(Republished with permission from Press Service International, for Christian Today Australia)
Our first year of parenthood has been exciting, challenging and full of wonderful memories. We have learnt to be adaptable, flexible and to embrace change and new skills. The journey continues, and I am encouraged that God knows what lies ahead and will lead us every step of the way.
. . .
Don’t fear the new
The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up the world. Telehealth has been rolled out nationally, churches have taken services online, and performers have found virtual platforms to share their works. It is incredible to see how quickly we can adapt when the situation demands it.
Parenthood is a season of many new encounters. There is so much that cannot be perfectly planned for, and so many new skills to be learnt but persistence is key. What is new can be uncomfortable at first. Over time, however, the newness will settle and we will reap the benefits of our perseverance: extra ways to settle baby, upgraded cooking skills, a strengthening and sharpening of character.
The apostle Paul was unafraid of going to new places. He carried the message of the gospel with him and boldly proclaimed it wherever the Lord sent him. Paul’s journey encourages me to trust God even as He leads us into new situations and seasons of life. We carry the gospel message of hope with us, and can proclaim this testimony wherever we walk!
. . .
God is still number one
I absolutely adore my little girl. I love spending all day with her and treasure the time I have to watch her explore and learn. I also want her to grow up knowing God’s love, and to love Him with all her heart, mind and soul.
The busyness, planning and dreaming that comes along with parenthood has also reminded me to check what space I am giving God in my life.
In Matthew chapter 19, verse 29, Jesus responds to Peter’s question of what might be gained from leaving everything to follow God:
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew chapter 19, verse 29)
This is not to say that we neglect our responsibility to care for family and finances, or our calling to live wisely and lovingly in the world. Rather, it is a reminder of heart priorities and idols.
For me, remembering that God has the first place in my life has meant making the effort to put things in place so that I can still have time to read His word and pray. It has meant accepting babysitting offers, and I have also found Nicky Gumble’s Bible In One Year App very helpful!
With the unpredictability of days as a new parent, quiet time looks different, but its value remains unchanged. God is worth that number one spot in our lives.
. . .
Serving never ceases
My pre-parenthood expectations of what I would be able to do with baby certainly went through some changes. I ended up returning to work later than I initially planned, and also stepped down from almost all formal ministry roles.
There is no stepping down from ministering though. I now have different opportunities to serve others, a different group of people I am around more often, but the same heart that wants to see my loving God work through me to speak hope and life to people.
Then, there is my little girl. Parenting is a ministry in itself. Rob Rienow’s Visionary Parenting sessions make it clear that our primary purpose as parents is to “impress the love of God on the hearts of our children.”
Whether or not there is a formal title to our serving, we are all called to minister God’s love to those around us: our children, family, friends, colleagues and all who cross our path in life.
. . .
Where worth comes from
I often feel inadequate for the tasks God has given me. After all, who am I to offer advice on life! I have made so many mistakes and fallen so many times, but I have one thing that always picks me up and it is worth sharing. God loves me; it means life is worth its trials, that there is a way to conquer fear, and that I will always have a place of belonging regardless of my failures.
This hope is something I want to pass on to my daughter, to my family and to all those around me. Rather than advice, it is a sharing of vulnerability and a sharing of hope.
The difficulties of parenthood have tested my character, but have also provided fertile soil for growth. Through the discomfort of being challenged, I have been greatly comforted knowing that God is kind, God is good and God will never leave me.
. . .
An ongoing journey
One year down and many more to come. I sometimes think about the future and what challenges we have yet to face as parents. However, I trust that God will continue to grow and guide our family as we navigate life on earth together.