I can’t imagine not knowing the Lord. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Jesus as my Savior. I would be a mess. (Not that I’m not a mess now, in certain respects. But it would be much worse!) I would be a groveling mess, aching to be loved, chasing after whatever would make me feel like I belonged and had meaning. I would have even LESS patience with my kids. I would expect my husband – or whatever man was in my life – to fulfill me. I would no doubt be seeking to maintain happiness and status with possessions. My heart would have no peace. My life would be filled with worry and fear.
But in his wisdom, God placed people in my life that taught me about him. My parents. Grandparents. Aunts and Uncles. Pastors. Sunday school teachers. VBS and AWANA leaders. Many, many adults who poured into my life. Who talked, sang, demonstrated, and modeled the amazing theology of “Jesus Loves Me.”
Now, it is not by their hard work that I am saved. I am only saved through the grace of Jesus Christ, and the moving of the Holy Spirit in my life to see my need for him and accept his forgiveness. BUT –
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”Romans 10:14
In 1992 at First Baptist Church in Willmar, MN, one spunky lady volunteered to be the AWANA leader for the third grade girls. Her name is Judy Treptau, and today is her (??th!) birthday.
For 11 years, Judy instructed me. She loved me. She spent time with me. She laughed with me. She cried with me. She listened to me. She goofed off with me. She scolded me. She prayed with me and for me. She sacrificed for me. Is Judy perfect? She would be the first to tell you, no. Was her theology 100% accurate all of the time? Probably not. Did she know everything about the Bible? No. But did she love Jesus and live to tell me about Him? You bet. I am not the only one with such a testimony about Judy.
I wonder – where would the church be without people like her?
Apparently there was a generation of Israelites who didn’t have Judy:
“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10
How sad and horrible is that?
Passing on our faith is so crucial. Witnessing to anyone in our world who does not know Christ is important. But as a young mother having to realize my purpose anew, my eyes are being opened to the importance of passing on my faith to my children. Our pastor is emphasizing this in his current sermon series. Yesterday’s Scripture was from Psalm 78:
“My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old – things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” (vs. 1-5)
Parents, instruct your children and other youngsters in your world that need you. If you’re not a parent? The next generation needs you, too. It takes more than just a mother and father to pass on the wonderful life of following our Lord! It takes a community, a family of believers, to walk alongside the next generation and make disciples.
Remember the instructions of the Shema – a central Jewish prayer and the ancient cornerstone of our Christian faith, given by God to Moses for the people of Israel:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
If Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Phil, Gary, Brad, Judy, Nancy, Susie, Dave, Bruce, on and on…. If these men and women had not played their role in the body of Christ… who knows where I’d be?
So thanks Judy. Thank you for being a part of the body, for weaving your life into the tapestry of the family of God. You have left a legacy which is now being passed onto the NEXT generation…. for now I am the mom, the youth leader, the aunt….
“…so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” Psalm 78:5-6
This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is the word “free.” (Posting late – better late than never!)
The first thing that popped into my head were lyrics from a Tenth Avenue North song, “The Struggle.” The words to the chorus start, “Hallelujah! We are free to struggle. We’re not struggling to be free.”
The first time I heard these words at a concert a few years ago, I cried.
It is difficult to live in freedom. I tend to set a perfectionistic standard for myself in living; tend to have high expectations. So much of my time is unfortunately spent feeling like things aren’t right enough in my life – externally, internally, in my home, job, relationships, etc. This attitude lends itself – often without me realizing it – to working for the love and admiration that I crave. Ultimately, trying to earn my salvation. That line of thinking is WRONG, false, incorrect.
I struggle. We all do. We all have our issues, things we deal with, that rear their ugly heads in our lives over and over again. But because of Jesus and what he did for me on the cross – dying and paying the debt for my sin himself – we are free. MY STRUGGLE IS NOT FOR FREEDOM. I AM ALREADY FREE.
So, “Hallelujah!!!! We are free to struggle. We’re not struggling to be free. Your blood bought and makes us children. So children drop your chains and sing!”
I had to chuckle today, as I glanced at the end table in our living room. It is a microcosm of my life, and it made me smile.
Adjacent to the end table is my “chair,” just a hand-me-down, green Ethan Allen piece that rocks and swivels. (That spot used to hold my beloved Grandpa’s chair from the 80’s… but sadly it rocked one too many times and had to be retired…) I spend a lot of hours in that chair, between nursing Esther, snuggling Levi, perusing Facebook and watching Netflix (sometimes simultaneously!) So inevitably my daily life spills onto it. Before kids, the end table was decorated with a lovely placemat and lamp off our wedding registry. Now, it looks like this:
It is topped with a Kleenex box, cell phone, remote controls, toddler’s sippy cup, Mommy’s water bottle, hand sanitizer, pacifier clip, an empty infant Tylenol syringe, baby nail clippers and file, current snack, morning snack, and leftovers from yesterday’s snack, four toddler trains (discarded and traded for said snack), a chip clip, an old birthday card, a parenting book (!) and if you look closely, some overwhelmed coasters.
Needless to say, the rest of my house is not a whole lot different.
Have you seen those decorative wall hangings in boutiques that say “Bless this Mess”? I always figured they were just something to be displayed as a flippant apology for an unkempt house because of laziness. Well… as a mom my perspective has changed.
I constantly battle my feelings regarding the state of my house. I am well aware this is not a unique challenge, and as moms we often are trying to encourage each other to not worry about the cleanliness of our homes or apologize for it, to which I agree. The first time I saw the rhyme ending with “So quiet down cobwebs; dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep,” I about wept with release. However, I am battling my feelings again as we have friends coming over tomorrow, and my intentions at getting some cleaning done today were pushed to the back burner AGAIN because time was more wisely and appropriately spent on other things – namely, relationships. I do not regret how I spent my time today. But reality is that my living room floor could use vacuuming, the bathrooms need sanitizing, the dishes are undone, and the germ party going on underneath Levi’s seat at the table is outstanding.
And then God reminds me of a perspective he revealed to me awhile back. I could plead desperately, “God, please bless this mess!” But he whispers back to me – “honey, darling, this mess is evidence of how you are already blessed.”
There are Hot Wheels cars scattered across the kitchen floor because there is a toddler pretending the lines on the linoleum are roads. There are crumbs, stains, and smashed food beneath his seat because he is proudly feeding himself with food we have in abundance. There are burp rags lying about because I have a beautiful baby girl who turned two months old today, and I am privileged to nurse her. Though the toilet is dirty, I AM THANKING GOD FOR INDOOR PLUMBING! Other things are more difficult to be thankful for – the unopened mail on the kitchen table; the hole in the basement door created when Levi angrily slammed the back door into it. The list could go on.
But really, when the chaos causes guilt, embarrassment, and stress, I am striving to change my perspective – and realize that the mess is evidence of an abundant life shared with the three most important people in my world.
So today, my end table made me laugh. What a blessed mess!!!!
Take a NAP, while the whole house – husband, daughter, son – napped too. There’s nothing like playing hard, and then resting hard. We took the kiddos to the zoo for the first time, and of course after only two hours in the beautiful sunshine, my toddler (and I!), were beat. But then the kids drop blissfully off to nether land, and I get to crawl into my cool, dark, air conditioned room with my hubby, let my pillow hit the cool sheet, and BAM, bliss. Not just because I get a nap. But because in the quiet I can stop and appreciate what God has given me. His rest. His peace. This family. The feeling of fatigue after the hard work of playing hard! Contentment that I can feel a piece of God’s heaven – even if for 10 minutes – in this crazy, hard, challenging world. As I closed my eyes to rest today, I had the notion that heaven is probably a continuous string of perfect moments. I really look forward to that. THAT is going to be my favorite 🙂
(This post is my first time participating in “Five Minute Friday,” a blogging community that writes for 5 minutes each week, with no major edits. This week’s prompt: “favorite.”)
As a teen and early twenty-something, I did a lot of writing. Poetry, songs, prose, and lots of journaling. Just when I felt compelled. Somehow as I started a career, got married and became a mom, there was less space in my life to feel compelled, and I didn’t do much writing. Now, I am realizing that a vital creative component of my heart and mind has lied dormant, to my own mental and emotional detriment. So, I am making space to write again when I feel like it. And I’m sharing with a little trepidation, but mostly hope, because I think life is meant to be shared. And Jesus definitely is 🙂