By Beth Ann Olesen
“The days are long, but the years are short.” This pithy observation is never more true than in the throes of summer. It is currently 7:00 am. My son, who has already eaten two breakfasts this morning, wants to know when lunch is. My daughters have been fighting since daybreak, when one had the audacity to accidentally touch the other.
As someone who is highly sensitive and introverted, I have to fight the urge to start counting the hours until bedtime before most people have even left their beds. Some nights, as I reflect on the day, I cringe thinking about my lack of patience, flexibility, or compassion.
Proverbs 27:23 reads, “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds…” Although some days it feels more like I’ve been given the task of herding rabid monkeys, this verse has served as a beautiful reminder for me this summer as to what a responsibility I have been given.
God did not entrust me with this flock so I could go through the motions or simply get through the day. My herd needs more than three meals a day and time spent outside. It is my job to know the state of their bodies, hearts, and minds. It is my job to make sure my heart, and not just my body, is fully engaged in their care. It is my job to model God’s love and grace, and to take time to show them how to demonstrate these qualities in their own ways.
This may seem obvious, or even easy, to some. And there are moments in every day when it is. But there are other times when this can be really, really hard: when you feel depleted, when you allow feelings of selfishness or bitterness to seep in, when you feel inadequate for the task.
This is also, of course, not limited to children. It is with whatever flock and herd God has entrusted to you. As Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.”
I am trying to begin each day by asking myself two questions: What is the state of each of my children? Is my heart in the right place and committed to caring for them today? Some days these questions have easy answers, and sometimes they don’t. But every day God uses them to challenge and prepare me for the day ahead with my herd.