“Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” – Luke 23:25-28
So, according to Jesus, this is the key to life. The greatest commandment. But what does it mean? How can I love God with everything I have? As a good friend reiterated to me a couple of days ago, “You can’t give an “A” effort to everything.” And she is right.
So how does my devotion to God work with family, work, school, and all the other things that are important in life? I don’t have all the answers, but I do think I took a step closer to understanding this week.
First of all, I work for a church. I have the great privilege of working with a whole group of holy people, of which I am the very, very least. But their influence is good on me. So you would think I would be on top of things spiritually, but to tell the truth, I am not.
For Lent, our church offered a do-at-home, Bible study for families. I admit, my family has never done an actual Bible study together (CHURCH WORKER ALERT!). My only consolation is that possibly some of my dentist friends have children with cavities. But my spiritual failings as a parent are not at issue here (maybe??.)
So we decided we would be faithful and do the study together. It is on the Gospel of John. Things started off wonderfully. We sat down after dinner Sunday night, opened our Bibles, and one by one, began to read chapter 1.
It was amazing! I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to sit there, for over an hour, with my children and listening to their thoughts about these sacred words. I was inspired by their depth of knowledge (Thank you Sunday School Teachers!) and their eagerness to be there. I was so thankful that we were doing this together. Surely this was something that would be easy to continue for the remainder of Lent, for we all enjoyed it so. This would be great!
Then Monday happened. We got up, rushed to work and school, ran home, started laundry, started dinner, started homework…. And as we were cleaning up for dinner, the thought occurred to me, “We all feel terrible, it’s late, we will just skip tonight and catch up tomorrow.” The truth was, allergies and some other issues had hit us hard that day, and we did all feel pretty much like doing nothing. Plainly put, I was just weary and in a bad mood. It wouldn’t hurt to miss a night. We will catch up.
However, my ailing children had other ideas. We were going to do that Bible study, sniffles, sneezes, coughs and everything else! I am ashamed to say that I tried to talk them out of it; reasoning that we all needed our rest. They would have none of it.
So out the Bibles came. We read, prayed and discussed. And it was wonderful. It renewed my soul. I had fun with my kids, again listening to what their thoughts were. We held hands and prayed. We not only prayed for our own needs, but some of those we knew of in the community. It was the best thing I had done in a long time. And I don’t know if the kids enjoyed it so much because we were doing something together, or if they were just that excited to read the Bible. But either way, their enthusiasm was contagious. I was thankful they had insisted. Because, with just a little resistance, I was more than willing to let that opportunity pass us by.
So, what does the scripture above mean for me? By not allowing ourselves to focus on the negative, (We can’t because….,) we were blessed. By staying with the positive (We will, regardless…) my soul was refreshed with new life. It wasn’t easy, it took what seemed to be the last of my strength that day. But Jesus was there and He was faithful. I think I am beginning to see…
Peace my friends.
Most gracious Lord,
Thank you for continuing to strengthen and encourage my family. Our hearts are willing, but our minds are weak. Forgive me, for putting all other things first. Have mercy on me, and continue to lead me into faithfulness, especially when it isn’t easy. Thank you, for your work in my children’s lives. Help me to live as a better example and teacher for them.
In your precious name I pray,