“This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the men of Judah and the people of Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the LORD." Jeremiah 35:13
Whether it was because I was stubborn, clueless, or selfish, I'm not sure--maybe a bit of all three--it took me awhile to realize that a relationship with God is what matters, not sitting in a pew. I had to find authentic faith, and until I did, I chased after empty things. I know better now...and I know to keep my guard up, so that complacency and the day-to-day won't lull me into forgetting. As I am in the midway of my life, as I look back at my adventures on the carnival midway and beyond, these are some of the thoughts that stroll through my mind...
God has really blessed me with three wonderful sons, a terrific husband, and after Clive and I married, we added two sweet daughters to the mix! I also have a precious little granddaughter, now, as well! Life is good, but it isn't easy. 'Easy' was never promised to us, just strength and perseverance! As our family has solidified and grown in faith, we've had trials come our way. Our dining room table has seen a lot of prayer powwows, because that is sometimes all we had to cling to. Those trials faced as a family will make great stories for another time.
I often took for granted or treated lightly my responsibility to teach my children, pray for my children, and guide my children. It is critical to grow your children spiritually! Even if you are growing spiritually, your kids might not be. I couldn't rest on my parents' or grandparents' faith to get me through the times I faced temptations and choices, and the results of my actions showed my own shallow faith. In the same way, as I grew and trusted God more and more, I think satan tried to get to me through my children. I now bathe them in prayer, and encourage their faith to be strong, so that when they face trials and problems, they have their own spiritual armor on, ready for battle. You'll notice in Ephesians 6:14-17, it doesn't say to find a parent or grandparent who's ready for battle and stand behind them. It tells each of us to "stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." In life, we will face battles...parents, let's send our kids off to war prepared and protected!
Whether it's society or within church walls, humans are too judgmental. I've been the judge and the judged throughout my life, and I'm not interested in being either anymore! When we're told “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:1-2)," I don't think it was a casual suggestion that Jesus tossed out for lack of anything else to say at the time. We can't take His job, which is to judge the whole world! "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books (Revelation 20:12)." We are, rather, commanded to love one another--"And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us (1 John 3:23)." So that's what I will continue striving for...there are some who make that command easy, and some who make it a challenge, but it's a command, nonetheless.
We need to pray just to make it today (thanks, Hammer)! My family often says this line from the 90s song by MC Hammer, and it's fun and a little corny for us to do it, but also very, very true! Prayer is vital communication with our Father! There was the time I prayed the desperate prayer of a broke single mother and received ten $100 bills in the mail, times I prayed the lonely prayer of an emotionally-scarred wife and felt His comfort, and times some of my family and friends prayed for my boys and I and along came Clive! Sometimes there's nothing to say, but that's okay--"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26)." And there are times we just need to hush: “Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10a). Prayer isn't magic genie time, it's talking and listening to the Most High God, who also happens to be our Heavenly Father!
Love God, love people, and use what you've lived....that just about sums it up!