Saturday, October 19, 2013

Knowing You, Jesus

I have a homeschooling schedule that I try to follow each day as I teach my three blessings.  By "schedule," I mean that there are subjects and lessons that I aim to complete with my kids each day any time during our waking hours.  We do a good job of completing assignments for the most part and I have learned not to get frazzled if things don't go as planned.  Sometimes my kids learn far more during the orderless days than they do when I meticulously plan.  This week, my sweet daughter called me into the living room, declaring it was time to worship the Lord.  I am pretty sure this girl will be a worship leader or pastor some day, as she is always setting up church and forcing us to sit and listen to her preach and pray and sing.  On this particular day, she had the radio on and was twirling around, eyes closed, arms in the air, singing, "Knowing You, Jesus."  How could I not join in this time of praise and worship?  She is an enormous interruption much of the day, but times like these I am glad she interrupted. Who needs to know how to convert decimals to fractions anyway? ;)

I am fortunate to have a few moments alone with God throughout every day.  This time might not be at the beginning of the day or when I would have planned it, but somehow I always find myself with chunks of time when things are going smoothly enough for me to sit alone with the Lord.  You might think that a homeschooling mother must be so busy that it's unimaginable, but I have found that this is far from the truth.  Sure, I could place unrealistic demands on myself and my children and fill our time so full of curriculum that none of us could breathe, but why?  There are times when my daughter is occupied with her doll house people and my older kids are completing their hour of independent reading or when Max and Ruby are entertaining my daughter while my sons finish their math assignments, when I find myself able to read my Bible or pray for longer than thirty seconds.  I haven't always made this time for prayer and studying the Word part of my life.  In my twenties, I strove to be the perfect wife, the ideal mother, the invaluable neighbor, the productive employee, the supportive friend.  All of that striving didn't produce perfection and instead left me feeling empty, discontented and exhausted. I was still lacking something, but it wasn't clear to me what that something was.

I know much of this need for perfection came from being the wife of a man who was lost in an addiction to prescription drugs, whose continual health issues left him in a constant cycle of abusing drugs to cope with the chaos inside his heart.  My twenty-something self needed to feel like everything was okay, that I was in control of something, though my life was out of control, unpredictable and unhappy.  I had to prove to my children that we were going to have a happy family and a happy childhood, regardless of our circumstances.  I had to prove to myself that I would not give up on my marriage, just because it was hard, just because I was miserable.  During that time, though, I didn't make room for Jesus.  I believed that Jesus died for my sins, I believed that I was going to Heaven, but I didn't cling to Jesus with all of my heart.  I had no idea what I was missing and how different my life could be, if only I would surrender completely.

Sometime in my mid-twenties, I finally found what it was I had been searching for to fill this emptiness in my heart: Jesus.  Jesus, for real. To know about Jesus and to know Jesus personally are two entirely different things.  Up until this point, I was unaware there was a difference.  I thought that as long as I had "heard the good news," I would avoid going to hell.  What I hadn't realized was that I couldn't just hear this news and push it to the back of my mind, continuing to harbor bitterness toward my husband and his addiction and continuing to live my life independently, apart from the will of God.  This knowledge of an all-powerful, loving, merciful God hadn't consumed me and given me the hunger for more.  I had felt the same way about this information that I did knowing my address or knowing that my kids preferred their PB&J cut into triangles instead of squares.  I knew the information, but it didn't change me.  I thought that I could know God was God, but that I could live for creating a perfect life instead of living for Him.

A decade after I first heard about Jesus, I understood what it meant to follow Him, to live for Him and to be loved by Him.  I was no longer enslaved by my feelings of inadequacy and the constant struggle to make life better, more rewarding, and happier somehow.  I no longer felt that it was necessary to pick up the pieces after my husband had produced yet another path of destruction for himself.  I could finally see that his addiction was his problem and his responsibility.  I was free from that massive burden of making perfection my true god.

Now, almost two decades after I first heard about Jesus, I am in awe of just how incredible our God truly is.  I still want to be a good neighbor, a supportive friend, a God-honoring wife and mother, but that want isn't what I live for and it is something that I know isn't possible on my own.  I try to do everything God sets before me with the desire to honor Him.  As I think about how different the circumstances in my life are compared to what they were even ten years ago, I cannot help but praise the Lord for what he's done.

John 14:6 says, "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

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