Spiritual Affairs

idol"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments."--Exodus 20:4-6 Until the Lord guides me to focus on a particular topic for the month, I thought that I would share some of the things that I am learning, some of the things I am discussing with my small group, things that I am learning with my husband. I hope that what is challenging me will also be a challenge to you.

Yesterday, the moms in our homeschool group were discussing a chapter in Voddie Baucham's book Family Driven Faith entitled "A God with No Rivals." While we all knew that marital infidelity was a serious issue, it became apparent to us as we examined our own homes and families that we all had our own spiritual affairs. These infidelities often look harmless, even noble and responsible, in our own eyes. But noble or not, anything that competes with our love for God is an idol and our Lord tolerates no rivals.

One of those idols we all recognized quickly was the god of academics. While we work hard to teach our children to excel in the 3 R's, be well read, and cultivate their minds for the Lord's use, it is so easy to cross the line and turn it into a god. To be sure, an excellent education is a good thing, but when it becomes the driving force or defining factor in my parenting and homeschooling, it's a good guess that it has become a god.

My daughter is now preparing for her senior year in high school. She has done well, but I know she is not going to be a doctor, engineer, lawyer or anything lucrative. Her gifts, interests and talents lie in the artistic. She decided she didn't want to take any math past Algebra 2. (Gasp!) For someone who has taken college calculus, this is a shocker. It has made me feel uneasy at times. What if this puts her at a disadvantage when she applies to college? Doesn't she need four years of math?

Not only that, we have to come to see that maybe going to college right after high school isn't what God has in mind for her. (Another gasp.) With all the transitions and changes and just feeling plain burnt out from school, we are thinking that taking a gap year (i.e. waiting a year) before entering college may be a good thing. In that year, she may be taking some CLEP exams and studying a little, but we sense that it may also be a good year for her to explore her art, to develop her style, learn from others or start a side business venture of her own.

As I have been pondering this and waiting on the Lord for His direction and guidance for Janna's life, many questions and fears have popped up. By not pursuing a heavy college-prep program, am I setting her back or being irresponsible? Am I shortchanging her potential? What if we end up regretting this? Will she be able to catch up? And worse yet, What will other parents think? 

All these things have made me realize that I have many idols in my life: academics, yes, but also control, the American Dream, self-sufficiency, and the fear of man. These affairs are just as serious as any marital affair. They grieve and wound the heart of my heavenly Bridegroom.

Not only that, I send a subtle message to my children, one that may negate the one that I actually verbalize to them. I am convicted that my actions speak louder than words and that what I am saying with my responses, choices, attitudes, and non-verbal cues are saying something that I do not mean to say.

Right now, I am sensing that I have a difficult talk coming up with my daughter, and maybe even with Matthew. It's going to be one that involves confession, repentance and seeking their forgiveness. It's going to be a move that is going to involve humbling myself before God and before them. I'm not looking forward to it, but I know that it may need to be done sooner than later---or else I run the risk of passing the wrong message on to my children.

What about you? What kind of message are you sending to your children by your behavior, your attitudes, your reactions, your unguarded words and comments? What idols do they betray? And what does God need us to do to tear them down so that He might reign supreme?

Heavenly Father, I confess that I have not been faithful to you alone. So many things I do stem from a desire to fit in or a fear of missing out. And so I look around at what others do and follow them instead of seeking You first and following You, especially if You lead me in a different path. Please guide me in the next steps with my children, for I do not know the best. You know the best not only for them, but for Your kingdom...and it may not be like everyone else. Teach me how to trust You in this parenting journey so that I may be solely Yours and Yours alone. In Jesus' name, Amen.