When we look carefully, really carefully, at the world around us, what is it that we are really, truly seeing?
Are we so wrapped up in the problems inside our homes and our marriages and our families to see anything beyond the blurred vision of heartache and shattered dreams? Or are we using our homes as a sanctuary against the troubles we face everywhere else, a safe refuge that gives physical walls to the mental ones we need for protection?
Are we worried about the crabgrass creeping into our manicured lawns or the seemingly picture-perfectness of someone else’s life? Or is it that the crabgrass is just something we try to control because there’s little else we feel we have power over?
Are we absorbed in just surviving from day to day, work to home to play and in between? Or are we making ourselves excessively busy to escape from something else?
Are we able to spend the time to see God in the details, the little things that remind us that He is present with us, regardless of what else we are seeing? Or are we hiding from God, embarrassed by choices we have made or how much time we have spent really far away from Him?
Are we overwhelmed by the vast abyss of pain and suffering in our communities and our world, unsure of how to even listen to the news and our neighbors, for fear of then needing to bear more burdens on already crushed shoulders? Or are we desperately seeking a way to make a difference in someone else’s life or in our own lives, but utterly overwhelmed with the task at hand and unable or unwilling to seek help?
So are our children.
And our burdens become their burdens, whether or not we try to shelter them from such weighty loads.
Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees. In other words, we cannot find God in the midst of everything else.
It is so easy to get caught up in the hard stuff of our lives that we forget that our hard stuff spills out onto the other people nearest and dearest to us.
Especially on the ones who don’t realize that it isn’t their fault. That don’t know how to deal with adult issues in a child-size brain. That don’t understand where to look for help and for comfort when the people they most love and respect are seeking the same things too.
And that is when we need to grow our own faith as we grow up our children as future leaders in faith.
No one ever claimed that life is easy or that parenting is uncomplicated or that faith is effortless.
Should it be simple and easy?
Some days I think it absolutely should be. And other days I am so aware that, because life is hard and situations are confusing, I cannot survive it all without depending entirely on God.
Because when the roller coaster of trials and triumphs isn’t racing at breakneck speed and it has reached a plateau, that is exactly when I’m most comfortable and thus most self-reliant.
And that allows me to drift away. Maybe unintentionally. Maybe unknowingly. Maybe unwillingly. But it happens.
Until the next rise to high heights that guarantee praise and gratitude for God’s blessings. Or the next plunge into dark depths that warrant tears and pleas for God’s mercy. Over and over, the cycle continues. Even when it shouldn’t.
But sometimes I think that it is good for our children to be allowed to ride the roller coaster with us. To talk about what is happening, from the great heights, the easy plateaus, and the low valleys. And to figure out together how to navigate all of those places with God.
Because we should search together for stories like Abraham and Job, Moses and Elijah, David and Daniel, Noah and Joseph, Esther and Ruth and Naomi, and Jesus.
For proof of God’s infinite wisdom and providence, even in times of serious doubt and painful suffering and unbelievable promises.
For chapters like Romans 4 and Galatians 3 and Hebrews 11 and so many others that offer evidence of God’s hands at work in even the most desolate and desperate of times.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible… [The ancients] were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:1-3, 39-40, NIV).
The thing is that there is still more to the story. More to the hardships and more to the easy moments.
What if we just stayed on the ride until its completion, rather trying to switch seats and jump out when it slowed down? What if it was all one huge lesson to learn?
Faith, by Hebrews 11:1’s very definition, is being filled with and certain about where our hope lies and with Whom.
Faith is relying upon and being sure about He who cannot be seen, unless we know how He works.
Faith is less about the evidence God repeatedly supplies us, even when it doesn’t resemble what WE wanted or what WE envisioned, and faith is more about the knowledge and understanding and appreciation that God is evident.
And when we need more proof, because if you’re like me, you’re a bit of a doubting Thomas and you want to know for certain that Jesus really did what He did and that God really works how He works… we have an entire Book of proof. The Bible, that time and again pours words over words in explanation of God’s hands at work in ways mere humans cannot fathom and will not always see. The people, who time and again were used in spite of themselves and because of themselves to walk lives of examples just for us to learn of God’s incredible insight and wisdom and glory.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV)
We are, and have always been, surrounded by evidence of God. Proof of His presence is everywhere, when we look for it and recognize it. Sometimes it just takes a little more work to find it.
And one of the first places we can look is within ourselves to uncover His hands’ work that is molding us in grace and mercy and love. Where else can you find God’s hands working in your life, in the hardships and the joys?
What better gift can we offer our children than to help them grow faith in the Father and how to find it in their daily lives, in their trials and triumphs too?
And how better to show them this than to walk the journey with them as we discover Him too?
Looking for more from our growing future leaders series?
Click here to read raising up integrity.
Click here to read raising up grace.
Click here to read raising up humility.
Click here to read raising up honesty.