I’m continuing the series When Obedience to God is Costly this week. Thanks for joining in!
When Benny and I had kids we knew we wanted to bring both the blessings and lessons of growing up into our new family. All four of our parents were believers who did their best to raise good kids. Benny’s parents may have felt like failures when their adolescent son ended up with a rap sheet that landed him on three years probation. My parents, however, didn’t know that their outwardly compliant and obedient daughter’s heart was just as motivationally compromising as kids like Benny who did “bad” things.
Benny and I wrongly and immaturely thought our worldly ways might be directly traced back to parenting. Both sets of our parents admitted mistakes on their part and parenting does matter. But the main reason why we were compromisers is because we weren’t governing our own sinful desires and decisions, which can’t be blamed on Dad and Mom.
When our kids started entering the teen years and we saw some of the same scary temptations and choices we experienced at their age, we were confused. We thought a closer adherence to biblical parenting practices, including helping our kids deal with things at a heart level rather than focusing on mere outward behavior, would protect them from the foolish and selfish choices of their parents.
We were wrong. Gratefully, our teens who did some of the same things as we did are now grown ups who love God and are attempting to raise their children to love Him, too. Of course, we still have a stray “Mom and Dad, did I ever tell you about the time I…” conversations, but unless a big one is still coming no one broke into houses or stole cars like their dad. Yet some of what they walked through was heartbreaking and forced us to admit our wrong “if we do this, God will do that” thinking.
Even after decades of detecting the danger of too-closely relating what we do to what only God can do (like soften, monitor and change a child’s heart!) I still subtly expect that obeying God should result in tangible blessings.
Take the sale of our house. Those of you who have visited this blog over the past year know that Benny starting a new church (which would require the second move in two years) at our age wasn’t on my bucket list. The area where Redeemer Church is now located isn’t where I would prefer to live. Over the past year, though, God has faithfully moved my heart to not just accept that we will have to move, but to actually look forward to it!
As we started researching affordable housing there, my heart was tested. One of the wonderful things about Lake Nona, Florida is that for years it was nothing but farmland. I hoped we would be able to have a roomy piece of property on a country road where I could have a nice garden, room for the grandchildren to run and (shhhh, don’t tell Benny) maybe another dog and some chickens. Oh, and a house of some kind. The rest of the area, however, is so new that most of the communities are filled with cookie cutter houses close enough to see your neighbors brushing their teeth — and where the cops would be called if you have chickens.
My silent whining started bothering me. Why did I think that my willingness to obey the Lord; to bless my husband by willingly doing the hard thing of starting all over in a new church; to leave a home I’ve come to love in the two years since we bought it; and to all this “at my age” would result in a garden and running room for little ones?
Obeying God led Jesus down a road of astounding joys (imagine the thrill of seeing Lazarus walk out of the tomb that day!) and agonizing suffering as He took our place on the cross. As those for whom He died to make us like Him, what makes us think the life He purchased would not include similarly sacrificial obedience to the Father?
Elizabeth Elliot said, “God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.”
I’m asking myself if my change of heart had more to do with thinking another dog and a treehouse for the grandchildren was in my future rather than the pure joy of obeying God?
It’s looking more like I’ll be keeping the blinds closed to avoid watching my neighbor brush their teeth. Until His will is clear, I’m asking Him to help me to find fresh pleasure in the comparitively small sacrifices of following the One who laid down His very life for me.
P.S. On Friday we learned our home of choice had a contract accepted that very morning. The road to a new home continues — and the test is revealing some not-so-good things in my heart. I’ll keep you posted.