I don't know how to introduce this thought. Every intro is followed by the delete key. So I'll just say that I was tremendously encouraged by what I read in 1 Thessalonians. Paul laid out his ministry step by step, a checklist for parents with a toddling mission field. I found myself praying through this passage and wanted to share it with you.From I Thessalonians 2:1-16
- Confident in God's purpose - Our coming to you was not in vain - Considering Paul was only in Thessalonica for three weeks before he was chased out of town, see Acts 16 it would be tempting to view the visit as a failure. Paul didn't get to see much, if any, fruit. I am quickly discouraged when I don't see fruit. Not a helpful trait in a mother of babies. Will I be satisfied with the work God has given me to do, especially when I must trust Him and not my eyes for the results?
- Present the gospel boldly - We had boldness in our God to declare the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. Paul thought only of God and His good news. How am I daily presenting the gospel? Am I putting words to God's truth every day? Am I bold and true to the Word when we're in public? I don't just mean the grocery store with strangers. I mean friends' houses where our discipline and word choice might meet judgement.
- Give of myself - So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves. I love the phrase "affectionately desirous." That's exactly how I feel when I can't keep from pressing lips onto tiny foreheads. That affection necessarily translates into laundry and dishes and potty training. Loving my family through service. Then I see heart change in myself.
- Be the example - How holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you. As I become my mother more and more, I recognize the influence I have over the girls. My life, like my mom's, should be one they are blessed to follow.
- Exhort and encourage - Like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encourage you and charge you to walk in a manner worthy of God. So much of my day is spent encouraging fruit, exhorting wise decisions, and charging toward righteousness. Not just the girls, but Tim and myself. This is real parent work. Anyone can wash dishes, teach manners, chauffeur. When I'm sick or tired, these conversations are the first to go. Why do I neglect the important jobs for putting toys away? I fall victim to what my eyes can see. Eternal visions blurs. I need the Spirit's true perspective once again.
- Expect God's word to work - accepted it [the Gospel] not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. Or stated another way, The word of God does not return void Isaiah 55:11. I find this especially encouraging with teeny hearts like Afton. She understands so few words that sometimes it feels foolish to read the Bible to her every night or admonish her in the Word when she sins. But I trust the power in God's word. No matter how unlikely, His word accomplishes His good work.
- Prepare for suffering - For you suffered the same things. We would not be kind to our girls if we did not condition them to face hardship. It's coming. Every adult knows that life hurts. I don't mean to scare; I mean to prepare. Strengthen their faith ahead of time. Give them resolve to trust God's goodness before it is challenged.
- Finally, work in light of Christ's return - For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? I already wrote of my hope in Christ's return. Now I work toward that end. Faithful disciples, Godly fruit, prayers offered in worship. All looking toward a day when I will be rewarded by the presence of my savior.
Increasingly, I value prayer lists for myself as a parent. I easily find verses to pray over the girls and often neglect prayer for me and Tim. Here's a list I can access several days in a row without moving a bookmark. I hope it encourages you this week as you present the good news to your families.