This weeks blog post was written by one of our amazing sidewalk counselors, Angela Fisher. Thanks Angela for sharing your heart!
Just a few weeks ago marked the 2018 Winter Olympic season , my family, I’m sure like many of you, watched much of the Olympics in amazement. We saw young men and women who have worked incredibly hard for their entire life, many of them overcoming great obstacles, to bring them to the pinnacle of their athletic career, the Olympics. As a mom, I loved watching the parent’s reactions as their child competed. I couldn’t help but to think of the countless hours, the endless sacrifices, and utmost devotion these parents have had to help their child reach this level of excellence and to become an Olympiad.
I don’t believe any of my children are destined to compete in the Olympic games, but I too have made great sacrifices to help my children achieve goals they have set for themselves, as well as goals I have set for them. There have been seasons in life where I have spent more hours of the day in the car running kids to soccer practice, ballet practice, and art class than I did sleeping. I have sat in rainy weather, freezing weather, and burn-your-skin weather to be able to cheer for my child on the soccer field. I have stayed up late into the evening making Science projects, helping with Calculus homework, and editing papers. I have driven hours to sit on cold, hard bleachers to watch my daughter’s marching band perform in the half-time show. Other parents know what I’m talking about. We could all write out the countless sacrifices we have made to try to help our child grow in academics, athletics, and even social status.
But lately, I’ve been considering how many Christian parents don’t invest and make the same kind of sacrifices for their children’s spiritual growth. Many of us sit comfortably in the pews, go to our Bible studies, or serve where we find it the easiest. So, we are content and feel that our children are doing well if they sit politely in the pews, go to youth group, and maybe help with children’s church. I think we must ask ourselves if that is spiritual growth? How did the Olympic athletes grow enough as athletes to compete on the world’s stage? Was it sitting and being comfortable? Or was it through putting their bodies and minds through challenges that almost broke them? I think most athletes would say that they had to push themselves through extreme fatigue and pain to produce muscles and endurance to accomplish their desired goals.
What would happen to our world and our own personal walk if we pursued spiritual growth with this same sacrificial, limit-breaking commitment? As I ponder how this might look in my life, and then how I can be a dedicated parent to my child’s spiritual growth, I’m convicted by something I witnessed two weeks ago in my two teenage daughters. My daughters stand outside of an abortion clinic in Charlotte weekly and offer help, hope, and truth to the women that arrive to have abortions. Being a sidewalk counselor can be extremely draining and discouraging on days when people won’t talk to you, or there is opposition to your efforts that mock and yell at you. All the while, you know that twenty some babies are about to die, 50 feet from where you stand.
On this particular day, I watched my daughters show the love of Christ, persevere under verbal attacks and never give up on sharing the Gospel. I snapped a few pictures of them exercising their spiritual muscles. Later that day I looked closely at those pictures, and I couldn’t stop looking at them. In the one picture, my oldest is talking on a microphone about God’s love and how she wants to help each person who had come there. While she was trying to share her heart, she was being yelled at and mocked by a “pro-choice” group. The next picture I looked at showed how as this group was crowding up against her, my other daughter stepped between her and those attacking. To deflect their attacks and enable her sister to speak, she began responding to these 3 adults. These adults then unleashed their ugliness and attacks against her and her faith. The mom in me wanted to run over and rescue her from the “debate”, but I chose to stand back and watch.
You see, God doesn’t want me to make my kids’ spiritual lives easy, because if I remove the challenges then they will never grow. He wants me to equip them, challenge them, and then come alongside and instruct when they have been stretched uncomfortably. My daughters don’t have every perfect response or know what to say against every attack, but that’s ok. Entering the spiritual battle, defending their faith, feeling uncomfortable, and even feeling inadequate to “answer” hard questions has stretched and grown their spiritual bodies in a way that sitting in the pews never could.
As a society, we put so much energy and emphasis on our kids improving in sports or academics, but are we investing in real spiritual growth in their lives? Most of us won’t have a child that becomes a world-class athlete, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. But, if our children know the Lord, they will each stand before the Lord and give an account of what they did with this great salvation they have been given. I am convinced that many of us are missing out on huge spiritual growth and blessings, not because of sin, but a lack of willingness to go into the fire for Him. Even more so, as parents, we are protecting our kids from entering the fire for Him. And sadly, our spiritual muscles are unable to grow and our offspring have our same spiritual body shape.
I must ask as myself, what should I be doing to help my children take the necessary steps to grow in the most important part of their life? There were many parents whose Olympiad did not reach the podium to receive a medal. But, dear Christian parent, your child will stand on the greatest stage of all, the one before their Lord and Savior. Let us, as parents, have a fresh perspective on what sacrifices we need to make to help our spiritual Olympiad stand victorious as they receive their imperishable reward from the Lord.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the game exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not beating the air, but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” I Cor. 9:24–27
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