I am off to Dallas in a couple of days and I look so forward to seeing so many moms there. I consider it such a privilege to be able to serve God by serving moms, because they are the trainers and developers of leaders of the next generation. Often people have asked me why I am traveling so much and working so hard at this season of life. I have to. I keep hearing of precious young adults who are compromising their morals, giving up their faith, making decisions that bring about scars in their hearts and souls. I sometimes feel that I have only a limited time to reach as many moms and parents as I can in my lifetime and I want to meet Jesus face to face and be able to say, "I gave my whole heart and time and life to you and your kingdom's cause because I love you. You are worthy of all of my praise and moments and life. I treasure you and sought to be a steward of all the wonderful truth you taught me." We must each take serious our responsibility to be a steward of His grace, love and redemption.
Our young adult children are confronted more than ever with post modern values. Almost every movie, television show, book has an expectation of immorality, infidelity, impurity. Our children are confronted with it at every turn. There are fewer and fewer models that we can point to, to say, "follow His pattern of leadership, of sacrifice, of holiness."
That is why we must, in our homes, be a true and vibrant picture of the living God, of the depth of Jesus. However, we must ponder often what that means. I have asked myself often just what it is that is causing so many of our older children to fall. My children have precious friends who have grown up with godly parents and heard all the messages of the gospel, and yet they still turn away from God. Many of these parents were faithful and wonderful. But I will share with you what I am learning.
It is a very lonely world out there for godly children. They will find few young adults with strong values and convictions. They will have to stand alone again and again amongst the crowd--the veritable sea of people who are not living with a paradigm of faithfulness to their creator. Loneliness is very difficult to bear over and over and over again. Therefore, we need to stand in the gap, to be there for our children, to reach out to them, to understand their temptation, to keep giving and giving and giving--to continue being the servant leader that Jesus was.
But there is something else I have been thinking about. Often, in our zealousness, we live by fear in the presence of our children. We tell them of the harsh realities of the world, we make them memorize verses, we indoctrinate them with our philosophy and focus on their behavior--we follow methods and formulas and law. But we must understand that it is only when we reach their hearts and pass on a true love of God that they will become engaged in His life.
I have focused my past few years of spiritual life on Jesus Himself. Jesus is, according to Hebrews 1:3, "The radiance of His glory, the exact representation of his nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power." In other words, when you see Jesus, you see God, himself, living in the flesh."
Looking at Jesus is to look and behold God himself. Jesus was a man who walked on water, was tossed about in the stormy sea on a smelly fishing boat, he held a picnic and satisfied the hunger of thousands of people several times--he didn't just talk about truth, he satiated hunger of rumbling stomachs. Jesus touched the untouchables--he touched with tenderness and love a prostitute, lepers, sick and dying. He held and fondled on his knee children and laughed with them and loved them. Jesus was not afraid to rage at the religious leaders who led people in legalism and performance but were not compassionate--he was not afraid of the rulers. He talked of birds, trees, lilies, mountains, and creation. Jesus washed one hundred and twenty dirty toes, the night before he died, and wiped them tenderly with a towel as a mother bathes the children she loves. He celebrated and drank wine at a wedding, cooked fish on the beach and validated women for their service and tender love of himself.
People have often asked me why I emphasize beauty--art, candles, beautiful music, a cup of tea, cinnamon rolls, great stories and books and celebrating life. It is because I want to bring the reality of God and His life into my home. He painted the skies and the flowers, her touched human flesh, he gave a capacity to think, he told epoch stories through prophets and in his sermons, he fed and celebrated amongst his own disciples. He comforted the sad, healed the broken hearted, inspired the vigorous young men amongst him to live for a kingdom that would never end. He modeled, through his every waking hour, the vast love, compassion, holiness, beauty, touchable food, and servant leadership that expresses the very heart of God. Jesus is not just a thought to be understood, a verse to be memorized, but a living, breathing, vibrant, loving, personal God who lives and breathes amongst us in my home each day. He is the way and He is with us along the way.
It is the life and reality of a God who came to love and serve and redeem that is what my children long for in their hearts. They experience this through my life and service and love and excellence and faith and confident celebration of life. I can only give to them what I have found by loving Him on my own, by seeing Him with my own eyes, but understanding Him in my own quiet time and then living from a soul fully engaged in Him. The joy of life, which is contagious, comes from being in His presence and enjoying Him. (In His presence is fullness of joy and in His right hand are pleasures evermore. Do I experience this? Do I believe it? Do I live it?)
In my personal relationship with my children where I love and value and serve them as Jesus did His own disciples, my children will not just hear of doctrine and manners and chores, but they will feel the touch of Christ, the compassion of Christ, the encouraging words of Christ and they will learn to love Him because they have felt and seen and lived love in the minutes of our lives together. Even as Jesus said, "I will never leave you or forsake you," so I will let my children know, "I will never leave you or forsake you--I will be praying for you, I will celebrate life with you (and cook for you and give you gift cards when you are far away from me.) and you can tell me anything and I will be your friend and companion as well as your leader and guide.
Love will be the foundation of our discipleship relationship as love is the foundation of Jesus' relationship with me.
So when our children are out in the world, (Jesus said he would not take His disciples out of the world, but he asked the father to keep them from the evil one--to deliver them from temptation--we must send our disciples into the world as Jesus did, when they have been trained and understood the kingdom and the King, that when they are mature, they can also be redeemers.), we will still be with them, close to them, pursuing them and active in their lives. Lonely children, even young adults, always need to have someone to lift them up, to encourage them, to believe in them, to help them--it is the way of discipleship, motherhood and servant leadership--it is the reality of Christ lived through us.
So, as I go to spread these messages, I would so appreciate your prayers, for safety in travel, for health for my family as we serve, for my children to stay faithful and to live in His strength and reality, as I feel that as Clay and I are serving our wonderful Lord, Satan hates us even more and my children become targets. Please pray for them and for us. I so appreciate so many of you who help and give and serve and pray for us together in the ministry God has called us to. May each of you be blessed and prosper in His grace, strength and love today.