I Should, I Must

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Strike the match. A scent, the barest whiff, of burning wood. Lay flame to wick. Spark, flicker. The darkness illuminated.

The candle of hope. Now the candle of peace.

I sit and watch the little lights shining, my mind filled with “shoulds.” If anxiety was a country then overwhelmed would be it’s president and should would be the law. Should go out and walk. (Even if it is raining. But I don’t really mind that). Should deep clean the refrigerator. Should go through all the papers in the filing cabinet. Should find a good deal on and install (by myself, of course) new flooring for the whole house.

I lost sleep last night, thinking of all the “shoulds.”

The Martha voice won’t win today. I’m tired of her. Tired of her unending demands. Yes, there’s always work to be done. And that’s kind of the point: There’s always work to be done. There’s always a chore or a project. While ignoring them is no good, neither is letting them master me.

And all too often, they do. Call it a personality mark or a sin issue, but whatever it is moves me to slip easily into workaholism, growing more and more fearful the harder I push and the more I take on. The mountains grow. The piles get bigger. No matter what I accomplish, no matter what I check off of the list, it’s never enough.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

– Augustus M. Toplady, Rock of Ages

Today I rebel – against myself. Against my natural tendencies. Against the worry and the woe, against the struggle and the strife. As soon as this publishes I will grab my iced coffee (yes, even in December because hot drinks are gross 98% of the time) and my Bible. I choose to tell Martha to shut her mouth and chill.

For it is peace I crave, the peace that is found only in the presence of the Lord. Sometimes I find that in the middle of the work, but today I turn away from the “should” and latch on to the “must.” I must curl up at His feet. I must remember that He judges me not on the carpet stains left by the previous owners that I can never get out no matter what cleaning agent or method I try. He doesn’t care about that stubborn spot on one of the shelves in the back of the fridge that remains despite my best scrubbing efforts. He doesn’t shake his finger at me if all the DVDs don’t get cataloged all at once.

He sees me through the overlay of Christ, in whom my life is hidden. Purchased at great cost. He sees me in a way that I can never manage to see myself. He takes my hand and, in the quietness and authority that characterizes the voice of His Spirit, says, “Come sit with me, little one.”

In that is peace.

My journey to faith. (15)


2 thoughts on “I Should, I Must

  1. Funny you should reference candles since the first night of Chanukah (it can be transliterated from the Hebrew in several ways, all of which are “correct”) was last night. Imagine how the Jews in San Bernardino and the surrounding area felt lighting the first candle or oil wick last night, a small light to dispel the encroaching darkness.

    I think Chanukah can be a lesson for all of us in these dark times not go give up hope. Although Chanukah is a Jewish holiday rooted in ancient Israeli history, it is also an example to the rest of the world that God does miracles and, if the existence of the Jewish people and their nation is any example, is still doing miracles today.

    When a Jewish family lights the Chanukah candles, they are supposed to be placed near a window so their light can be seen outside the home by anyone passing by. This is a testimony to the faithfulness of God to the Jewish people as well as a declaration to the world that there is a God of Heaven and that He will redeem the world.

    And this reminds me of the following:

    “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

    Luke 11:33-36 (NASB)


  2. Wonderful post, Marie.

    I’m lucky; the only should I have is a must, and I have to simply find a reason to go on…or go on anyway, until I rediscover the meaning.

    It seems pointless sometimes; but in that feeling is the point of it all. The defeat, and the victory.

    As for the temporal darkness, I learned to translate “it is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness” as “illuminate, and fire for effect”. The meaning should be clear.

    I got tired of abusers and haters a long time ago, and sure as God made the 50BMG and the Barrett M82, there’s a convenient solution ready to hand.

    Might want to bring your earplugs, though.



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