School vacation is coming to an end around here. This weekend, the aisles of my Target were jammed with mothers, supply lists in hand, shoveling ball-point pens and wide-ruled notebook paper into their carts. At my house, too, I’ve been gearing up.
For the past three months, the kids and I have taken our cue from Porgy and Bess, and the living was easy: walking daily to the pool, reading aloud from classic books on the couch, and playing endless rounds of Skip-Bo at our coffee table. We’ve ignored the clock and slowly licked orange popsicles in the backyard.
But, in just a few hours, I will be strapping myself to the driver’s seat of my minivan, and I may not unbuckle until May. Carpool, soccer practice, catechism club, Bible study. Every block of my calendar bulleted with “to-dos.”
From his end of the family, my husband is buckling up, too. There’s a new sermon series, a new quarter’s worth of Sunday school classes and teachers, a new church building. And there are also the church people who have been in summer-mode too, who will now need visits and counsel and time.
Sharpen your #2 pencils; it’s about to get busy.
Among the reams of paper my children will bring home in chubby fists over the next few days—forms requiring me to commit by tomorrow to whether I want to organize the Valentine’s Day party in February or the Easter party in March—among the memos about uniforms and the notices about carpool lane procedures, I wish there were one that said simply:
I would like to see a memo printed on fresh green cardstock bearing the words of my Lord to Martha, in Luke 10:41-42, “You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful.”
Watch out, Jesus is saying. Because times of busyness can be divisive. And when back-to-school blows through our homes and churches, are we, like Mary, intentionally seeking the “good portion, which will not be taken away”?
Often it’s the small stuff (for Martha, it was simply getting dinner to the table on time) that gives rise to conflict. As Paul David Tripp writes in War of Words:
“We struggle with the little events of life. We struggle to communicate in the midst of them in a godly way, even when we are not being sinned against. We lash out with angry, unkind words when the bathroom is occupied, or when the car is being used, or when someone else has beaten us to the remote control or the last donut, or when the newspaper is not there when we want to read it, or when someone is making us late. . .This is where we live every day.” (p. 166)
When husbands are mentally planning the next Wednesday night program and wives are juggling soccer uniforms and brown bag lunches for five, the Evil One is on the prowl. Egging us on to harsh words, grumpy faces, or even a you-do-your-thing-I’ll-do-mine distance in our marriages.
Often, too, it’s the small stuff that drives us from Christ, from Bible reading and prayer, from wholehearted devotion to Him.
One Christian sister often quotes to me: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards” (Song of Solomon 2:15)
And, at the beginning of a new school year, the foxes are streaming out of backpacks and Sunday school rooms and email accounts and voice mail boxes. All those little foxes that would keep us from love for God and love for neighbor, one three-minute nibble at a time.
So I want a memo that says: STOP. A memo that says: READ your Bible AND PRAY for yourself and for your husband. I’d also take a memo that says: SMILE. And one that says: BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.
Time for school.