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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whose Glory?

The Bible character with whom I most frequently and closely identify has changed over the years.  In this season of kids from age 15 to 21, it is the mother of the sons of Zebedee.  Bear with me on this one.  In Matthew 20, she kneels before Jesus and asks for their success.  "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom."  That sounds like my prayers rather often.  This is the season of goals, applications, programs, awards, teams, cuts.  Of exams, scores, reports, recommendations.  Of interviews, tournaments, evaluations, speed.  Of inclusion or exclusion.  And I'm right there with Mrs. Zebedee, asking for my kids to not only do their best, but to be best.  I hear other parents say this too, comments about just having prayed that a goal would be scored, about praying for a university spot to open.

But Jesus' reply is sobering.  Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?"  Jesus' answer to success-seeking is that the road to glory lies through suffering.  One must drink the cup, of wrath, of struggle, of grief and loss, to enjoy the rewards of the Kingdom.  Of course James and John thought they could handle it.  Their mom was ready to overlook the fine print about suffering to get them close to the "top." But Jesus wanted them to see that leadership in the Kingdom comes by serving, that being out in front means laying down your life.

So it is with some trepidation that I ask for prayer for my kids.  On Friday, the oldest will compete in a final round of selection to potentially become the student graduation speaker for his University.  It is down to the final three.  This sounds like a real opportunity for him to present Kingdom values and to challenge complacency, to stand for something that is inspiring and different.  It also could be a hidden call to a bitter cup.

Would you pray that God would be glorified whether the committee chooses Luke or someone else?  Would you pray he would do his best with this, and biochemistry and medical school interviews and friendships and all the complexity of being a Senior? In the end, the effort is hollow if personal glory is the end. But if this speech could be part of the big picture of a redeeming God on the move, then it is worth praying for.

And the same for son two, who is recovering from knee surgery, always on the edge of survival.  Should we pray that his grades are excellent and his commanders look on him with favor? Or that he hears God's clarity in his calling, and continues to serve in a hard place full of broken people?

And the younger ones, finding their way, taking SAT's, preparing for college.  My heart wants them to have the superb lift of spirit that comes from a glorious game-winning shot, or getting recognized for their grades.  But am I ready to see them walk the same kind of lonely and challenging paths their brothers' "success" has earned them?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts (and mine) Jennifer in a way that hits the mark. I struggle with this too...He has shown me in so many ways (starting with the move to China and the many griefs it brought my kids) that my definition of "good" and His are very, very different. Sometimes--more often than not--this is frightening. I recently heard a story of someone who visited Mother Teresa and asked her to pray that he would have clarity; she said she wouldn't, but instead would ask that he would be able to trust. Perhaps this is another way to pray for our kids....that they would trust Him with every outcome and circumstance, regardless of how it looks to all the rest of us. Thanks for sharing, love to you all, Kristen

Sakura Sojourn said...

Jennifer, like you I've struggled with the tension you are describing. One of my adult daughters is in a marriage marked by "baggage" that bogs her down. The other got married after just 2 years of college (at a tender, young age.) It's hard not to hurt for them and/or wish better for them. In all this, God comforted me with three simple words one day. "I've got her." He knows what she/each need and I can trust Him to bless them. Praying that you will encounter grace to walk alongside your kids, and peace in releasing them when you can't predict the outcome.