I have been enthralled with His Word lately. (It's not always this way)
I have been enthralled with Him lately. (It's not always this way)
It's mainly because He is absolutely nothing, I mean nothing, like this world.
He came to GIVE UP his life that I might live, and live fully in His glorious joy.
How do I get this joy? By doing what He did.
By giving it all up.
By going lower.
By serving joyfully, humbly, willingly, and intimately.
And this is not a martyrdom mentality. It's the most powerful perspective to have in a world saturated with the message of self.
That a culture can convince a nation that motherhood is not the absolute MOST valuable job, career, ministry tool, purposeful choice for a life, is, may I dare to say it, heart-wrenching.
I'm about to get brutally honest here.
The past few years have been challenging and difficult for me in my mothering. I have questioned over and over again whether or not, me being home with my kids is enough. On the days where I lack kind words I have convinced myself that someone else would be way better at raising my kids than I am. I've said on numerous occasions out loud to the Cowboy that I am positive that the Lord messed up in giving me all these children because I clearly don't have the patience for this job. I've left the house on hard days to go shopping, drink tea at Starbucks, to just sit in the car and try regroup so that I could gain a little perspective.
My heart just checks out.
Because checking out is easier than pressing in.
And I forget that that my children's vices aren't there to irritate me and cause me to be angry; they are offenses that are meant to sober me and call me to the tireless and tender action of praying for, teaching and tending the garden of their souls
I run to self, when where I really need to go is into the truth of His Word. I try to make myself feel better about my sin and my life and my family with a beverage or a new shirt. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I also have a very strong feeling that I'm not alone.
And if I'm even more honest I think that maybe I didn't go to Him on those days because maybe I didn't want to really know what He was going to say.
Because the truth is, if I want to live like Christ, He's going to ask me to die to myself. He says that's the ONLY way I'm truly going to gain anything worth gaining in this life. But it's a nearly impossible thought for me because in this world, and sadly, even in the church, I hear more often than not, you need "find yourself." "the more you do for yourself, the better you'll feel about your life"
But then I read this about the way HE defines life,
"For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it." (And this charge is mentioned in every last gospel... Mathew 10:39, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, John 12:25)
"Just as the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many." Mathew 20:28
"...but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." Mark 4:19
"Stand firm and you will win life!" Luke 21:19
"In Him was life and that life was the light to all mankind." John 1:4
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but has eternal life." John 3:16
"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you_ they are full of the Spirit and life." John 6:63
"The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep." John 10:11
"The reason that the Father loves me is that I lay down my life..." John 10:17
"Then Jesus answered (Peter), "Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."" John 13:38
And my heart shatters in the absolute best way, and He graciously opens my eyes, for the first time in a long time, and I remember that in fact he has not lessened my life by giving me these kids and this Cowboy. But in fact He has had much favor on me. He has graciously given me a lifetime to pour His precious Name over these four little people. He has given me ample opportunity to be a crown of joy to that man that I absolutely love with my whole heart. He has asked me to lay it all down, not so that I can live a lowly, sad life, rather the very opposite...
'Greater love has no one than this than to lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
"You have made known to me the paths of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence." Acts 2:28
Family is not a burden.
Children are not an inconvenience. They are not to be seen merely as an expense. They are not another thing to check off our to do list each day. They are not a stumbling block preventing me from my true calling somewhere else outside my home.
They are the most rare of precious gems and they are a crucial-beautiful part of our sanctification. If we really want to know Christ and be like Him, then we will let Him mold us into His likeness as we learn to love and serve the little ones that He has put before us.
Does that mean that I will always feel super in love with my children?
But it does mean that I will joyfully, and sacrificially press in when everything in me feels like running away.
Jesus was a discipler of souls. They pulled Him, tugged Him, pressed in around Him and took Him at every turn. But He never lost sight of how precious they were, and how important His job of pointing to the Father, for the sake of their souls, was. He stole away to His quiet place, not to "find Himself," but to be renewed so He could go back and pour Himself out again.
The family is vital.
The family is the place children are to be taught, nourished and grounded in the principles of God's Word.
The Lord call parents, (not school teachers, not the church, not youth group), but mothers and fathers, to teach their children diligently, daily, in the ways of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 6)
I love that He uses the word diligently. It is not a family devotion here and there that is going to lead our children into the intimate presence of their Jesus. It has to be their very way of life. It's what they see with their eyes and hear with their ears as they walk through their days that's going to determine their steps. And what better privilege do we have on this earth than to exemplify HIM by sacrificially learning to love together as we walk through our days together as a family?
How could I want anything less than Him calling my children "oaks of righteousness"... that my children might be "a planting of the Lord for the display of HIS splendor?" (Isaiah 61)
And if I am honest with myself, how can I be diligent if I am not there? How can I talk about my Jesus when we are sitting at home, or walking along the road, or lying down or getting up, if I am always leaving?
I could easily leave it up to someone else to train up my children. It would lighten my days. I would be more comfortable and have more luxuries. It would allow me more time for myself.
But there is no one on this earth who knows my treasures like I do. God intended it to be that way.
And after a lifetime of living with "me", I am 100% convinced that the last thing I need is more of myself. I need more of Christ. And I'm going to find more of Him as I soak up the gifts He's given me in my children, in my home, and in my High, High calling of motherhood.
Do I think it's wrong to grab a cup of coffee with friends, to steal a weekend away with my man, to spend an afternoon in the city every once in awhile.
No, I do not.
It always comes back to the status of the heart.
Am I looking for the abundant life in a cup of coffee and a new dress? Or am I running into the arms of the One who gives life?
Jesus called us out on our temptation to look for life elsewhere...
"Yet you refuse to come to me to have life..." John 5:40
The truth is my identity is found in Christ and my will is to be always about His will. It is only as I become empty of myself that He is able to fill me up.
It is only when I willingly give all of myself, that I will gain all that I need in Him.