We are going through a study on 'end times' right now in our small group. It's very interesting, and a somewhat different viewpoint than the one I was raised on. Growing up, I assumed that what I had been taught was THE correct thing, until I began learning about different eschatologies (end-time doctrines), and found that, while I didn't necessarily agree with all the different things I heard/read, I felt that they at least had valid points, and certainly I could understand where they were coming from. For me, someone's doctrinal stance on the "End of the Age" isn't one of those fundamentals of the faith worth dividing over; rather, it's something that I believe there is room for differing opinions, and people who are earnestly seeking God's truth (and also looking to build up one another in love - this is key) can have some very thought provoking and challenging conversations about such matters. I would also note that there are some notable people that I really respect, several of which would come out differently on their viewpoint.
However, tonight something I came away with, personally, was a strong encouragement to "keep on" in my endeavors as a Christian parent. The funny thing is that the teacher didn't touch on parenting at all. (And while the focus of this post doesn't have anything to do with which doctrinal view point we're studying, let's just suffice it to say that the spurring on in me was not a result of some fear that my kiddos might get "Left Behind".)
No, not at all. Rather, as the discussion turned to the implications of what these things mean for us personally, and how any of this affects my life now, what came to my mind was that, no matter your viewpoint, as Christians we must be daily growing closer to God, and not only hearing His voice, but learning to obey in a timely manner. How do you learn something like that? I believe it's much easier to obey God quickly and completely, when we first know how to obey earthly authority in the same manner. This becomes very practical to me as a mom, and puts into perspective how very vital it is for me to teach my children to obey - the first time.
This is something I really struggle with. It really is my own laziness that gets me into the rut of threatening or repeatedly scolding my kids (which drives me crazy, yet it's totally my fault!); it's really because I don't really feel like the implications of dealing with the problem. Maybe I'm in the middle of something and don't want to stop and take the time to discipline; maybe I don't want to hear the whining that will result from taking away Webkinz; maybe I don't feel like coming up with creative things for the kids to do while I shower if I ground them from the TV!
Whatever the case, it's something I want to work on, not just so my life is easier, but so that my children will learn to be quickly responsive (which, side-note, that's the meaning of "Bryce" - quickly responsive), not only to me, but to their Heavenly Father. If their response to me when I tell them to go somewhere or do something is to hesitate, think about whether they feel like it or not, and then argue with me about if they really have to do it or not, why would their response to God be any different when He asks something of them? See, sometimes I lose sight of the fact that parenting isn't just about getting a desired behavior, it's about training the heart, shaping attitudes. That's really the long-term goal. So when I allow my children to be disrespectful, I'm allowing that weed to take root in their heart. When I tolerate them telling me what the 'program' is going to be, I'm really doing them a disservice, and making it harder for them to have a soft and open heart to receiving God's will for them. I'm allowing them to cultivate their own fleshly desires.
This may all sound pretty intense and heavy, and you might be thinking "lighten up, they're just kids!", but it really helps me to "keep up the fight" on a day-to-day basis, in the small things, when I think about the fact that my main job as a parent is to lead my precious little gifts back to the Father and help to cultivate His plans for their lives. Then, in the moment that I'm tempted to overlook that temper tantrum, and mutter to myself, "it doesn't really matter", I can remember that yes, even this day, this episode matters. This is the training ground for them to fulfill their destiny.
Suddenly, as I ponder this, I feel like mothering is a hugely important job again!! Yeah!! It had really been one of those days! You know, the kind where I'm trying to Google where you go to resign from this job, or relocate or something... Who would've thought that God would use my end times study to give me new perspective on the daily grind of mothering? He's so faithful to meet us where we're at, and give us what we need.