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Jun28

TESTING . . . TESTING

Posted terribly early in the morning by Jackina Stark

For several weeks I’ve been talking about letting our children know how much we love and enjoy them, and just as importantly, teaching them that God loves them too. I’ve had several blogs about teaching them about God by testifying and by trusting. A third way, though it overlaps the others (perhaps they all overlap), is encouraging children to test God’s Word.

They need to know its relevance for their lives. It should both comfort and confront us so that we can be conformed into the likeness of Christ and know the peace and abundant life that come from obeying Him. Test his word in your life and tell you children about it, and help them test it in their own lives.

I had several opportunities to do this. One night when I tucked Stacey in, I made pretty short work of it. When I leaned over and quickly kissed her goodnight, she asked, “Are you all right, Mom?”

I assured her I was fine. But when I turned out the light and started to walk out of her room, I stopped. I wasn’t fine, and I decided this might be a good time to take back my socialized response.

I returned to Stacey’s bed, nudged her over, and sat down beside her. “Actually, Stacey, I’m not quite all right. Something happened at church tonight that bothered me a lot. But I’m in there ironing right now, and talking to God about it, and I will be all right soon.”

Then I told her a little bit about a problem so petty that I couldn’t believe I was struggling with it at all. That night one of my favorite speakers was preaching, and I could not wait to hear him.

But, as the schedule would have it, I was supposed to work in the nursery. Inspiration would probably have to wait. But then I had a brainstorm. The idea was so clever I really thought the Holy Spirit must have given it to me.

Leanne, my daughter who has loved babies since she was one herself, could take my turn in the nursery. Sure, she would miss youth meeting, but could missing one out of every thousand hurt? I didn’t think so. Leanne headed for the nursery, and I found my pew.

I thought everything was perfect. I could not have guessed that when Leanne entered the nursery, a lady insisted that she leave. Because she had been in the nursery during church that morning doing her regularly scheduled duty, this lady said she should not miss any more church by being in there again that night. Nothing Leanne told her made any difference, not even the fact that her mother had asked her to do it. She had to go.

When I asked Leanne how the babies were on the way home from church, I couldn’t believe what had happened. I thought all kinds of ugly things, like how often Leanne had attended functions at the church all these years compared to how often her child attended. “I’m so sure this one hour could matter!” And there’s also the fact that it was my decision to make. How dare someone question or usurp my authority over my own child!

The minute I got home, I went to my room and set up my ironing board. When I felt like this, I needed something to iron. I could do twelve pieces in fifteen minutes. And it was while I was ironing that Stacey called me into her room to tuck her in.

So there I sat, telling her of my struggle. I wanted her to see that doing the right thing, feeling the right thing, is not always automatic. I also told her that when I went back to my room, I would think more about God’s ways and his will, talk to him some more about my hurt and my weakness, and then I would, by his grace, put all this bad feeling away. I would forgive this lady (whom he loves very much, by the way) because God forgives me for all my foolishness. Jesus could not be clearer about this. Those who would be forgiven must forgive (Matt. 6:14-15) and do it with the lavish generosity of the Father (Matt. 18).

Because my husband and I have shared some of our struggles to be like Christ, our children have learned that loving and forgiving aren’t easy—but required. And they’ve learned several other things about being God’s beloved.