Thursday, December 13, 2012

Heart Cry

Having my kids in college has been one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  When they first left it was almost as if they had died.  The empty place at the table, the hollow room, the quiet, all left a gaping hole in my heart.  And those are only the minor issues. 

Sometimes I long to be back in the preschool season of life.  Those years seemed so easy compared to now.  Life was so much simpler then.  Yet, in the midst of that stage there were days I felt overwhelmed.  At times, something inside just snapped and it spilled out in angry yelling or total discouragement sinking into depression.

That was when God spoke to me through the Christmas story so directly.   Not to say He hasn't met me since, most assuredly He has, but this passage I'm about to share with you now will always grip my heart.  These thoughts might be familiar to you, but they are some which God knew I needed that day, and now once again, I cling to them . . . to Him. 

 I was reading the account of Mary when the angel came to tell her she would bear the Messiah.  (Luke 2:28-38)  The words popped off the page at me. "Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you." And later in the passage, "Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God."

Mary was not the only one in God's favor.  Under grace, I too held God's favor.  Oh how I needed to be reminded of that truth!  God was for me, not against me.  I knew it in my head, but in that season had a hard time believing it in my heart.  Some days I felt God had abandoned me to this thing called motherhood, though I knew it was not true.  He had not and does not leave us alone.

Mary's response was that she was greatly troubled and asked, "How can this be?"  Likewise, I felt total inadequacy to raise my children, lifting my tightly clenched fists in anger at God, asking the same question, "How can I possibly be the right mom for these kids?  How can I ever raise them when I fail so miserably, over and over?  I can't do this."  I thought it was why God didn't entrust me with more children, because I was a bad mom.  Not true, but I believed it none the less.

The angel responds to Mary's question with, "The Holy Spirit . . ."  And God was telling me that HE would raise these children.  It was not all up to me.  The power of the Holy Spirit could direct them in the right path.  God was big enough to enable me, and to guide them in truth.  The angel tells Mary, "For nothing is impossible with God."  Nothing.  Even as we raise our children, God has His best interest in mind for them.  He is working out His good plan in their hearts as well as ours.

But I must depend on Him.  When I strive and strive to make them turn out right, forcing conformity to my agenda, I only push them away.  I must surrender control over to the Lord, just as Mary responded with, "May it be to me as you have said."  That was the hard part.  Opening my clenched fist and letting loose of my children. 

It doesn't mean that I did nothing to train them in righteousness, or did not discipline them.  Far from it.  I continued to teach them, considering it a grave responsibility, but sought to keep my dependence on God's sovereign power over their lives.

Now, in this season of life, I cry out to God once again.  Never before have I prayed with such intensity for my children.  Never before have I felt so utterly dependent on God's power to direct them in the way they should go.

When they were small their whole lives were before them and it seemed there was a lot of time to mold and shape.  But once they are older, some of the reaping comes to fruition and what was sown in younger years, now shows itself.  Much of that fruit is good.  But I struggle when my own weaknesses are often exaggerated in my children.  Time is up and what's done has been done.  There is no going back.  The responsibility weighs heavy.

It is tempting to take credit for the good in our children, thinking we, as their parents, were the ones who produced that.  But we have no idea how a prayer said in silence when no one knew and only God heard has fought for the lives of our children against the evil one. The prayers of their grandparents and the benefits of godly generations past, might be what has kept them.  No, it is not up to us, nor is it because of us, that our children grow successful in character and life.  It is only God working out His purposes in them.

Once again I cling to this passage of Scripture, crying out with Mary, "May it be to me as you have said."  My hand, which so readily wants to grip tightly, must be coaxed open.  Only as my own heart is in right relationship with God can my life be used to positively impact my children.  But mostly, I let go, resting in the fact that God knows what He is doing.  Can God be trusted with them?  Of course.  Easy to say, but hard to live.  He is big enough to carry out His purposes in our lives . . . and in our children.

Faith trumps fear.

Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am...
How many times have you heard me cry out
And how many times have you given me strength...
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.  
(by Plumb)

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