Bethany House Publishers
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
all your soul,
and all your strength.
Always remember these commands I give you today.
Teach them to your children, and talk about them
when you sit at home
and walk along the road,
when you lie down
and when you get up."
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ncv)
Let Your Light So Shine
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine ..." You've probably heard the song. It's based on Matthew 5:16: "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Even though it is a familiar verse, sometimes we read Scripture passages with fresh eyes when God's Spirit brings their truth home to us. This happened to me one day as I read this verse in Matthew.
I thought about the difference it would make in my home if I let the light of Jesus shine through me. What would it be like for my husband and kids to see my good works as deeds done to glorify the Lord? I thought about the verse for several days after, and I found that I was handling situations differently because I wanted to live it out in a tangible way.
Fast forward one week.
Laurie and I were sitting together, waiting to go on stage to speak, when a sweet lady took the microphone and read the same verse, "Let your light shine...." As she began praying, I also prayed, Lord, I commit to let my light shine with my family today. Knowing the day I had before me, I knew this would be a challenge, but I knew that with His strength it was possible. We had four hundred miles to drive that day with three children, but the prospects were promising. We were driving in our bus, which was equipped with games, a TV, books, and food--lots of food.
The trip started and things were going fine in the beginning. There is one thing you should understand: because the bus moves around a lot, it's important to "tie everything down." Every time the wheels start rolling, we latch drawers, cabinets, doors, and the refrigerator ... especially the refrigerator.
Along the way we stopped at a favorite spot for all of us, QT (QuikTrip), to get a great fountain drink. During our stop someone unlatched the fridge, and in my excitement over my cherry vanilla Diet Coke, I forgot to re-latch it. We turned to the right to enter the freeway when my husband misjudged a little and ran over a curb, jolting everything to the left. Not latching the fridge and running over a curb ... that's a bad combination! The door swung open and I watched in horror as apple juice, milk, white bean soup, Cokes, ketchup, and anything else that was loose literally flew from the shelves. Each landed with a crash, a splat, or a spew. I could do nothing about it, lest I get hit in the head by a jar of flying sweet-pickle relish. (Sweet means sticky!)
As the scene progressed, I finally closed and latched the door. I sighed as I assessed the damage. This was by far the worst spill we had ever had in our bus. I had always been so thankful for a full-sized refrigerator in our bus ... until now!
In my mind, all I could think was, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." I wanted to scream, but I didn't. I wanted to accuse my husband for driving carelessly, but I didn't. I wanted to yell at my children to stay out of the mess ... Okay ... I did speak firmly, but I didn't yell.
So as we continued down the road (there was no place to stop), I squished through the mess to the back of the bus, prayed, then put a smile on my face and made my way to the front of the bus. Six little eyes, along with my husband looking in the rearview mirror, waited to see how I would respond. I said, "Well, our floor needed to be cleaned anyway!" Only God could do that--to Him be the glory!
Dear Father, you are amazingly patient with us. I'm realizing that your gift of children and the circumstances of life are probably going to grow that patience in me. I pray that my words and actions in the midst of a crisis, however big or small, will be less reactive and more resolved to treat those I love with respect. Help me to let my light shine before my family, so they can see that the good deeds I do are for your glory. On my own I can't shine, but you can shine through me. I commit myself again to you, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Sing "This Little Light of Mine" with your kids. Maybe it will be one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head so you'll be reminded through your day to let your light shine for the Lord.
As soon as I began receiving the magazines, I started a filing system where I could put the articles I would someday use with my family. In my idealistic mind, I envisioned all the great things I would do with my kids. Along with these fun ideas, I planned to have my children quoting books out of the Bible (instead of just verses). I was determined!
Three years later I married, and after three more years we began our family. I was thrilled to be a mom. Now was the time! Only, my baby girl was a little young to make crayon melts. A couple of years later I realized that it was finally "the time," but my life was so much more hectic by then. My daughter took lots of my time, plus I had added another child. My husband also needed my time. My friends needed me and I needed them. When was I supposed to fit in these mounds of great ideas I had stored away, or teach all those verses I longed for my kids to know?
I found myself discouraged, unmotivated, and too tired to do all those fun things I had dreamed of doing. Now, many years later, I've done a few things and taught some Scripture, but I've not been as serious about it as I once thought I would be.
Looking back, I realize that when I was nineteen, I had no experience at being a mother. It looked so fun, so concrete, so "easy." (How could I have ever thought that?) Now that I am experienced at being a mom and know it's not always a thrill, I've come to realize that it's definitely not a cut-and-dried job, and not even close to "easy."
But my dreams of sharing fun times with my children and teaching them Scripture and the truths of God were not in vain. God put those desires in me. Like anything worthwhile, they don't come easy. But they are so rewarding when they work out. What I idealistically dreamed about at nineteen boils down to a lot of work, and my expectations were out of whack. However, I also know that whatever I am going to do with my kids, now is the time!
So how do I work with my schedule, my lack of energy, and my life as it is? Here are some of my thoughts:
I realize that I need to surrender my idealistic view of being the best organized, most creative, and godliest woman in America! It's just not possible. But God knew I could be a great mom for my children. I trust Him now for the energy, creativity, and insight to be what He wants me to be.
1. I have to stop dreaming about tomorrow, or I'll miss today. Before I know it, I'll be wishing for grandkids and dreaming of what I'll do with them!
2. I'll use the little moments along the way--bath time, breakfast, in the car, before bed. (Deuteronomy 6:7)
3. I'll do fun things (goodness knows I have enough ideas), but not every day or even every week. I'll do what I can when I can.
4. I won't let myself be so busy with other things that I don't have time to do creative or really important things with my family. (If you're a single mom, military mom, or have a husband who works a lot, this one is harder for you. Give yourself the grace to do what you can.)
Lord, I can put so much pressure on myself to be the "perfect" mom--the mom I thought I would be. Show me what is realistic for my life. Please take away the guilt that I often feel, and show me how to use the little moments. Show me the "fun things" you want me to do with my kids. I don't have to do everything, or even as much as my friend does with her children. Give me the energy and creativity to pour into my children the things that are so important, like your Word. Forgive me for being too hard on myself. You aren't nearly as demanding of me. Thank you for your grace. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
Let your young kids use the rags in the bathtub to put on a bath-time puppet show. Matthew 8:23-27 is a good story to act out. Be ready for lots of splashing! The story of Jonah and the whale is also fun.
Once you have picked some age-appropriate Scriptures or activities, write them on your calendar. You probably won't memorize all the Scripture or do all the things recorded on the exact day that you listed it, but you'll be much more likely to remember it if it's in front of you. (For great ideas, check out: www.familyfun.com.)