One day last week I spent a couple of hours lounging on the back deck of a friend’s house, sipping ice water from a mason jar and watching our children play all over her back yard. Over the course of the afternoon we chatted about many things, the majority of our conversation related to raising children. We talked about different movements in the homeschooling community, about our own experiences growing up, about our desires for our children in their relationships with one another. It was the kind of mom talk I really enjoy, open-hearted and filled with a longing to know and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in our roles as mothers. Yet even as we spoke with conviction and passion, we knew that we often fall short in the day-to-day stuff that our kids see. At one point, my friend said, “Sometimes I think about sending them to school for just one year so I can get myself worked out, then bring them back home when these areas of my own life have been dealt with.”
Oh, how I can relate to that! How many times have my own plans for self improvement been thwarted by the seemingly endless cares and concerns of all the people who depend on me? But the truth is that none of us will ever arrive at the end of our growth. We are always still becoming who the Lord would have us be. And as mothers who spend nearly every hour with our children, that stretching and changing happens in front of the all-seeing minds and hearts that are our responsibility and privilege to train, no matter how much easier it seems it would be to hide away for a while and come back to them once we’re “done.”
When you walk into my house, the first thing to greet you is a large sign on the wall that says, “Come and see.” My husband and I made the sign not long after buying this house, wanting to express our deep desire that all who enter our home find Jesus here. Not due to anything good in us, but because of the One who knows us intimately, yet chooses to love us and draw us close to Himself anyway.
I love that phrase. Jesus used it in the first chapter of John, when two of John the Baptist’s disciples heard Him speak and wanted to know where He was staying. They wanted to know where to find Him again. He responded with an invitation to join Him there, saying “Come and see.” And they followed.
The very next day Jesus called Philip to follow Him, and when He did, Philip found Nathaniel and told him that he had found the Messiah. Nathaniel scoffed at anything of value coming from Nazareth, but Philip didn’t try to convince him. He issued the same invitation, “Come and see.” Meet Him yourself. Watch. Listen. You’ll know Him, I promise.
That is our desire for everyone who enters our home, and certainly for our own children. Watch, little ones. Listen. He is here. He is at work.
Last week, after the afternoon of listening to and sharing with my friend, my family and I got to attend a super fun backyard “housewarming concert” put on by the founder and director of UTR Media, who just happened to be moving to our town. One of the incredibly talented musicians who shared his gifts with us that night was Matthew Clark, who sang, among other things, his song “Kumalo.” (You can listen to it here.) I loved the song from the first moment I heard it, and my children and I have been singing it ever since.
Kumalo, Kumalo, I am not a good man,
Not a good man;
What can I say?
Only that the Lord has shown me grace,
Only that the Lord has shown me grace.
Reach your hands out, hands out,
Even though you know where they’ve been.
The Lord has made them gloves now, gloves now;
They are hiding Jesus’ hands,
So reach out His hands in your hands.
Let them see you, see you,
In every place you fear to be seen.
They will find His mercy, mercy,
And say, “Surely if the Lord can save you,
He can set me free from all my sin.”
‘Cause I am the older son,
Angry at my brother’s welcome.
And I am the younger son,
Happy to be wallowing in filth again.
And I still fight to believe
That the truest thing
Is that I’m rising with the Son from the river
When the Father calls, “Beloved, I am well pleased.”
What a beautiful image! God uses even our shortcomings to display His great mercy and grace to those around us. Is that not encouraging?
Sometimes it does seem like it would be simpler to get away from our children just long enough to “fix” all of our faults so we can raise them perfectly. But even if we could do so, that robs them of the privilege to walk with us as we grow and become more like Jesus. The testimony to His goodness and forgiveness and grace that we live before our children every day means so much more than anything else we could ever teach them. When we fail, may they see our humility. When we are weak, may they see His strength. As we grow, may they look with wonder upon the Potter ever molding us more and more into His own image.
I want my life to be an open invitation for my children to come and see all that God has done and is doing in me day by day. It’s messy, learning to live with each other, but sometimes in the midst of that mess I can see glimpses of something truly glorious and holy. Those are the moments I want my kids to hold on to. I know I can trust our loving Father with my imperfect mothering. In His hands it becomes something incredibly precious, far beyond what I could imagine.