Years ago, I heard the story of a young woman who felt frustrated and frazzled with the endless needs of her small children. One day, while helping her children into their snowsuits, boots, and mittens for the umpteenth time, the Lord asked her to imagine that she was doing these things for the Christ Child. It changed everything for her. From that point on, every time she buttoned small coats or wiped a tiny nose, she found joy in the task by picturing herself doing it for Jesus.
It was one of those stories that inspired me, and I filed it away in my memory, pulling it out from time to time as needed. Several years after that, I came across a homeschooling article where the author applied Romans 15:1 to caring for our young children:
“We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves.”
Again, it was a thought to be stored up for another day. Eventually its time came. While caring for our newborn daughter, exhausted and not well physically, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. At that low point, the Lord brought Romans 15:1 back to my remembrance, along with how the author of the article had applied it. “Not to please ourselves.” With the admonishment came new resolve to throw off dejection and dedicate myself to doing this for the Lord with joy.
Throughout life, there will always be someone we must patiently bear with and serve — someone who can’t do life well without us. We never get past this. When our children are grown, they will still need us, but in different ways. For some of us, it becomes our elderly parents who require a lot of care. This has been the story for my husband and me for a few years now. It could be a neighbor who can’t manage on her own, or another mom who just needs a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. It may mean we have to set aside preferences and plans we had cherished for ourselves, so that we can “take up our cross” (Matthew 16:24) and “die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).
Jesus commented in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” We are called to this, just as He was. Whether we serve on an overseas mission field, or in very ordinary, humble ways, pouring out our lives for others is the most precious of all offerings we can give to the Lord. He sees, He knows, and He will honor us for it, if doing it stems from our devotion to Him.
Colossians 3:23, 24 reminds us, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 further encourages us that if we will faithfully persevere, “…Your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
There is a wonderful bonus attached to serving others as unto the Lord: as we do it for Him, we will also find ourselves loving to do it for the people we help. What was once a chore becomes a happiness. God is amazingly good at working these changes in our hearts!
So, keep the perspective of Who you are ultimately doing this for. Your children are your opportunity to serve the Lord. Your spouse is, too. As you keep Jesus before your eyes, you will find strength and joy in the journey.
Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam