Raising Kids is Heart Work

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Raising Kids is Heart Work

Every once in a while Hollywood gets it right. Unfortunately, when they do, people of faith have to accept the fact that for the rest of their waking life, they’re going to have to agree to nod their head and smile when some preacher evokes the same worn out line from some epic movie to make his spiritual point. So, all of you faith veterans get ready to nod your heads and smile. The movie Chariots of Fire captures the center-stage drama as well as back story of the great Scottish runner Eric Liddell. If you haven’t seen the movie and you’re over 40 years old, shame on you. If you’re under 40 and haven’t seen it, put it at the top of your next NetFlix order. I’ll save the details of the movie for you to either remember or enjoy when you finally see it. But there was a powerful line in the movie when someone was quizzing Liddell about his amazing abilities on the track. Eric said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” And man oh man did he run … for thousands of miles … in all kinds of conditions … against extraordinary competition. When was the last time you ran really fast for a long period of time? Did you feel God’s pleasure? I ran the New York City Marathon. For the entire 26.2 miles from Staten Island, through Brooklyn and Queens, into Manhattan, up into the Bronx and finally through Harlem to finish in Central Park I can honestly say that I never ONCE felt God’s pleasure. For most of that marathon what I felt was the enormous urge to call a cab. Running is hard, hard work. Eric Liddell pushed his muscles, tendons, and blood pressure to their absolute extremes over and over again. And he felt God’s pleasure in the process. The reason he felt it is no big woop of a secret. I’m holding up two fingers that represent the two biggest reasons: he was doing something he was called to do and he was doing it for God’s glory. What I mean by “called” is that God gave him some abilities and arranged some circumstances that inclined him to rise to a great challenge. Doing it for God’s glory simply seemed liked the logical next step. He had been bought and paid for on a cross by the very God who had given him his gifts and opportunities. Pushing glory back in God’s direction seemed to him like the least he could do. Raising kids is very difficult work. You’ve got to sweat like mad at your place of employment to make the massive sums of money it costs to finance them from birth through college. Then there’s the whole thing of being perpetually exhausted for 20 years. Add to that a typical kid’s love affair with testing your fear quotient. They over-tax your doubt and second-guessing tendencies too. Usually they figure out what lights you up and wear out their abilities to push all of your hot buttons in order to bring your frustrations to an instant boiling point … simply because they can. We can’t forget the uncanny ways they have of negating all of your academic credentials by making you feel royally stupid most of the time. Tear ducts endure a lot of wear and tear, and knees get calloused from having to assume a desperate parent’s prayer posture so much. Sometimes they actually drive you to point where, at least momentarily, you wouldn’t have any trouble seeing what you could get for them on eBay. This is parenting. It’s what you do if you’re going to raise kids. If these demanding parts of the job are what you focus on, then most likely, you won’t feel much of God’s pleasure in the process. But guess what, neither will your kids. They’ll know that they irritate you. They’ll know you aren’t excited about the roll you’re expected to play in their life. There’s a way to keep the nasty demands of raising kids from framing your attitude toward it and them. Don’t view parenting as hard work; view it as heart work. It’s the gritty and spitty stuff that fathers and mothers do in the process of transferring God’s love and grace to their children’s inner lives. The heart work of parenting is our calling, and it’s the least we can do based on the heart work our Heavenly Father did when He moved all of heaven against the worst of Hell to buy our eternal freedom. Sure, parenting is extremely demanding, but so is EVERYTHING that’s worth doing in life. Just ask Eric Liddell. When you’re surrounded by a mountain of dirty laundry, or trying to find the floor of your teenager’s room, or waiting up every weekend night for your son or daughter to get the car and themselves home in one piece, it’s hard to envision the up-side. But the heart work of raising kids pays off. It pays off for time and for eternity. So, next time you’re wishing that Fischer Price also made Tasers, take that thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Feel God’s pleasure in the wonderful role you’re playing in raising a member of the next generation for eternal greatness.

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