How many times have you seen commercials about this or maybe you’ve experienced this yourself…
…your husband or kids (or even the dog) enter your house from outside, either from playing or working, and have muddy feet? And of course, you’ve just cleaned the floor, right?
And you say…Don’t come in here with those muddy feet!
But what about God’s house? God is holy and His house is holy. Do we try to enter it with muddy feet?
In Old Testament times, God commanded the priests to perform special cleansing duties in order to be purified and fit to enter the tabernacle or the Holy of holies of the temple to serve. They were to cleanse themselves in the laver or the molten/brazen sea before entering His presence, so that they would be pure and not die before a holy God. Die? Yes, die.
God appointed Aaron, his sons, and their descendants to be priests and said, “Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from [the laver]. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die.” (Ex. 30:19-20 NKJV)
This was serious business. And it was a forever statute.
The application for believers today is that we, too, have been made priests. Christ is our High Priest (Heb. 9:11) and, through His death, He “has made us kings and priests to His God and Father.” (Rev. 1:6a NKJV) In order, then, to serve the Lord, to minister before Him, or to worship Him, we need to be cleansed.
Therefore, “since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:21-22 NLT)
Humility: As priests before a holy God, we cannot enter His presence with muddy feet…or a muddy heart, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” (1 Thess. 4:7 NKJV)
To come before the Lord in holiness, to worship at His feet, to give Him glory and honor, being cleansed is mandatory. We are to worship in the beauty of holiness, as David reminds us (Ps. 29:2). Yes, the Lord always accepts us, but, to worship in holiness, we need to be cleansed.
We cannot worship a holy God when covered in the mud of sin.
Questions we need to ask ourselves:
- Do I allow the Lord to cleanse my heart to sanctify me, to purify me and separate me from the filth of this world that I might draw near to Him in true worship? James said, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8a NKJV)
- Am I out traipsing through the sludgy side-roads of life, dragging my heart and feet through its muck? James continues, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8 NKJV), “for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (James 4:8b NLT)
- Do I try to enter the Father’s presence with those muddy feet? Or do I allow Jesus to wash my feet? As Peter said, “‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’” (John 13:8 NKJV)
Oh, that I may have a cleansed heart, purged mind, sanitized spirit, and purified body to enter the holy presence of the Lord to offer my worship!
A few years ago, I learned about humility in a way I never imagined.
I had a great job, working with amazing people. It wasn’t a perfect job, don’t get me wrong. no one there was perfect and they never expected me to be perfect.
In fact, they loved me in spite of my imperfections.
But as much as I loved the job, it seemed that so many other people did not want me in that position. I didn’t know people could be so cruel.
It was my first taste of how people can use the internet for evil.
Little did I know this experience was preparing me for a situation one of my children would have. Like me, people used the internet to hurt my child.
It impacted our entire family.
False rumors and edited photos about our child and family were shared across several social media platforms.
We began to see that no matter how much we tried to control what our children did on their phones and our computers, we could not control what others did.
It’s easy to think that placing apps and accountability software on your devices will keep your family safe. But, that is a false sense of safety. If a person wants to harm your family, they won’t use your devices, they will use their own and you have no control over that.
Unfortunately, many parents do not think their children would ever do anything like that. Many also believe their children need privacy. So, they have no clue that their children could be hurting another person right under their nose.
And many who do know, see these actions as ‘just kids being kids and having fun.’
Take it from me, these things are NOT fun. This has impacted our family emotionally and financially.
Thankfully, we know that the Lord sees our hearts and guides us through these struggles. His love and never ending grace have reminded us – that no matter how people may harm us, we need to forgive others.
This life is short. My family and I could spend our time stewing over these hurts, or we can turn them into good by loving others and reminding parents – we really have no control over anything in this world except the way we respond to others in any situation.
This month’s topic is holiness and humility. Each month that I am tasked to write on a given subject, I meditate on the topic at hand, then I reflect on the experiences that God has and continues to use in my life to refine me in that area. When it comes to humility, we tend to associate it with words like “shy and quiet” and while one can be shy and quiet, that is not what humility encompasses.
Humility is an inside job (heart attitude), not merely an outward demeanor. One may put on an outward show of humility but still have a heart full of pride and arrogance. When Jesus talks about only those who are “meek” (power under control) and “poor in spirit” (spiritually bankrupt) will inherit the kingdom, He is talking about the “inside job” that needs to happen in each one of our lives. There’s a significant difference between “admitting that you are wrong” and “confessing the crime.” God says that when we confess our sin and believe, then we will be saved. Being (holy) humble is not a “shy person” quality, it’s an attitude of our hearts.
How has God taught me humility? Oh! Let me count the ways, but for the sake of brevity I’ll have to limit my storytelling. Don’t worry there’s always next month!
I tend to keep God busy.
Being a teenager and idealistic, I was waiting to take my chance at bat and change the world so to speak. Except I didn’t understand the game nor did I know how to play. After years of self-loathing and self-destructive decisions somehow God shook His head at this desperately lost sheep and brought me into the fold.
When I became aware of that amazing Grace He had bestowed on me, I was so overwhelmed. I was so glad to “make it,” albeit by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, I thought it best to keep a low profile just in case someone would take notice and scream, “she doesn’t belong here!” Regrettably, I went from being in bondage to my sin, to being in bondage to a (false) idea of what I thought Christianity looked like and to people’s ideas of how I should behave, because, you know, I’m a Christian now.
In frustration, because truth be told, I just wanted to please God. I wanted to “fit in” into this new life He called me to. I didn’t have a clue how to “act like a Christian.” What did that mean anyway? Coming from the country I came from, all I wanted was Jesus, for real! I wanted to get as close as I could to the hem of His garment. As I stumbled along, I pleaded for God to show me how to live this life that He called me to and then God gave me a husband and followed it up with children. Just when I thought I was an accomplished human, these two gifts rocked my world. We’ll talk about the “taming of this shrew” on another blog entry, for now we’ll leave it to motherhood to humble me in immeasurable ways.
Love at First Sight
I like to refer to motherhood as “love at first sight” because the moment you see your child you are instantly smitten. After spending countless hours losing sleep, diapering and feeding this little human, we want to see that we have amounted to something other than a chicken-nugget chef, boo-boo kissing, nursery rhyme rock star, and toy picker-upper extraordinaire! Cue the epic background music and roll out the red carpet. Mommas are in the house!
After years of this routine, we are seeking the accolades from the crowd that we have the smartest child, and if lil’ Susie (or Johnny) can’t read by the time s/he’s four, then we’ll move on the next trophy: “godliest.” After all, check out the Awana vest, all badges are accounted for! Or, how about the wittiest, the sweetest, the bravest, and so on until we find a “label” for our precious bundle that meets the criteria that screams from the rooftops, “I produced a super human, how about that!?”
Then there’s a reprieve if you will, and we go from “vipers in diapers” to “taller toddlers” (teenagers) and they are equally as challenging to navigate, which is why we need Jesus. It’s not a cliché, it’s the Truth. During this season, our kids are amid an identity crisis and desperately seeking a trophy to call their own. The struggle is real. The competition is fierce, and parents who are already exhausted from the toddler years enter puberty with both exhilaration and exasperation.
How many times do I find myself looking at my children trying to explain to them that I really did go through puberty, even though I look ancient to them? I dedicate all my gray hairs to them. I understand the awkwardness of what it is to grow up. Echoing my Father’s sentiment (Proverbs 23:26), I remind them to trust me and stay close to my heart and above all, to remain in Him.
They need to see
“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.”
How do we teach our children that holiness, not a mate nor the latest trend making its debut, is what they need and what they should strive for when the culture is unapologetically trying to swallow them whole? Somewhere along the way we lost sight of God. We lost sight that holiness is what our heart should desire above all else. We’ve been bamboozled to believe that “holiness” is boring. Did we forget we are to be in the world, not of the world? How can we effectively sharpen iron when our standard is to look at what everyone else is doing rather than what the Scriptures say? Clearly, I have more questions than answers.
While my answer may seem over-simplistic, I will say that in my experience it has been eye-opening. One thing has not changed from the toddler years to the taller years – and that is, my children have not stopped imitating me. This is both good and bad. Being a homeschool parent, I don’t even get a six-hour reprieve during the day to act like a fool sans any witnesses. My every move is being watched. It is a humbling, and at times a humiliating reality that I face on a regular basis, knowing that my children are watching every – move – I – make.
We (parents) lead by example whether we like it or not. If we want our children to seek God daily, guess what? We need to seek God daily. We want our children to be humble, love mercy and walk justly with their God. They need to see it modeled in their homes. As we pursue righteousness, they will see us being challenged, refined and restored. They’re watching that process and in it they are learning how to hold steadfast to their faith during the storms that await them. How we deal with our struggles speaks volumes to them. It’s not enough to tell them to pursue holiness, they need to see how we pursue it.
It’s not called a “daily” walk for naught. It must be sought out and pursued. Unlike chasing rabbit trails with no end in sight, our pursuit of God allows us to run our race with excellence. We come to the well and not only do we quench our thirst, we grow up, we mature, we become better humans. True humility produces godliness, contentment, and security. What more can we ask for ourselves and our children? There may not be a single applause from the crowd, but who needs the accolades when the end goal is to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant!” from the only person that matters.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17
The topic of practicing humility has been on my heart for a year. Maybe more. What does it look like to be humble?
I used to think it meant to be a farmer. Really, I did. No joke.
I know that is very wrong. A farmer can be a very proud person. Just as any of us non- farmers can be humble.
Let me tell you what I thought farmers, a.k.a. humble people, were. I believed being humble meant staying quiet. Humble meant just blending in. I thought humble was doing what everyone else had always done. Humble meant stuffing any feelings of wanting to stick out. Humble meant doing things the way we had always done them (whether you knew why or not.)
My struggle with this is real.
I am one that likes to stay in the corners and not say much. A year ago God called me to do some drastic things. Me, the little stay-in-the-corner gal. The gal scared stiff of conflict and of going against the grain. Me, scared of rejection and terrified of sticking my neck out in vulnerable places. That was me. Then He called me to do scary things. Things different from anything anyone else around me was doing. It brought up conflict. There were (and still are) people that don’t like what I do. Through it all, He showed me I needed to keep on. He showed me this was my purpose. This is what I was born for.
But, I looked back at what humble meant in my mind; I wasn’t matching it by any stretch of the imagination.
I was in turmoil. I wasn’t being anything I thought humble was. Yet! I knew I was doing what God had called me to do. So I went on a search.
Jesus is, of course, the best place to go to study the character, of, well, the character of anything… Including humility. So that’s where I started…
Did Jesus avoid conflict?
Did Jesus try to blend in with the people of the day? the religious leaders of the day?
Did He always do things the way they always had?
No, no, and defiantly no.
He challenged the leaders. He didn’t run from conflict. He didn’t blend in with the people of the day. I don’t remember him EVER doing a sacrifice. Ever. And that is how people always had done religion.
But was He humble? YES!
So what does it mean to be humble? Jesus wasn’t looking like what I thought humble would look like. Especially the farmer part. Lol. I went on more of a search. How could He do all these things and still remain humble? What does being humble REALLY look like?
As I thought some more, I realized Jesus knew:
He knew Who He was.
He knew What His purpose was
He knew Why He was here.
He knew to Whom He belonged.
And even though He had power, even though He was God, in the form of Man… He knew that His power was from God.
So I think. If I could keep my focus on the answers to those very statements, I could truly have humility.
If I know who I am.
If I know what my purpose is.
If I know why I am here.
If I know to Whom I belong.
And when I am given power or strength to do any good thing… If I truly understand where my strength comes from.
If I could truly wrap myself around those answers.
It may start with that last one. If I could realize where my strength comes from. If I would realize how Holy God is. I think I would be able to finally get it right.
So that, my friends, has been something I’ve been pondering.
How holy God is
For me, I need to practice intentionally stopping. Stop and look for God’s holiness.
Have I been outside lately? Have I seen God’s handiwork EVERYWHERE. The animals, the plants, the flowers, every leaf, each bird. He is HOLY! He is more amazing then I can ever comprehend.
Have I looked at a child lately? How their bodies heal from the scrapes and bruises they get. How they are able to digest food. Without anything we do for them. How they grow taller without any preparation or thought on our part. He is HOLY! More amazing than I can ever comprehend.
What about our bodies? How they all work together, heart beating, our liver making just the right amounts of bile, our lungs breathing. Do we even comprehend it all? YET, it is right in front of us. Right inside us. Often, we don’t even realize how our bodies are working for us until it stops doing what it is supposed to. (Until it needs some additional help in order to heal.) Do I realize how amazing God really is?
A challenge for you (and me) is to stop and be still. To be intentional about taking time to look for the ways we can see God’s huge greatness. Remember that He is Holy! When we realize how Holy He is, when we practice humility, then we can answer the other questions…
Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? To whom do I belong? Where does my strength come from?
What about you, my friend; do you know the answers to those questions? I’d love to hear your answers!
Have you ever prayed the “most dangerous prayer,” as I’ve heard it called by Pastor Rick Warren?
Have your lips and your heart ever cried out, “Use Me, Lord!” but you think you’re stuck in an unending season of homeschooling?
As I’ve contemplated His holiness and our humility this month to write this to you, dear sister, I can’t help but share with you a few encouraging revelations I’ve gleaned over the years.
Homeschooling Keeps Us Humble
This thing we do, the thing you, dear mama, do– knee deep and over your head at times (and I’m right there with you) called homeschooling is our place of humility. We surely know that the Holy Spirit will convict us through words we speak to our children. Over and over again. (Thank the Lord for His grace!) It’s a place we’re brought humbly to our knees (even if that looks like the driver’s seat of our minivans) to ask repeatedly- each and every day, “Jesus, help!” We know that without Him, this homeschool is nothing.
Humility is remembering our place in the Lord, but not shying away from our role and place in His Kingdom here on Earth. I had a Bible college teacher say: “we’ve often got this humility thing all wrong. We think being humble means hiding our true selves, whom God has called and created us to be, under a banner of ‘The Lord has it, I’m just going to be humble and shy and do nothing.’ Quite the contrary! Humility means yes, put our pride aside and know the Lord Almighty is in control, and to give Him all the glory! But it also means to step out confidently in the Lord into who He has called you to be, and the plans upon your lives!” If He’s called you to homeschool, then your plans as a homeschooling family are to be His Light in this world, together. ” When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” — Proverbs 11:2”
Let’s humbly seek the Lord for His wisdom, but then “GO!” into the World as the Lord has commanded us!
” And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3 NIV
Mamas, It doesn’t say “your whole home(school) is full of His glory! It says the whole earth! Do you know just a couple verses under those often quoted words where we sing holy, holy, holy, that the Lord asked Isaiah : Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah responded, ” Here am I. Send Me!”
The Earth is Filled with His Glory!
Remember that dangerous prayer? Have you asked to be sent? This is your opportunity! When was the last time you took yourself, and your children, on an adventure to see some of the glory covering His earth? Are you out in nature regularly, even if just for a walk or a picnic? How about exploring other places? Maybe studying His creation and other cultures? Are we really getting our children out to see some of this Earth full of His glory?
What are we doing to be sent- getting into the world- as an answer to that dangerous prayer I’m sure so many of us have said? See, mamas, this homeschooling thing, it’s about being available, hands raised high, for expanding His Kingdom here on Earth. I bet you’ve prayed that prayer sometime in your life. And maybe you’ve said to yourself, “the Lord will use me when we get done with this homeschooling season.” But, friends, the time is now! What if that prayer gets answered through your children and your homeschooling? I personally think homeschool is a misnomer. We’re hardly home, and it certainly doesn’t look like school. And that, my friends, is the Lord’s great blessing of freedom in your education in this season!
Homeschooling Is Holy
This homeschool thing is already holy. It’s set apart. It’s different from the world’s systems, and we’re raising up an army of His warriors! Let’s get them trained and out in the world as to how to respond to it, while they’re still home with us under our wings. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 Ask the Lord, my friends, is this the time? Could you really use me during our homeschooling season?
Think about the story of Gideon. He was hiding from the world, and from the call of the Lord. Yet, the angel knew Gideon was a mighty man of valor. How about you, mama? Are you hiding from the call of the Lord to get out with your families into this big, wide, world, yet He sees you as a mighty warrior leading your army for Him?
He Was and Is and Is to Come
…Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8
If the Lord says it in the Old Testament and He says it in the New, we should certainly pay attention. He was and is and is to come. Let’s use this “is” season we’re in to show our children His glory around the world, not just in our homes, while we educate them on the ways of the Lord. Embrace your gifts and use them for His good. Where do you think He’s calling your family to reach out? I’m sure it will be through the gifts He’s given you, and your children, as strange and puzzling as they may be. (Here’s a little glimpse at one of our family’s outreaches.)
I believe in you, mamas, and I know the Lord does, too. Keep humbling yourselves under His mighty hand and He will exalt you. All for His glory.
Vaya Con Dios-
I’m a tri-polar homeschool mom. By “tri-polar,” I mean I tend to bounce between one of three poles: the good, the bad, and the humble. I have “good” days when I think homeschooling is the best choice we’ve ever made for our family and wouldn’t dream of changing a thing! I also have “bad” days when I question my sanity and run the same load of laundry for the third time. Because. Reasons. 😉
Most days I’m somewhere in the middle—like a pinball briskly bouncing between the bumpers on the machine (quadrupling the score) before bouncing back out onto the playfield only to slide straight through the flapper paddles into the “out hole.” Game over. Or so it could be, if not for my third (bonus) pole perspective.
Before I share my “bonus pole strategy” with you, I need to explain the dangers of the first two:
DANGER OF POLE #1: PRIDE
To the homeschool moms who paint the picture that all days are good, that homeschooling is easy, that children are always respectful and obedient: Bless your heart! (I mean that in the most Southern of ways.) Actually, what I mean to say is, “Stop. It.”
If I’ve learned nothing else in the past eight years, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that homeschooling is a 2-for-1 deal (God is efficient like that). Both children AND their parents are transformed through the experiences of home education—sometimes, parents more so than children—and the more challenging the experience, the more dramatic the change. God is always working on us to transform us into His image, anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. Outward appearances can be very deceiving.
“Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 18:12
Some of the most judgmental, prideful people I have ever met have been homeschoolers; however, the vast majority are among the most humble and kind. My point is that when we make the choice to homeschool our children based on strong personal convictions, we must fight the temptation to condemn those who have chosen not to. More importantly, we should not judge those who do it differently than we do. That is pride and generally frowned upon in most Christian circles.
We should be generous in our assumptions (as if we have the right to make any in the first place). Brené Brown, one of my favorite authors, suggests that we “extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.” This gives satan very little space to bait us with offense and lead us into the sins of arrogance and judgment.
DANGER OF POLE #2: SELF-ABASEMENT
To the homeschool moms who are at their wits’ end, who think all the other moms know exactly what they are doing, and that they are the only moms blessed with disrespectful, obstinate kids in the homeschool community: Things could be worse! And I mean that in the most Northern of ways. Actually, what I mean to say is, “Stop. It.”
“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33
Something else I’ve learned in my years of homeschooling: satan loves nothing more than to make us feel isolated, alone, and abnormal. If he can get us to repeatedly verbalize our insecurities, doubts, and fears, he will lead us down a path of self-pity where we forget that We. Are. Not. Alone! We forget that our homeschool journey is as much an adventure of faith as it is an education. We forget to look up!
As Dr. Tony Evans says, “God would not have called you to it, if He did not plan to see you through it.”
How did we ever conceive the notion that the path would be smooth when following God’s will for our lives? It’s rarely like that. Don’t believe me? Just look in the Bible for a few examples of folks whose path was anything but smooth (e.g., Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, Mary). God uses the ups and downs, curves and caves to sculpt us into the people He created us to be—so we reach our full potential! So, we must be wary of our penchant for whining on the bad days, lest we forget He who planned this journey in the first place. Does it mean we never vent our frustrations with a trusted friend and ally? By no means! God gives us partners on the journey for a reason; however, we must keep our attitudes in check, lest venting take root or worse drag the other down. Does it mean we take responsibility for our spiritual perspective during these times? Absolutely.
BONUS POLE STRATEGY: A HUMBLE PERSPECTIVE
This, my friend, is where our “Bonus Pole” comes in. The third pole exists in another dimension, and the good news is that there are no dangers here! In fact, this place is filled with extra pinballs that come out at just the right moment to help us keep playing the game. Thank you, Lord! This pole is the best place for me to hang my hat as a homeschool mom. It’s an “every day” attitude of HUMILITY. And the cool thing about this pole is that since it’s in another dimension, I can bounce in anytime I want—whether I’m having a good day, a bad day, or just a day.
“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4
HUMILITY shifts my perspective from my relationship with my kids to my relationship with God. I’m able to see the battle for what it is and fight the real enemy—which, by the way, is NOT the kids, the pet(s), the curriculum, the finances, the house, or even the spouse!
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
When my vision is clouded by pride (it’s all about me) or self-abasement (it’s still all about me), I forget that the same God who called me to homeschool is the same God who has equipped me for battle. As I intentionally shift my focus from self to Savior, I am reminded whose I am. My vision becomes crystal clear and my discernment is sharpened. I remember my spiritual armor, and I’m able to fight the fight of faith with weapons that actually work! Interestingly, this shift can only happen when I’m in humility.
So, how do I get there? This place called “Humility”?
Well, when you arrive at the fork on Attitude Road, consider your options: You may head down the paved path of pride or choose the grovel road that leads to self-abasement. Or look up and take the highway to humility where there are no tolls or trolls and the view is quite divine!
“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10
As a mother, I have been hearing that my position is an honorable one, a selfless one, and a humble one. In fact, I often encourage other moms with those very statements. We can go on Pinterest and see beautiful images of a mom and kids at sunset on the beach or cuddling on the couch, along with a sweet statement about motherhood written in swirly gold letters…all this to encourage us in our position. It’s mentioned so much in Christian circles that sometimes I wonder if we are trying to convince ourselves even as we are saying it!
Well, because we are studying humility this month, I thought it would be a good idea to go back to the scriptures and see exactly what they say about the humility of motherhood.
1 Cor. 1: 26-28 tells us,
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.
Though this passage doesn’t specify mothers, I love how we can get a glimpse of our Creator’s character. He chooses what is foolish to shame the wise. He chooses the weak to shame the strong. He chooses the lowly to bring to nothing things that are. It doesn’t make sense to our worldly minds.
Yet we see this thread throughout the Bible. When Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, was carrying Jacob and Esau, the Lord told her the older would serve the younger (Gen. 25:23). Now Jewish tradition held that the first born…the oldest…would receive the double blessing and extra inheritance. God’s choice of the younger Jacob discounted that.
Jacob had twelve sons, yet God chose one of the youngest (Joseph) to rise up and become second in command in Egypt (Gen. 37 and 45). He chose Jesse’s youngest son, David, to become king after Saul. Samuel said in 1Samuel 16, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
It is clear that God’s ways are not man’s ways. He looks at things differently than we do. Our culture looks at the outside: the strong, the important, and the famous.
God looks at the heart.
And that got me thinking about something else. Matthew 6:28-29 says,
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Lilies are pretty flowers, but they are simple ones. When poets speak of superlative flowers, they usually go to the showy or fragrant ones like roses, birds of paradise, dahlias, and irises.
Even in the botanical world, lilies are considered simple flowers in their structure and biology. But God chooses to clothe the grass (Matthew 6:30) with these humble lovelies!
Do you see a pattern here? In His great wisdom, God chooses the things that the world’s eyes would not choose in order to do His work.
What does that mean for us as moms?
“Humble” is not a bad word. A humble spirit is something the Lord desires in us. And humility is not the same as unimportant. Humility is lovely. It is desirable. It is God’s beautiful adornment on us.
Well, I am the first to say that motherhood can be a humbling experience. But I often thought of that in a negative way. There were days, especially when my children were younger, that I felt like a lily walking among women who were roses. I remember going grocery shopping with one child in the kid’s seat of the cart, another inside the cart, and others in tow. I would be scrambling up and down the aisles, trying to find the best purchases, gather my coupons, and get out of there as soon as possible so we could get back home and finish school for the day.
Definitely. Not. Glamorous.
And we would walk by them: quiet, composed, perfect hair, and sipping on Starbucks as they slowly walked through the store. They were the roses and dahlias that made me feel unimportant.
But it wasn’t anything THEY actually did. It was MY incorrect perception of them (They were probably nice roses!). Yet their presence made me and my job as wife, mom, and homeschooler feel lesser, or in my mind: humble.
That is wrong. Humility is NOT the same as unimportant! The humble position of motherhood is anything but unimportant, too.
Consider the character of God. He chooses the humble and exalts them for His glory. He considers who you are and what you do to be a highly exalted thing. When we meet someone and they ask what we do, don’t mumble through your lips that you are “just” a mom.
God, in His wisdom, has chosen YOU to do the amazing work He has for you. So be that gorgeous lily and bloom to adorn those around you!
While attending a ladies day a couple of years ago I heard a lesson on holiness that stuck with me. We were asked to think of the cross. The horizontal post reflects our life here on earth and the vertical post represents our life through eternity.
While we are here on earth, we are instructed to make every effort to live in peace with everyone. Hebrews 12:14 reads, Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy;without holiness no one will see the Lord.
We are made holy when we put Christ on through salvation. And through your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ you received by faith His righteousness and holiness. So through salvation we are made holy.
But that isn’t the end of the story. The part of the lesson that touched me was that we need to live in the world but not be a part of it. Tough to do at times for sure. It can be hard to not allow the world to press in and start molding us to look and act like everyone else. But we are called to be different. We shouldn’t be like everybody else. We are called to be like Jesus.
How do we live peaceably with others and begin to mold our lives to be more like Jesus? It comes through the renewing of our minds so that we can know what is good, acceptable, and perfect; which is the will of God for our life.
Romans 12: 2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
In Romans 12:1, Paul teaches,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Reasonable service. This phrase is one that I have heard all my life but it wasn’t until I dug deeper into the Word that it made sense. As we study the Bible, it begins to dwell in our heart and mind. Slowly it begins to become visible in our lives in the way we talk, walk, and interact with others. Think of it as behavior modification. The more of the Word we consume, the more it becomes visible in us.
Living in Peace
The more the Word changes us, the easier it is for us to begin living in peace with others. Hebrews 12 teaches that without peace and holiness, we will not see the Lord. This verse reminds me of others calling for us to have a meek and quiet spirit. I find the more time I spend in the Word, the calmer I am. I hope it also makes it easier for others to get along with me.
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14. Our living in peace within our horizontal relationships opens doors for us to be able to lead others to Christ. Then our relationships will be working together towards eternity.
We serve a holy God. We are to do everything we can to pattern our lives after him. I think learning to live in peace is a key to opening the doors of communication with those around us. Our life should be a pattern that sets us apart, one that those around us will want to know more about. Will you open your heart and allow the peace of God to fill you so you can be of service to the kingdom?
Spend time in the Word every day. Press the Words of God in your heart and mind. Those powerful messages will make changes in your life.
It is my heart’s passion to encourage you in raising that child. As the mother of at least two, probably more like two or three or four of “Those Children” myself, they really do have my heart. I know how challenging they can be but I also know what a joy and what a privilege it is to be their mom. I’m here to encourage you.
Today I want to look at something very near and dear to my heart. That is the issue of how to bend “That Child” without breaking “That Child”.
I know what it’s like to have a day with “That Child” where you just want to yell and scream. You just want to tie them in a knot. You’re just at the end of your rope. Whether it’s the incessant questions or it’s the confronting your authority, or the belligerence, or the inability to focus….I remember one time sending my “That Child” who is now much older to the mailbox to get the mail. I was distracted by all the other children in the house and didn’t realize how long he had been gone. When he came back in, about 30 minutes later (p.s. It’s only about a minute walk to and from our mailbox!) he had done everything but what? Get the mail!
Yes, I know about those long days when focus flies out the window.
Another time I sent him downstairs to get a roll of paper towels. He came back with…. A hammer! It can be very frustrating. I get it, my friend.
I get the frustration that can just build. I know that you do, too. I don’t know if it’s been that day at your house. I want to talk to you about how do we bend these kids and not break them? We are not called to break them.
My two youngest sons that are now 14 and 13 have recently gotten really kind of deep into entomology. That’s the study of bugs. They procured a beetle for this unit of study. This beetle was very, very, very stiff. There was no way that they could spread out the legs of this beetle, or his antennae. They couldn’t do anything. In fact, this beetle actually had wings underneath this hard shell; but there’s no way that they could expose those wings in order to see the beauty of this beetle. Enter the softening chamber. This is just a piece of Tupperware with an airtight seal, some damp paper towels, and a moth ball so that this little beetle becomes movable.
He had to sit in that in that airtight chamber for 3 or 4 days. The boys could just wait for this beetle to soften up and be malleable, to be movable, so that they can go in and manipulate the parts and study this beetle.
What does that process have to do with bending and not breaking “That Child”? I want to suggest to you, a whole lot! Very often our kids are a lot like that atrophied beetle…really hard and really stuck in a single position. We want to come in and just force this beetle to do what we want it to do. In fact, the boys have had an experience or two where they didn’t wait long enough. Apparently, the anticipation of studying this beetle really builds. They would get impatient! (Sound familiar?!)
They would just jump right in and start opening wings, moving a leg or antennae. And guess what…wings broke off, legs broke off, antenna broke off and the boys would end up really frustrated. Because it probably only needed another 24 hours.
I think this speaks directly to us as moms because all too often, just like my boys see in these little beetles, we can see in our children what they could be. We can see the beauty of what God’s created and the position that God has formed them for in this universe and we have a vision for what they could do in God’s kingdom.
But then we go and we don’t wait for them to grow into that position on their own. We want to cut to the chase instead of enjoying the journey. We end up, breaking that child, just like my boys would break a beetle that simply wasn’t ready to be handled yet. Now, I don’t think we mean to do this, but we are capable, of breaking “That Child”.
What I want you to know is this: they’re a lot more sensitive than you might think they are. I know with my original “That Child”, I was confident that he was behaving the way he was behaving just to get at me. I was confident that he knew exactly what he was doing. But all this time later I can tell you this, let me just tell you, young mom of a “That Child” who has driven you crazy today… they are not doing it on purpose. They really are unaware of what they are doing in most instances.
Look, I get that there are times when they push every one of our buttons at the same time. I know what that’s like. But I also know that there’s a lot of time when they are just wrestling through being them. They’re really not trying to push all your buttons. They really kind of accidentally rubbed up against them.
Three keys to raising that child
- Humility is key. In order for us to mold these children into the young men and women, the warriors for the Kingdom, that God intends for them to be, we ourselves must come to this task broken. Humble. We cannot come to this task of molding our children, and discipling our children, if we have not dealt with our own brokenness. If we have not yet come to terms with how desperate we are for a Savior, if we are not aware of how much forgiveness, and grace, and mercy has already been bestowed upon us, then we are not in a position to bend anyone.We must first bend our own knees before we can invite our children to bend their knees. Guess what? They know. We might be able to fool everyone else in our lives but we can not fool “That Child”. The key is for us to come humble, for us to come submitted. Look, your kids get to see how you live this every day of your life. If Mom is submitted to God, does she worship Him? Does she sing praise to Him? Does she point others to Him? Does she have the joy of the Lord and the confidence, and the hope of salvation every day?
Mom, before we can begin this task we must deal with our own hearts.
- Build that relationship. Next, I want to suggest to you that we need to focus on making our kids malleable and moldable. How do we that? We do it by loving them.
Remember in the Bible when Paul wrote, “Christ loved us while we were unlovable?” That’s true! God didn’t wait until you and I had it all together and all figured out. I’ve known people in my past who were waiting to get it all together before they came to Christ. But it says in the Bible that He loved us while we were yet sinners. He loved us!That love, as we start to embrace that love, and learn about that love, it makes our hearts malleable towards Him. It’s the same with our children.
We must first point our children, as we’re seeking to mold them, and to bend them, and not break them, we must first point them to God. The wonder of His creation, His majesty, all of His attributes… I’ve recommended to you before A. W. Tozer’s “Knowledge of the Holy” and I commend it to you once again. Introduce your kids to the God of the universe after you’ve dealt with your own need for him.
Just love on your kids!
When my boys put this beetle into that chamber, the whole point is to make it moist so that it can move. The best way for our kids to want to respond to our bending is that they know how loved they are by God, how wonderfully he has planned a life for them, given them hope of salvation through the gift of His son, and placed him, this child, in your family, and how much you love them. It is the light of that love that we can bend them.
In the Bible we are commended not to exasperate our kids. That happens when we are just on them all the time without engaging in a conversation. It’s easier to exasperate because exasperation doesn’t take any time at all. It doesn’t take any self-control. It doesn’t take any patience. It doesn’t take any wisdom or insight. It’s just as responding in our frustration. It’s really easy to exasperate.
Engagement takes time. It means that right when we want to explode we exhale and we get a hold of ourselves. We do what we want them to do. We allow the spirit of the Holy, Mighty God to come and grant us patience, and wisdom, and insight. Let us not exasperate our children. Let’s engage, especially with “That kid”.
Rules without relationship lead to breaking. When you are just going to insist on them doing x, y, and z without having a relationship… Look, it’s just like that the key to our relationship with God. It’s not that we have to obey Him, it’s that we get to. We get to this place when we understand the love that He’s given in His son’s dying on the cross to pay a sin penalty that we can never pay. The more that we know this truth, the more than we accept that love, and embrace that love, the more love we have to give to others.
I have a policy that now that I have four out of the house anytime any of those four call, I’m answering the phone. I don’t care what time of night it is or what time of the morning it is.
- Demands without discipleship make for breaking. Let’s not just demand that our children do what we want them to do. I know that early on as a mom, the number one thing I wanted was for my kids to make me look good. I am pretty confident that I am not the only one who has had that as a priority.But I am so grateful to be liberated from that one. My priority for my children now is that they would be disciples of Jesus Christ. That in everything they do and say He will receive all of the glory. That they would grow their sanctification in him every single day. That takes discipleship!
Do you see the trend here? Exasperation, rules, and demands don’t take any time. They’re quick, and they are easy, and they are a result of our impatience and our frustration. But engagement, relationship, and discipleship are the three things, through love, that make our kids moldable and helps us not break their little hearts. Not break their little wills, but bend them.
Look, mom, if you have been given the trust of a “That Child” in your house, I want to tell you boldly and with great confidence today, your God does not need the will of “That Child” broken. This world needs more strong-willed women and men of God who will stand boldly on the truth of Jesus Christ. We just need to make sure that their will is not broken but bent to the things of God. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He knows that one of the strengths of your “That Child” is their strong will. He seeks to steal it, to destroy it, to kill it.
It is our job, it is our joy, it is our opportunity, it is our delight to bend their will towards the things of God so that can use that strong will that He gave them to glorify Him and point others to Him. My friends, raising that child is difficult. It’s frustrating. It is also an incredible journey. Embrace it, don’t fight it.
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
There was a very dark, cloudy season in our family’s life many years ago.
I wish that I could forget details, but it hasn’t been easy.
We had a neighbor that my family had become pretty close with, but knowing certain things about them, I still kept my family a little at arms length.
My suspicions came to full light, but by that time, there was much damage done.
I had a choice to make.
Do I wish evil, demise, and hardship on the family; you know, an eye-for-an-eye?
I owe them everything that they’d done to us.
Or I could do what was the Christ-follower thing to do; love, forgive, humble myself and go with His plans.
I owe them forgiveness.
There were several soul and heart searching days that went by.
I wrestled with God for leeway and a pass, knowing all along that love is what I owed.
Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6
I had to stand on God’s word in this because my heart was screaming something totally different.
I began to come around to humbling under God’s mighty hand. It was through Him that we’d be cared for. My way of doing things and potentially plotting would have backfired as soon as I put plans in motion.
With stepping back, I was able to see where the breakdown was.
First, I didn’t follow the Holy Spirit’s initial warnings. It’s so important to heed those “tuggings” and uneasy feelings.
I gave access to things that shouldn’t have been given access to.
Second, those friends needed prayer and mercy, not God’s wrath.
I believe that our not retaliating spoke volumes of our faith and Christian walk.
As my heart softened, Romans 12:9-21 became easier to pray over the situation.
Like verse 18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
We were able to live in peace with our neighbor.
Is there anything that you need to put into God’s hand; to do as 1 Peter 5:6 urges us to do? God is standing ready for us to come humbly to Him and to take the care.