A Sacrificial Job

Dad and son having fun outdoors.

As parents we keep our personal worlds revolving by wearing many hats. Our most sacred position is to take care of those we have been entrusted with – those little gifts of life. A good parent does that with love, encouragement, protection and a hand that “adjusts” the character of each little one, when needed.

As I woke this morning I began praying for our country; all the governors and mayors in each state are currently facing difficult decisions and choices. They are in need of God’s wisdom as they decide what is best to keep the children safe.

Growing up there were three of us and at different times throughout our lives we found ourselves at odds with the decisions or restrictions implemented in our home. There were three types of response – the “just go with it”, the “whiner and complainer” and the “rebellious” one.

A good parent looks to the needs for the whole family. They are not swayed by outside manipulation, by the children’s whining and complaining or by the outright rebellion of some. They notice those that are willing and just go with it and are encouraged by them. They focus on what is best for the whole family. In the midst of stressful times their outlook must be filled with love and encouragement, as well as, the farsighted ability to protect from harm, while directing each toward a growth outcome that will ultimately make them stronger while adjusting the character of each child as needed. This is a huge and often lonely job!

I am grateful for my parents’ hand in my life and for the gift of having three children who I have had the great honor to parent. The job is often lonely,  thankless and always sacrificial but is the greatest job you will ever accomplish in this life.

So, as I pray for every state in our country – for each governor, mayor and leader – I pray for God’s wisdom and the strength to stay the course as a good parent whose number one priority is to keep the children safe as they encounter all three of these children. I give thanks for the hard decisions they are making. And as children, I pray that we would think about our responses to the decisions and restrictions that have been implemented in our house.  We need to choose to be willing to walk in peace whenever possible – lifting our character choices up to God for His “adjustment” before we step into the role of “whiner, complainer” or “rebel.” Our choices can affect and possibly destroy our house – our family!

Romans 12:18  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (ESV)

 

Backroad Seasons of Life

Trust that the single-focused road ahead will open divinely-delegated assignments on backroads where distractions dissolve and commonality with the voice of the Father become your primary GPS.

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Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Driving through backroads can be intimidating; often there are no signs, lines or enough space for two cars. Our life journey is much like driving the backroads. We come into this world on a single-lane road and go out the same way – alone. The forward movement of our lifetime takes us onto freeways, curves, sharp turns, dead-ends, roundabouts, and sometimes into a ditch or two. Each of these become the map of who we are becoming but our choices at each turn are pivotal.

This amazing road of life brings with it relationships that I am greatly thankful for. It includes an ebb and flow of many individuals – those who expand our lives, teach us life lessons, guide and encourage us, as well as those that take us onto the infinite roundabout. We are allowed to share life with them, even if it is only for a brief time. However, people must come and go; it is part of growing into who God has created us to be.

We seldom drive the full course of our road with the same people, for ultimately, they too, have their own road to navigate. Seasons of life change all of us. With those changes you will suddenly find those you have previously driven with, choosing to take a curve or sharp turn that you are not called to take.

If you know God’s plan, His direction and call on your life this presents a decision. Do I go along with them or do I not? Do I go left or do I go right? During these times, this decision is vital – your ear must be tuned not to your emotions but to the clear voice of Holy Spirit – for this decision may lead you into the ditch, or set you on a freeway. Your choice may require a sacrifice as to who continues on your road. This choice is not easy to make, it may require saying goodbye to travelers you love and have called friends, but the ultimate choice is “what does God want for me?” To ignore the “road closed” sign that stands in your path will drive you to stagnation in a ditch, which is not God’s plan.

Allow the process to move you into all that God has called you too, even if that path places you on a single-lane road for a time. Trust that the single-focused road ahead will open divinely-delegated assignments on backroads where distractions dissolve and commonality with the voice of the Father become your primary GPS.

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.: But they said, “We will not walk in it.”

Keep Out the Weeds

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Weeds, Weeds, Weeds! If I desired to grow only weeds, I would have a garden paradise with no effort. I could choose to let those weeds go, flourish in their own right – many even are pretty as they bloom. But I love flowers, so spring through fall requires a continual effort of picking, pulling, and digging. Keeping my flowerbeds happy and productive proves often to be back and knee breaking work. The effort has it’s own reward though, as my plants and flowers are freed from the weeds that steal their nutrients and space – they begin to flourish and grow into what they were created to be.

Awe…..just like us! Weeds crop up, often unbeknownst to us. We can indulge them, allow them to grow – it’s easier – maybe no one will notice – it is our choice right? Or, we can grab the garden implements and get them out.

Your choices each day can allow the seeds of many types of weeds to be distributed all around you and suddenly you will find those weeds chocking out your life nutrients and crowding out what is important. Many of those choices are good, they don’t look bad, won’t hurt you; but deep down in the roots they are determining how and if you will grow to be all you were created to be.

Pulling, picking and digging those weeds out of your life will take effort – back and knee breaking effort. In fact, to keep the weeds out requires a daily diligence of looking to and listening to the Holy Spirit as He enlightens exactly where the weed needs to be attended.

Thankfully, cleaning out the weeds of wrong choices is well worth the effort and really rather simple. Begin making all your life choices as you abide in His love, choices that speak loudly of your desire to serve Christ and not your own desires. These types of choices will allow the weeding process to become easier. The reward will become apparent as your life begins to flourish and grow – showing forth the beauty of whom you were created to be.

Choose today to keep those weeds out and become His Kingdom garden.

John 15:8-9 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (ESV)

Joshua 24:15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”(NASB)