Personal Handpicked Provision

  • 13 September 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

Many of us search for ways to better hear the voice of God's Spirit in our lives. It's no different if you are an experienced leader or a stay-at-home mom. That's been my experience as I look over the landscape of my prayer life as an experienced leader and as a stay-at-home mom. Recently I had opportunity to lead my daughter in hearing the counsel of God's Spirit. This is her story, my distraction, and our Father's faithful provision for both of us. 

It was Monday morning and my 12-year-old daughter awoke in tears. We had lots of Monday mornings all summer but this one was different. This was the Monday before the Friday she was scheduled to have surgery. Neither of us wanted this to happen, but the closer Friday came the sharper in focus was this reality. Those Monday morning tears now make perfect sense to me. 

I wanted to comfort her, but I felt my skills and resources were too limited. I wanted to whisk her away from all the turmoil maybe even more than she wanted to be delivered from the pending surgery. I knew this was a perfectly shaped set of circumstances for God's Spirit to speak to her in ways that only He knew how.

We took time to remind ourselves of some very important truths—Jesus is always with us, the Holy Spirit is our comfort and our counsel, and how wonderfully loved we are by our Heavenly Father. I didn't recognize it at the time, but these truths were for me too. From there I invited her to share her heart with Jesus—her fears, her disappointments, her questions—and invite Him to speak to her as she listened. This is what many call listening prayer. Whatever the label, I knew my daughter needed to hear for herself the words of life that only He authors.

We often do this listening and sharing on the "outside"—talking and responding to one another as we discern the Spirit's presence and counsel and then process the message together. Today, she would listen on the “inside”—just her and Jesus. This is a double-edged discipline for me. On the one hand, I'm free to patiently wait for the results of my daughter's listening. But on the other hand, I have no opportunity to be tracking the twists and turns. This was a faith exercise as much for me at it was for her.

Her inside listening lasted a long time. Longer than I was comfortable with. I thought maybe she had fallen back to sleep. But she was listening and God's Spirit was speaking. Finally, she shared with me. Mom, I have a thought. The nurse who was supposed to be in the ward to check me in won't be available and then (our good friend who is a nurse) would be there!

Your Best Season Of Life

  • 30 March 2016
  • Keith Reed

My wife and I sometimes wonder what we spent our time doing before our children were born. We don’t remember feeling troubled by an abundance of time, but compared to what we now experience, it’s hard to understand our earlier years any other way. Revisionist history now tells us that we must have read dozens of books each month and weren't unsurprised by the sound of silence.  

It can be habitual to think that life was easier when we look in the rearview mirror. I know of many parents who bemoan their shortage of time and the increased responsibilities that they now bear. This is usually compounded by the guilt they carry from no longer devoting as much time to the spiritual practices they think “count” such as personal Bible reading and prayer. Not surprisingly, any activity that requires personal time is likely to take a significant hit when anyone becomes a care taker for a young child (my golf game is a perfect example).

Comedian Jim Gaffigan defines children as young humans constantly making noise. He would know since he and his wife share their two-bedroom apartment with their five kids.

If quiet time is so hard to come by, what can a parent do to have Christ formed within them?

John Ortberg suggests that our season of life is not a barrier to our spiritual growth because our growth should not be defined by prescribed activities. Parents may have limited opportunities for quiet time, but as they care for their child they can offer expressions of gratitude, prayers for help, and the patient acceptance of trials. This, Ortberg argues, might become a kind of school for transformation into powerful servanthood beyond anything a person might have otherwise known [1]. 

It can be tempting to define unexpected or unwanted circumstances in our lives as barriers to our spiritual growth, but these can actually be the very catalysts for our growth. We can choose to devote each season of our life to the transforming work of the Spirit.

Some of our circumstances come through our choices, but we live with other realities that we had no choice of. Either way, every season of our life counts. If we find ourselves wishing away a particular season, we’re actually wishing away our very life.

Instead of wishing we were in another season, let’s discover what this one offers. Because the best season of your life is now.

Keith Reed is the Associate Director of MinistryLift at MB Seminary

Leadership in the Home

  • 24 March 2013
  • Randy Wollf

Dad reading with daughter

I'm impressed by the example of Samuel’s parents, Elkanah and Hannah, in 1 Samuel 1. Year after year, Elkanah worshipped the Lord and made sacrifices to Him at the Tent of Meeting in Shiloh. During one of their visits to Shiloh, Hannah poured out her heart to the Lord because of her inability to have children. The priest, Eli, presumed she was drunk because of her obvious distress. The Lord heard the prayer of this praying woman and gave her a son. She named him, Samuel, which means, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

Of course, not all of the characters in 1 Samuel were outstanding parents. The Lord rebuked Eli for his inability to restrain his sons who were committing wicked acts as a part of their priestly service. Even though Eli was a religious leader, he apparently failed to lead his family well. This contrast between Samuel’s parents and Eli provides an important reminder that godly, servant leaders exercise good leadership in the home. Perhaps this is why one of the requirements of elders/overseers in the church is that they have believing children who are not wild and disobedient (Titus 1:6).