Our little Jonathan recently began school – a first language French school – for the first time. Yesterday, as he was sharing with us about his day, he told us about working on saying and writing the alphabet (which he already knows, as he is a beginning reader… in English). Suddenly, he stopped and exclaimed: “And Mama, did you know they say zshee for ‘J’ and zshay for ‘G?’ THAT. IS. JUST. WRONG!!!”
We JUST don’t like change, do we? We tend to resist anything that pushes, prods or pulls us from a place of the comfortable recognized to the uncomfortable unknown. Jonathan expressed that rather eloquently, I think, and while we laughed (and laughed… for the look on his face as that realization dawned on him was priceless), my mind was drawn to the present struggles of our present state of transition.
One of the reasons this transition has been more challenging is that we are subleasing a home for a year… someone else’s home, someone else’s furniture, someone else’s guards… after having already “been there, done that” the past year in a missionary house back in the States (I’m not trying to complain, for we are so thankful for both of those provisions, yet this is our reality). So it feels like home, but it isn’t quite… Without a doubt, it is emotionally harder to move back and forth with secondary school children ~ teens. They’d just found where they belonged and we uprooted them to return to a place that isn’t what they left the year before. So, they are back to figuring out where they belong once again when they’d anticipated coming home. But people leave; others grow, looking and sounding different; still others change and have new priorities or a different direction – nothing remains static and so it just isn’t the same.
As I’ve pondered and prayed – then realized that I should first pray and then ponder: How are we to shepherd our children through this time, the Holy Spirit directed my meditations to perhaps the most well known words in the Bible about what it looks like to be a good shepherd.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to His name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of mine enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
And I will live in the house of the LORD
Psalm 23 (NLT)
When God blessed us with children, He gave us the privilege of becoming shepherds… one more way we can learn to imitate our God and our Savior. So I read these words, words first stamped onto my heart over 35 years ago, gentle words reminding me how the Good Shepherd cares for me and see a very practical example of how I can shepherd my children.
A doer, it was the verbs that caught my attention. What are things I can do to help my children?
· I can let them rest, making sure our home is a place of security, fun and respite from the stresses in their worlds all around them.
· I can lead – with my words, my actions, my attitudes, my life. Do I approach the challenges with a gentle spirit, accepting and welcoming God’s sovereignty and excited to see what He will do because I know He will work?
· I can renew: revamping harried schedules, repairing wrong attitudes and beliefs, restoring tired hearts, making good on promises and things I’ve said, renovating to salvage the bad and hard days.
· I can guide, showing them again and again that we run to Jesus with our celebrations, challenges and sorrows.
· I can protect through disciplining, both myself and my children as necessary.
· I can comfort, often just by caring about the hard, seemingly little things.
· I can prepare a feast… healthy, nutritious snacks and meals that I know will delight my family… and that time of preparation is a wonderful time to pray for them… or to encourage them to work alongside me and share about/pray through their days.
· I can honor them: respecting their feelings, attitudes and perceptions even when they need repair, admiring their accomplishments and the person God is growing them to be, giving credit where credit is due, protecting their reputations, remembering that they, too, are heirs of the King.
· I can pursue them with goodness and unfailing love, whose source is, of course, the Good Shepherd.
And most importantly, I can trust that in following the example of my Shepherd, He will open the eyes of my children so that they see their cup, too, overflowing with blessings from heaven.
(Post by: Richelle)