Saturday, May 6, 2017

Stand Up Gideon

Stand up, Gideon,” the principal spoke into the mic, in front of a few hundred rising 6th graders seated cross-legged on the floor and their parents crowded into the gym bleachers of Timberview Middle School. Gideon rose to his feet and became the focus of everyone's attention, as the principal went on to say, “Gideon's mom already introduced him to me and I just wanted to recognize him.”

I really felt for that kid, even though he didn't seem embarrassed at all. And I know that David, sitting at my side, was relieved that he wasn't Gideon, as his goal at the middle school intro night was to blend in as much as possible.

These past couple of weeks I've been thinking about Gideon's mom, and how I can relate with her desire to be a mover and shaker for her son. To help stack the cards for him so he might have a better chance of succeeding. Not only in school, but in all of life. 

Gideon's mom reminds me of the mother of James and John, who was so bold as to ask Jesus if one of her sons could sit at his right and one at his left in his kingdom. (Matthew 20:20-21) It doesn't hurt to ask right? Let's dream big.

One of our family's favorite movie scenes is from Glory Road, when Harry's mom, determined to help him improve his grades, sits in the desk right behind him at school. When the teacher asks who can answer her questions, his mom responds each time with confidence, “My son Harry can.” Jordan can do a great impersonation of Harry's mom and had us all laughing with that line in our last family skype call.

Gideon's mom, James and John's mom, Harry's mom--all have the same goal in mind, don't they?

They want the best for their children and they're committed to doing whatever they can to help them reach their goals. Is that true of us too?

Is the main focus of our lives Jesus, with gratitude for all of His grace poured out on us? Or do we feel a heavy weight on our shoulders that everything is up to our effort? If I don't make it happen, it's not going to happen. (I am definitely guilty of believing that at times.)

Paul wrote a stinging letter to the Galatians about how they had begun with the Spirit, but were now trying to reach their goal by human effort. “Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives.” (Gal 3:1 MSG)

Clear focus. That's what I really want for each of my children. But I also need it for myself. And I'm aware of how easily I can lose that focus, so that Jesus is no longer the center of my life. How quickly I default to depending on my own efforts.

Last week CJ called us with some good news: he was selected as Notre Dame's valedictorian. Charly and I felt both humbled and amazed. This was very different than being valedictorian of his home school class of one! He had emailed us his submitted speech, which was one part of the selection process, and we thought it was great (but we might be just a little bit biased). I told him I would have voted for him if I was on the selection committee. But of course, there was nothing I could do to put in a good word for him. I'm sure that popping up behind him in his interview, like Harry's mom, "Choose my son CJ" would not have helped him. When we heard the news that CJ had received this huge honor, we received it as a gracious gift from God. So clearly not a result of our efforts.

I finished reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to David this morning and I love what Aslan said to Lucy and Edmund, after he told them that although they were too old to return to Narnia, they would see him in their own world. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

Aslan's words help me to focus on what I see as my main job as a mom: not to work hard to help my kids get ahead, but to help them know Jesus for themselves. That He would be the clear focus of my life and their lives. That we would not get side-tracked and lose that focus, like the Galatians did, and start to depend on our own efforts to reach our goals, apart from Him.

“Anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure.”

“The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” (Gal. 3:10,11 MSG)

Maybe instead of focusing on getting our kids to stand up and stand out, we would do better to teach them how to spend time on their knees, keeping their focus on Jesus.

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