There was a time when I served an idol that brought me great misery. It exhausted me as I gave into its demands of servitude. I describe a glimpse of this time of idolatry in my book, Deep and Wide, Chapter One, “The Victorious Parent”:
Driving from ballet to baseball, I sat at the red light which seemed to take forever to turn green. Overwhelmed with all that I had to do that day, I laid my head on the steering wheel and said aloud, “How did I get myself into this state of constant busyness?”
My daughter of eight years at the time replied, “Because no is not a part of your vocabulary.” It was as if the angels sang loudly, “Told you!”
…most good well-meaning parents shelter or at least try to keep from their children obvious evils. However, there is another evil that tempts parents today. It is subtle. It appears to be “good” and “profitable” for our children. It is hard to escape at times. Its clutches clamp down tightly and demand servitude. Liberating ourselves from this temptation without guilt blighting us is like climbing up Mount Everest with lead rocks tied to our backs. The pull is strong and the unwarranted regret dogs us if we don’t partake of it in our life. At this time in my life, I was grappling in the clutches of this tantalizing pull…
As parents we want to give our children everything! We even think that giving them what the world has to offer is what a good parent does. Yet God’s word is quite distinct when it comes to what the world offers vs. what the Lord has to give; God is also quite definitive when it comes to what our response should be.
God clearly instructs us through Paul, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons also. You cannot share in the Lord’s table and the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21). Trying to eat at both tables is impossible, because we are conflicted – both tables have diverse goals in mind.
Did you know that the devil and his demons do not present themselves as these little red monsters with pitchforks? Instead they appear as light and camouflage themselves as good. Often the plethora of activities that we can put our kids in is the devil’s way to lure us away from teaching our children about the Lord; it robs us of time and energy as well as the rest and fellowship we can enjoy just hanging with the family. The devil’s ways separate the family, while the Lord’s ways unite and pull the family together.
On the front of my book, Deep and Wide, you see a picture of a family looking out into the deep of the ocean. They are holding hands communicating unity and love. The deep of the ocean represents seeking things above instead of things of this earth. This family is not just marked by all that they said yes to for their children. Their true mark is also seen by all they said no to. Saying no in a culture of so many saying yes is a bold stance to take; it is not popular. By standing in the path of “no”, you will feel challenged often; I did! This is where focusing on God’s will instead of man’s is crucial. I am glad that I learned early in my parenting to say no. If I had continued down this path of saying yes to every activity for my children I wonder where we would be as a family. I wonder where my children would be as followers of Christ! I’m glad in this case that I followed the Lord’s instructions.
1 John 1: 15-17 clarifies what our response to the world’s “opportunities” should be: “Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world – what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of – none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world. The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but those who do the will of God live forever.” Jesus called the devil the prince of this world. If you are being pulled in many different directions, and your family relationships are suffering as a result, know this – it is not God’s will. And opposite of God’s will is the devil’s will – there is no in between. Not desiring the world is our instruction. To show that our love is not for the world, we must actively prune our schedules from the temptations that threaten God’s bond – the family.