Be Careful What You Wish For

11231937 - conceptual fish temptation

11231937 – conceptual fish temptation

Here’s a little lesson from the Book of Samuel.  The worst thing we can do is act while in a state of frustration. Take time to cool off.   Make sure you’re being led of God and not trying to move things along in your own strength.  I recall the trial of two young converts who were being persecuted by their parents for being born again.  They wanted to move out of their parents’ home and get an apartment together but needed a third person to handle the rent.  Somehow they found another young girl who had recently come to the Lord.  Although this girl had a job, she also had emotional problems and really put the girls through some difficult times.  Part of their agreement was that she would take care of providing money to buy groceries. She never actually gave them money to shop, however; she always had to accompany them to the store. This sounded OK at first, but as soon as they took the groceries to the cashier, she always refused to pay, claiming she couldn’t find the money.

So my husband and I went along one day to see what was going on, and sure enough, when she got to the register, the cashier told her the cost and she did not release the money she had in her purse.  So these poor girls were stuck with this person because they wanted to be on their own so badly and wanted to get out of the persecution but ended up in a worse situation.

Sometimes we think we need or want something and we beg God to give it to us.  We’d better be sure, however, that our desires coincide with the will of God.  In 1 Samuel 8, the children of Israel not only asked for a king, they demanded one out a knee-jerk reaction to a scandal in the temple. Samuel’s sons were taking advantage of the people, and the people decided to correct the problem themselves instead of letting God correct it.

After Samuel’s sons were exposed as hypocrites, they said, “We want what everyone else has—a king,”  because they thought a change in regime would make things better.   They let this scandal affect their trust in God—who, incidentally, had done no wrong. The prophet Samuel told them they would face many hardships with a king, but they would not listen.  The point is that a king was Israel’s own solution to the problem; they did not pray to find out God’s solution.  Israel also misidentified the problem; it was not Samuel, but rather the two sons, who were not worthy of their position. Plus, Israel was ruled God, not a man.

Samuel was distressed about Israel’s request. After all, how could he not take this personally? It was his sons that were causing the trouble. The people failed to realize, however, that even though Samuel’s sons were rotten, Samuel was still God’s man and God’s representative. They’d forgotten it is the Lord who not only grants position and power, but He also takes it away when needed. He has always been the One to set up kings and then take them down.  This is why God let Samuel know “They are not rejecting you; they are rejecting me.” In essence, the people were telling God, “You cannot handle this. We’re the ones who have been hurt and we’ll decide how to fix this.” So the people stopped trusting God’s help and rejected God’s rule altogether. That is why He called their request “wickedness” in 1 Samuel 11:17.  In the end, however, God gave Israel what they asked for in 1 Samuel 8:22, but Israel’s kings caused them a lot of sorrow and eventually split the nation.

 We tend to demand that God give us what we want—right now! When one of our friends gets a new car, for example, we rush to get one ourselves. When someone we know gets married, we demand God give us a spouse, too. And when He doesn’t, we try to solve the issue ourselves.    But God is a God of order and time; He works in His time and will not be rushed. Often what we want is not what we need.

Desires can become idols and replace the will of God if we let them.  All desires are not evil, but if our methods for dealing with those desires or our frustration over not getting what we want, crosses the will of God, those same harmless desires can be deadly to our connection with the Lord.

-excerpt from How to Walk on Water: A Christian’s Survial Guide for going through Trials.

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An Apology to My Daughter

This may help other families in Christian ministry to never put their children last even if they are leaders in the church.

There comes a time as a parent that you have to own up to your parenting skills good or bad. First let me say,  I am very proud of all my children and their good character. I cannot say that I was the most attentive parent or the perfect mother, but I believe that my children did pick up some good things through the love they have seen in our home, our Christian character and a sense of right and wrong they can carry with them as they go through life.

However, the first child, as someone once said, is always the guinea pig.  As parents, and yes, each child is different, you don’t always know what to do.  Being in the public eye does not change or enhance your parenting skills, it only makes them harder, because everyone is watching and critiquing.  That’s just life.  People always place a target on people that are up talking to and teaching other people–the subject doesn’t matter.    My husband and I were trying to figure parenting out ourselves.  We still have children at home.  Sadly, the most we heard around  our church was to discipline children or we’d hear nothing at all.  So we were left to ask friends, relatives like anyone else.  Finally, a preacher in our group said across the pulpit, “preachers children are the most criticized and usually are worst than the average, Why? Because the people require so much time of the minister, they don’t have time for their own families”.

To My Daughter:

I love God, I think you know that and believe that about me.  But as a female minister in our church, there had been for years very little understanding of the balance between home and serving God.  In our religion, even though we talked about Home being first, in practice it was probably about the third on the list after, worshipping God, serving our Pastors and the church.   Teaching balance was an area in which our church was woefully lacking and has been for probably the last 20 years.  It seemed to fall apart around the time you were born.  So when God called your mom to preach, I began to feel extreme pressure to conform to what people expected me and my family to be and do. It was as if I never married or had a child. I didn’t want to slow down because I loved God and the church, but also there was another element pushing me.  If you did not conform, you could not function because you were not going to be considered a good saint.  Sweetheart, you grew up during a time that the older Pastors and Teachers, like the one who made the above statement,  had passed away.  The new set, seem to not understand this at all.  There seemed no room for special situations, mostly because leadership failed to understand women and mothers’ roles in the home.

When your brother was born and was two years old, he stood on the seats in church.  The usher came by and asked your father to please not allow him to stand on the seat.  Dad complied and said “sorry, I’ll watch it but he’s just a child”.  The usher said, “but he’s a church of God child and he’s a minister’s child” as if there was special DNA that would make him different from any other child.  One time, you had gotten distracted and pushed past an elderly saint at 5 years old because you were active. You were quickly branded as a “difficult” child.  I was told that the instant I spoke, you should fall in line.  Sometimes you did, but there were other times, like any normal child that you didn’t.

If I had been a nobody, maybe this would not have happened.  But, I was the only female preacher with small children.   Leadership at the time expected me to do what male ministers did– leave everything to their spouse.  However, my spouse was a man, and often he was treated oddly, to say the least. I don’t think they knew what to do with our dynamic.  They didn’t seem to realize that directives for him in scripture were totally different.   A totally different role in the home.  He was often working and providing, and sometimes, so was I and we all know children expect love differently from their mothers.  The leadership of the last 20 years has never realized that and often instilled in the people that “one size fits all” mentality. I’m not angry at them, it was just limited understanding.  Unfortunately, in trying to conform, you became collateral damage.   My decisions, caused you suffering.  For that, I am so sorry.

I was feeling the pressure to be a perfect mother in a system that didn’t really understand putting the home first at all.  We had services 4 times a week, street meetings, home bible studies and if you were late, that was not good, if you were not there, that was seen as even worse.  You were too young to understand the pressure I was under to “be an example”.  But you were there at every meeting, road trip, and bible study until I had your brother. This is what I was taught.  However, as a looked at the “examples” around me.  So many of them seemed to be failing with their families as well under this type of religious practice. As I look around, so many children in our religion have been bitter and some are bitter about their neglect.

 As I valued my life more, got closer to God and listened to Him more, I realized that Christ was our only “perfect” example and he never called on any person to take that place.  I remember my former Pastor  and his assistant saying that he regretted not spending more time with their families. I keep hearing all these regrets, but the system never changes.  My husband always said that if you want to see if a practice or teaching is godly, look at the fruit. It’s worked ok for some, but others not so much.

It was not Christ’s intention in giving me the gift of preaching and teaching to help other people and lose you. So please don’t blame God.   Yes, my Christian character should be above reproach but I cannot be Jesus for people.  I was never supposed to be.  I’m just me, your mom.

I remember that a woman Pastor in our group was asked what would she do if she had children because she was still young.  She said,” I guess I’d have to slow down”.  That’s reality for a wife and mother.  Sadly, not many people in our group made any distinctions so we just took children with us everywhere.  Sometimes the results were good for them, but sometimes not, depending on the child.  And often the parents made no distinctions about the needs of their particular children to treat them as individuals. Cookie-cutter parenting.

My dear daughter, you’ve been through a lot and I know we love each other as we talked this out this weekend. I am more focused on Jesus in my life and less on people.  I know in my heart what God wants me to do in my home even if others do not understand those directives in scripture.  I know I am taking the godly path for a woman of God to care for her children and her home.

There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.             (I Corinthians 7:34)

 

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.(Titus 2:4, 5)

I remember when you were seven and I apologized to you for being so harsh. Right there,  I listened to God.  He told me NOT to continue with the advice I was being given to “bring you in line”.  You were not “bad” by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, most people I knew thought you were lovely and mannerable.  But often, because of my position, that was not enough, or rather I was made to feel that was not enough.   And so, I told you how sorry mommy was for the way I talked to you, corrected you and sent you the message that you were not good enough no matter what you did.  I could see the wall that was coming between us.  I tried to repair it by going on mother/daughter weekends together, and you appreciated that, but a lot of damage to your self-esteem had been done already.

We were both robbed. We didn’t really get to enjoy each other like we do now, and that childhood time is gone. When you are away now, I really miss you. I never really got to enjoy and embrace you as a person.  As you know, I am trying to do better with your brothers and be there for them.

We never had this conversation until this weekend.  Thank you for your forgiveness.

me and sydney

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