Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Paideia, Part 3



Have you messed up as a parent? Do you ever get to the end of the day and look back in horrified disbelief at the actions you have taken, or the words that have come out of your mouth? Have you ever found that the harder you try to be gentle and firm, the more off-balance you get?

A few days ago, the husband and I found ourselves sitting listlessly in our living room at noon. With furrowed brows, we discussed the reasons why we were feeling apathetic and listless. We began tossing around ideas, "We just need better goals in our lives," "We need to have a better routine, and stick to it," and, the lovely, guilt-inducing one for missionaries, "What would our supporters think if they could see us now? We are falling way below their expectations." Then, as if on cue, our talk died down. We had "been there, done that" many times before, and we knew that all of our trying would eventually lead to failure. 

You see, the God of the Universe, the Creator of the World, the Righteous Judge who willingly bore our sin-punishment on the cross, wants us to RUN TO HIM with our problems, with our apathy, with our inadequacies as parents. And RUNNING TO HIM is not some mystical solution to problems, nor is RUNNING TO HIM something He wants from us only in the spiritual realm. He longs to work through us in the absolute, most practical, tiniest little details of our lives. 

Jesus says to you, momma, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)" "Apart from Me you can do nothing"! This could not be more clearly stated. In order to be the good mom that you want to be; in order to be that mom who has this fruit in her life: "...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control(Gal. 5:22-23)," we must ABIDE.

God is not a deaf old man who sits on a throne in heaven, arms crossed, condemning, glaring down at us when we fail. No! He is a God who is very real, who did not stop His work with us at redemption, but longs to be deeply entrenched in our everyday lives. He sealed us with His spirit when we placed our faith in His sufficient death, burial and resurrection. And what does the Spirit of God, God Himself, wish to accomplish in us? In John 14:26, Jesus calls the Spirit of God, "...the Helper, the Holy Spirit," who "...the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." In other places in John, God's Spirit is called the "Spirit of Truth," and the "Comforter." Galatians 4:6 reminds us that God's Spirit in us cries out "Abba, Father," reminding us that we are God's redeemed children. 1 Corinthians 2:10 says of the Spirit, "for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God." It is as we abide in Christ, as we walk by the Spirit, that we will find ourselves being the moms we know we should be. 

The beauty of abiding IN CHRIST is that it brings rest and peace to our weary souls. The beauty of walking by the Spirit, letting Him work in and through us, is that we will see fruit in our lives we were never able to produce on our own. When we see our failures and our weaknesses, when we hurt our children by being all-together too human, we must turn to God! Only He can produce goodness in us. He will make us parents who are able to "paideia" our children in the Lord. 

In the words of Jesus to you: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)"