Wednesday, April 4, 2012

busy service - and a week off

You won't hear much from me on this blog for a week or so. It's school holidays, Easter is coming, and I'm using this time to catch my breath, remember Jesus, spend some time with our family, and get ready for the coming term.

Who said my first term without children at home would be easy? Who was going to take everyone's advice and not start lots of new ministries this year? Who pictured long days at home, sipping a cuppa, reading a book or ten, getting the house ordered and glowing for the first time in its eleven years of being lived in by our family, and catching up with friends? Could that possibly have been - wait a minute - me???

It seems God had other ideas. It's the end of term one, and I find myself:

  • leading a Bible study at the university campus nearby
  • mentoring and praying with two younger women from church
  • meeting with a friend to read a gospel together.

Put like that, it doesn't sound like much. Factor in husband and children and home and parents and church and friends and prayer and writing; plus the difficulties of adjusting to a new life phase and working out how to make it all work; plus some nervous fears - going back to university to do ministry when you're 43 is more challenging than I anticipated, especially when I wasn't anticipating it at all! - and at times it's felt overwhelming.

Yet I'm so very grateful to God for these opportunities. I love this! I love working alongside my husband in university ministry. I love the chance to mentor younger women. I love the fact that my husband and I will soon be leading the first Bible study we've ever led together. Much of this wouldn't have been possible in my previous season of life, and I'm revelling in the chance to do some of these things again.

Do we expect the Christian life to be easy? Or do we expect to be busy in the service of God and others? Sometimes it's time for rest. Sometimes it's time for busy service. Mostly it's time for busy service (Phil 2:17; 2 Thess 3:8-9; 1 Tim 5:9-14; Titus 2:3-5). Not over-busy, nervous, not-trusting, ambitious, being-eaten-up-by-people service (the kind I'm good at). But free, loving, wise, grace-inspired, poured-out-for-people service (the kind I'm learning).

As I turn my thoughts to Easter, these words echo in my mind:

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
Praise God for our suffering and glorified Saviour, who paved the way for us to die with him during this life, then live with him forever. My life belongs to him.

image is from habeebee on flickr


Bek said...

That sounds so very exciting, and a great encouragement Jean! I always appreciate knowing that I'm not the only one still trying to figure out how to make everything work! It's so exciting to hear about your new stage in life too - as much as I LOVE having littlies and on one hand am terrified that they'll grow up too quickly and I'll have missed it, I'm excited to think about what God might have in store for me at the other end too.

Jean said...

Thanks, Bek! Good to know my rather random post encouraged someone.

Do you know, the only times I didn't feel torn by the whole balance thing were:

1. before I had kids
2. for a few brief years when I had absolutely no time for anything else!! (That was, from memory, when I had several kids plus pregnancies to cope with.)

I made a deliberate decision for a few years that extra ministries (besides making it to church) weren't really possible, and that I needed to focus on the home. That was a good decision for a time.

Then, of course, you start extra ministries again - in my case, it started with blogging once I knew my pregnancies were over (God willing) - and all the questions come back, and the mistakes, and the learning...

But God is good, and family life is more flexible than I am tempted to make it out to be. And you will never lose or miss those early years, Bek. You are there for your kids, whatever else you do, and it sounds to me like you are enjoying them mightily. It's an odd fear - and an oddly modern goal - that we have to "make the most" of the early years, or "experience them" to the full. That's not really the point of having kids, although there's so much pressure from others to make it about this. But I totally get it: I have always felt the same, a combination of anxiety and guilt and joy.

Love Jean.

Rachach said...

The comment "It's an odd fear - and an oddly modern goal - that we have to "make the most" of the early years, or "experience them" to the full. That's not really the point of having kids, although there's so much pressure from others to make it about this" really got me thinking.

I have lived most of my mothering life thinking that enjoying my kids is one of the big reasons for having them and that my success or failure as a parent is caught up in with how much I am coping/enjoying being a mum. When really it is not about this at all....but what is it about? I'm guessing love, service, growth in godliness, extending the kingdom, are all reasons for having kids.

What would you say?

Perhaps this is something you've already written about, but I couldn't find it on your blog.

Love Rach

Jean said...

Hi Rach,

No I haven't written about it - I think! I only have a minute, so this is off the top of my head:

Doesn't God say in Malachi that marriage is for (in part!) raising godly offspring? So that is the goal. Teaching, training, loving, and disciplining our children to grow them to love Jesus more than anything. And giving them this example in our own lives. Loving Jesus more than we love them! :)

Gospel-centred parenting, in other words. Parenting that focusses on Jesus and has his glory and his kingdom as the goal. Helping them to love Jesus more than anything. Which will affect everything we want for our kids, and for ourselves as their parents, and how we use our time as a family, and the choices we make for them, etc etc...

Tim Chester's "Gospel Centred Parenting" is a good guide.

Cathy wrote something good about this:

Love Jean.