Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sanctified by Toddlers!

Well, I just got a book called "Good and Angry" by Scott Turansky--it seemed like a fitting title for the past few weeks! Ginger Plowman also wrote a book with a great title for my life these days--"Don't Make Me Count to Three!" My thoughts lately have been much like Ginger Plowman's when she writes, "I've had it, kids! I'm going to soak in a hot bubble bath and I would strongly advise against any interruptions. Unless someone is dead or dying, do not knock on this door!" Sometimes I wonder how many times in a day I say "no", or "give that back to your brother", or "try saying that again the right way", or "no touch", or "use your words--don't scream!" It's amazing I have time to say much else in the day!!

I recently read a book by Gary Thomas called "Sacred Parenting." Gary poses the question at the outset: "What if one of God's primary intentions for you as a parent isn't about successfully raising perfect children, but about your becoming more holy?" He later says that perhaps "God can baptize dirty diapers, toddler's tantrums and teenagers' silence in order to transform us into people who reflect the image of Christ." At the time, I agreed with this and could even point out times when I saw how God revealed something about my own character through my children. But over the past few weeks, I see how God is truly breaking me through my toddlers! How, I've asked, can a 3 yr old think she's entitled to so much, think the world revolves around her, be so selfish, and want to control everyone around her? And get so angry when things don't go exactly her way? And then God, in such gentleness and grace (which I admit was at times very lacking in my dealings with my daughter) grabbed my heart--and my defiant toddler became a mirror, reflecting all the selfishness, pride, and anger in me! Wow--and it is a scary picture! We are constantly quoting versese like "Do everything without arguing or complaining" and "Do nothing out of selfish ambition" and "God disciplines those he loves." I mean seriously, how often do I find myself frustrated with my children and thinking, "life's not that hard for you? Why can't you just obey? Why can't you just be thankful? I'm giving you so much..." And then it hit me--I am just like a toddler with God so many times! I am not thankful. I am selfish. I think I "deserve" to be treated a certain way or to be given so much. I despise discipline and harden my heart. And I rarely obey with a truly joyful and happy heart! And yet, God's response to me is one of such grace and love--not one of anger or impatience or frustration! He doesn't give up on me! He doesn't stop pursuing my heart! He never says, "I've had enough!" How thankful I am for the Cross!!

It's been a hard few weeks in our home--God has been truly testing my character as a mom, and I admit I've often failed the test! I am so thankful for this Easter season--to remember the cross! Without the cross, I would be totally lost--and without hope! Sin is ugly--and without the cross I was dead in my sin! There is a song called "I Cling to the Cross," which I have grown to love. "I cling to the cross, and everything it means. I know it's the only hope there is for saving me. For without your great mercy I would be forever lost. With a thankful heart I come, and cling to the cross!" Another song, "In Christ Alone", says it well too: "And as He stands in victory, sin's curse has lost its grip on me. For I am His and He is mine--bought with the precious blood of Christ. No guilt in life, no fear in death--this is the power of Christ in me. No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand. 'Til He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I'll stand!"

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