Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
"Come my children, listen to me." Yes, that is my earnest plea today, though it so often feels ignored. It has been that kind of day, not unbelievably painful, not unforgettably sweet, but the usual mix of strains and stresses and everyday routine.
School started late, and took extra long while Hayden whined and yawned instead of copying two sentences into his Bible notebook. Donny threw fits when I gave him yogurt instead of oatmeal for lunch, when I told him to go get in the van (there are BEES outside, you know!), and when we sat on the couch instead of his bed to read Bible. And dear Lydia has learned the fine art of screaming whenever someone else dares to stand on the kitchen stool. "Listen to me" seems a gross understatement of the lectures I want to hurl at these seemingly deaf ears.
After a long morning, though, we take a quick trip to the furniture store to check out potential bunk beds, and we stay a few minutes longer to enjoy the free candy and ice cream. When we get home, I insist (despite the protests of the two eldest) that God gave us a beautiful day, and WE ARE GOING TO PLAY OUTSIDE. Amazingly, within minutes they are busy with sticks and rocks and pretend adventures, and I have a few moments to observe, reflect, and (almost) relax.
I feel the breeze of a surprisingly pleasant afternoon and see my children, for a few moments at least, interacting without anyone screaming or whining or executing violence. I realize that somewhere between the sibling battles and the pencils thrown in anger and Braxton-Hicks contractions and Lydia's 4.5 baths (milk spills, yogurt lunch, and a couple potty accidents will do that)...yes, somewhere in there is something I don't want to miss.
The days are long, but yet so fleeting. Lydia is no longer a baby; she is sleeping in her brothers' room and asserting herself with an ever-expanding and impressive vocabulary. Donny lost his third tooth a few weeks ago - apparently Hayden threw laundry at his face, knocking out the tooth which was finally located at the bottom of the laundry basket. He has another loose one, but won't let anyone wiggle it. Hayden is not yet five years old, but is reading and doing math at a level that is advanced even for his six year old brother. Even this new baby, whose growth has been mostly ignored due to many distractions, is bulging out in a gently ungraceful reminder that soon there will be one more little person to love.
I am still outside, with one eye keeping watch on the children and the other skimming a magazine. As I flip through the latest issue of The Old Schoolhouse, my eyes fall on the word "missionary." I wonder, as Don and I have periodically discussed, if maybe we should be missionaries somewhere. I think of our collective love for children and orphans, and my particular heart for babies. If we could just get out of this house and go somewhere, I muse, maybe we could really, finally, do something for God.
The thoughts are fleeting as I quickly realize, I AM doing something for God. This is the mission field God gave me: not to start a Haitian orphanage or bring the Gospel to the streets of Calcutta, but to love the people in my own home. To bring the Gospel to them by reading the Word, explaining the Word, and living the Word. To be patient in correcting stubborn hearts, gentle in teaching the truth, sincere in making my life an example of Christ's love. To be joyful always, regardless of what discouragement Satan may throw my way. This is God's mission for me. Foreign countries, preaching in the streets, and even adoption may sound bigger and more glamorous than everyday motherhood, but the lost souls who need me the most are right here, digging dirt in my yard and spilling food at my table.
The evening is no more idyllic than the morning, as even such simple-sounding tasks as reading the Bible become mountains of challenge when three wiggly children are involved. Fatigue sets in, and my heart aches to see these little ones, who can recite Scripture so effortlessly and belt out songs of praise, demonstrate no love for others, no faithful obedience, no fruit in their small lives. Easily, these observations lead to discouragement. But instead of despairing, I must reach out my arms to the child who won't keep his hands out of my hair, explain the truth to him, discipline with patience, and reassure him of my love. It isn't glamorous; there are no sudden changes of heart to inspire me; no outward encouragement to reassure me that I am doing what is right. Yet I thank God that He has given me this knowledge: I am on a mission from Him. Winning souls to Christ is no easy task. Training warriors for His army requires diligence and longsuffering. I must not just preach, but practice, the proper fear of the Lord. I must love others the way He first loved me. And the place He has called me to do it is here, in my yard, at my table, on my couch, and as I fervently pray over three little beds each night.
To read more about motherhood as a mission field, I highly recommend this post from Desiring God. Be encouraged in your mission to teach your children the fear of the Lord!