Last week, I had the sweet privilege to visit a new friend of mine. She has two young boys and shared with me her current struggles/prayer concerns about educational choices for her oldest. We discussed different options of education, challenges in parenting a strong-willed child, and embracing motherhood in its various seasons.
Later that same day, I was talking with another recently married friend who desires to have a family in the future. I found myself sharing with her from my own motherhood journey and encouraging her heart to embrace the struggles and joys that will come from being a mom.
I have been a mom now for almost 15 years, and am graciously blessed to parent 5 amazing children! Currently, I am parenting a busy freshman in high school, a middle school girl with changing hormones, a spunky 8 year old, and 2 munchkins learning to read and write in kindergarten.
At times it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the daily responsibilities of motherhood. At times it’s frustrating. At times I feel pulled in so many different directions. At times I fail miserably and lose my cool. At times I cry and laugh multiple times in just an hour. At times I wonder what in the world God is doing in all of our lives! At ALL times, I’m desperate for Jesus to fill us with His grace and love.
As a new mom, I can remember all the goals and desires I had for my children. I think of the goals and expectations I had set for myself as a mom . . . and prided myself on. In those early days of parenting, I could never have known how God would strip me of selfish desires, expose my “perfectionism” and performance mentality, reveal pride, and lead me to a humble dependence in Him alone. In His grace, He continues to change my heart as a parent and bring new focus on His heart for my children.
I’ve asked myself the question recently . . . “What do I most desire for my children?”
My answer is simply this . . . to treasure Jesus.
More than ever before, I am learning that nothing else matters here on this earth. Treasuring Jesus is THE most important thing!
Matthew 22:36-37 says,
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”
In the past few years, God has been refining my heart. He has taken me through very difficult valleys. He has stripped away precious people and things. He has withheld opportunities that I so desperately wanted in my timing and own way. He has brought to light my own selfishness and sin in ways I would never have chosen. He has humbled me.
Through all of these valleys and heartaches, He has led me to Himself — the greatest treasure of all. For many years, I treasured the blessings that God bestows on His children. Today, I treasure Jesus . . . the greatest blessing of all. His blessings are just an extra add-on. He is my desire! I love the words from 2 Corinthians 4:7: “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.”
The longer that I parent, the more I realize that God doesn’t ask for me to provide the highest and best education for my children. He doesn’t ask me to give them the newest fashions. He doesn’t require me to feed them only organic foods. He is not most interested in what sleep schedule they are on. He doesn’t ask me to provide gymnastic lessons, sport activities on the weekends, iphones and ipads, or even involvement at every single youth activity or church function.
While all of these things I’ve mentioned are good things and can have a proper place in our lives, Jesus simply tells us to “Love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds.” Simply put — to treasure Jesus.
Here’s the deal . . . if my children treasure Jesus, they will want for nothing. Colossians 2: 3 says, “In him (Christ himself) lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” When Jesus is the greatest treasure of our lives, He fills every part of us with the best of the best –HIMSELF! Paul speaks of “the endless treasures available to them in Christ” in Ephesians 3: 8. A life that treasures Jesus is filled with unending joy, deep rest and peace, and a satisfaction in the Gospel that can be found nowhere else.
As a parent, I find these words of God bring freedom to me. Rather than being concerned about so many choices and external matters in parenting, I am simply to lead my children to treasure Jesus. How I flesh that out will look differently from other parents as well. Freedom in Christ is a beautiful thing! At the end of the day, I have been asking myself, “Have I led my children to treasure Jesus today?”
You see . . . my children learn to treasure Jesus by following my example. Do they see Jesus as my greatest treasure? If not, they why would I be so naive as to think they would want Jesus to be theirs? If Christ is not most beautiful and precious to me, then why would I desire something different for them?
This reality is where it gets hard, friends. Not only is Jesus to be the treasure of my children’s hearts . . . but He must be MY greatest treasure. And He wants to be yours as well.
Psalm 42:1 says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.”
Daily, I must examine my own life and ask myself hard questions. Am I thirsty for God in the way a deer is desperately thirsty for water? Am I loving the Lord God with all of my heart, soul, and mind? Are my daily choices revealing that Jesus is my greatest treasure? Is my time given to things that prove Jesus is my heart’s deepest desire? Do my words give evidence that Jesus sits on the throne of my heart? Are my actions at home in obedience to His Word?
I told my young parent friends that Satan wants to distracts us with so many “good” choices in parenting, that it’s very easy to lose sight of the “best” thing. I so often forsake the “best” for the “good” . . . and then God has to redirect my heart and focus back to Himself.
For me, treasuring Jesus above anything else requires . . .
- Letting go of my own selfish desires
- Surrendering control of my daily plans and agendas
- Investing in “heavenly treasures” vs. “earthly matters”
- Sacrificing my time to give to Jesus and others
- No longer comparing myself to other moms but to Jesus Christ
- Intentionally pursuing relationships that honor Christ and increase my love for Him
- Saying “no” to activities that lead me away from my family and the body of Christ
- Finding my worth in Christ rather than other’s opinions and expectations of me
- Choosing His truth over my feelings
- Admitting my struggles to others (my children included) and allowing them to “speak into” my life and pray for and with me
- Confessing regularly of my sins and asking forgiveness from Christ and others who I have sinned against
- Studying His Word more than checking my social media accounts
- Reminding myself that God gave me my children and that they ultimately belong to Him . . . I must steward them well
- Giving up my ideas of “what my life should look and be like” and trusting that He controls it all and is constantly faithful
- Saying “yes” to the things of God rather than the things of man
- Guarding my heart with all diligence
- Keeping a pure heart and mind . . . fixing my thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)
- Loving His Word and living it out
This list is by no means exhaustive nor easy to live out! Treasuring Jesus is a daily choice for me and a daily submission to His Word. It requires me to surrender my flesh and allow Christ to live through me. I must “set my sights on the realities of heaven . . . and think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2) I must remember that “I (you) died to this life, and my (your)real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is my (your) life, is revealed to the whole world, I (you) will share in all his glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4)
I’m always challenged with the story of Mary of Bethany from the Gospels. Mary clearly chose the best thing . . . she treasured Jesus and poured out her best for Him. She spent her all on Jesus. He was her everything and she held back nothing from Him. Everyone knew where her treasure was. She unashamedly treasured Jesus. And she is still remembered today.
A few weeks ago, my oldest daughter asked me, “Why do you mostly just listen to Christian music?” As I thought on how to accurately answer her question, I told her this . . .”Because I will spend eternity worshipping Jesus and praising Him, so I want to be practicing now.”
While I am free to listen to many different types of music (and I do), I want to constantly be reminding my heart and the hearts of my children that Jesus is the treasure! We will spend all of eternity worshipping the Creator! God’s Word says, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
More than attaining scholarships to prestigious universities, more than excelling at sports, more than receiving accolades at school, more than wearing the latest fashions, and more than acquiring successful jobs, I long for my children to treasure Jesus. Of all the beautiful and wonderful things in life that we can acquire, He is the most valuable treasure! He will last forever!
May God continue to help each one of us pursue Christ passionately and treasure Him above anything else in this world. And may our children see Christ as the most beautiful treasure!