I had a day off! 3 to be precise. Chris had a business trip that I was able to join him for, and believe me, few people have ever been quite as excited to spend hours on end in a quiet hotel room. I did lots of uninterrupted reading, sleeping, eating (so many good restaurants in a row, I’m sure I now have “the gout”), showering, listening to sermons, note-taking, planning, and did I mention it was UNINTERRUPTED! Overall, the trip turned out to be a lesson in God’s particular love and kindness to me. He even encouraged me with part of the liturgy of a podcast series I subscribe to by Doug Wilson. In preparing his congregation for confession of sin, he gave this word:
“Whenever God’s people take up the adventure that he sends them, there are always troubles that arise in the midst of the adventure that make you want to second guess your initial decision. In the midst of the turmoil that you’ve gotten yourself into, it is easy to wonder if you read the fine print carefully enough. One example would be the path that many of you have chosen to follow, bringing many children into the world, caring for them, providing them with a christian education, bringing them to worship every week and doing so in a church service where all the littles spend the entire worship service with us, worshiping together with us. This is no fad. Fads are not this much work. But it might be easy to think that this must have been a fad when I chose to do it. I want to speak a particular word of exhortation and encouragement to you moms, for example, who are doing this. It would be easy for you to focus on all the “management troubles” in your row, you know: the little ones are squirming or making faces at the visitors behind you, or spilling communion wine into the Psalter, or having to be taken out 3 times in the service and brought back in again. You don’t need to be reminded of the drill. It might be happening right this minute. You might be wishing you could listen to this word of encouragement to moms but you are distracted with other duties. But be encouraged in this one thing, all these things are happening (and they really are happening) but they are happening in the presence of the Lord. He delights in them. He wants you here and he wants you here in this kind of shape. Bringing children to Jesus is something that he welcomes and he welcomes all that is entailed in it. We sometimes think He wants us to be more like the officious disciples, frowning at the squirmers, when he actually wants us to be more like the squirmers ourselves. Unless you become as a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. This reminds us of our responsibility to confess our sins… “
I nearly cried. Having many children is an adventure indeed, one that I jumped into with great exuberance much the way Peter jumped onto the water to follow Jesus. It started out as an exciting faith-filled adventure. The trouble is, the wind really whips and the waves are really wet, and my overestimation of self sinks me in a hurry. You may have heard, “after 3 what’s a few more?” Well, each addition is a soul that needs love, mercy, education, food, snuggles, time, and training in godliness. It’s also the world’s condemning eye on your money choices, parenting techniques, and carbon footprint. Perhaps most unnecessary, it’s fellow Christians peering down their nose at your toddling swarm of littles, excusing themselves from helping you out of the bed you made (I’m thankful that I rarely encounter such people, but it does happen on occasion, and to others I know). Like all the best adventure stories, it starts with excitement, quickly gets mired in difficulty and darkness, BUT it does end in glory. Like Peter, the Lord will lift us up. Our faith wavers but the object does not. If you are a mom of lots, be encouraged that Jesus wants you bringing your kids (even the ones with the attention span of a squirrel) to him. If you know a mom of lots, encourage them to fix their gaze on glory, on the coming, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” on Christ the lifter of their heads.