Monday, July 19, 2010

Intentions, Part Five

Despite the best of intentions, VBS took over last week and I didn't have time to write. But there is one more point I've been learning about. In the last few weeks, I have come into contact with kids whose parents really don't care about them. I have often wondered what to do about such kids because I have my hands full. What more could God want from me?

It's easy to get tunnel vision in parenting. I mean, I certainly am busy, overwhelmed and crazy with the five I've got. I don't really want or need extra kids at my house. But God has really been challenging my heart on that. I've been reading the book, This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. It's a short book but it's taken me a long time to read it. I have read a lot of books on marriage, but this one has some pretty astounding stuff. You should read it! It's the best book I've read on marriage and I've read a lot!

One of the things he talks about is how God used marriage and child bearing to grow His kingdom in the Old Testament, but now His kingdom family grows through regeneration: people becoming Christians. I don't think that is to take away from our biological child bearing. That is God-given too. But if we have kids, are single or infertile there is a place in Godly parenting for everyone.

"In the beginning, God said to mankind, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth' (Genesis 1:28). That's normal. That's good. But it's not absolute any more than marriage is absolute. What is absolute is to pursue spiritual children, not natural children. Marriage is not absolutely for making children. But it is absolutely for making children followers of Jesus." John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, page 141

It's pretty amazing to think that God has a bigger purpose for my mothering than just my biological children. I always wanted a big family and now the door is open for a lot of kids without any more pregnancies.

It also sheds some light for me on the age old questions about how many kids should we have and birth control. If God's family grows through regeneration too, it's not all about biological reproduction. That's new to me. I've always heard and felt guilty over the "however many God gives us we should have" argument. And although we had already decided not to have any more belly babies, that's not the end of our family!

Piper goes on to say:

In Mark 10:29-30 Jesus says,
"Truly I say to you , there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, hourses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life."

Here Jesus shifts the absolute from having children biologically to having hundreds of children through the family of Christ and through spiritual influence. It might include adoption. It might include foster care. It might include making your home a place for backyard Bible clubs. It might include hospitality in your neighborhood where your home is every kid's favorite place."
John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, Page 141

I recently heard a story about a high school student who came to Christ through a friend's family. Even now, years later the mother of this friend has been a big part of her spiritual journey. I thought that was fascinating. Not only were they hanging out at this friend's house, but the parents were involved and around. They were more than parents to their biological kids, they were spiritual parents to their kids' friends.

I want that but I have done a terrible job so far. I don't really want the extra mess and chaos. I don't want to invest in kids that are difficult or wild or naughty. But guess what? They are also kids that God loves! And usually the kids that need spiritual parenting are not going to be the ones you would choose.

But God chose me when I was still an unruly sinner. He chooses to continue to love me and be patient with me despite my sin, mistakes and flaws.

But it's going to take being intentional about lots of things. It will take being intentional about the way I spend my time and how busy I get. It will take a shift in how I view my house, is it a showpiece (ha ha - it's trashed right now!) or a place of grace? Will I invest my time in my own selfish pursuits or sacrifice for the needs of others. It's won't just happen with good intentions. It will take being intentional.

So now things are getting a little easier with my kids. We have no one in diapers, no one naps, four kids will be in school next year. I could choose to turn inward and be selfish or I could take the opportunity to grow my family through regeneration. What will I do? What will you do?