Monday, July 9, 2007

Convictions in the Light of the Morning

Today I am burdened by two things in my life. I pray for all areas, but there are two that are constantly before me: our finances and my desire to be a good mom. Financially, we are on that perpetual roller coaster of plenty and scarce. One day, we are doing well and seem to have more than enough. The next day, we have creditors calling us again and wonder where all the money went. We try desperately to be good stewards of what God has given to us. We tithe and we try to put the remaining money to good use. That is not to say that we have not made some bad financial decisions. Sometimes we “nickel and dime” ourselves to death. In other words, we spend ten dollars here and twenty dollars there so it doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but in reality, it adds up quickly. I wish we could get this financial thing down pat! I feel foolish going to the Lord AGAIN to ask for his hand in our finances. Then I realize that I should have never taken the finances from His hand. Is that what we are doing? When things are good, do we still consult Him with what to do with each dime? Do we seek His counsel even though there is no “problem”? I think that is our downfall. We pray and the Lord helps us to get out of financial bind. We begin to do well again and we forget to pray and ask the Lord where he wants the funds to go. We get this haughty attitude that after we have given God His share, we can delegate the rest as we see fit. Let me tell you, this realization is coming to me as I type these very words and it is not a nice feeling! 1 Corinthians 10:31 says that we are to glorify God in everything we do, whether we are eating or drinking or WHATEVER. I don’t think we have been glorifying God with our plenty. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells them that through Christ and Christ only, he can survive when he has nothing and he can survive when he has plenty (Philippians 4:12-13). Why would he need Christ’s help in the times when he was content? Because having enough is just as dangerous as not having anything. We get complacent and apathetic toward our relationship with God because we just don’t see how we “need” Him. Oh, that I could wake everyday in desperate need of my God even when things are going great! I wish that my walk could be consistent and my need for Him be ever present regardless of my circumstances. It is going to be my prayer that I can say, every morning (regardless of the good and/or bad around me), “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)

The other burden I have this morning is in regard to my children. I am not a negligent mom. I take care of my children. But there are so many aspects to raising kids that when you get one area settled, there are three more to take its place. And even if you happen to get one child content and going the right way, there is always another one with a problem to correct. Isn’t there a time when everyone is doing great and traveling the right path? Parenthood is full of joy and contentment, but it is also littered with guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Caleb is my oldest and I see him as my “pioneer”. He and I are traveling a road that neither of us has been down before. He has hit this “preteen” age. He has never been 9 before and I have never been the parent of a 9 year old before. So we are gingerly making our way down this path. There are times when he cops an attitude and I want to strangle him. I tell him to do something and he looks at me like I must be talking to the wrong person because surely I WAS NOT talking to him! I am waiting for the day when he rolls his eyes and says “Whatever!” I will need the strength of Samson at that moment, not to tumble columns in the temple, but to sit on my hands to keep from strangling him! In that moment, I am the diligent parent, ever teaching and correcting while I lead my little lambs on the right path. Then the clock ticks and the moment is gone. In the next moment I may be the proud parent as one of my children finally “get” something I have been trying to teach them forever! They may help each other with chores without being asked, or I may overhear a conversation with their friends where they are talking about scripture or doing the right thing. Or they may do something as simple as thank someone for a gift without being prompted or say they are sorry when they hurt someone’s feelings. Those moments are wonderful and I get to take a deep breath and praise God that some of the teaching is sticking in that head.

And then…I have to start a new paragraph for this one…there are those moments when you feel chastised by your child. You are put in your place by a word or look or deed that reminds you that you are wretched sinner in need of a Savior and not a parent who deserves a pat on the back for anything. Such a situation occurred yesterday morning. I was not feeling well and had decided that we were not going to church. I was hurting physically and I was in a really bad mood. I was not in any mood to get dressed and teach little ones (it was our turn) or pretend I was having a great morning to the adults. I just wanted to lay in bed and feel bad. Dewayne didn’t argue with me, which for some reason made me angry, too. He was supposed to lead our household spiritually, right? So he should have put his foot down and made us go to church! The irony in that is that if he had actually done that, the fallout from that explosive confrontation may have been enough to actually disrupt church services in the three adjoining counties. It was a lose-lose situation. As I am laying there watching news, there is a knock at our door. It was Caleb. He had showered and completed all his chores for the morning. He had eaten breakfast and even fixed his sister something. He was dressed and ready to walk out the door to go to church. My eyes slid over to the clock and the time sealed my fate. Even if I had jumped up then to get ready to go, we simply did not have enough time to get ready and be there even remotely on time. I gently explained to Caleb that I did not feel well and we would not be going to church. I cannot explain the look that came on his face. He was genuinely disappointed. That in itself was enough to make me melt into the floor. But then he seemed to shake off the disappointment and said, “That’s okay…I hope you feel better soon, Mom.” Well, I think I would rather he had pitched a fit and called me names for keeping him from going. Instead, he acted like a mature young man and put my feelings above his own desires. And the real kicker was that his desires were RIGHT. That is what we were supposed to have been doing. To be put in your place AND realize that your child is acting more mature than you are all in the same moment is a lot to swallow! I was so proud of him, yet so chastised myself, it was a strange sensation…kind of like sitting in front of a campfire on a really cold night when your front is nice and toasty and your back is freezing. I was warm and toasty from pride, yet cold and freezing from my own conviction.

In a nutshell, the Lord and I are working out the mistakes from this weekend. I have spent time reading my Bible, praying, and journaling this morning struggling to get my mind and heart to the place where it should be. It is not quite there yet, but it is moving in that direction. May God give me perseverance and determination.

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