strength & joy

And so from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. ~Colossians 1:9-12

I walk on a more unique path than some – my feet are in every area of mothering except fully adult children. I have infants, preschoolers, elementary and middle schoolers, teenagers and college kids. I joke that the babies get me up super early and my night owl teenagers want to talk only after 11:30 at night. But it really is true!

I long for the insight for the moments with each child, to be filled with His wisdom, His truth to flow from my lips to a child’s heart. To show them the faithfulness of Christ who always has a listening ear and steadfast love. But many times I fail or compromise. I justify my hard, selfish heart because I’m tired, or bad day, etc. I rationalize that I’ll do better tomorrow or grab them later today to address that heart issue they have. Sometimes I just want an escape.

But Paul prays for the church and for me in Colossians 1 that we would be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. The result will be a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of God. Doesn’t that fill your heart with longing? I just want this more and more, and I pray this so much over my children. And then verse 11: May you be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. That is SO hard in motherhood!

Let’s be real – I might be strong, on a good day until lunch, but the wheels are going to come off the wagon because someone is picking on someone else, or someone is demanding or whining a lot today, or someone is just obstinate. But I assure you, the wheels will come off this wagon – I will lose it! It may be a “slow leak” day where I can keep most of it turned way down, or it may be a short fuse kind of day which is always a little scary for the little people! But apart from Christ, and seeking the strength of His power and his might, I will not be able to walk worthy of Him with my kids or in my marriage. I may be able to fool you out in public, but I will never fool my kids or my husband.

But Paul says that the strength comes from God’s glorious might – I don’t have to be strong, I have to be submitted. The verb be strengthened is a present participle verb implying an ongoing action. My strengthening is not one and done. He strengthens me moment by moment, day by day. His infusing of power flows from His might full of His glory. My choice is simply will I rely on Him? Will I turn to the fount of living water which flows and floods, or will I seek my own broken cistern as a source of power today?

And in the moments full of grief, pain, confusion, wonder, and uncertainty in parenting, will I seek Him? I love a quote from Maclaren, “Our sorrows make rents through which His strength flows.” Many moments in parenting are painful and uncertain, whether because a child suffers from an illness, makes decisions I know are unwise, or has circumstances that hurt their heart. My heart at times has wanted to rip apart in fear and grief, and in my flesh waves of confusion and discouragement flood my mind. But when I lift my eyes to the One who is my help, who loves my child more than I ever will, He provides the deepest source of strength and the calmest life-giving water to restore and fill me. His strength is made perfect in my weakness, and He commits fully to me.

Then His endurance for the long toddler/teenager day can go the distance. His patience comes flowing out of me in seasons of chaos and confusion. I rest with Him, in Him, on Him.

And His joy floods my soul.

Joy (xara, chara in the Greek) means grace recognized. Joy is not euphoria, bliss, or ecstasy the way our current culture uses the term. His joy in me centers on what He has done for me, rescuing me from the bondage of sin and death, walking me through each day in sanctifying commitment to me, and leading me ultimately to the great inheritance of life eternal with Him.  Recognizing grace, seeing His love, His work, and His plan despite my circumstances, settles my soul despite the hard, painful, demanding moments. Joy based in His Gospel becomes my bedrock.

So today, may we be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.

 

 

paths

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. ~Isaiah 42:16

So much is changing – territory is changing, scenery is looking different, the terrain is  making me stumble again. The familiar path of parenting has changed and the walk is new, unclear.

I distinctly remember the first weekend we had our newborn son home. The feelings of wonder combined with fear overwhelmed me. I had no idea what journey I was embarking on, yet I was so thrilled to be going. I didn’t know what certain cries meant, had no idea what he liked or disliked, couldn’t imagine his personality or the joy that getting to know him would bring. And God has been faithful to lead. His knowledge and depth of insight into each of our babies has been fundamental guidance as I’ve walked this path of motherhood. Many, many times I have cried out for His guidance, and many times I have realized I have stepped off His path and tried to forge ahead on a new one. His gentle teaching and His wise voice have led me back and centered me on this walk with my children.

But I’ve never seen this land before. I don’t know if I should admire or dislike the scenery. As with most new things though, there is a hesitancy to like the unfamiliar because I want to compare it to what is known and what is known is comfortable. I don’t know how to parent these older teens – I don’t know the pitfalls up around the corner to prepare for or the scary land filled with danger that we will have to walk through.

I’ve been through the preschool and elementary/puberty years now so many times that it’s almost become recognizable. I almost feel like a tour guide! “Up here you will see the mountain of Seeking Independence followed by the River of Contentment. The child will climb this mountain and then float here for a wonderful while before dropping into the Rapids of Doubt & Insecurity. They will need you to push them up the mountain sometimes and then you will need to help them get their boat ready before the rapids hit. Make sure to make the boat as waterproof as possible to ensure safe travels and prevent sinking”

I know a lot of that path. oh, I may miss a turn or curve, I don’t profess to have it perfected. I may forget an area or a new predator may have moved in that will surprise me somewhat but for the most part it is familiar territory with grooves to walk in. And I have learned to look to Him and trust Him to guide me on this journey. Yet at one point it too was unclear, dark, scary because of its newness. But He was faithful all the while, the ultimate tour guide. And here we are again.

Yet You declare You lead me and guide me for I am blind. You turn the darkness into light and make the rough surfaces smooth – You do not forsake me on this parenting path. You are the perfect Father, with perfect insight into what my child needs to hear, do, go. You know what equipment will be needed, where to stop and rest, where to seek shelter, where it tends to be stormy. You are not worried about a storm that never seems to end or a land that looks impassable.

Let me turn to You, seek Your wisdom, and wait patiently for your guidance. Thank you for being faithful. Let me sing praises to you as I walk with you, holding your hand, safe in the knowledge that you lead perfectly.