Last week was a week where I needed LOTS of reminders to abide in Jesus. I felt the earth quake around me, specifically regarding parenting, and my roots felt like they might not hold the tree through the mighty quake. Thankfully, God’s hold on me is far stronger than my hold on Him, because if it had depended on me – my effort or my righteousness – I would have toppled over with a thunderous crash. Between the boy that needed stitches on his head, Ryan being out of town, a child needing to be picked up early from camp due to tremendous misbehavior on my way to which, I was pulled over by a police officer informing me that the windows of my MINI-VAN are tinted too dark, down to the regular mishaps and day to day challenges of lots of socks being throw into the toilet by the little ones, being yelled at by my children, yelling in return, and on and on it goes…not to mention the lack of a quiet heart…So, by Tuesday afternoon, things were looking rough. God, as He faithfully does, in the midst reminded me of my utter dependence upon and need for Him. As Ryan commonly says, “We were never meant to wean ourselves off of our need for Jesus. The longer we walk with Jesus, the more we realize we need to lean into Him.”
I think one of the hardest and most important things we can do as parents is to ABIDE in Christ. Abiding involves trusting God is working when we don’t see it; abiding is confessing my sin and seeking forgiveness when I’d rather not; abiding is admitting my need and weakness and lack of control; abiding is knowing and resting in the ONE who holds me and holds my kids in the palm of His almighty hand.
Abiding is work. I dare say it is the work. We can’t produce the fruit of the spirit in ourselves or in our kids. But, we can remain in HIM, the One who can. It is work to abide in quietness of heart when the well-thought-out plans get messed up. It is work to abide and ask the Lord to show me my own sin even when my child’s seems more glaring and in need of correction. Abiding is a good work . Cupping those small faces with my hands and responding in peace and love and joy knowing my response is pointing them to or from a loving Savior who can handle their every need. And, THEY are watching my abiding. My kids, my husband, my friends, my neighbors. Not only the people I can see, but the angels and the demons. What beauty – to glorify God in my abiding in Him – even when I think no one else sees it. The angels and demons look on in wonder when we choose to glorify God in our response of abiding. Angels cheering us on and demons maddened as we plunder the gates of hell with our abiding in Christ in our lives and parenting. And not that we could ever, hear me, ever do it on our own. That ‘being kept’ is by the Lord.
In the midst of the storm of last week, I was held. God gave me the gifts abiding in: my dependence on Him, the need for community and friends, mourning over and repenting of my own sin even when it seemed like my children’s sin was more glaring, and the knowledge and comfort that He was working in my waiting.
I love this thought from Elizabeth Elliot, “Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. Nothing touches me without my Father’s permission…Whatever He allows to happen becomes, for me, His will at the moment.” (Keep a Quiet Heart) She bases this reflection on John 14:27 where Jesus reminds us, “Peace I leave with you; I do not give as the world gives.”
The things I tend to see as interruptions are actually God’s will for me at that moment. When I do the hard work of preaching to myself instead of listening to myself, I abide in the truth and am set free to walk in peace. Abiding opens my eyes to the gifts He has for me as He does the painful and beautiful work of making all things new – in me and in the little people around me!