Beach Moments

I just got back from a last minute beach trip.  Yes, I drove 9 hours in the car with my 3 kids by myself.  I know I’m insane but I really love the beach.  So does our oldest son.  We could totally be beach bums together.  On our last night, the other 2 kids were asleep and I was about to put D to bed.  He asked me to cuddle and I said, “Since it’s our last night and we both love the beach so much, why don’t we cuddle out on the deck (attached to our room)?” So out we went, snuggled up together and were silent, in awe of God and His creation.  The stars were gorgeous that night and the moon’s sliver offered the perfect amount of light. The beach was dotted with hundreds of crab hunter’s twinkling flashlights. It was a night I’ll always remember.  Then I said to D, “You know one reason why I love the beach? It always makes me think of God.  You know how when you make something, it is smaller than you?  When you color a picture, how big is it?”  D showed me the approximate size with his little 5 year old hands.  I said, “So you’re a lot bigger than the picture you made.  If God made all this, how big do you think He is?”  D was very thoughtful for a few moments and then said, “Whoa, He must be huge.  This whole ocean is probably like God’s sink, not even His bath tub.  He can probably just fit His big toe in this.”  I said, “It just makes me want to sing a praise song to Him.”  He said, “Me too.  I’ve got the perfect one.”  And he turned his little man face up to the sky and sang the most beautiful made up praise song I’ve ever heard.  I wrote down all that I could remember after we came in..  You gotta love the little kid randomness and sincerity.

“Holy Spirit, come fill me. You give us peace and quiet in our hearts. Feel the breeze.  Feel His peace.  You will save us from our sins.  When we are in war, you fight for us.  Jesus, you are like a diamond.  You made the moon and we love you more than anything.  True Hope, you will save us forever.  Your creation is bigger than every creation.  You are the Holy God.  You love your children more than every single part of the world.  You love us more than anything.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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Our beach boy.

 

 

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A Heart like His

I’m reading through the New Testament with some (fabulous) girlfriends this summer. I’ve so enjoyed reading at a faster pace than normal and gleaning new things as we go.  Something in Mark 7 recently caught my attention.  The religious leaders of the day were questioning Jesus, asking Him why His disciples ate without washing their hands. “For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders.” Mark 7:3   So these leaders were accusing Jesus and his disciples of being unspiritual or less spiritual because of this hand washing issue (seems pretty funny but you know you’ve looked down on that stranger who leaves the restroom without washing).  Anyway, here is Jesus’s response , “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Mark 7:6-7)

These verses terrify me.  I’m naturally a people pleaser and have to fight that idol every day.  Reading these verses always made me worried that my people-pleasing lips will take me places that my heart does not go, thus being just like the Pharisees, with a flattering mouth and a faltering heart.  How I want God to make my heart so close to His!

Jesus also describes the Pharisees as people who worship Him in vain, teaching the commandments of men as if they were doctrine.  This is yet another terrifying thought to me!  What things in my life do I equate with spirituality that are nothing more than vanity, a commandment of men not God?  Pause and think about this for a minute.  How often we perceive someone to be more spiritual because they are mannerly, healthy, kind with words, well-read, etc.  You fill in the blank.  What a terrible misconception!  Common victims of this thinking are children.  A quiet, compliant child is often regarded as more spiritual than the loud, more challenging one.  This Scripture has me wondering, What “commandments of men” am I teaching to my kids as if they are spiritual principles?  Would my kids think they were more loved by God or by me if they behaved perfectly in a restaurant, didn’t spill a thing, or refrained from using potty talk?  Would they think another child is closer to God because he rarely gets in trouble at school?  Would I as a parent think I’m more spiritual because my child acts mannerly, obeys quickly, etc?   I shudder at the thought.

It is true that God’s Holy Spirit resides in believers and brings with Him very helpful gifts (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness,self-control).  It is also true that non-believers can be very kind, generous, charitable, patient, and so on.  The only spiritual journey we can have a pulse on is our own (and sometimes we can even be incredibly out of touch there too). So what’s a girl to do?  Honestly, I’m still figuring this one out but here’s what I know so far.  God desires relationship not rule-following.  God cares about my heart and what occurs there more than what occurs with my outward appearance.  Outward appearances can be very helpful indicators of the heart’s condition (“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” Matthew 12:34). The very first evaluation I need to do is on myself.   As I interact with those around me and those in my home, I seek “El Roi”, the God who sees (Genesis 16:13).  He knows the heart condition of my kids, my friends, and every other human. He is the Source of wisdom and insight.  And in child-rearing, He guides me to parent to the heart as best as my feeble self can.

Lord, thank you for your sincerity.  Thank you for being a God who cares about our heart condition and is not fooled by mere rule-following.  I love you.  Amen

Follow-up note:  After this post, I talked to our 2 boys.  Here’s the conversation…
Me: “Boys, I have something important to ask you.  Do you think that if you act perfectly, use nice words, and always obey God will love you more?”
D: “No.”
Me: “Why do you say that?”
D: “Because God loves us the same all the time.”
Me: “What about you C?”
C: “Mom, I have somefing important to say to you.  You hurt my feelwings when you told me to lay down at nap and I’m mad about it.”

HA! Oh well!  I’ll keep on teaching!