It’s when one of the boys pulls his hoodie up and slumps over Scripture like it’s some vanilla page of Dick and Jane.
The dining room window frames this skirmish of October sky and summer hanging on.
The tissue-thin pages I’m holding onto, they’re open to Paul writing to the Ephesians to put on their armor.
And some kid detonated the words moron and loser in the kitchen this morning and only grazed off part of a soul and most of the morning.
Why does the dog tear open the garbage like a pinata over the back steps?
Why do teenagers shrug indifferent to sibling savagery and time evaporate like a mocking mirage and the sound bites of the evening news devour most of the day’s good?
Why do I keep failing? Why do these kids keep falling? What can read like a rhetorical question can feel like a heart howl.
Am I certifiable crazy to think joy can be found in the insanity of here?
And he reads the words slow, like a door opening up:
“13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Rain’s falling on the window now.
The counter sags with crusted pots and sweet potato peelings and the cut off remnants of garden tomatoes.
And in the stilled sigh of the house, the Farmer waits.
And I give him all I’ve got:
“Life’s biggest kill joy is expectations.”
I run my hand across the Word, smoothing out me.
When did I start expecting successful Christian living to be smooth sailing instead of stepping out of the boat in the middle of a storm?
When did I start thinking that good Christian living looked more like a holiday — rather than deployment?
When did I start thinking Christianity was about putting on accessories instead of putting on armor?
It’s like relief in the middle of the day: Life’s not hard because you’re doing anything wrong: Life is a battle. Put on your armor.
The kid at the end of the table looks like he’s dozing over verses instead of studying them.
And I take a deep breath…
When you know the call is not to be comfortable but to be Christ-formed, then the answer is joy.
The dog and the kids and the mess, this is His doing in me and for me, and every inconvenience of Christ’s making is an instrument of Christ-shaping.
Sure, some say this is trite cliche — but the bruised and brazen know it’s Christ-truth and they still stand.
I sit there with a Bible on my lap and the Farmer praying over his empty plate and the pages laying wide open and I look past the skulking and the dozing and the pots and dishes and pans — and something inside of me unties like the whole conquering sky.
Life is battle and the weak and the weary have this weapon: The Joy of the Lord is my Strength.The joy of the Lord is not mere sentiment; the joy of the Lord is the muscle that keeps you standing.
And I get up and gather the enamelware bowls with bits of squash still in them and I stand at the sink and there is warm water and light in the corn and leaves falling, falling, confetti through the sky and it’s everywhere: The joy of the Lord cannot be contained. The whole earth is full of His glory and this battle’s won. And I stand at the sink and I wash.
The joy of the Lord is our strength.
And I can feel it —
The mirth of God, it can roar loud through our veins and it can keeps us standing, louder than all that thunders close.
Related: The One Habit that Radically Changes a Family
Day 9: Catch the whole 31 Days to Crazy Joy series right here