The Good Part

Does your “to do” list ever bother you? Do you leap out of bed in the morning excited to start making your way through it? Or does it feel more like a weight that you wake up to every day? Whether or not you have a written list, is your mind filled with anxiety as you contemplate all you have to do?

If the latter is true for you, then I think you will be able to identify with Martha. She lived with her brother and her sister Mary; they were friends of Jesus, and He was often in their home.

I have heard this story many times and when I was younger I often wondered which of the two sisters I was more like. I really wasn’t a Mary – definitely not spiritual enough for that – I was not the kind of girl who conscientiously read her Bible every day. Yet I also didn’t feel worthy to be a Martha.

Martha sounds like one of those terribly efficient people. She got things done. She kept a spotless house and baked and cooked and gardened – at least this is what I imagined.

More recently, though, I am coming to realise that I am more like Martha than I thought. No, I am still not terribly efficient; I am working on being more productive and on top of things. However, a little phrase stood out to me in the story and made me stop and think.

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”

Well, that feels familiar. Very familiar.

Trying to keep all the balls in the air. Remembering everyone’s schedule. Making sure dishes, clothes and people are cleaned on a regular basis. Not to mention homework, my own work, church meetings, friends and other family members to keep up with.

My “to do” list can silently scream at me all day. My mind is not at peace. It’s frenzied, overwhelmed, anxious.

Like Martha’s.

The Lord responds so lovingly to her.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha may have felt like replying, “I know Mary has chosen the good part! It would be wonderful to sit and listen to You, but there are so many things that need to be done.”

And we modern day “Marthas” will say, “I don’t have time to read my Bible today, I must rush on. There is so much to do.”

But the same answer comes to us.

“One thing is needed. Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her”.

The Lord Jesus spoke these words. But do we believe Him?

There are so many things we need to do in a day. How do we decide what is a priority? If we are Christians, then we should be getting our priorities from God’s Word.

Our first priority is our relationship with God and with Christ:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

If we are wives and mothers, our next priority is to our family and, depending on circumstances, possibly also to our extended family:

“They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:3-4 ESV).

Then, whatever our marital status, we have our local church of Christians that we are to meet with regularly, and individual Christians who may need to be encouraged in their faith. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

We may also have other responsibilities, such as to employers or activities we’ve committed to in our local community.

Within this framework we can start to order our life, but every day we will be faced with choices. Things come up, and often our “to do” list is left by the wayside as we react to whatever is happening right now, however unimportant it might be. Or, on the other hand, we may be so focused on the “to do” list that we miss the child who needs a bit of extra attention or the friend who needs an encouraging word.

How do we have wisdom for each day? We think we have so much to do each day, but how much of that is following our own pre-conceived plans, rather than being sensitive to God’s leading.

Martha was troubled and worried over many things, but Jesus told her, “One thing is needed”. Do we add things to our “to do” list that are of our own making due to pride, a desire to look good before others, or wanting to maintain our own personal standards of perfection? What if, instead, we focused on seeking to learn what God wants us to be doing in our life?

The Lord Jesus showed us what it was to seek God’s face each day. He was often found alone, speaking to His Father. Mark chapter 1 verses 35-38 records an interesting story that was recently brought to my attention. The Lord Jesus had risen very early in the morning and gone out to a solitary place to pray. Simon and others came to find Him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for You”. But Jesus said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth”.

The Lord Jesus didn’t react to the crowds that wanted Him. He looked to His Father to find His purpose and followed that path. He wasn’t a people pleaser, nor was He ever frantic or hurried.

Are we focused on finding what God wants of us each day? Or are we worried and troubled by all the things that we think other people are expecting of us or even that we are expecting of ourselves?  

Will we have the courage to do the one thing that is needed?

Mary chose the better part. To sit at His feet and to learn of Him. This is the most important thing we can do: spend time with the Bible each day, reading, thinking about and talking to the Lord. This way we will gain clarity to know what God values in our life and where we should be putting our efforts each day. We may even find ourselves adjusting that “to do” list!

 

 

 

 

 

A Joyful Mother of Children

The year 2020 has given us all more time to pause and reflect. One thing that has impressed itself on me is the family God has blessed me with. As other outside demands and activities faded into the background, I noticed my family coming into clearer focus.

In our culture, it is easy to relegate our children to the bottom of the pile of things to do. We have our to-do list, and our children’s needs are often fitted in around our schedule. It led me to think of the high value God puts on children.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord.”

Psalm 127:3

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

Matthew 19:14 NIV

In the early church, encouragement was given for the older women to “urge the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4 NIV).

Loving our children can be seen in a variety of ways. It is looking after their wellbeing. Creating a healthy, peaceful environment for them to live in. Caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I have had to ask myself, am I being intentional in my parenting? Am I letting my children spend too much time on screens, so I can “get stuff done”?

Being intentional takes effort. And time. And planning. And doing.

I want to involve my children in the life of the home, by having them help with chores, teaching them skills for life, so they will feel a valuable part of the family and will be prepared for independence when the time comes for it.

I want to be more intentional about instilling spiritual values into my children. Not in a stiff, formal way, but, sprinkling it in throughout the day.

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Deuteronomy 11:19 NIV

I want to create more of a learning environment in our home, where good books are read and shared, introducing my children to great men and women of faith from past generations. 

And I want to get involved in their lives. Find out what their interests are, take time to listen, and learn about them.

Often as mothers, we find ourselves constantly directing, instructing, correcting. But it is good to take time to stop and listen. To stop and play. To enter their world for a while. To have fun with them!

Psalm 113 verse 9 says, “He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children”.

A joyful mother?

When I first came across that phrase it caused me to pause. Am I a joyful mother? Unfortunately, I had to admit I was often definitely not a joyful mother. Motherhood is hard work. But as I thought about being a joyful mother, it helped to remind me that children are a gift from God. He has kindly blessed me and my husband with four healthy boys. We should value them as much as God does and see them as the main responsibility in our lives, not an added extra.

This past year has made me reconsider my priorities. Yes, I am called to serve within my church family, and to reach out into my community, but not at the expense of loving my children well.

Of course, we will not do this parenting thing perfectly. We can all give ourselves grace, but we also need to embrace this job with energy and approach it with joy. God has given these children to us.

Like the woman in Proverbs 31:26-28 we can:

  • Teach our children – “She opens her mouth with wisdom”.
  • Listen and respond to our children with kindness, not being abrupt or impatient – “on her tongue is the law of kindness”.
  • Set our priorities and values for our home – “She watches over the ways of her household”.
  • Make the necessary effort – “and does not eat the bread of idleness”.

And then we too may be privileged to hear the echo coming back to us through the years, the voices of our children . . . “Her children rise up and call her blessed”

Courageous Compassion

“And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him…

…And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart.”

(Mark 3:2,5 ESV)
They were watching – waiting for an opportunity to accuse.

They had their standards, their rules. They felt justified.

God had given them the law of the Sabbath. “You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:3).

If this man, Jesus of Nazareth, healed on the Sabbath, He would be breaking the Sabbath rest! If He was from God, surely He would know better.

But why was the Sabbath given?

“Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth…and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

(Exodus 20:9-11)

The Sabbath was to be a blessing – a day of rest. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time had made it into a day of bondage by adding rule upon rule to the Word of God.

The result was an emphasis on keeping the rules – being in the right place, acting the right way, dressing in the right clothes, saying the right things – all of them things that could be seen and evaluated.

But their insistence on keeping the rules, as they saw them, resulted in grave consequences.

In the synagogue that day there was a man with a withered hand.

Perhaps they had got used to seeing him there, or others like him with various disabilities. They really didn’t care.

Their thoughts were occupied with whether this man, Jesus, would go against the rules and conventions of the times.

They were hoping to find fault with Him.

They gave little thought to the other man in the story – a man with a distressing problem. His hand was deformed and of no use. He was dependent on others, likely having no employment and dismal prospects. And they had no compassion for him, no great desire to see him helped.

The Lord looked around at them, saw the hardness and was grieved.

But it was that line that got my attention as I read it.

He looked around at them with anger.

Anger!

The anger reflects how deeply He was grieved by the attitude of their hearts. They had it all wrong. Their desire to keep the Sabbath holy to their standard was resulting in them hardening their hearts to this man’s plight.

As women, we have a vital role to play in reaching out to other women, whether in our families, our churches, or our communities.

There are women struggling with difficult marriages, the pressures of work, motherhood and more, who are desperate for someone to reach out to them, stand with them and support them in the trials they are going through.

But what is our response? Do we harden our hearts?

  • Perhaps it’s a delicate situation…or a complicated one.
  • ‘Don’t get involved’ is the phrase we often hear.
  • What would others think of us?
  • Perhaps there would be murmurings against us.
  • Some might be angry, seeing it as interfering.

But are we more concerned with our own reputation, than with ministering to a broken, hurting soul? Will I reach out and stand with a sister in need? Or will I stay in the shadows – avoiding any potential controversy that may come?

The Lord Jesus was not intimidated by the disapproval of others. He called to the man, “Step forward”. He brought him out into the light and stood with him in front of the critics.

“He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand’…and his hand was restored as whole as the other.”

(Mark 3:5)

The Lord Jesus had a heart full of compassion. He had His focus on the man’s need, not on what others would think of Him – whether He would be judged.

He stood up and healed the man, restoring him to a fully functioning life.

When we see someone in need and come alongside them, we can bring life and hope to a difficult situation. We will not be able to fix the problems, but we can love these women God has placed in our path and be a true friend to them.

Most importantly, we can point them toward the One who is the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, the One who has promised to never leave them nor forsake them, the One who binds up the wounds and heals the broken-hearted, and the One who restores hope. He alone can breathe life into their wounded hearts and lift them out of their despair.

“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

(Matthew 25:40)

Reflections on Week 1

I don’t know about you, but I finished my first week of lockdown feeling like I had just emerged from a washing machine set on a fast spin.

My husband asked me on Friday evening if I was ok, and I had to answer, “No, I  am not ok”. But I couldn’t really say why. I couldn’t even articulate to myself why I wasn’t ok.

Emotionally drained.

It has been a strange week for sure. Unprecedented times. History in the making.

In many ways my week had been very easy. Neither myself or my husband are working on the frontline. We don’t have to self-isolate from each other or from our children.  My husband and children are healthy, and here with me. We are blessed with a back garden! And the sun has shone. And my 4 boys have got along pretty well all week!

I arrived into this week eager. Groceries had been bought, I was ready to hunker in and hibernate a bit. My introvert tendencies were having a field day! I was looking forward to having the children at home. I had planned our schedule. Discussed it with everyone. There was agreement and anticipation of the new daily routine. Even excitement.

And it started off well.

But somewhere in the middle of Tuesday things started to fray at the edges as far as my  epic routine was concerned and I trundled through Wednesday, stumbled through Thursday, and…kinda ground to a halt on Friday.

So what happened?

I can look back and easily see where I went wrong this week. I could make lists of what hindered me and what I neglected. But is there more to it?

We are trying so valiantly to keep our normality. Keep school going, keep music lessons going, keep afterschool activities going – Thank you Google and Zoom!

But maybe we need to allow ourselves to pause. Give permission to the emotions that are bubbling under the surface. The tension. The worry over loved ones. The fear for our economy and businesses. The fear for our hospitals, and doctors and nurses.

Perhaps we need to allow ourselves to mourn and grieve for what is coming. The threatening dark cloud that is poised over our land. 

Perhaps it is ok not to be ok.

Perhaps it is ok not to be getting through my to-do list this week.

On Friday evening my youngest son came to me to tell me that he is not liking homeschooling. Normally, we would shrug it off. So an 8 year old boy doesn’t like school. Newsflash!

But I could see the emotion behind it. The trembling chin. I had seen the signs of anxiety throughout the week. He was struggling. His little world was being upended. School  for him is hard. And now it has collided right into his living room. His safe space.

So this week I will be making some changes. Little things – to make it feel less like school. We may not get everything done. But that’s ok. 

This morning we gathered in our living room for our own little “church service”. We had told our boys that if they wanted to read a Bible verse or give out a hymn, they could. My 10 year old very sweetly said he wanted to read John 11 v 35, the shortest verse in the Bible. So he stood up and read “Jesus wept”. And he had a thought to share on it!

“Jesus didn’t come from earth, but while he was here he felt pain.”

Wow!

How true is that! In the moment of pain He felt pain. He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. It was all going to be fine, but it didn’t stop Him from feeling the emotions of the time.

It is tempting to think we should be ok about everything that is happening.

God is in control. And He is.

So we shouldn’t worry. But we do.

And that’s ok.

We don’t have to be ok with everything. God understands our fears and doubts and worries. We can bring them to Him. We don’t need to feel guilty that we are worrying.

“He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust” Psalm 103 v 14

God is still glorified when we go to Him with our worries and fears and sadness. We don’t have to have it all sorted out, filed, and organised in our heads before we come to God.

We come, our messy selves, into the shadow of His wings. He understands.

Come to Him with all the emotions this week has thrown up. He can handle them all.

The more we come to Him the more we learn to trust Him.

Psalm 103 v 13-19

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. The Lord  has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”

 

 

The Lord is Good??

A question wound its way into my heart as I glanced at the beautiful, custom-made scripture text on the wall.

“The Lord is good, his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues to all generations.”

Hand painted on reclaimed wood. Each letter beautifully formed. The perfect shade of blue for my living room. I loved it.

 

But was it true?

As I looked at it, it seemed to taunt me.

The Lord is good.

Really?

We had just received some hard hitting news about my mother-in-law in her ongoing battle with cancer. Our family had already suffered the pain of losing my lovely sister-in-law a year and a half ago – my brother-in-law losing his wife, and 3 young children losing their mother.

And yet, there was my beautiful new text staring at me, shouting THE LORD IS GOOD.

As I gazed at that verse over  the next few days, it challenged me.

How do you reconcile the two?  What do you do when you are faced with suffering, loss, and pain?

Do I still believe that? Can the Lord be good and allow all of this?

As those words, “the Lord is Good”, rang loud in my head, I realised something.

This is a declaration of God’s character. Something that is unchanging. It is just who He is. The Lord, He is good.

In difficult times we come face to face with a choice. Will we still say “the Lord is good”?

Despite the circumstances and whatever we might be going through?

Can we say it honestly?

When the situation is definitely not good – with fear, pain and heartache – how can we declare that the Lord is good?

When we read the Bible we find this proclamation all the way through.

In creation… “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Genesis 1 v 31

In bringing the Israelites out of Egypt… “Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done for Israel.” Exodus 18 v 9

When giving the law… “keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you this day FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.” Deuteronomy 10 v 12-13

And when we read the book of Psalms we find the theme of God’s goodness repeated many times over… “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Psalm 34 v 8

“I will praise thy name, O Lord, for it is good.” Psalm 54 v 6

“The Lord is good, his mercy endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100 v 5  

“You are good, and do good.” Psalm 119 v 68

And then, the greatest display of God’s goodness is seen when we move into the New Testament and see God providing a Saviour for us – His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” Luke 1 v 78.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3 v 16

The thread of God’s goodness runs all the way through God’s Word, but there is another, darker strand woven throughout too. One of sin, death, disease, wars, betrayals, murders. God does not paint a picture of a world free from trouble. Far from it! This world was marred by sin in Genesis ch3, and it wasn’t long until the first murder occurred. All the way through the story of the Bible the consequences rumble on, resulting in pain and suffering.

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Romans 8 v 22

When I was in my late teens, I really wrestled with this. How can there be a good God and at the same time so much suffering in the world.

I’m not saying I have all the answers now, but one verse that really helped me at that time was Nahum 1 v 7.

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him.”

The Lord is good….the day of trouble…

Side by side.

Both real and true.

I came across other verses… “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble .” Psalm 46 v 1

In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me.” Psalm 27 v 5

You are my hiding place and my shield…Hold me up and I shall be safe.” Psalm 119 v 114, 117

God is not promising a trouble free life, rather He seems to be anticipating hard times.

So many of the descriptions of God wouldn’t be necessary if life was one long, smooth ride.

Refuge. Shield. Hiding place. Resting place. Shelter.

Consider the final phrase. “He knoweth them that trust in Him.”

This is so personal. God Himself knows when we are trusting in Him.

When we step out in faith, placing our own life and circumstances into God’s hands. Trusting God with whatever is happening, we discover that the promise is real. God is a very present help in times of trouble. God Himself is with us. He will make His presence known. The promise is not that God will fix everything, but He will reveal Himself to us, and we will know without a shadow of a doubt that God is real and God is good. We can rest in Him in the middle of the storm swirling around us. He knows us, He is holding us, and He will not let us go.

As I considered all of this, I realised something.

I do still believe it.

The Lord is good.

 

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.
Psalm 27 v 13-14

“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S.Lewis. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Christmas, a Different Joseph and Looking Ahead

So Christmas is over for another year. The flurry and chaos has calmed. I love Christmas! It is a beautiful time of year, but it is also a time of sadness for so many as they think of loved ones who have passed on and are missing this year from the celebrations. Or others, who are watching loved ones suffering with illnesses or other trials.

On the run up to Christmas, people were brought to my mind who were in need of a card, or a call, and I was very aware of how I had totally failed this year in reaching out to a lot of people that I care about. As I sat down to write my Christmas cards it was again brought home to me as, with nearly every other name on my list, there was someone who I should have called with, sent a card to, arranged a coffee catch up, had over for dinner, and so it goes on. I confess it has been a theme with me in recent months. People on my mind that I knew I should reach out to in some way but I hadn’t got organised and made it happen. A list of “should do’s” that were never done. (Follow through has never been my strong point!) Good intentions all the way!

So I had been feeling a bit down on myself, when one morning I was reading in my Bible about Joseph of Arimathea.

“Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.” (Matthew 27 v57-60)

As I sat enjoying my hot cup of tea it struck me what a beautiful act this was. Joseph loved the Lord. He wanted to reach out and do something to show his love for the Lord Jesus. He was not intimidated. He went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. It cost him his reputation. He voluntarily gave what was to be his own tomb. It cost him financially. He wrapped the body in a clean linen  cloth. It cost him in time and effort. We remember him for this act. We honour him. We can see his love for the Lord shining through.

And yet when we read in John 19.38 we see that “Joseph was a disciple of the Lord, but secretly, for fear of the Jews”. He wasn’t like Peter and the other disciples, who left all and followed the Lord so there was no doubt they were his disciples. Joseph was a man of high status. He had become convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah and believed on Him, but was afraid of the repercussions of letting everyone know where his affection lay.

But now…Jesus has died.  Joseph knew what it was to have regrets. Did he wish he had publicly proclaimed his belief in Jesus. He had missed his chance.  It was too late! Or was it?

Like a switch being flipped, Joseph goes into action. His Lord has died, but he would see that His body was given a fitting burial. He could do that. He would take care of it and in doing so his love shone for all to see.

Now I am not in anyway equating what Joseph did for the Lord to the small everyday things that I do in my life. But it did make me think. Joseph didn’t sit and brood on how he had failed. He didn’t give in to despair and feelings of his own worthlessness. There came an opportunity and he grasped it. He jumped in there and did what he could. He didn’t look back and dwell on his past failures – letting them bog him down, feeling too embarrassed to start to do something now, when he had missed chances before. He got his mind on the present.  He saw the need. He knew he could meet the need. He determined to do it. And he did it!

There have been times when I have known that I should do something. But haven’t done it, or kept putting it off, until I was too embarrassed to do it as it was so late. But as I read about Joseph of Arimathea I am encouraged to just go do it. Perhaps I need to apologise to someone,  or give someone a call, or send a card.  It is never too late. We can be like Joseph.

Don’t look back and live in regret. Go forward into the New Year and determine to bless those around you in small, meaningful ways. Let your love shine through. I’m praying I can make it more than mere good intentions this year, and like Joseph, get up and do it!

Wishing you all a blessed and peaceful 2019

Joy in Despair

Sundays are meant to be peaceful.

That was my fleeting thought as I mounted the stairs yet again one Sunday morning.
Being a mum of four boys I am no stranger to noise, but this particular Sunday things were getting out of control at an alarming rate. Hurtful words, someone left out, tears and shouting. Doors banging. Emotions boiling over.

I had already refereed several disputes that morning and as I waded into the melee I was met with a barrage of accusations and defences. What left me slightly bemused and extremely frustrated was that this scenario was sounding identical to the previous dispute only ten minutes earlier. Only this time the players had changed position!
One who had been upset moments earlier by his older brother’s hurtful comments and exclusions, was now treating his younger brother in exactly the same way. Yet somehow was unable to see (or admit) that he was doing anything wrong. This was completely different apparently!

It is in moments like this that you just want to roll your eyes, grind your teeth, and walk away – fast! And I have responded in one or all of these ways at different times.
But this time I knew I needed to see this through.

I was determined to see this through.

Surely I can make an eight year old see sense!
I could convince him that he was not being kind.
I could make him see his actions from his brothers point of view.
I could make him admit he was wrong.
I could handle it.
And so the debate raged on, moving from the bedroom, to the kitchen and still he stubbornly clung to his position that he had not done anything wrong and he was completely innocent.
I was trying every angle with no success, and in that moment I realised something.

I am completely helpless to change his heart.

I cannot make my child compassionate.
I cannot make my child humble himself.
I cannot make my child have a kind and caring heart toward others.

Despair seeped in, tinged with fear.
Fear for the future. What sort of man would he grow up to be? My imagination ran wild.

“I can’t do this!” was the cry from my heart as I sat down at my kitchen table, feeling at a complete loss. I can’t make him into the man I so want him to become.

But in that moment of complete helplessness and deep despair I felt the Lord whisper in my heart.

“This is good.”

What?!

“This is a good place to be. This is exactly where I want you to be.”

Realisation dawned on me and with that, a deep joy flooded in.

This is where the Lord wants me!
He wants me to know I can’t do this on my own.
He is reminding me, “You can’t change their hearts, but I can.
I’ve got this.”
I can rest in Him.
It is not my job to make and mould my children into what they should be.
Ultimately, they belong to God.
He can do the heart transforming work. I can’t do that.
It is not my job to try and conform them to His image.
I can give that burden to God. I can give my child to God and trust Him to change them from the inside out.
He will make each one into who He wants them to be in His time.

It is very humbling to admit our inability. We want others to look at us and our children and applaud our efforts. We love to hear compliments on what lovely children we have, how well behaved they are, etc. And of course we want our children to behave, but often I find it is my pride that is at work.
I start to feel pretty good about myself, as though their good behaviour is a credit to my parenting skills, or when they misbehave, my first thought is, “what will people think of me?”.
We forget God and become our own god, thinking we are in control of our family. We will ensure everyone behaves so as not to embarrass ourselves, rather than because it is sin against God.
While it is humbling to be faced with our own inability, it is also very freeing.
To know that if our children are to become anything for God, it is up to God, not us.

Of course we are not able to do this work of raising children and training them in the instruction of the Lord. That’s why we desperately need the Lord.”

(G. Furman, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full)

We should know this. All through scripture this theme is repeated.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. (Psalm 118 v 8)
We are to be strong IN THE LORD and in the strength of HIS MIGHT.

Not our own strength, remembering that “the Lord is the strength of my life”. (Psalm 27 v 1)
And yet so often we fall back to thinking we can do it on our own. That we should be able to do it on our own.

What freedom in knowing we don’t need to “have it all together”. The Lord is not finished with us yet. He is not finished with our children yet.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. (Ephesians 2 v 10) He is still at work. We can trust Him.

Release the reins to God.

Rest.