Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Most of What I Know about God, I Learned from my Children

Do you ever wonder why God chose to organize the human reproductive system the way He did? Don't worry - this is not going to be a PG-13 rated blog. But just think, He could have made us like mushrooms that reproduce by spreading spores on the wind. He could have chosen to make us like amoebas that reproduce through mitosis, creating a virtually identical replica of ourselves. He could have made us like sea turtles who leave their eggs to hatch in the sand and their offspring to find their own way into the sea.

So why did God create human offspring to be needy? To require care and feeding for years? To have their own unique characteristics, personalities, and will - often diametrically opposed to that of their parents? Why did God create them with the ability - even the propensity - to disobey our instruction, even to their own harm?

I don't know if this is what God had in mind when he created children with a mind of their own and yet with the need for long-term parenting, but my children have taught me more than any preacher or teacher ever could about my relationship with God.

I remember times when I had to discipline them to help them learn a tough lesson. And God showed me how He also allows painful lessons to teach me.

I remember holding them when they suffered through an immunization, knowing that the ultimate result would be for their good. And times when God showed me that the pain of my momentary suffering was worth the benefit in eternity.

I remember having to deny them something they wanted with all their heart - because I knew it would not be in their best interests. And God speaks the same words to my own heart when I pursue a dangerous course.

I remember my kids as toddlers clinging to me when they were in need - just as I cling to God in times of trouble.

Often when my children said, "I don't want to." "That's not fair." "Why me?" "I can't." I could almost hear God saying to me, "That's what you're saying to me! But I have your best interests at heart, just as you have your children's. Trust me, just as you want your children to trust you."

I remember thinking at times, "Is this how God feels when I mess up?" as I watched my child ignore godly counsel and go their own way. Or, thankfully more often, when they made a wise choice,  "Is this how God feels when I get it right?"

There were moments when their safety or health were at risk and I recall thinking that I would gladly take whatever pain, whatever suffering, whatever disability or death, any possible consequence if only to protect them from that consequence.

Isn't that a picture of God's grace?

God created everything with purpose. We could spend our whole lives studying his creation and still not be able to grasp the whole purpose behind each element of His design. But perhaps one reason He designed us to reproduce children who need our care, yet sometimes reject our authority, is to give us a better understanding of His unconditional and sacrificial love.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Separation Anxiety

A friend recently mentioned how her three-year-old son follows her around the house from room to room as she puts away the clean, folded laundry. He just watches her. Do you remember those days? I vividly recall my own children at that age wanting to always be in my presence - it was years before I could even use the restroom in peace!

Children follow us because they love us, their parents, unconditionally. They want to be with us 24/7 - which often leads to some real hysteria when we try to put them to bed or leave them with a sitter.

But isn't that a beautiful picture of what our love for Christ should be?
I was reading in John Chapter 14 this morning. It begins with Christ's familiar admonition for us to not be troubled because He is going to prepare a place for us and will return to take us to that place. Doesn't that sound just like a parent comforting their child? "Mommy and Daddy will be back soon!" He goes on to say, in verse 13, "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father."

Please don't get me wrong - I do NOT subscribe to a prosperity gospel. God's Word is very clear that in this world we will have tribulation and the examples from the early church are stark reminders of how devastating those tribulations may be. However, Christ clearly says, "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." I believe that we can have confidence when we ask for something that glorifies God, He will provide whatever we ask.

After reading this, I prayed for two areas that have long been struggles - areas that I feel like my life fails to glorify God in. I long to see Christ give victory in these things - not for what it will do for me, but because I want to boast on what God has done! I want others to know that God has conquered these things in my life and He can conquer whatever enemy they are facing as well. I prayed, "Lord, help me to know how to receive the victory that I know is already yours!"

And then I turned the page of my bible to verse 15. "If you love me, you will obey what I command."


So I prayed, "Lord, I want to obey - help me to do your will!"

Verse 16. "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of Truth."

Isn't that precious? Don't you love how God answers prayer from His Word?

In order to obey the Lord, I need to have my eyes set on him just like those of a toddler are set on their mother and father. Follow Him wherever He leads. Cling to Him, especially when I'm scared or confused. Refuse to turn to anyone or anything else for comfort. Run back to Him as soon as I realize I've strayed.

The chapter finishes with such a strong reminder of who our battle is with - "...for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me."

I pray that the same could be said of me - that "I do exactly what my Father has commanded me."