Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 10: In the Grip of Grace ... He Makes Me Lie Down

Welcome  to Day 10 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 

My heart is to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him. 

Today’s Parenting Pointer

In the Grip of Grace

How much thought do you give to grace?  Dallas Willard used to say us Christians burn it up like rocket fuel.  We may think of grace when we think of salvation – saving grace.  Certainly it is by grace we have been saved, through faith.  This gift of God – this lavish, undeserved blessing – this God come down, stooping low to save us from ourselves only to bring us near to Him – is unthinkable goodness. 

Beyond salvation, grace is a daily necessity in our lives.  Grace is the means by which we offer more than what is deserved.  It isn’t just mercy (not to belittle mercy) as mercy says, “I won’t give you what you deserve.”  Grace says, “I’ll give you goodness you don’t deserve – and that in abundance!” 

In our parenting we need to extend grace.  You may be thinking of your children at this moment, but I want to step back before that and talk to you as a mom.  Every single day we are going to do or say something we wish we hadn’t or not do or not say something that we wish we had ... like the day I called my oldest son a poo-head.  I was so beyond myself that I blurted out an insult that you would regrettably hear children exchange on the playground.  I said it.  I couldn’t take it back.  We both just stared at one another in shock.  Then he started.  He started giggling and giggling and I joined in and grace pervaded our souls.  Today he’ll say with a glint in his eye, “Remember Mom, you called me a poo-head once.”  It’s his way of reminding me of my clay feet.  But it also reminds us I mess up and I was forgiven – by God and by my son.   


And beyond those two important sources of forgiveness I wrestled a bit, despite the ease with which my son let go of my faux pas.  I couldn’t forgive myself.  I wanted to be this epic, amazing {read “perfect”} mom.  I mean, that’s how I was going to ensure that my kids turned out to be epic and amazing {again, read “perfect”}, right?  Instead of becoming perfect (as if that were an option) I’ve learned this other road – the road paved by grace that leads to grace.  John said it in his gospel, “for of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”  Grace upon grace. 

It seems just way too lavish.  Charles Swindoll (in his book Grace Awakening) said if grace doesn’t seem risky enough to tempt some to take advantage of it, we aren’t quite preaching the gospel of grace.  It is just. that. radical.   

You may have a list of things you wish you hadn’t said or done as a mom – those regrets that nag at you as you feel sure you have ruined your kids for life.  You may wish you had done things or said things you haven’t.  Grace is the gift extended to you, at a great price, but without cost to you.  Jesus died to extend you grace and it is free – It will never be earned by you.  You can’t “pay Him back.”  Knowing the cost of grace helps us never cheapen it by take advantage of the gift of the Cross.   

On the other hand, it is freely given in love – for you specifically in these moments when you know you’ve blown it.  Because where sin abounds grace abounds ALL THE MORE.  You just can’t outgive God.  He went to great lengths to give you freedom from guilt and shame.  Extend yourself the grace He freely bestows on you. 

And then, in turn, look at those children of yours.  They sure need grace.  Like you, they sin.  Like you they can’t escape their own failings.  You have the privilege of being the conduit of grace in their lives.  I’m not saying we lay down and say, “Oh, It’s okay!” whenever they mess up or misbehave.  That’s not grace, that’s license.  What I am saying is that you teach them that we all sin and fall short of God’s standards, but He is so lavish in love that He came to pay the price for you and for them.  We need Him every hour, as the old hymn says.  Point them to Jesus as you give them instruction and help them learn how to respond to the lavish grace poured out to them by Jesus – and through you.  Receive grace.  Extend grace. 

Be Refreshed

He Makes Me Lie Down

I’m aType-A, driven sort of person.  I know how to sit still, I promise, but honestly even when I’m sitting, it has taken me years to learn how to settle.  As I mentioned yesterday I had been going through the study A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 and when we got to the second verse I was in awe.  You know how sometimes it feels like God rewrote the Bible since the last time you read a given passage?  This verse hit me right where I live:
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside the still waters

My friend and I were talking through what we gained from our study and she brought up this thought, “God has to make me lie down.”  I didn’t know much about sheep before studying this Psalm more in depth.  I knew they were “dumb” (since you hear that in sermons all the time) and that they come to their shepherd’s voice (again, sermons).  I had even witnessed sheep coming to their shepherd before when I visited my mom in Montana.  We were all perched on this fence calling the sheep, baa-ing and making fools of ourselves and then my mom’s friend, the shepherdess walks in and says one word and the entire flock turned as if on cue and trotted toward her.   

I also had experienced the distress of a ewe when her young lamb was away from her.  We live in an area where sheep herding is still alive and well on the outskirts of our town.  When my son was young we went with some friends to see the new lambs.  This one mama sheep got separated from her lamb who had come near to us and was allowing us to hold him.  She just stood still not knowing what to do with herself, bleating uncontrollably.  She was obviously unable to take charge of her own life and her children.  Her worry and distress overwhelmed her.  Sound familiar? 

What struck me most of all in this passage and the description in the book we were reading was just that.  The sheep need the Shepherd to take away their anxiety so that they can lie down in green pastures.  The Shepherd has to make them lie down.  Otherwise they will be too wound up to rest. 

Do you feel that way?  Do you feel so wound up and anxious that you can’t lie down in the provision God has for you?  He says He will lead you beside the still waters.  Sheep will drink from all kinds of water if they aren’t led.  We are the same.  We will take in things which aren’t good for us and spend our time on things which are not satisfying.  We need our Shepherd to help us know where to get our refreshment. 

Just today spend some time giving God your anxiety, your restlessness, your fear, your perfectionism, your worries over your children and all the other things which keep you from lying down in His provision.  Confess to Him that you need Him to make you lie down.  Then allow Him to lead you – to lead you to places of refreshment as He promises to do. 

I pray you found a breath of fresh air here and a moment to reflect and recharge your battery.  If you have missed any of this series, all the posts can be found here.  Come back any or every day this month to get another Parenting Pointer and Mommy Refresher.  And, as always, I do love hearing from you.  Let me know how I can pray for you or if something I wrote here touched you. 

photo of our family (edited by me) originally taken by the oh-so-talented Patrick Ang; photo of sheep courtesy of Wikipedia and; photo of cross courtesy of Bing Images and edited by me

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