Our pastor spent a couple of weeks preaching on Ephesians 6:1-4, addressing parents and children and what God calls them to as members of His family. My favorite thing that he said is that all of the directives for living given in the second half of Ephesians should be rooted in the gospel laid out in chapters one through three. So, in Matt's words, "Parenting is a gospel activity. All of life is a gospel activity."
My life has changed over the last two years since I encountered Sally Clarkson's moms ministry. Her challenge to look at Jesus as He discipled his men and consider how we can disciple our children in the same way, has made an immense difference in my attitude and approach to being a mom. Sally offered no formula or plan for "getting it right," rather she pointed me to God, to consider His ways, to ponder His commands to me as a mother, to think about not only teaching them obedience, but also serving them as Christ served His disciples, responding to the beautiful call He's placed on my life as I am raising our children.
Kristen, a friend up in Canada, wrote a post once called Parenting for Happiness? She hits the nail on the head with the truth that being a parent will NOT always make you happy. We share many delights in our family as a result of having children around, but if the point of having children is happiness, we will be sorely disappointed and maybe even hold it against our kids.
As I thought about that this morning in the shower (a great place for thinking, no?), I realized that what has happened in me, and can happen in you as a mom, is a heart change. If I seek to find my fulfillment in my children or even my "parenting skills," I will be quite miserable - children frustrate us, disobey, make demands on our time, etc. On the other hand, if I seed to find my fulfillment in the Lord and whatever He's calling me to at the minute, I will be filled with joy. The task may not be glamorous, the children may not obey, the to-do list may be too long, the body may be tired and weary, but the heart can still be filled with joy and peace only God can provide. THAT makes a big difference in our lives and the life of our families.
Are you not grateful that God is long-suffering and merciful? I look back to how harsh I was with Elizabeth as a tiny girl. I praise God that it did not crush her spirit. I praise God that He's rooting out the nasty little by little as the Spirit prompts me to repent, believe, and obey. It's day-to-day, moment-by-moment death to self, friends. Perhaps we should spend our days humming I Need Thee Every Hour. God has rescued us, let's share the good news with our kids in the ways that we love and serve them today, through discipline, instruction, and living life together. Embrace the calling and may God fill you up!
May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.