Wednesday, December 21, 2011
“. . . hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor,” the Bible reads in 2 Timothy 2.
Well, they should.
We live in a neighborhood surrounded by lush green fields where corn, potatoes and sorghum grow. Some farmers across the street harvest alfalfa—I love its fragrance when it’s freshly cut. Other fields yield acres of snowy cotton puffs that soften the desert landscape. But all I reap from any of these crops is the view. It all belongs to the farmer.
Which, for some reason, made me think about raising kids. I guess after giving birth a couple of times, I always think about my two children when I see the word “labor”. The hardest thing I ever labored over was my kids.
By comparison, pregnancy and childbirth were the easy part. We labored for twenty-three years to raise our kids as mature adults, who know God intimately, love others honestly, think for themselves, and have strong characters.
It’s a tall order, I guess. And they aren’t perfect—in part, I think, because they didn’t have perfect examples. But I wasn’t called to make them perfect. I can’t “make” anything. I was called to love, nurture, train, and release them. I did all I knew to do, and then some.
I did not know how to answer all their questions or relieve all their fears. I spoke into their lives anyway. I did not know how to educate them. I did it anyway. I did not know how to heal all their wounds or carry away their sorrows. I held them in my arms and prayed to the One Who could.
And now they labor in their own fields. Between the two of them are three little girls who rely on them for love, protection and guidance. It is no small calling. It’s demanding, confusing, and sometimes frustrating beyond all description. Joy and delight are also in the mix, but that’s the easy part. The hard part is in knowing that failure at some points is not an option—it’s a certainty.
Wouldn’t you think—if you were God—that you would place babies in the care of people who actually knew what they were doing? And wouldn’t you--if you were God—place your Son, a/k/a Savior of the World, in the care of professionals? Adults with experience who wouldn’t learn how to parent on the fly, or wouldn’t be practicing on your kid while they figure it all out? Wouldn’t you?
Well, I would. If I were God.
I’ve been trying to figure out why.
Why does God give the care of innocent, impressionable lives to inexperienced, fledgling adults like us? And how could He take such a risk as to place the infant Messiah in the care of sinners? What is it about becoming parents that changes us?
We don’t learn to be sacrificial until we love someone more than we love our own lives. We may never show our warrior hearts until we’re standing between our children and the enemies who threaten them. And when the time comes to let them go, we’re only able to do it because we’ve already spent years on our knees learning to turn them over to the One Who loves them more than we do.
In the beginning, we don’t know how to do any of these things. The arrival of each miniature monarch demands that we do them anyway. And as we become sacrificial for them, we see the sacrificing heart of God. When life has them backed in a corner and we don’t know how to help, we watch our Warrior God ride in on their storm as we cry out His name. When we look into the nativity and see the only Son of God, we know He already knows what it means to let go of the One He loves.
In the end, it’s all His work—the whole thing. The growing us up along with our kids—He’s the Gardener, cultivating our hearts. When it’s all said and done, He’s the One reproducing Himself in us.
I heard Beth Moore say once that God’s glory is the way He makes Himself recognizable.
It’s a beautiful thing to see. And I’m enjoying the view.