Monday, September 10, 2012

Raising Them Up to be Persecuted

Being a mother (or father) is a tough job.  Our list of responsibilities is huge and overwhelming: 

Taking care of their basic physical needs, such as feeding, keeping clean, etc.
Taking care of their emotional and spiritual needs
Teaching, training and correcting in all areas of life (mentally, physically, spiritually, etc.)
Keeping them safe
Etc., etc., etc.

And the list goes on and on.  It's a frightening task - being responsible for not only keeping another human being alive, but also making sure that you don't do anything to completely screw them up for life.  But keeping them safe is probably the task that I panic about most, because there are so many things that could happen that are so completely out of my control.  It absolutely terrifies me - and it doesn't help watching shows like "Criminal Minds" etc.... I'm basically a paranoid freak now.  Answer the door when I'm home alone?  I don't think so!  Ha!

Anyway, all of this aside, I take the job of protecting my babies very seriously.  I'm definitely a mother bear who will do anything and everything to protect their little bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits.  But I can't do that all the time, nor can I do that forever, and I shouldn't expect to be able to.  My greatest wish for my children is that they will love the Lord and live their lives for Him.  I desire for them to be so sold-out for Christ, that they'd be willing to go anywhere or do anything just to see His name glorified among the nations.  And yet...this is in great opposition to my desire to protect them.  

Last week, our pastor pointed something out which I had never thought of.  "If we are truly raising our kids to be disciples of Christ, then we are raising them to be persecuted." (emphasis mine)

Wow.  That was slap-me-in-the-face shocking to me.  I don't know why it was, though.  It's not like the Bible doesn't clearly set out what a Christian is to expect in this lifetime for following Jesus:

Matthew 10:22-23a - " All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.  When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another."

Luke 6:28 - "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man."  (when, not if...)

John 15:18-16:4 - "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you...If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also...They will treat you this way because of My Name...I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you..."

John 16:33b - "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."

Matthew 5:11-12  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

1 Corinthians 4:11-12  "To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.  We work hard with our own hands.  When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.  Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world."

2 Corinthians 4:9  "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

2 Timothy 3:12  "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted"

I could keep going, but I think y'all get the picture.  We will be persecuted, but there is hope in the midst of it.  I recognize that we are fortunate enough to live in a country where we have a modicum of religious freedom still; where we aren't thrown into prison for proselytizing or beaten for owning a Bible.  But these things do happen in the world and no one knows what the future holds for where we live.  

Indeed, there is a great battle that rages in me between protecting my children and raising them up to be persecuted.  It frightens me greatly.  But I have even greater hope in knowing that the persecution that is promised would come because they know Christ - and He is the greatest treasure I could give my children.  Eternal life - what more could I possibly want for them?  Do I desire to protect them?  Absolutely.  But do I desire to do so at the expense of something much, much greater?  No, I don't.  So I have to let them go and release them daily into the hands of my loving Savior - who, if I'm being honest with myself, loves them so much more than I ever could.  He doesn't desire for them to suffer, but He does desire for them to grow in knowledge and grace and wisdom and FAITH, that they might be vessels to pour out His love to a fallen world. 

 I find peace in Christ's prayer in the garden of Gethsemane - "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."  I can ask God to protect them from anything unnecessary to their Spiritual growth, but I also have to recognize that He is greater than me and sees the big picture and He LOVES US.  That's something I can rest in.

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