Unless you are a naturally optimistic - the birds sing you awake - type of person, Monday mornings tend to arrive with a weight to them. They are just hard. Sure, there is a great sense of hope that accompanies the beginning of a new work week and all of the opportunities it represents (cue the blue jays making my bed), but often that sense of hope is overshadowed by the Goliath-sized list of things that need to get done.
It's 7:30 a.m and already my head is swirling with a host of things I failed to cross off my list last week, and that ominous knowledge is somehow being squashed by an even heftier load of tasks I need to accomplish this week.
We are busy people, and the implications of our busyness can often take our minds captive, threatening to steel the simple joy of living.
But there is another - more deflating - type of siege that likes to take place in my mind on Monday mornings. This army is in alliance with the first. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it employs the army of busyness to distract me as it attempts to flank the forces of my mind each and every day. It is the army of condemnation and its captain is Satan, himself.
He is a skilled opponent whose battle experience goes back to the beginning of creation. He understands humans, knows our weaknesses, and exploits them to the fullest extent. He will do anything to keep us from living to the fullest - for truly living is life in God, life aware of his love and dependent upon his grace.
Living brings glory to the Life-giver, and Satan's great aim is to steal our great God's glory.
And so, on Monday mornings, I find myself thinking not only of the many, many things I need to accomplish and in reality will probably not be able to bring to completion, but I'm thinking of the many ways in which I sinned last week.
I'm thinking of the ways that I allowed anger and pride and discontentment to fill my mind, to pour out of my mouth, and to hurt the ones I love. I'm thinking of all the ways I failed to live for others, of the may ways I jealously sought to take care of me and not my husband, my children, my parents, my friends, and my church.
I look back on last week, and wish I could look forward to the upcoming week with pure, unadulterated hope. I wish I could say, "Last week I really messed up, but this week I will make it right," and genuinely believe it, but I know my heart. I know that no matter how hard I try, I will still fail.
Unkind words will still pour from this sinners mouth in moments of weakness.
The bubbling frustration that arrises from caring for four little children day in and day out will eventually give way to me to popping and my self-serving soul being exposed - yet again.
And I will still find myself desperately looking for ways to feed my own ego rather than pointing those around me to the all-glorious, worship-worthy King of the universe.
I will be found worshipping myself, while the nail-pierced Savior looks lovingly on, and I will hate myself for it.
Mondays are hard.
Because with the buzz of the alarm clock comes the the trumpeting of a new battle in the war against sin and Satan. In this war, sin has had many victories and Satan has had many opportunities to glory in his accomplishments.
I've given up much ground.
But our gracious God, he does not leave his soldiers alone to fight by their faltering strength and their own faulty logic.
The battle may seem hopeless and pointless and all-together too much to logically continue fighting, but onto this hopeless morning's battle field he lays the bloody words "sanctified" and "saint."
He tells me the story again: The story of his son's love, of his son's bravery, of his son's battle, of his son's victory. He tells me to rest, to have hope, and to be filled with joy because I've already been sanctified. I've been made a saint. In Christ, I am holy. In Christ, the battle is already won.
when Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see him there
who made an end to all my sin.
On Monday mornings as the battle draws near, I look not to myself for hope - because there is none to be found there - I look to my Savior. I look to the one who has sanctified me and set me apart, for his purposes and for his glory.
I resolve to live fully, to fight with all my might against the enemy, to put to death the sin that remains within me. Not because I can win every battle, but because I've been called out to fight.
I've been made holy in the court room of the one great Judge, and his verdict of "guiltless" frees me from the tyranny of my accuser. It robs the enemy of all his weapons.
I'm protected from his arrows of condemnation by the grace of my perfect Substitute and given strength to fight his forces by the power of my glorious Resurrection.
What I am in Christ, allows me to face who I am on my own with patience, humility, and even joy.
Because my failures remind me of his perfection.
My guilt reminds me of his love.
This summer, during our family vacation at the beach, my son and I were riding in an inflatable raft as my husband pulled us through the crashing waves. My son found this romping ride to be exhilarating and terrifying all at once. With each new wave, we asked if he'd like to go back, but he would beckon us to go on through an enormous grin and nervous giggles. And so we'd continue, with me clinging to his five year old frame with a mother's steady grip.
Eventually one wave got the better of our raft and turned us completely over. Out we went into the swirling current, turning head over heal in the salty water. When I could catch my footing, I stood out of the waist-deep water with my little boy safely secured to my chest with my viselike grip.
But my precious boy was overwhelmed by our battle with the current. He'd never spent so long submerged in water before. Though I was securely holding on to him and he was completely out of the water, his arms and legs continued to flail and his little voice screamed, "Mom! Mom! Mom!"
"It's ok, Hudson, I've got you," I soothed over and over again, "I've got you."
It took a few minutes for him to feel confident in my grip, to understand that I had never let him go and that there was nothing to fear. "I've got you," I continued to say, "You're safe."
These are the words our God wants me to hear this morning as I head into another week.
Yes, sin will come and swirl dangerously all around me. I will lose my footing every so often. I will be overwhelmed at times.
But he's got me.
And I'm safe.
There is nothing to fear.
This is the hope for Mondays, can you hear the birds singing?