This weekend I wanted to teach my children in a practical way how to hear God speak to their hearts, and how to have eyes to see people that otherwise may be overlooked. I have taught my children so many times that God speaks to the heart, and a few times they have seemed to have experiences with His voice, but I wanted to give them an opportunity to actually commune with Him. So...we went to a park and sat down on a blanket and I explained to them that I had some $10 bills, on those bills we were going to write a few simple lines: You are seen. You are loved. You matter. You have a purpose, and a verse from Colossians about peace and love and gratefulness. I put the notes on the bills and told them that we were going to Meijer (local grocery store) and we would walk around the store looking for people that needed to be encouraged, and pass them out. Before that, we spent some time in prayer asking God for eyes to see and hearts to hear His voice concerning these matters. The boys were nervous, and way out of their comfort zones, and quite frankly...so was I. Everett and I did ours (he is 4 and shines so bright that I have no doubt God put Him on this earth to point to the Son). Noah, well that is another blog for another day. But Landon. Landon is our oldest and has a little bit of social anxiety, so I knew this was a big stretch for him. But he genuinely wanted to do it. He wanted to do it on his own, without me, so I told him we would separate and meet back in 10 minutes. I told him to pray and ask God to direct him to the people/person He had, and for the eyes to see people. Then we separated. When we met back, about 8 minutes later, Landon had tears in his eyes and they weren't good tears. He had found a woman he described as looking "depressed" and when he got the courage to offer her the note, and say what I instructed him ("this is for you"), she told him she could not take his money, but didn't say it in a kindly way. When I met back up with my boy his face was marked with shame and rejection. Oh how defeated I felt. He wanted out of there quickly and so we left.
As I drove home I couldn't help but wonder why. And even this morning, I was praying and asking God how this could be redeemed. How would my boy ever get the courage to try again. Because seeing people and being courageous enough to reach out and offer support (whether it be money or time or resources of any kind) is costly and risky. But oh how much I want to raise a generation that has eyes to see and hearts to hear. God did not answer me as I hoped He would. I still can't tell you the purpose in all of this. But I can tell you this. I did something risky yesterday with the boys. It didn't end up being some beautiful portrait all tied up with a neat bow. But what it did do, was put my boys in the ring. This life is a fight. A fight for our hearts and minds, our time and our resources. It is so easy to sit idly by on the sidelines and watch others take up the cause. To talk big and act small. Because acting costs. Loving radically, often hurts. And I believe that Satan is right there ready to capitalize on that hurt and tell us that we are failures, that we should be ashamed, that we are nothing and have nothing to give. And in that place of vulnerability, so often we listen to him. And we leave the fight. We exit the ring.
I am discouraged, and confused in many things. I do not know it all, or even the half of it. But I do know that I want to be part of the fight for people's lives and minds and faith and eternity. And I want my boys to also enter the ring. So yesterday had the potential to hold defeat, and for a few hours, defeat and lies rang through the corridors of my heart. But today was a new day. A day in which I was able to speak life and hope into my oldest son. A day to encourage him to get back in the ring. A day to remind him that loving others rarely means safety and perfection, and sometimes is a bloody awful mess. But Jesus came into this mess we call life to live amongst us, to weep with us, to heal us, to die for us, to redeem us. His radical love doesn't always make sense and people always have a choice how to respond to it. But one thing I know for sure, when I stand before God I want to know that I entered the ring while I was here on this earth. That I had eyes to see and a heart to hear His voice calling me into messy situations with messy people so that we could all live this messy life in community, waging war on the lies of Satan. While it looked like defeat for a moment yesterday, today Landon and I are headed back into the ring. I am going to fight for the hearts of my children. And I am going to teach them to see and hear and love and sacrifice, not because it is easy, but because we are called to do so. The joy that comes with obedience is so much greater than the doubt that comes from the lies of defeat.
I felt shame, as though I had set them up for failure. But really I felt called (this idea had been sitting in my heart for the past 4 months). So then I felt let down. And then I felt doubt assail me. You see how fast it goes downhill? But God. He can bust right through the shame and rejection that came to Landon yesterday. Perhaps, just maybe, Landon needed to know what shame and rejection felt like before he could have the eyes to truly see it. Therein lies redemption, the gift. He now has eyes to see those who need the Gift, because he himself has the need. Its not defeat, its victory.