As I listened to a friend share about living out her faith in the hardship and challenges of life, I quickly realized how she was unaware how God was using her words as affirmation within my own heart and soul.
God was inviting me to take a moment and behold this moment.
He was encouraging me to behold His noble and pleasing transformational work. He yearned for me to receive His mercy and allow His tender love to guide, teach, and reveal His wisdom within the circumstances of my own life.
My friend’s words pricked my heart, as I simultaneously heeded the Spirit’s conviction.
“Stacy, allow Me to put a fresh heart in you.”
“Allow me to direct your heart into the depth of understanding and expression of My love…”
It was an ordinary moment, made extraordinary by pausing to take a breath, beholding the moment, and quieting my mind to yield and listen for the Spirits still, small voice.
My heart did need refreshing. The days prior to this moment had been strenuous and challenging within the life of our family of six.
Suddenly, my mind was taken back to our family’s venture into having “house” church for the very first time. Oh, we had so much to learn! It was just our family of six, but what had transpired with our congregation of teens and our nine year old was, simply put, a revolt.
The name of Jesus was offensive to three of our four girls. Questions were asked in rapid- fire succession, each trying to piece together how I, their mom, could continue to look to Jesus for guidance, wisdom, and healing. Was He not a God of wrath, judgement, and a Creator of rules that were impossible to follow? Was He not a God that allowed bad things to happen, leaving each of us to just pick up the pieces? Where is this Jesus when belief has been in place and yet nothing ever changes in their lives?
As I shared about the significance of a relationship with Jesus Christ, it was if my words fell on deaf ears. The pain was evident. The wounds were deep, had become infected, and were struggling to heal. The church had left its mark on these impressionable hearts and it had definitely not been a favorable one. The past year had held the witness of Christians tearing apart fellow Christians, each guilty of living in the control of their sinful nature, quarreling with each other over issues that were not salvation issues, but issues of the world. Ultimately, and personally, these were attacks that had rained down on their pastor dad. The wounds from the onslaught ran deep.
In their quest for healing, these precious children of ours had begun looking to the world for answers to their questions. Readily accepting what the world had to say had become their source of truth and reality. Their responses clearly shared how they had decided to let go of any truth their parents and the church had offered as a foundation for all their growing up years. Christian truth and the church, in their perspective, had seemingly let them down.
My heart broke. The reality of how persecution against the name of Jesus Christ was real and present within the walls of my own family became radically apparent.
I prayed, “Oh, Jesus, please enter in.”
“Forgive them, for they know not what they do or say.”
“Restore to them the joy of your salvation.”
As emotionally charged and draining as that day with my family was, in my present reality of listening to my friend share on faith in hardships, I was beginning to realize my own hardship was my children. These priceless individuals that God had entrusted into my care were my audience. They were where the rubber of my faith would meet the road.
Persevere, My Child
The persecution within my own home was where God was asking me to have faith. In the midst of this personal hardship, He reminded me to stand firm in His love.
Continue sharing His truth in love.
No matter the rejection, or intense questioning, the name of Jesus must be spoken. The hope we have in Him must continue to be shared. As surrounded as I am by a great cloud of witnesses, I need to run with perseverance the race marked out for me, fixing my eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of faith.
I have come to comprehend how God speaks in unexpected moments. Even in casual conversation, when I may least be expecting to hear His voice. However, if I pause, pay attention, behold the moment and lean in to Him in conversation and prayer, He is faithful to reveal His purpose, His Word, and/or tenderly discipline in love.
In this single moment and conversation with a friend, He came alongside me. He reminded me of His strength to lean into when going into battle. He convicted me to show up in relationships with love and grace, responding with patience and the ability to listen. He reminded me how sometimes it is necessary to teach with the foresight of talking as though my audience belonged to this world, or as though they were infants in Christ, because they simply might not be ready for anything deeper or stronger. This directly includes the relationship I share with my children.
The relationship I share with my children is not solely one of mother/daughter discipline. It’s also not solely a relationship built on teacher/child. While these are indeed important aspects of the parent/child relationship, the tone in which I respond to them as their parent is just as essential. Loving and listening well through the ebb and flow of growth through their adolescent years is important. Representing Jesus well is crucial.
Drawing them nearer to Jesus, encountering Him, and ultimately believing in Him are the cries of my mother’s heart. How convicting is the truth that they won’t desire to draw near to Him if they don’t even sense His love or presence coursing through my own heart and soul, especially as I respond to their deep faith-searching and doubting questions. The time is now to shine His Light and respond in forgiveness, grace, and love.
As emotionally defeating our first family house church experience had left me, I heard God encouraging me forward. He was present with me, gently guiding and growing my strength to persevere in the sharing of His Good News and message.
Even when it may seem to fall on deaf ears.
Even in light of tremendous rejection.
Keep on, dear child.
Keep eyes fixed on Him and show them Jesus. Abide in Jesus and watch Him grow love among His children.
All the while taking those baby steps of faith, trusting in His goodness and His Sovereign love.