Raising four kids, born in a five year span of time, is my best bet for receiving an award. I have not decided if it is an award for courage and bravery or merely a survivor award. But, I do feel an award is appropriate. As I might consider an acceptance speech for such an award, it would be full of the mantras I repeated over and over again to each of my children from the time they were finally in pull-ups all the way through to them having their own families to raise. I have heard my self say these same statements under my breath to no one in particular during the year 2020 with a world wide pandemic, political unrest and upheaval, and the rise of the most heartbreaking pieces of humanity with human trafficking, opioid abuse and homelessness.
What is it about us that we default to viewing ourselves as pitiful creatures? We see ourselves as so pitiful that no one else but a merciful God could ever want us? My niece adopted a cat from the humane society. This cat was really ugly. It had a broken tail, it was way to skinny and had gunk running out of its eyes. She couldn’t take her eyes off that pitiful creature. She knew if she didn’t take the cat that it would likely go un adopted and have to be euthanized. She rescued that creature. Now, it is true that God rescues us too but, not because we are pitiful. He rescues us because He created us with such beauty and splendor that He can't stand the thought of not having us. He desires eternity with each of us. It is hard to even say it outloud, but, He is wowed by ME! He not only finds me attractive but I am one of a kind! I was created to perfectly exist in a deep abiding love relationship with the God of the universe!!! I AM CHOSEN, LOVED, PURSUED, WORTH FIGHTING FOR, BEAUTIFUL, TALENTED, AND WORTHY.
If I were Satan and I wanted to stop Life in Christ for Every Alaskan and the World Beyond, I would go after you, a child of God, and disable your ability to make disciples. This would be my strategy:
1. I would convince you that you had nothing to offer. I would whisper in your ear that you are not enough. Your life is too messy. You have too far to go and your life is not worth imitating. I would skew the Word of God that tells you that you are more than enough in Christ Jesus. His best, or the miraculous stuff, is reserved for better people. Jesus can’t fully live His life through you. You can only settle for His pity. You are a great spectator, accept it. Never reproduce life change, you can’t, you simply are not enough.
4. I would tell that you don’t need help. I would love for you to see yourself as capable, independent and self-assured. You have what it takes to get the job done…all by yourself. I would even go as far and making your first attempts at making disciples and leading others to Jesus so easy that you would believe your own press. I would tell you that God needs you. You are special and if you don’t do it, who will? I wouldn't want you to believe the truth that you can do nothing without Jesus. I would hide your need from you at all cost.
5. I would make you so afraid of the corrupt world that you retreat into a Christian bubble. I would isolate you into little pockets with other followers, so afraid of corruption that you would never mingle with the lost. I would make you paranoid that your kids will be sucked away into corruption. I would want you see the lost as evil instead of those God has made in His image. I would exchange your heart of compassion and grace and give you a heart of judgment.
The truth is this; I would only need to harm you in one of these five areas. If I can succeed in just one little area, you won’t reproduce yourself in the lives of others. Your children won’t see the true gospel incarnated in you and your church won’t ever get to benefit from the gifts God gave you to build up the body. You won’t experience the full joy of being on mission with the God of the universe. You will live small.
2. Define your worth as a parent through your child's successes and failures.
f they fail, tell yourself that it is because you are a failure as a parent. If they succeed, well...you are amazing at parenting. If your success and failure is tied to the success and failure of your children, it will make you controlling. Kids with controlling parents rebel. It might be outward open rebelling or the inward quiet rebellion. But rebellion is rebellion, and they will resent you as a parent.
3. Make spiritual community optional.
This is an easy one. First, in your own life, make spiritual community less of a priority. Choose your own individual spiritual expression, like Bible studies, over participating in the family of God as a family. I would urge you to blame the church for becoming irrelevant and no longer enticing to you or your family. Complain that your needs are not met in the way you would like for them to be met. Your kids will get the message that the church is there to serve them. If they don't feel serve, they don't need to engage. Continually criticize church leadership in front of your kids. Trust me, nothing drives them away faster.
4. Believe that Your child is special.
They always deserve a prize. Shower them with unwarranted praise. Always take their side in any conflict. Continually reinforce that the current conflicts are not their fault. It's always the other persons problem.