“Can you turn our favorite song on?”
“You got it, bud!”
We were heading home from daycare, after having a “super-cali-fragilistic” kind of day (I’m quoting one of our awesome teachers at our preschool, I can’t rave about them enough!). I turned on “our favorite song” and immediately I have two babies in the backseat clapping their hands.
This moment is a victory for me.
I see them watch me and Troy so intently. Like a sponge, they are soaking up any and all information, gestures, and actions they can take it. The [sometimes] scary but [often] rewarding part comes afterwards when I see them do what we do. Can I just give God praise here?? He chose to not give me children when I wanted them some years ago and even as recent as one year ago. I wouldn’t have been ready and He knew it. I fought it, I begged Him but I have a clearer perspective where I am today. I wouldn’t have been ready for the mirroring. I wouldn’t have been displaying actions I’d want children to pick up. All glory to God for His perfect timing! All glory to Him for His sanctifying grace!
[Side Note: It is farrrr easier for me to accept this plan of His in hindsight of those deep, aching moments. I know some of you may be walking through a place that you are struggling to see the goodness of God. I have been there too so can I remind you of something pretty huge? Even when you don’t see it, especially when you don’t feel it, know that God is good. He is always good. He is always faithful. It’s His character, He can’t not be what is His nature. I had to speak this Truth into what was the opposite of what I was experiencing emotionally. I was hurting and it’s in that place where God was close. He is close to the brokenhearted. Listen, God can choose to withhold from His children. It’s His right as our Abba but His withholding doesn’t mean He’s not good. Trust Him, friend. He is with you always. If nothing else…there’s perfect comfort in His Presence.]
As he points to my bible, “Can we read the armor?”
“Let’s read and put it on!”
This moment is victory for me.
Can we pause for a minute and think about the Garden?
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…’ … So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them;” Genesis 1:26, 27
Adam & Eve had the reward of walking with God, sharing intimacy, and watching Him intently. But in order to enjoy relationship, there has to be freedom to choose it. Without free will, we don’t have relationship and God has always wanted us to choose Him.
We have been made in the image of God but because of the fall, we’ve been separated from our Father in Heaven. Praise God that He knew all along what He would do to bring us home…
Enter His perfect sacrifice.
Enter His resurrection and ascension.
Enter Holy Spirit dwelling.
Without the indwelling of the Spirit of the Living God, we cannot mirror the likeness of our good Father. The Spirit is our mirror. The Spirit gives us connection, direction, conviction, and guidance to change our hearts and minds to be like Jesus. Without Him, we cannot bear the fruit of life. Without Him, we cannot mirror God as He intended from the beginning.
These babies we have weren’t created in our image, they have none of our genetics yet they mimic us, they act in our likeness. I desperately want those imitations to be ones that glorify God.
I see our 17-month-old stand with her arms crossed over her chest and our 4-year-old starting to use his hands as he talks. I see them watch me as I brush my teeth and as I put make up on. I see them watch Troy and I as we talk and as we hug one another. I see them watch us worship God in our home and how we treat others. I see them look at our hands as we lift them up as we play worship music, wondering what the heck we’re doing. I see them studying us. We are subtly answering the subconscious questions about what healthy relationships look like, about what “right” living looks like. Without the Holy Spirit, parenting these babies is an impossible task. And I’ll be the first to admit my lack in it.
I have been reading, daily, a portion of scripture recorded in the gospel of John. It’s Jesus talking to His closest friends, in John 15-16:15. I’m praying you pull your bible out and read it for yourselves. It’s powerful. There’s so much in it and more gets revealed after you continue to re-read it. Here’s what I’ve been so locked into:
“I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (or cleans) so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:1-7)
I cannot be a life-giving wife God is calling me to be if I am disconnected from the vine.
I cannot be the grace-offering mama God is calling me to be if I am disconnected from the vine.
I cannot be a kind, loving friend God is calling me to be if I am disconnected from the vine.
No matter my effort, no matter how much I will and want to be it…I will bear no fruit if I do not remain in Jesus. BUT praise God [!!] It is in Him that fruit and more fruit can and will be produced.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Great love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:9-14)
The Spirit is our mirror, to be like Jesus.
The Spirit is our guide, aligning our hearts and wills with our Father.
Without the Spirit, without remaining in the vine…we can do nothing life-producing. Sure, we can try and may do pretty well but we will never go as far as God calls us without the Spirit.
Without the Spirit, I may be an OK wife but I’ll always end up keeping score.
Without the Spirit, I may be a pretty good mom but I’ll always end up wanting our kids to “do as I say, not as I do”.
Without the Spirit, I may be a nice friend but I’ll always end up pursuing my own preference rather than that of the other.
With the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, I am acting not on my own but by the love of God. I can fully love, fully forgive, I can be fully present, I can be others-focused. When we remain in the vine, our joy is made complete. In the midst of chaos, despite the chaos, our joy is found in Jesus and is…with a deep sigh of relief here…complete.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:16-17)
We are called to something more.
God chose us. He chose us to enjoy relationship and intimacy with Him. Just as our kiddos look intently on us, we can be so close to God that we, too, can intently gaze on His goodness and be changed by it. We can mirror His ways. All we have to do is choose Him back. He is waiting to give life and life to the full and it hinges on your choice. Yes, there is a cost. There’s always a cost but look back to the Garden. Look at what that choice cost. The other side generates far greater rewards. That choice will produce fruit that will last eternity. All you must do is acknowledge your lack, your need, and your desire for Jesus. Welcome the Spirit and the reward of receiving God Himself.
So…as I’m sure you’ve been dying to know what our favorite song is, here you go. It’s been my song for these kids since the day I heard it. I don’t know how long we get to love them close but I do know that God has loved them first. And he will “take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it for good”. I will be praying this over all those who read these words and as I sing it over our kiddos. Whether it happens on this side of heaven or if we see it as we enter into our eternal home with God…we will see a victory.
• For our good and His glory •