Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Little Children

When my older kids were young, in the demanding and sleep depriving stages of toddler and baby, I would often tell myself “when they get older this will be so much easier”. As they have grown it has gotten easier in some areas, in others it has gotten much harder. The attention that they demand from me is not as much physical, being up in the middle of the night or changing diapers or endlessly wiping runny noses, but the effort that they need from me now is more mental. I now am responsible for coaching them on the difficult times in life that I sometimes have yet to figure out myself. I am needed to listen, to be empathetic, give advice, sooth ruffled feathers, calm fears, encourage, or pick the up the pieces of a broken heart. No longer is the crisis over someone getting their toys taken away or needing a snack or a band-aid. Now the stakes are much higher.

I have also noticed that when my children were younger they were always pursuing me. This was part of why I was so exhausted physically. There was always someone at my feet or in my lap, someone needing to be carried or held or fed. As they grow older though, I have realized that I must often be the one to pursue them. They have become stubborn and determined to do things their way. I cannot afford to turn my attention from the things in them that need to be corrected. I must prevent them from building walls around their hearts, or growing bitter and unforgiving. I have to seek them out in order to do this.

As mentally exhausted as this makes me, it also makes me appreciate that God is always pursuing me. He is ever-aware of all the areas in which I need a listening ear, or comfort, or correction, or guidance. He is patient with me and doesn’t force my trust, but gently seeks me out to correct me and leads me in his way to show me how much he loves me. He gladly invests his time and his energy in me. Much unlike the shameful times when I lose my temper at the demand of my motherly presence! I am so thankful that the God, whose power created the universe, has limit-less energy to take care of my day to day needs. He never grows tired of listening to me and he is patient with me even in the middle of the night.

With the different ages of my children, I am pulled in both directions of exhaustion. Not only do I have two that require my mental focus, but I am still the mother to two children that demand my physical attention. I am still looking forward to those days when it gets easier…at least physically. Knowing what is down the road though, I have learned to treasure these young days of my children, when they readily come to me and just enjoy being near me, when a hug makes it all better, where they are content with me just holding them on my lap, when mommy’s arms makes the world feel safe. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3. When we refuse to admit our weaknesses and need for God and demand to do it our way, we are setting ourselves up for a great fall, but if we come to him trusting in what he provides and are content to rest in his strength we are greatly rewarded.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Ever think about how much time, energy, and money we humans put into being safe? We have warnings on everything including our hot drinks and our shopping carts. We have safety belts, safety pads, and safety helmets. We have liability forms and releases for everything you can imagine to protect us from being blamed or blaming. We have filters on our air, on our water, and our internets. We have Christian schools to protect our children from exposure to the world. We have volume control, gun control and pest control. We have police officers on our streets and in our schools. We have alarm systems on our houses and our workplaces and even our cars. Yet, it seems that this world is no safer than it has ever been.

Our attempts to create peace and a feeling of security are seemingly in vain. Disease, divorce, and loss are prominent. Unemployment rates are dangerously high and the stock market is bleeding. Death is inescapable.

Where can we find this peace that we long for? Is it even attainable? It can feel at times we have found it for a moment but then it eludes us. Realizing that we have very little control over our lives can be frustrating, depressing and even scary.

Trust is a powerful thing. Depending on what or who you place your trust determines the extent of your peace. I have known very little suffering compared to some, but I have known enough suffering to know I want to prevent it. The effort to prevent pain whether physical or emotional displaces our focus.

We need to lay down the magnifying glass that justifies our dissatisfaction with our perceived securities and pick up the binoculars to look at the bigger picture. This world is not all there is. The physical world we see and try so hard to protect is not final.

How much time and energy do we put into our spiritual lives compared to our physical lives? I hate to even think about that question. The recovering perfectionist in me is perpetually tired from trying to keep the house picked up and the laundry clean. I dare not let it go or it might just multiply on me.

Ironically when I am stressed, the first thing I do is start cleaning. I think it is the feeling of control I have over at least one facet of my life that compels me to do this. Yet this is not where my focus should be. My energies are unbalanced. I tell myself I will invest time into my soul once the dishes are put away and the laundry is done. We all know that chores are never all done. I sacrifice something that can hugely affect my security in eternity for one small insignificant thing that gives me a temporary feeling of control.

It is totally against our human nature that we trust someone or something else with our security. From a very early age anyone can see toddlers demanding to do things their way. Anyone who has a 2 year knows what I am talking about.

The things I cling to with white knuckled fists are things that I ultimately have no control over. “Ruin descends-you can't charm it away. Disaster strikes-you can't cast it off with spells.” Isaiah 47:9 Msg

No matter how hard I try I cannot stop hurt from coming into my life or the lives of the people I love. That fact often robs me of peace. Yet it’s in those times when I turn my God, the ONE I can trust, when I finally let him gently pry open my fist, that I find the peace I was looking for all along. He knows that it’s in those times of fear that I will come to him because nothing else can take away the ache in my heart. He knows that as long as I keep looking for my security in things of this world I will always come up bankrupt.

He wants me to experience His peace. He offers it freely, continually, and equally to anyone who will receive it. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Why on earth do I forget that? Why do I even bother trying to find it anywhere else? This is my biggest frustration with myself, my forgetful heart. Thankfully he keeps reminding me.

Something I heard from a movie recently sums it up pretty well I think. “It’s simple really; it’s just hard”. (From the movie “What If”) Letting God be in control is still scary at times, but it is safe.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7