To step into the mental corner of my brain right now, you might see me strapping on a bullet proof vest and trying to asses the war zone that is my life.
The target: my kid's craziness. Their ages waterfall from 6 to 4 to 11 months. They are wild and wonderful all within an hour. Ok, within milliseconds.
And on the mornings after the wild days win, I wake up on a mission. I am battle weary and yet overly obsessive in recommitting to my consistency in training. Because in my mind, if I get this parenting thing right more often, my kids will be better. Life will be easier if I
can just get them to fall in line.
And yet, I know. Deep down, I know. When the sinner is training the sinner, there's only one result: sin.
am not a mathematician by any stretch. And even I know, that my doubled efforts won't
result in a different outcome.
This verse popped into my mind when I went looking for help. But at first glance it didn't seem too encouraging. "Train a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it."
I've always read this verse in Proverbs with a militant undertone. Train a child. It seems straightforward. Training requires rules. Discipline. A strictness. A regimen. A battle plan. A firmness in execution. This type of tactic training will end in ultimate victory. Right?
Hmm. I'm not so sure.
In Hebrew, the word train is chanak. Which means dedicated.
Dedicated to what? To the way.
What is this way? In Hebrew, it is derek, which means distance. Or journey or course.
The verse in it's original context means to be dedicated to the distance.
"Be dedicated to your child's distance/journey, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
This verse is a long game verse. It actually has nothing to do with the bullet proof vest and the day ahead, and everything to do with the life course our kids will take, and the journey we have been asked to take with them as their parents. It isn't saying that if we train our kids right, they will never depart from our training. It's up to them ultimately to put on the tool belt, but if we show them how, it is far more likely that they will.
It is saying that if we are dedicated to going the distance with our kids, in grace and truth, despite the holes in our shoes and burdens on our backs, then they will have all the tools they need to be able to stay the course too.
They won't skirt the hard road. They saw mom walk it.
They won't jump the median. They saw mom fight to stay within the borders.
They won't crash. They saw mom slam on her brakes when she was barrelling towards the ditch.
We are called to be line leaders. Not drill sergeants.
Proverbs as a whole is a book written to help instill governing morals. It was intended to give guidance to some of the very first believers in the God of the Bible. These people had no clue. They were pre-cross. No Gospel. Not only that, but they didn't have parenting books either. My sweet Lord, they didn't even have that Facebook lady who "drops some serious truth bombs."
So imagine when they first heard this. We have to do what? Commit some of our precious time to these kids? Our property? Children were less than second class citizens. They were considered collateral. A man's total net worth would include how many children he could breed from his loins.
So the fact that Solomon, who was king, even mentioned that these parents needed to come along their children and to be a dedicated guide was new. So no, there is no war zone when you peel back the Hebrew, there is no
battle line, there is no subordinate and superior–instead it looks a lot
more like a running track and we are the ones setting the pace with
little monkeys on our back.
That's why pacing with Jesus is so important.
There is no urgency in the matters of this day to get it right, because in God's grace, this isn't a drill. It is the dedicated way of love.
You get do-overs when you go the distance.
I've heard Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seahawks, repeatedly say that games are not won in the first quarter. Nor the second. Nor the third. If you are a mom to young kids, you are in the first quarter. Pace yourself. The road is long.
But no matter the age of your kiddos or what quarter you are in, this loop of love constantly folds back into itself. We wake
to find another round of distance training that will increase our own strength
and endurance, and ultimately our children's.
Too often, in young motherhood, I keep waiting for halftime, or when it is my turn to be tagged out. I daydream about sitting on the bench and catching my breath. But spending my active duty days on the bench isn't what is wise. That isn't what the Bible teaches.
So for those who are truly in the trenches, I know that we are looking for concrete answers. Real solutions. How do I make this switch practically? How do I get on board with this type of distance mentality?
Go read Hebrews 12. All of it. And then hang on some of the verses that pull at you. It is a powerful section. But a few highlights.
Hebrews was written for doubters. It was written for those who were either considering reverting back to Judaism and denying that Christ was the Messiah after all, or they were just trying to do both traditional legalism and wrap it up with a non-essential Jesus bow. Either way, they needed a gentle reminder of why they believed what they believed.
And so do we.
Hebrews 12:1,"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross."
We've got a cloud of witnesses my friends, with sticky fingers and never ending needs.
To run the race with endurance is to "lay aside every sin that clings so closely" and to "look to Jesus". Sin. It clings. It clutches. It digs its nails into our flesh. It wont let go. So we need a little help.
We need to ask God to point out the places that we're caught. Places where we are weak and bordering on injury. We need to ask for reproach. It is to ask for the very thing that we think our children need. Which they do. But again, we're the line leaders.
Even though Proverbs is talking about being dedicated to our children's journey, Hebrews injects Jesus into the mix explaining that dedication really begins with going the distance with God ourselves.
In verse 12 it says "Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather healed. " (NAS)
We have lame limbs.
We are not whole.
We need him to straighten the path we keep trying to make crooked.
In proper dedication and training for our kiddos, we have to admit that we are running the course with a lame limb. Maybe a whole bunch of them. We are perhaps doubled over with a side ache. Maybe we are lying face down in the trenches with a busted rib.
I read once,
that the best athletes "play hurt". Isn't that the truth? The best moms play hurt too. But if we are Believers, we don't run it alone. We don't hurt alone. We don't hobble alone.
Play hurt. Don't pretend your not. The battle is already won.
We're in this together,