill us when our natural inclination is to cast judgment on ourselves because we are worn down these days. And also to let God's grace pour from us toward other people in our lives... most of whom are well intentioned, trying their hardest, and simply worn out, too. This goes for those who think like you and those that don't. Truly, most people are trying their best to survive. They are feeling the creases and wrinkles in their bodies and their spirits. And what we need for each other (and ourselves) is the grace and support that God gives abundantly.
One of my neighbors is a nurse bearing a crushing load... and doing it for months on end! Only by the grace of God! Another neighbor is a widow who lives on her own. She's exhausted by how long this is lasting, and it's had an impact on her.... but she is extraordinary in her perseverance! Do we see each other? Do we look with compassion and wonder at each other's strength, instead of just noticing each other's weaknesses? I know hope feels hard since the new year feels a lot like the old one right now. But inviting God's grace to really invade your life-- it will change the lens that you see reality through.
This image can hit us each in different ways. Maybe you are the couch (please don't be offended), and you need to let God's grace influence how you've been thinking about yourself, because you are loved and valuable and honestly holding up pretty well given the load that you're constantly bearing! You are enough, and unrealistic expectations are killing your ability to see it.
Or maybe you are hung up on the people jumping on couches. You feel the need to blame something, and it's so easy to live in an attitude of criticism these days. And today, God needs to give you a huge dose of grace for them so you don't lose your soul.
Either way is ok. Either way can lead us to a reminder that getting worn down is not failure, it's expected. But God is always in the process of making old things new again. So there's hope for both of us.
Jesus, we're weary and worn. Speak grace to our spirit.