Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Only Place My Heart Can Really Rest...The Gospel And Parenting

Parenting can make my heart hurt... real deep.

We've been hanging out  in the sweet spot a lot lately... mainly my Siah and I. It is so much easier for me to get into the groove of bad habits than it is to soak up and pour out good ones. My treasures struggle with the same.

I want my gentleness to be made known to all.

It's not.

I know this because My Siah is this daily reflection of myself. I know how I sound to the treasures when I hear them speaking to one another, and to me.

I know I set the tone.

A gift at Christmas has brought this simple sweet reminder of why we parent... It's actually this lovely, deep-rooted truth that penetrates all areas of this one life we've been given.

And how I lose sight, I don't know. But I have and I do. But this book and these thoughts, I think I'm coming back from the dead, and my blurred vision is becoming just that much more clear...

The gospel.

Plain and Simple.

It's why I parent.

It's why I'm married.

It's why my marriage matters in my parenting.

It's how humility leads families into eternal victory.

In the four walls of this farm house, my marriage preaches. My understanding of the gospel preaches. It's the way that I actually live, not merely my words, that preach the loudest.

"But this is the one to whom I will look: He who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." (Isaiah 66:2)

So although my heart stings with the reality of my brokenness as I try to raise up these treasures, the gospel makes these moments, not only doable, but  full and rich.

Somewhere along the way I stopped relishing in the extravagance of The Cross. I've forgotten how He so magnificently intertwines His perfect justice with His perfect grace, both giving way to immeasurable hope and purpose to those who believe.

And although I'd like only to think upon His grace, I cannot fully know His grace without acceptance of His holiness... In other words, without first having a strong healthy fear of God.

What is the fear of God?

"There is a carnal fear that drives one away from God. [And] There is a wholesome, spiritual fear that attracts the believer to God. It knows that God is holy, but it also has a deep conviction that He loves us and is on our side. The latter is the fear that God blesses."

God is gracious, but He is also just, making His wrath a virtue.

Wrath a virtue?
I think upon that one for a awhile.

And understanding just how He poured out His wrath at the cross... It just might, (it should anyways), direct and determine the way that I parent.

"When Christ bore our sin on the cross, the Father punished His Son in our place. He poured out His anger so richly deserved by us, on His Son. The cross was a vehicle to express God's wrath and God wanted it expressed. 'What the cross tells us is that God hates sin'... [All the pain, torture, suffering] that led up to the cross, the amazing truth is this: It was His Father's doing. God the Father worked through the Jews and the Roman soldiers to ensure that the holy wrath of the Father himself was fully expressed. It was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He [the Father] has put Him [the Son] to grief. (Isaiah 53:10)"

When I think upon the cross, I must humbly confess that I have not always grasped the magnitude of what occurred on that day. How mind-boggling that all the wrath that I so clearly deserve was put upon not just any old joe, but upon His ONE AND ONLY PERFECT son. He bore it for me. For me.

Understanding of His wrath and hate for sin is crucial as I learn to parent these treasures.

It should and does motivate me to hate sin. Not only my own sin, but my children's as well, in that order.  And knowing that because of what Christ has done on the cross, there really is no way that I can earn my salvation, the cross reminds me to lean on Christ. I cannot earn my own salvation, and neither can my children. It is only Christ and what He has done on the cross that enables me to joyfully pursue my salvation in Christ alone.

And with that healthy fear and knowledge of what I really deserve, it helps me to be better grasp the incredible delight of the gift of His grace.

'Grace is not just unmerited favor... It is reward given to those who deserve punishment.'

I'm praying for a deeper understanding of what it cost the Father to be gracious to me.

'The cost was infinite... it took a cost of infinite value to atone for infinite offenses that were infinitely heinous to an infinitely holy God. This is what happened at the cross. God gave us that which He loved infinitely, His greatest treasure, His Son, to secure our adoption....'

What??? Craziness!

But there's more.

'God sent His son to do what you cannot. He lived a perfect life in your place. He bore the Father's just wrath for your infintely heinous sins. He did this despite the fact that it would have been completely just for Him to leave you in your sins. He did this despite any lack of need in Himself. His ONLY motive was sheer, overwhelming, incomprehensible love.'

When I take a Wednesday afternoon while my treasures are outside doing something wild, and I think upon, deeply bathing myself in, the wonder of this absolutely amazing grace that has been given to me as gift of sheer love from the one who has every reason under the sun to be without relationship with me, how can that knowledge, that wonder, not change the way that I pour into these little folks of mine, each and every moment of these messy, growing days??

How, when I am brutally aware of what I deserve, and overwhelmingly aware of what I have received instead,  How can I not be changed from the inside out in how I might live out this one life that I've been given.

I hadn't thought about it in way too long.

His holiness, His grace,  they heighten my awareness that I am simply incapable as a parent to be perfect.  But these truths, they also bring me into that ocean of great joy where I can confidently swim in the knowledge that HIS GRACE is perfected in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

His grace, it humbles me. It reminds me to confess my faults when I bruise the hearts of my children. It reminds me to take my mistakes to the cross, where I can always find the truest forgiveness. It reminds me to take my kids to the cross when they find themselves in a broken mess over the sin in their own hearts.

The cross, I'm convinced, is not only a starting place when I wake up in the morning and get up the courage to get out of bed and jump into this mess called family all over again, but it is also the ending point. There is no hope for me outside of the cross.


So when The Charmer finds his sister's stamp collection and makes a beautiful mural on the kitchen cabinets, and My Siah sturggles to have self control over his emotions while trying to stay diligent in solving a math problem, I am finding myself thinking upon that extravagant grace. I want to remember the big picture. The goal being eternity. THere will still always be the need to speak truth and hold accountable, but the drive and the heart behind it all needs to be the gospel.

When the dancing girl can't seem to remember to chew with her mouth CLOSED, and the spunky girl, with the attention span of an ant, forgets for the fiftieth time on her way from the kitchen table to the kitchen sink that all she has to do is put her dinner plate in the sink, I think about what matters and how I want to lavish these little ones with His EXTRAVAGANT love.

 I think about what I deserve and what I got instead. And I pray for a humble heart, one that the Lord can use mightly, that my children might see and know, my need, and their need for Him in everything.

Resources: Gospel-Powered Parenting