This past week, 2 of my 4 children, have been at each others throats. To the death. To their own deaths, to my death and to all the deaths. All the veins are popping. All the teeth are gnashing. All the fists are clenching. The feet are stomping and the tempers are full tempering. All the rage is raging, what ever was fair, is now forever unfair. They want returns on all their purchases, they are filing all the lawsuits, they are rocking their own votes and they demand the rewriting of every law, as it is their own civil right, and they demand their justice be served from the highest most supremiest court. They are exhausted from all the debating and proving.
And they yell to me,
as if I care, as if I am in control or withholding all of their freedoms from them. Literally screaming my name, as the sweat drips off their brow, as if I will come to their rescue with the key to the cell and FINALLY put this, this, whoever this supposed person claiming to be their sibling is, in jail. For the eternity. Then, and only then will they finally be freed, from the one who’s fault truly lies at the root every wrong choice they have ever made, and they can freely live the perfect life they were honestly meant to live, in complete harmony and bliss.
I guess one of the perks being a Christ follower who has been blessed with children, is that if we are humble enough, we get to see a direct, perfect, intentional image of our own iniquities, reflected in their behavior. The bummer for us is that we are called to yield to Gods spirit before we speak to them, when their iniquities are raging. I say this is a bummer, because it is hard. No, hard is not the right word. Ambitious. Arduous. Burdensome. Challenging. Crucial. Demanding. Laborious. Onerous. Painful. Problematic. Severe. Strenuous. Yes, these words might better describe this calling.
For me, I now know, that the hard stuff is what God uses to strengthen His people, and to draw people who do not know Him, near to Him. I have spent a lot of time in my life fighting against, raging against, blaming everyone, using excuses, doing whatever it takes to shift or delay myself from actually having to go through the “hard stuff”.
We are all born with this deep desire to serve ourselves. The desire is so deep rooted that we view it as a freedom, if you will. Because we are all born with this freedom, it is the foundation for everything we do. It is what drives our ability to find food and shelter, to protect ourselves from danger, to learn more, to succeed more, to gain knowledge. We grow up learning to do everything we can to control our environment so that our selves are comfortable, successful. The problem is that this self serving lifestyle, is in fact a lie.
You see, fighting for ourselves is not a freedom at all, it is in fact a disease. Websters dictionary defines a disease as “any harmful, depraved, or morbid condition, as of the mind or society”. This “disease of self” can be very dangerous once it senses an attack. There is a “natural” uprising. We “naturally” revolt. We “naturally” defend. We “naturally” rebel, because we dont want anyone or anything to take this “freedom” of serving our selves away from us. I deserve. I eanred it. It’s mine. We believe freedom is a state of being able to do whatever I want whenever I want. We have literally convinced ourselves that freedom is being able to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We have convinced ourselves that as long as I am not “harming” anyone, then I should be free to do what I want. As if this life, here on Earth, is the only thing at risk.
I lived more than half my life doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And for a while it did feel like freedom, until the lie started to unravel my life. I remember thinking my life was a prison. I was stuck, with me. There was no escaping me. My upbringing was what defined me, my past would always foreshadow me. It is a dark place to live, in that prison. I have met a lot of other fellow “cell mates”.
Enter Christ. Where do I start about Christ? To be honest, I don’t ever know where to start, about Christ. Testimony, sure. The Bridge Illustration, Okay. An invite to church, why not.
Here’s what I know; There were empty rooms in my life, that before I knew that God created me on purpose, would have remained forever empty. Those rooms were filled with pains, scars, irreversible consequences. Filled with bitterness, denial, rage, unforgiveness, hatred, fear, embarrassment. I had convinced myself that, that was it. These rooms will forever be this way. I will take them to my grave.
Now that I know God, those rooms have been filled with grace, forgiveness, humility, joy, love, peace, affirmation, purpose, hope, value, worth, light. But most of all, true freedom.
You see when my kids are at each others throats, I don’t have to argue them into believing that they, on their own, should be good. They are not good. They are sinners. As am I.
But God has given us the gift of freedom, we are no longer slaves to sin, in Him. We are free to yield to His voice, in our heart, to direct our words and our behavior towards them. We are free to teach them that on their own, they can do nothing apart from Christ, John 15:5. We can listen to them argue and know that our God is desperate to hear them reconcile. We can choose to teach them that Christ gives them the power to put themselves aside, and that serving their enemies and humbling themselves is true freedom.
This is why its hard. Nobody likes to learn the hard way.
We need to see in our children, the opportunity for us to teach them the truth about who they are, who they dont have to pretend to be, and who they are in Christ.
So the next time your kids are at each others throats, dont do what’s easy. Dont run and hide in your closet with a bottle of wine. Don’t jump in the ring like some has been WWE wrestler, trying to make a come back. Just take a minute to remember the grace, the undeserved grace that Christ poured out on you out of desperation to be with you for eternity. And show mercy and grace to your kids. They are dirty rotten little sinners, just their mom and dad. It’s not their fault. Direct them well, as your Father directs you, Pointing them to scripture and the grace and mercy of Christ.