Thursday, August 5, 2010

Impressing God

How long have I sat thinking about this post? How long have I had a weight on my heart about this post? *sigh*

My first stirrings and musings on this matter came some 6 years ago when I read "An Unstoppable Force" by Erwin McManus. The whole book kind of got under my skin. And if I'm being honest, I felt sort of annoyed by the premise and presumption in the book. I don't own a copy of the book, so forgive me as I paraphrase, as best as I can, a recurring theme in his writing that got my goat. He would talk about how praying for our children to be safe was a poor thing to pray for. That our goal for ourselves and our children and our churches should be to live dangerous lives for Christ. God wasn't calling us to lives of safety, but to lives of danger, and risk, and doing big things for God.

Now, I agree that the Word promises that we will have trial. We will have tribulations. There is no denying that saints throughout history, and even to today, are suffering for the dangerous righteousness they are living out. And there is no denying that Christ himself did not choose an easy life of safety during his time on earth.

I agree that we need to live lives that are full of action. James says, "Faith without works is dead" and "Be not merely hearers of the word but doers also". We need to act. Jesus acted. I get that. I know the Parable of the Talents. I know how displeased the Manager was with the worker who merely buried his talents, folding his hands and twiddling his thumbs in safety and ease. And I know how pleased he was with the workers who used and developed and risked the talents for a greater reward. I know these truths.

And don't get me wrong: I know myself well enough to know that at heart I am lazy and selfish, and prone to justify my laziness and selfishness under the guise of "being cautious" or "being reasonable". I am also prone to worry, and so the easy thing for me would be to bubble wrap my children and say it was "just being a good steward of the gifts God has given to me".

And also don't get me wrong: The last thing I want is for the church to be a bunch of complacent, comfortable, casserole-loving, isolated, irrelevant, nice guys.

So I struggle with this. I don't want to live a meaningless life of ease and inactivity. I don't want to displease God by wasting the days he has given to me. And yet I look at the life he has given me and wonder how a mom of 7 is supposed to "go and do some big thing to impress God"? I mean, after all, I'm *just* a stay at home mom.

And then I see a video like this...

...and I don't disagree. I think he's right. On many, many levels, he is absolutely right.


Will someone say that being a mom *is* doing a big thing for God?

Will someone please say that choosing to quit your job, live on one income, and stay home and homeschool is living a scary, crazy, unsafe life for some of us?

Will someone please say that being a mom or a dad who works all day, shining the light of Christ to his or her co-workers, and then coming home and making supper, reading stories, praying with the kids, and selflessly spending even more weary hours shining the light at home, and ushering your children into the kingdom of Christ through faith *is* doing a 'big thing for God'?

Will someone please say that working joyfully day in and day out on the factory assembly line,

and honouring your parents,

and loving the saints,

and serving in the local church,

and tithing,

and living your whole life--every second of every day--as a living sacrifice of worship to Christ is just as much a "big thing for God" as anything else you can dream up?

For some wholehearted Christ-seekers, the call will, in fact, be to pick up and spread the gospel to the far-reaching, life-threatening corners of the globe, and to them I say, "Thank you for going, and thank you for making those sacrifices, and thank you for being faithful. May the Lord bless you for your courage and faithful obedience." Truly.

But for the rest of us wholehearted Christ-seekers, who, for the time at least, are being called to stay home and just shine for Christ here, let me say to you, "Thank you for staying, and thank you for making these sacrifices, and thank you for being faithful. May the Lord bless you for your courage and faithful obedience, too."

We need to remember, *I* need to remember, that God is self-sufficient. He doesn't need me or you to dream up something wonderful to do. He doesn't need our service, he doesn't need our "staying" or our "going". However, He does invite us. And when and where and how he invites us better stir our hearts to specific obedience, no matter how different our invitation looks from that of the person next to us.

"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much." "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand more." (Luke 16:10, Luke 12:48)

Lord, you have entrusted me with much here. Let me be faithful in this before I venture off to do anything else. Help me to hear your voice, and your call on my life so I can obey the things you've called me to do, and not try to respond to someone else's call. Help me to remain content in this big thing you've called me to instead of longingly looking for some other way to "impress" you. Thank you for this call, and for this mission. I pray that you will find me to be a faithful servant. And I do pray that you will embolden your church to do the things that please you, starting with the small acts of obedience and faithfulness right in front of our faces.


Linda said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! (sigh) Thank you.

Lindy said...

Huh. I didn't expect to be crying this afternoon, I just wanted to check the blogs as dinner was cooking. Now here I am. Thank YOU for saying that even 'just being a mom' if you're doing it to the glory of God and with all that you have can be a kind of adventure and a kind of trial and a kind of big thing in it's own way. I don't always believe it myself. When every single person I knew in highschool has left this city for adventure, and I just didn't get called in that direction. I have work to do here. And it requires sacrifices of its own kind. Obviously having a good mother, or a mother at all was not God's plan for Francis - but we know it is God's plan for most children. Thank you once again for writing this. :)

TL said...

"D. L. Moody once said that at a certain meeting two and a half people were converted to Christ. A friend asked if he meant two adults and a child. The facts were just the opposite - two children and an adult. When a child is led to Christ, a whole life is saved!"

Kids have something we don't have (along with many other things)... more time. They have many years ahead of them, and over time, they (combined) will naturally be connected to more people than you will. The time and energy you spend now instilling truth, godly character and love for others will multply, by God's grace, by 7, and multiply again by years. (If your time and energy was measurable, we might be able to actually calculate it, but that's not the point.) In 15 years, your fruit (being your kids) will be able to be in 7 different places, having coffee with 7 different people. My point is not that "the more kids we have the better", rather, God has entrusted them to you, and the time you spend now with them is priceless. No one can impact them like you can now. It is only during these years, right now, that you will have so much time that you will be ABLE to spend with seven people who are impacted by you, as your kids are. 15 years down the road, it will take much more time and effort to simply organize a "get-together". God does not ask us for numbers, or a list of the great things we've done... but He asks for our character to be transformed (Romans 12:2, 2 Cor.3:18). Kids can be taught information, stories, and general knowledge in a classroom, but it is through watching and imitating that they develop character. So long as you have your eyes set on something or someone you would like your kids to imitate, please, for the sake of our direction-less, lost world, please keep training up your children to have an impact on others, just like you have!

I admire all you moms who keep doing what you do.

(Please excuse the length of this post... but there's lots more where that came from.)

Andy's Bethy said...

Beautifully said. I found you through HOTM, and had to come by and say hi.
As someone who was blessed enough to grow up as a homeschooled child, I will say that "just being a mom" is a wonderful gift. My three sisters and I were able to grow up surrounded by love: both that of our parents and our Savior.
Now that I am able to stay home with my boys, I celebrate daily.
It hurts me that he used homeschooling as an example, as if we are taking our children away in order to hide them. Teaching them, preparing them, then releasing them into the world so that they can preach the gospel - isn't that the proper order? Obviously, not everyone has that chance - but if we are able to, how can it be wrong to give our children full training in what is wrong and right, the difference between real love and hate (as well as history and math that we have to teach them) before we ask them to try to stand up to what the world will throw at them?
No, being "just a mom" is something I will proudly stand and be judged for. It is my calling.

Barbara said...

Thank you for your comments! It is nice to know I'm not alone.