One Long Interruption
by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
Little did I know when expecting our first child that life was going to become one, long interruption. Up to that point, I was the queen of lazy Saturdays, sleeping in, and the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do, not to mention countless dollars wasted on movie tickets and take-out.
And then our son entered our lives. This little bundle, this real person, this life. With a will entirely his own.
I was shocked, really. I don’t think that anything could have prepared me for the multitude of emotions that came with parenthood. Internal questions of my own competence and sanity were frequent. Sleeplessness became the new normal for the next eight years (we went on to have three more children). Trust me: no one loves sleep more than yours truly; hence, the sanity question.
And instead of this ideal new world I was expecting, I was faced with my own sinfulness in a way that had never, ever entered my mind. I had no idea I was so selfish! After all, I was a follower of Jesus. I was a student of the Bible, I was a church-goer and I was starting to get the hang of this “Christian thing.” (Insert guffaw here.) With motherhood, the road of self-denial suddenly became very real and very uphill. The kicker was, there was no downhill option anymore. I couldn’t just make a u-turn and start coasting again.
This elemental building block of discipleship that I had sidelined had now become a reality I could not avoid. I had read Jesus’ words, many times, from Luke 9:23-24: “Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.’ “
In defense of Christians everywhere, I think that most of us truly desire to live daily as a disciple. But I also believe that most of us would never choose self-denial to the degree that Jesus invites us. And so, for many of us, He gives us spouses and children to coax us in that direction.
But selflessness is not the only goal. That’s just the first step: according to Luke 9:23-24, we then enter into the cross-bearing and following as well. This translates into dependence on Him for everything. That’s the true goal—a life of such dependence, such utter need, that there’s no way we’re going to attempt it solo.
One example from parenthood? Children have more questions than we ever thought existed. Answering “Where did God come from?” Is not for the faint-hearted. All of a sudden, we can begin to agree with Proverbs 3:13-15: wisdom is now more coveted than gold. We had no idea how ignorant we were until now. Children put us on the spot, revealing our ignorance, our backward assumptions, and our hard-to-explain beliefs. But that's exactly as God intended: discipling your small people is by design. Embrace the questions, the tension and the "Let's look that up together" reality of being a follower of Jesus.
As parents, we don’t just wipe noses and pay for fresh fruit and field trips. These outward provisions for our kids are merely physical reminders of our continual care for their hearts and minds. These small people, incessantly interrupting our lives with their needs, invite us into a life that might feel like one long interruption. This is where the rubber meets the road. But take heart. If we allow Him, God will use this long interruption to give us every opportunity to know Him in seamless dependence, into a relationship so deep with Him, it could never be interrupted.
The Breadbox is our Children's Ministry email. This monthly publication arrives chock-full information about SHINE, but also tips and resources on how you can disciple your small people.