I wrote a post entitled The art of lifting only a few posts ago. But God is still bringing that message to me in my heart, pushing the roots of it further down, watering my conscience and turning my eyes toward Him.
Last night, I was listening to a broadcast of a lesson by the well-known pastor Chuck Smith when he shared a story that got my attention. When he was seven months in the womb, his little sister had, by all accounts, died. One day, after battling spinal meningitis for some time, the virus sent her little body into violent convulsions and when they ceased, she was no longer breathing. Somehow, her mother knew she was beyond medical care at that point since the doctors had done as much as possible for her. So she whisked her daughter's limp body up the street to a church. Chuck Smith implied their family was, at the time, unfamiliar with church and said of his mother, "But she knew they knew how to pray".
His pregnant mother, bearing three lives at that moment, entered pleading, sobbing, crumbling. Please help my baby! Please help my baby!
The pastor said to her, "Young lady. Take your eyes off your child and put them onto Jesus."
Think about that. If your baby wasn't breathing, would you take your eyes off him or her for even a split second? What a devastating request to a mother.
And yet so absolutely critical at every crossroad. At every pressure point. Every sickness, injustice, accomplishment, argument. I need to take my eyes off my child and keep them on Jesus.
What I realize is that my child can actually be a distraction from what is really going on. My consuming love for him or her has a way of blinding me to God's story for them. And God's story for me, for that matter. I start to feel panicky about all kinds of things, especially with my first-born, since every new stage feels like totally uncharted territory. I have a feeling my parenting can reach an obsessive level where I begin to miss the whole point.
At any given time, I can dwell on whether they are being good friends, choosing good friends, being accepted at school, being seen for their uniqueness and talents. Am I crushing their spirits or being too lenient? Am I missing opportunities, or smothering them with words?
I forget the goal of my job as a mother is not perfection in every area. And I live like it is, which means I believe it. I live like inching towards balance and harmony is our end, and I struggle to defeat this belief all the time. I am not called to solve all their problems and heal all their hurts. I am not called to pursue perfection. I am called to follow. When I follow the Lord's leading, tuning into His plans for my day - every day - then I will end up solving some problems and healing some hurts, of course. But He is in charge, and knows there is a lot more going on under the surface layer I'm trying to manage. Ultimately I am a character in the story He's writing, not the other way around.
And that is an abstract way of saying that He may have different ideas about our lives than we do. Maybe my child's struggle that I just can't fix will result in a lesson he or she needs to learn down the line. And maybe, the constant grappling with my own failures and shortcomings has a point too. My lack of perfection should keep me following closely behind the one who has no lack. But does it?
That's where the fork in the road lies: Do my failures urge me to ramp up and just try harder, or do they bring me down to humbly accept my place of dependence on the Lord? I am not wallowing in guilt. I'm saying I can't do this alone. I exhaust myself when I walk down the road of just trying harder. At this moment, I'm backtracking to the fork, and taking the other route. It most definitely has a happier, healthier destination for myself and my kids. I need to take my eyes off my child and put them on Jesus. He is the only one who can bring me peace and wisdom in every circumstance.
So Chuck Smith's sister lived. God chose to answer their prayers with a "Yes," bringing breath back into her lungs and opening her eyes. What an exciting chapter of their stories, all revolving around a mother at her end. A mother who was helpless, and chose to depend on the Lord's strength.
I have to ask myself, How can I expect God to be at work in my life when I often live as if He needs my help? It is always when we come to the end of ourselves that everything gets still, space is created, and the Lord has room to act. He normally won't barge in. It's like He says, "Looks like you've got everything under control. I'll just sit back and be here, just in case you really don't. (And you REALLY don't)."
He will wait, patiently wait, for me to remember I can't do it alone. When I start in with the end-of-myself Please help... prayers, he lifts my head. He looks me in the eyes, smiles, and says, "Daughter, I thought you'd never ask."