Do you ever wish you had a road map to life? I certainly do!
I could also use a guide, an instruction manual, and an endless supply of energy bars to keep me going…thank you very much.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have an automatic arrow in our brains, guiding our steps as well as our thoughts…especially when it comes to parenting?
I was struck by something as I was reading from my Daily Chronological Bible this past week. After leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea on dry land, the Israelites traveled through the wilderness before reaching the edge of the Promised Land. They had no clue where they were going, so they were completely dependent on God to lead them.
And lead them He did.
A cloud went ahead of them by day and a pillar of fire by night. Whenever the cloud moved, the people moved. Whenever the cloud stopped, the people stopped and set up camp. (Number 9:15-23)
As I was reading this section of scripture, I was thinking to myself, “Lord, I really wish I had a cloud to follow…something to show me exactly where to go (both literally and figuratively) and what to do. How much simpler would it be to live within the purpose you ordained for my life if I had a cloud to be my guide?”
Almost within the same breath, I felt chastisement within my soul…of which I can only claim to be the Spirit.
“Really, Jenae? You would rather have a cloud to be your guide?
What about my Son?
You know…The Word made flesh?
Instead of a cloud, I gave you an example. A perfect example.
What else do you need?
This thought process got me to thinking even more. If Jesus is my guide, I needed to figure out what was most important to Him and start there.
“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:28-31 (emphasis mine)
I know that Jesus never fathered children in an earthly sense, but seeing that God is the ‘father’ of billions and billions of people…I think we can glean some parenting insight from what Jesus says is most important.
1) God MUST be our first love.
How do we learn to love Him? Well, apart from our children whom we loved the moment we knew of their existence, every other person we love we had to get to know first. This means we need to spend time with Him. Prayer and Bible study are essential to growing closer to God and demonstrating our love for Him by our willingness to give of our time. I recently watched a session from one of Kay Arthur’s Bible studies where she said, “Don’t tell me that Bible study is too hard. Don’t tell me you don’t have time. I’m here to tell you…you don’t have time not to study your Bible.” The constant care-taking that characterizes our lives at the present time is sometimes not conducive to lengthy amounts of time spent with God, but if we’re going to love God with all our our heart, soul, mind, and strength…we need to take the time to get to know Him.
Also, we should make a habit of asking Him to help us love Him more. It seems a little weird and backwards, but the only way that we can love God with the reverence and devotion that He deserves is to ask for His help! It is important to note that the Greek word used for ‘love’ in the passage above is “agapao” (or what you might have heard as agape love), which is typically associated with God’s eternal love for us. Just another reason to ask for His help…He is the giver of eternal love and can give us more love to give right back to Him!
2) Love those around us.
God tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Who is our neighbor? Well, the Greek word used in this verse is “plesion” (play-see-on) and it can be used for “friend, any other person, or any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet.”
So basically, we are to love everyone as we love ourselves.
Including our family members. And the guy begging on the corner. And the orphan halfway around the world.
We are to put the needs of others ahead of our own. We are to be selfless servants to those around us.
And we are to extend this same treatment to those outside of our household…both because we are called to and because we are setting an example for our children.
I can’t get a quote out of my head from the promotional video for the book Kisses from Katie. Katie Davis (21 years old) is talking about how people tell her how lucky she is that she found what God wants her to do with her life (taking care of orphans in Uganda). She says in response,
“I kind of look at those people and think, ‘Well, I didn’t find it, it was just in the Bible. As someone who calls themselves a Christian, it was very apparent that you are to love the Lord with all your heart and then you’re to love your neighbor as yourself. And myself doesn’t want to be starving.'” (watch the video here)
In addition to loving those actually surrounding us (family, friends, neighbors), we must be an advocate for the less fortunate. We must love the faces of children halfway around the world whose names we might never know.
Although having Jesus as our unconventional road map might seem a bit complicated at times, it can easily be summarized in these 4 words.
Love God. Love others.