I was having brunch with a sweet friend the other day and we were reading through a Bible Study. The question was posed "what are you doing that is advancing the kingdom of God? What do you spend your days working on?" Initially I responded that I felt like I was in a rut and not really doing anything but surviving. Then I replied, "Well I know that one of God's major purposes for me is being a mother. So I can count that."
But can I really?
After all, unbelievers are mothers too. Many of them are actually really great mothers (at least according to the world's standards).
So then I clarified myself.
It's not WHAT you do, it's HOW you do it.
I remembered our pastor recently saying during a sermon that people focus so much on "raising their kids right." He went into detail about how parents go to the extremes to make sure their kids stay out of trouble, make good choices, get a great career, etc. etc.
Those are not bad things.
But his punch line at the end was:
"If you excel in parenting at everything worldly, but don't teach your children what a TRUE relationship with Christ looks like..... you have failed."
And he wasn't just talking about teaching your kids to go to church on Sundays.
No.. He was talking about something so much more.
He was talking about modeling relationship with Christ to your children so that they fully understand.
(I think I just felt my stomach fall onto the floor).
What... A... Big... Calling and Responsibility.
I claim that above all else I want my children to love Jesus.
But do I really?
Above all else? Above being a good athlete, a star student, popular, successful?
Do I desire it above all that?
Let's don't even mention the struggle that so many parents have which is finally letting our children go. Letting them leave us and become independent.
No, we secretly want to keep them forever. Sure we want them to grow up, but they better stay close to us. They better not move too far away.
Even if MY desires for my children aren't GOD'S desires for my children??
Maybe this Mama needs a wake up call.
Don't you worry. God has already been giving me one... slowly, but surely.
AND MY BOYS ARE STILL TINY!!
It's as if God says to me, "Enjoy them, because you are raising men who will one day leave."
Lee and I beg during our prayers "God please call our boys to follow you. God please bring salvation to them. Our hearts desire is that they love you and give up everything for you!"
And the rubber meets the road.
I recently read the account of Jesus calling James and John to follow him. It's found in the book of Matthew and Mark. It has rocked my little world.
"Going on from there, He (Jesus) saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him."
Those two boys jumped out of their father's boat and followed Jesus. And let me remind you that at this point in time, people didn't know that Jesus was the Christ. They didn't know the New Testament like we do today.
I wonder how Zebedee responded. Did he encourage his boys to go? To leave him there in the boat fishing. Did he give them his blessing, or did he pout and become bitter? Did he put them on a guilt trip for not staying to help him with his livelihood? Or did he usher them out of the boat... knowing that they would never live near him or work with him again?
How did this daddy react when his two precious sons stepped out of his boat and began to follow a man that he didn't even really understand?
Scripture doesn't tell us. But scripture does go on to tell us about the lives of this man's sons.
James and John became part of Jesus' inner circle. They weren't just 2 of the 12 disciples. No, they were 3 of Christ's best friends (along with Peter).
John even ended up writing several books in the New Testament, including John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation.
And I picture that sweet father sitting in the boat, watching his sons walk away. He must have feared that the world would think his boys were crazy. He must have feared for their future. After all, wasn't staying with him and remaining fishermen the "safer" option?
I bet God met him there. Encouraged him. Blessed him.
You see... being a fisherman in those days wasn't a prestigious job. It was mediocre. As a matter of fact, most fishermen didn't have an education. Zebedee may not have raised his boys to excel according to the world's standards, but man oh man, Zebedee did not fail as a father.
Zebedee must have instilled something in his boys that gave them a craving for eternity.
My sweet friend sent me this picture after church the day that our preacher talked about teaching your kids relationship with Christ.
She wrote "My kids may never be the star students or exceed worldly standards. But at the end of the day, all I want is for them to know and to love Jesus."
I love her heart for the Lord. And pray that those 3 little kiddos in this picture do just that - love Jesus and love people.
And I pray that when the rubber meets the road, I sit in the boat like Zebedee and encourage my kids to "go".