Last week we had the opportunity to hear David Platt speak in person. He was doing an event here with Crossway books and was speaking on some of the topics covered in his new book, Follow Me. It was also Steve’s birthday, and taking advantage of one of Ellen’s last few days here, we went into Dubai early and had a nice dinner and some precious couple time. Those moments of uninterrupted conversation are few and far between!
He talked about all the times in the NT when Jesus said “follow me”. He talked about sacrifice. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and follow him, and this was a hard saying because he was quite wealthy. Jesus may not call us to give up money, or family, or our house, or our country, or our lifestyle, but sometimes, it’s all of those things.
A couple of the things he said stuck with me. He said:
The cost of following Jesus is great. But the cost of not following him is much, much higher.
If you can trust him to save you, you can trust him to lead you. And you can trust him to satisfy.
As with a lot of messages that talk about the gospel call, he didn’t particularly address mothers, especially those with small children. There is a certain category that we (and a few others, like those caring for elderly, etc) fall into that looks a little different than your average single, or parent of older kids, or even dads of young kids. It still applies, but it looks different. (The beauty of the Gospel, it’s universal!)
I guess I should back up for a moment. A few weeks ago I started this other blog post. I typed, “I’m writing this as I struggle to stay awake in the afternoon slump. It’s after lunch on a church day, and after getting out the door by 8am and a long drive, and a late lunch, and off naps for the kids, it’s just a tiring day. Nothing new as a mom of three!
But it’s hard. It’s hard to struggle through tiredness all the time. It’s a challenge to think those deep thoughts I used to be capable of. It’s hard to get out of “to do” mode and pray with my whole heart, especially without falling asleep. I remember with some longing the hours of uninterrupted journaling, prayer, worship, meditation, insert your favorite spiritual activity here.”
I have been discontent. I have felt tired with my own apathy, and seeming inability to reach any kind of deep “spiritual level”. I tell myself that “every activity should be spiritual”, and I believe that! But I don’t quite know how to live that out. I get bogged down in the laundry, the piling dishes, the kids’ bickering, and I forget about God. And that makes me feel guilty! I love my Lord and hate the selfishness and lack of love and belief that shows up on a daily basis.
I was talking to Steve about this a few weeks ago. Sometimes I complain that he’s not a good listener, but when it REALLY matters, when it’s a really deep thing I’m going through, he never fails. I told him that my time spent in the Word seemed so dry. The constant interruptions and inability to get into that “spiritual feeling” made me feel like a failure. I never pray, I told him. Not like I want to. And you know what he reminded me? God’s word never returns void. It is alive and powerful. And it doesn’t matter how it feels, I must believe that! I must trust that those words and promises are true. And so I did. I keep on, even when it feels so dry.
So struggling with all this, and lots of little every day things, daily working out my salvation with fear and trembling, I sat under DP’s teaching. Talking about sacrifice and The Call. And I got this beautiful picture from the Lord, on this beautiful evening he had given us.
He showed me that right now, my sacrifice for him is my kids. Now, that sounds bad, so hear me out! I don’t resent my kids, and don’t blame them for not being able to have a “good quiet time”. But during this season in my life, I am giving up the ability to have uninterrupted time with the Lord. This is my reasonable sacrifice. And I mean that in a positive way! God showed me how it was a joyful thing. All of a sudden I realized (almost with excitement), I have something to give away! I have something to lay on the alter for my God! This is how I can serve him, this is how I can show my love and devotion! I can recognize the “difficulties” in my life right now, and thank God for them. I can say “here is what I want, Lord, and I can’t seem to have it, so I give it to you!”
I don’t know if I’m getting it across well, the peace and joy that his brought to my heart. But as I left that night, I just couldn’t stop repeating to myself over and over, with a quiet little smile, “this is my sacrifice”.
We are all called to give up something. It’s the nature of the Gospel. But it’s worth it!! Jesus is worth it. I feel that I am coming out of a dry place and seeing patches of green once again.
I sat and read the Bible this morning and it took me 30 minutes to read a few short chapters. I broke up fights, answered questions, buttoned princess dresses, and was a mom. And I didn’t have some great epiphany. :) But as I read the Words, I saw my heart change. I went from cranky, angry with my circumstances, and sleep deprived to peaceful, resting in the Lord, and sleep deprived. My heart changed!! Wow! And that is the every day miracle of the working of the Holy Spirit.
I am encouraged. I am blessed. I am so grateful to our God who cares so deeply, even if my sacrifice is doing laundry and making sandwiches with a cheerful heart. :)