Teacher Man is the third of four children. He learned how to share, how to live in community. I am the second of two girls. I never really had to share, unless you count the backseat of the van. Although my parents will tell you that I used the "She breathed on me." statement way too often for that to count as sharing. With unfailing logic, we decided that we didn't want an odd number of children, no one with the "Jan syndrome," but we definitely did not want just two. They needed to be stretched more by each other so that they would grow more.
Now I look at my two children. And at my total lack of free time. And at my stressed-out self. And I think, "How on earth do people do this with more than two children?"
How do I let them outnumber us? How do I go into a grocery store if I can't grip each one of their hands through the parking lot? How do I guide their behavior and disciple their hearts when I struggle with just the two little souls that I've been given? When do I sleep?
I just had coffee with a friend in the midst of this post, and the word "surrender" came up more than I'm comfortable with. Perhaps the key to all of these questions has so much less to do with how much I can handle, and so much more to do with how much I am surrendered to the One who truly handles everything in this world. Perhaps having more children is less about stretching them into resilient adults than it is about transforming me to greater maturity.
I'm a control freak. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't like surprises... at least not bad ones. I don't like being redirected. I don't like giving up my own selfish plans. But there it is. My plans and my control are selfish. They're full of my self. Of things I don't want to change. Of sins that I am perfectly comfortable with. Oh... that just makes me cringe. I have sins that I'm comfortable with. Is your skin crawling too?
When I realize the ugliness of what I'm fighting for in this battle (My self. My plans. My desire not to trust.), I am disgusted that I'm even on this side of the war. What is the truth? What should I be fighting for? What truly matters in light of eternity?
The truth: Children are a blessing from God, a sign of His favor. Children are eternal with the potential to reach thousands more with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Children change us more than we will ever change them because the truth is that we need changing. I need to get on the right side of this battle.
Because the battle is not for control. That job is filled. Did you hear that? God had the job of Controller filled before I was even born. And the bizarre truth is that this battle so much less about fighting than it is about surrender. Total surrender to the will of God. Total obedience to His will even if it goes beyond my logic. Total submission to my husband though my mind screams for me to run in the opposite direction. The battle isn't pushing forward, it's surrendering heavenward.
There was a verse that I claimed back in my other life. That life I lived by the seat of my pants in South America, where God guarded my heart and my person by His incredible grace because I lived in a moment-by-moment surrender. Not perfect surrender, of course. Definitely not. But it's a verse that has come back into season, that begs to be before my eyes daily. No, hourly. Even minute by minute.
Proverbs 16:9- In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
I need this more than I can say because I've been trying to do both parts. I plan my course, and I try to force circumstances to obey the steps that I want to take. But that's not truth. So I take a deep breath and remind myself that the course that I've chosen is a life of obedience and loyalty to Jesus Christ. That it's a relationship that fills the empty and redeems the ugly in my life... and in this world. And that this Lord is worthy... oh so worthy of my trust.
I don't know if we'll have four children. We might. What's important though is not that I determine those steps but that I walk my course hand-in-hand with my Savior and that I take those steps, not in my own limited wisdom but by faith in my Redeemer.
Because His thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts... and His ways so much better.
Caleb Wesley... His idea. Not mine. So. much. higher.