Monday, May 20, 2013

It Is The Lord Who Works In Me To Will And To Act

My life is not perfect, but I would not change a thing.  My Father in heaven works all things together for good, because I love Him and He has called me according to His good purposes.  It is my Heavenly Father who lives in me and works in me to will and to act according to His plan.  When we choose to obey, instead of trying to push everything to go our own way, He leads us and He uses us in ways that we could never have imagined.

Example:  About a month ago, I arrived at our homeschool co-op with our five youngest children.  Our four year old did not want to bring his jacket, but it was cold, so I tossed it in the van.  When we arrived, he saw it and decided that we should all stand in the cold and wait for him while he put it on to walk from the van to the door.  OK, no big deal.  Funny, but...whatever!  However, when we get to the door, he decides that we should all wait outside while he zips his jacket up, which could take a long time and end up in frustration.  We were right on time, if not a few minutes late.  I was not going to let him be in charge.  This was not about the jacket.  It was about control.  He had been pushing these boundaries for several weeks.  I told him that we were late, that we were entering the warm building, and that he did not need to have his jacket zipped up.  I was not angry, just matter of fact.  I proceeded through the door, and he let out a loud protest, as if I had just abandoned him.  Everyone looked our way, and some even came over to see how they could help.  I just stopped.

My thoughts were all over the place.  We were late.  This was embarrassing.  It's not fair to the tired baby, who had been crying.  It's not fair to my six year old, who was going to be late because of this.  Every onlooker has an opinion.  There are always some who just want peace and quiet.  Sure enough, after explaining the reason for the tantrum, which continued far beyond the initial outburst, someone suggested that I just let him put his jacket back on and zip it up for him.  Note that after we stepped inside, I had taken his jacket off and had put it into his backpack, telling him that he could wear it when his class went outside to play on the playground.  Inside my head I was screaming, "No way!"  This was a battle for dominance, and I was not going to let a four year old win, no matter how embarrassing the situation was.  I politely told the woman that I did not think that would be the best plan of action.  I moved my crew to the door, but discovered that there was a science class meeting outside, so there was no private place to take my out-of-control child to work it out with him.  I decided to carry on as if nothing was out of the ordinary, so I headed for my 'mailbox' to pick up my name tag and check for notes.

One friend followed me to my 'mailbox'.  She wanted to help, but...Really...What could she do?  I spoke with her calmly, while my preschooler continued to cry and complain.  I explained what I thought about the situation and what my rational and strategy was for teaching my son that he was not going to be in charge.  She understood.  I was thankful.  I took a few minutes to talk calmly with my son, telling him that he was not going to be allowed to put his jacket on until it was time for his class to play outside.  I no longer remember all that was said, but it was all spoken in love and with his best interest in mind.  In the end, he agreed to go to class and wait until recess to put his jacket on again.  My friend walked with us to the preschool department to drop him off.  She pushed the stroller and waited with the baby so that I could hold my son's hand as we walked and get him settled into his class.  Did I mention that this was my son's 4th birthday.  Thankfully, the rest of his day was much better than the start of his day.

So, God was working in me to will what He wills and to act according to His good purposes.  I acted in love for the good of my child.  Then, God did something amazing.  The friend who witnessed the tantrum and my response to it was a friend with whom I had recently shared how God had healed us from so much.  I had told her how I used to lose my temper often, and I told her how God's love had healed us.  She saw me deal gently and lovingly with an out-of-control four year old and she remembered what I told her about my past and our healing.  While I was dropping my son off in his classroom, she was talking with another young mom in our co-op.  She shared with her what she knew about me and what she had witnessed, expressing the desire to hear the rest of our story.  I needed to nurse the baby, so I told them that I was going to go to the nursing mom's room to feed him and to try to give him a nap.  They both asked if they could join me and asked if I would share with them how I had learned to handle my children with love.  I said yes!  I was delighted to have an opportunity to share what God had been doing in my life, with the hope that they, too, would be inspired to seek Him and His righteousness before all things, so that their lives would be blessed also with a more intimate relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I did not know either mom well, but had recently become acquainted with both, so I did not know where to start, but I reasoned that God did know where I should start.  I began with prayer, which consisted mostly of praying the Word and asking God to be present and to teach us what He would have us to know about Him.  I asked God to guide me to say only that which He would want me to say, so then I began.  I began at the very beginning, with the birth of our first child, his difficult early years, my anger and frustration, etc.  I talked about autism and diet.  I shared pretty much everything.  As I was sharing, they would look astonished at times and explained the similarities between my first child and theirs, and the similarities with the struggles and frustrations of dealing with such behaviors.  I talked for nearly three hours, and they listened intently and asked questions throughout.  It was encouraging to all of us.  I was uplifted to speak of God's working in my life.  I was uplifted to see them so blessed by His testimony in my life.  They were most assuredly blessed.

At the end of the day, I can honestly say that a life surrendered to God is a life worth living.  I was obedient to the will of God, and He used me to minister to others.  His command to me is to love Him and to love others.  I acted in love, when my child was acting selfishly, and God used my son's tantrum to do something good.  He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  To the praise and the glory of the One who made me to be His!

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