Ever been frustrated by the tension of all that’s (wonderfully) true about the Christian life and actually trying to live it out among others?
A few months ago I had this humorous experience which seemed not unlike the experience of being a child of God still in this world.
Our church was blessed to have a special speaker and he was taking us on a whirlwind tour of the book of Hebrews. (You can hear the sermon here) It was so wonderful! Jesus was exalted. The Word came alive, and my heart and mind were literally thrilled with the truth.
My wonderful four oldest children were sitting with me (Paul was filling in elsewhere during that hour so unlike normal I was alone with the kids), and I guess their experience and interaction with the Word that morning wasn’t quite the same as mine. Exclude the oldest from that statement; she was not causing any problems. I’m too far removed from the scene to remember the particulars, but I had to deal with all sorts of nonsense during that sermon. Wiggles, questions, flipping pages, elbows… it went on and on even more than usual. Not all of it was bad! Of course I want the one just learning to read to ask for help to know where he is when reading Scripture, and of course I want to give a quick definition of an unfamiliar word to the four-year-old.
But I also want to just sit and listen!
See the pattern:
LISTEN: Wow! that is amazing! I cannot believe Christ would lower himself to suffer like we did. I want to love Him more! I want to go home and read the whole book of Hebrews! I am so thankful we have the Bible! God is so good!
DISTRACTION: ***addresses wiggling***
LISTEN: Wow! This is so wonderful! I’m so thankful my kids can be in church with me.
DISTRACTION: ***finds verse for child***
LISTEN: I hope I didn’t miss anything. Wow, that is so good.
DISTRACTION: ***warns child about wiggling***
TRYING TO LISTEN: I wish these kids would just let me listen to the Word!
GRACE: Wait! This is what it’s all about!
Being filled with the knowledge of Jesus and then lovingly coming alongside others to help them to know Him, too.
Why doesn’t God save us and take us out of this world? His image redeemed in us brings us back to a life of worshipping Him and displaying His glory to others.
But often displaying that glory doesn’t seem so glorious. Like reminding a child to listen to the preacher, or encouraging a sibling to be kind, or confronting someone in their sin, or forgiving someone for thoughtlessness, or doing that menial task for the hundredth time, but with joy.
It’s not enough for the pastor to sit in his study and feast on the truths of Scripture – he has to communicate it to the flock and then actively help them grow and mature in what has been said, as messy and hard as that may be.
It’s not enough to sit in your quiet time and be filled with a desire for righteousness – you have to take that into the workplace and shine the light through darkness and confusion.
It’s not enough for a mom to be thrilled with the truths of Scripture in the pew on Sunday morning. She has to translate that to the nitty-gritty lives of her children. Sometimes during the sermon.
The Christian life is both a deep well of knowledge and fellowship with Christ and also a cross-channel swim against the currents of sin, time, and limitations from ourselves and others. We both rest in our position in Christ and work tirelessly to become more like Him and to make Him known in the world around us.
Don’t be discouraged when it all happens at once. God is absolutely able to make all grace abound to you in every situation.
Even when you’re alone in church with little kids.
P.S. You really should listen to that sermon.