Does He Inconvenience Himself for You?
I have enjoyed a special connection with my llama, Nessie, and her mama, Scout. I was Scout's midwife when Nessie came into the world. One day, I looked out the window to see that Nessie was communicating clearly to her mama. That baby wanted some of the wonderful llama milk under her mother's belly. Scout was rather intent on walking over to the mound of hay my husband, Bob, was putting out at that moment. She didn't want to stop to nurse Nessie. That was clear. She put her ears back and attempted a gentle kick, but stopped short.
There have been other times where Nessie, seeming to sense that her llama mama had some place to be, bounced along beside her, suppressing her need to nurse until the pair arrived at their destination. This was not one of them. Baby needed milk.
I saw the reluctance in Scout. She was eager to get her share of that hay from Farmer Bob. And the other llamas can eat so quickly! I didn't think she was going to stop.
But she did.
She submitted to her baby's need.
Scout's act of kindness really spoke volumes to my heart that day. Through it, God impressed on my spirit about how men and women love well by submitting "to one another" (Eph. 5:21). Submission is really an act of kindness that puts the thoughts, needs, and preferences of the other ahead of your own. This is often a great inconvenience—as it was for Scout that day—but one God asks us to embrace.
The Church teaches often—and even argues—about women and submission, but hardly anyone ever talks about the submission of a good, godly man. I'd like to do that today, because within the last twenty-four hours I believe God has brought full circle the word picture He was teaching me through that mama llama.
Yesterday, Scout died.
I cry as I think of it. Nessie is now eighteen months old and capable of living without her sweet mama, but clearly would rather not. She's been standing in one spot staring mournfully at the place where it happened.
I don't know what happened, only that my sweet husband tucked me into bed and invited me to sleep in yesterday. I did. Late in the day when I went to feed the herd, I could not find Scoutie. I reasoned that she was in the outer shelter and so lugged an armful of sweet, green hay out to her only to find an empty shed.
I turned and hollered to Bob who was just getting home from work, "I can't find Scout."
"Come inside," he said gently. "She's not here."
And I knew.
I knew without asking not only that she was gone, but that he'd spent the day protecting me. That's just how my love is—he inconveniences himself to shield me. I later learned through others that he cancelled his first early morning appointment and called a friend to help him move our most beautiful llama so I would not have to see her in the tragic accident that occurred. Then he hired a guy with a backhoe to dig a hole and came home from work to meet him. They buried her so I could remember her as she was.
He inconvenienced himself to take the brunt of the horror for me. Oh, how heavy his heart was last night, and I knew he carried the grief so I would not have to.
You don't get a man who will, as Ephesians says, "give himself up for" you by accident. He is intentionally raised to be that way. My twenty-three-year-old son displayed this quality last week when he took his car to get the pollen washed off of it before a date with his girlfriend. He cared about what condition the car was in when she got in it, so he went out of his way to clean it up. A guy displays the ability to give himself up in big things by doing it in little things. You see it when:
- He fills your car up with gas so you don't have to get out in the cold.
- He lets you go first in the food line.
- He carries your books to class or your suitcase to the car.
These small inconveniences are proof that his heart is willing to be submitted to your thoughts, needs, and preferences. God's requirement of men is more difficult than what he asks of us as women. I think it's much harder for a man to give himself up sacrificially and continually so he can mirror the agape (love) of Jesus Christ than it is for a woman to submit to her husband when they disagree on a decision. A woman's submission is occasional when the two don't agree. But a man's submission to his wife's needs is continual. Ongoing. Everyday. And in the safe place it provides, it is not hard to let him break a tie or two when you have differences of opinion.
Here's the real clincher: Ultimately, neither the woman or the man submits in marriage because the other is worthy of it. They're not. But Christ is. And this is what is required of us in all relationships:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:21).
A llama cannot submit out of reverence to Christ. Clearly. But nine months ago, God used this one to teach me a little something about my definition of submission. For that, I'll always remember bold, beautiful Scout. I hope you'll learn a little something from her too. That you are worthy of someone seeing your needs and inconveniencing themselves to meet them.
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