I’m going to literally try and write this post in less than 32 minutes
Because it’s all the time I’ve got today, and I don’t want to forget what God graciously revealed to my heart today. So, I’m going to lay aside my desire to think through my sentence structure and just write.
This morning, at 6:55 AM, the Lord spoke to me through my sweat. As I pedaled and pushed through my workout, the Lord gently nodded my soul and convicted my parenting heart.
When I initially felt the prodding and sensed Him moving and churning the inner chambers of my heart, I honestly didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to face the potential truth of the prodding and even if I did choose to listen, I didn’t feel like I had the emotional space and energy to address it. Being a parent is already hard…thinking about your parenting is REALLY hard.
So what did I do?
I pedaled faster.
But as I pedaled on that bike that goes absolutely nowhere, I couldn’t resist His whisper as He made a case for His point.
Jessica, how do you respond when your kids interrupt your agenda?
I get snippy.
How do you react when they throw a kink in your plans?
I get frustrated.
How do you feel when they ask for your help in the midst of your busy and in the middle of your lists?
I feel overwhelmed.
And how do you view their needs when they interrupt yours?
I tend to view them as distractions.
Exactly. Too often, I think you see your kids’ needs as distractions.
And as I continued to pedal among a sea of gray-hairs (Remember, it’s early folks!), I realized that the Spirit was spot-on, right.
More often than not, I am tempted to see the constant needs of my kids as “distractions.”
And though I wish I could spin that reality to make it sound a little nicer, and a little more godly, and a little more “super-mom’ish,” I can’t. I just can’t.
Because in reality, when I’m focused on ME and what I want to do, need to do, and think I need to do, I view their needs and wants as frustrating distractions.
In short, I view them as a distraction from MY kingdom.
My kingdom of plans and productivity, my kingdom of efficiency and influence, my kingdom of order and control, my kingdom of rest and pleasure…my kingdom of ME.
And that is just yuck–plain yuck–right from the pits of hell kind of yuck.
Yes, the pits of hell.
THE. PITS. OF. HELL.
Because Satan doesn’t want me to see an opportunity to serve, a moment to shepherd. He doesn’t want me to embrace suffering and care for their souls and their needs. He doesn’t want me to to put aside ME because he loves when I build MY kingdom. Oh, how he loves when I build MY kingdom!
He loves when I think my plans are the priorities; he relishes in the idea that I find security in my productivity; he is thrilled when I find peace in the order of my day; he is ecstatic when I believe that my pleasure and my rest is the most important; he is down-right, hellishly elated when I lose sight of SOULS and focus in on the STUFF of this world.
Now I’m not suggesting that our kids should always be our #1 priority and should never take a backseat to what needs to happen in our homes (because that’s a whole different form of idol worship that we bow to), but I am suggesting that Satan likes when I think MY kingdom is the MOST IMPORTANT.
He likes when I think that folding the laundry is more important than addressing the sibling squabble that is taking place.
He likes when I think that taking a shower in silence is more important than soothing the frustrations of my four year-old.
He likes when I think that cleaning my house before a dinner party is more important than teaching my daughter how to properly pee IN (like, not OUT of) the potty.
He likes when I think that returning a phone call or replying to an e-mail is more important than getting my children a snack or refilling their water.
He likes when I think that writing this blog post is more important than cuddling on the couch with my ever-growing boy .
(Side note: This blog post has now taken WAY longer than 32 minutes. Why? Because I took the time to hold and cuddle my ever-growing boy. And then there was soccer, and then there was work, and then there was sleep, and then there was breakfast, and then there was a need for a potty break, and then someone needed a banana, and then someone needed their mouth wiped, and then there was a fight over a blankie…and now, I am writing again…17 hours later.).
The point is…
Satan likes when I get snippy, sassy, and down-right nasty when MY kingdom is being interrupted and disrupted by the needs and pleas of my children.
And as I thought about the truth of this tendency in my life, I was reminded of the disciples and their treatment of children who they believed were “interrupting” and “disrupting.”
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. Matthew 19: 13-15
What did the disciples do when the children were brought in the presence of Jesus–the healer and Messiah? Did they welcome them with warm hugs, happy smiles, and open arms?
No. Not even a little.
In fact, it says they “rebuked” them, sharply admonishing the people who brought the children near.
Now I don’t know why they rebuked the people with the children, or why they felt they needed to protect Jesus, but I am inclined to believe that whatever the case, they didn’t feel like these children were “AS IMPORTANT.”
Their hearts were revealed through their responses.
And what does Jesus do?
He puts the disciples and their perceived priorities back in their rightful place, inviting the children into His presence and reminding them (EVERYONE) that the kingdom of heaven belongs to “such as these.”
Needy, dependent, trusting, and unassuming…THOSE will be the ones who inherit the kingdom.
And as I thought about God’s prodding while I pedaled, along with this scripture that He brought to mind, I was left with this mind-revealing, heart-convicting thought:
MY kingdom was NEVER meant to be THE MOST IMPORTANT, and that is precisely why Satan wants me to believe that my kids and their needs are a distraction from MY kingdom.
So maybe…just maybe…these children and their needs are God’s gracious distractions from my attempts at building a kingdom that isn’t His.
Oh, Lord…be gracious and merciful to us as we parent these little ones. Help us to see these children as the blessings they are and help us to focus on building YOUR kingdom, not ours.