Thursday, March 27, 2014

If We Could Lose Our Salvation, We Would

It all started with a cheeseburger. It was just about a year ago, and I came in from my morning walk feeling absolutely ravenous. I was finally getting on a consistent exercise regimen. I'd get up before anyone else, walk five miles, come home and have my quiet time all before anyone else in the house was up.

But this one day, I was starving. I opened the refrigerator and found last night's leftovers, cheeseburgers, sitting there on a plate just staring up at me. And it was simply too tantalizing to pass up. But this is where it gets weird. I didn't warm it up; I barely got it on the bun.

Chew, munch, swallow. Chew, munch, swallow. Chew, mu-uh ohhhhh...

I did some quick calendar math. And then my jaw hit the floor. I ran upstairs to wake Brett up.
Hey, are you conscious?
I think I'm pregnant.
No way.
Yes way.
Why do you think that?
Because I'm eating a cheeseburger for breakfast.
Yep. You're pregnant!

That was a year ago. God was going to give us another little blessing. Wow!

The pregnancy was a cinch. Thank you, Lord.
And the birth? Let me put it this way. I am the Porsche of childbirth: zero to birth in sixty-three minutes. Two pushes. Voila! Baby! Thank you, thank you, Lord!

Fast forward to present day. Baby A is now four months old. Cute as a button. Flaming red hair. He has ten adoring siblings, which is why his backside rarely hits the floor...
which is why he wails when it does...
which is why I have to beat them off with a stick during tummy time.
Either that, or he won't learn to walk until he's fifteen years old.

Which brings me pants. You just can't have a baby without it having some permanent affects on your bod. I mean, you can pretend to be spandex Barbie and kill yourself to get back to your original size and weight. But over here in Reality Land, I'm just...lumpy. And hungry.

So I can be skinny.
Or I can be fed.
I choose food.
Add to that the fact that if I even mention exercise, my milk supply starts to decrease. And there is no way I'm going to give up feeding my baby just to be 'fit.'
There are 'fit' moms.
And there are fit moms.
Know what I mean?

So I'm living this year in yoga pants. Every once in a while I take out my favorite pair of Banana Republic jeans and just look at them. And I remind myself that I'm not in a Banana Republic season right now. I'm in a nurturing season. Banana Republic will just have to wait.  But there are some days, I tell you truly, when I panic that I might never get into those jeans again. It's just that I'm starting to see that this season of nurturing may take longer than originally anticipated.

As I write this, my eleven children who range from a few months to 23 years need these things (in no particular order):
one needs us to come alongside
one needs to win the war with dishonesty
two are treading the turbulent waters of puberty
one needs a reign of terror
one needs some mommy time
one needs to know what's next
one needs the shepherd's crook--and a clonk on the head with my attack Bible
one needs to be less critical
one needs to be more patient
one needs a decent nap schedule.

And they all need hugs and encouragement, wisdom and exhortation. I'm better at some of these than at others.

Living in yoga pants is not exactly what I had in mind when I thought about being a parent.  And neither is the long haul. They may grow out of a certain kind of neediness, but it's really just to grow into another kind. The issues that arise from having older kids may not require as much physical endurance as when they were little. But we need more spiritual hardiness at this point. In the beginning, we get that warm, sweet, swaddled bundle handed to us fresh from the oven, and we plant our noses in their skin. We drink deeply of baby smells and coos and the absolute trust they place in us. We count fingers and toes and dream dreams of them growing up and impacting the world and having families of their own. No one dreams of the tough times, the questions, the doubts, the--gulp--rebellion.

Today, I'm feeling lumpy (and a little grumpy) about some tough times. I imagined myself with a Banana Republic sort of family photo at this point. Fit, polished, put together. Cool. The reality today, though, is there are still some lumps to be worked out. At this point, I volley between the depth of despair or just simple disdain for abject stupidity.

Right now, I'm realizing something else:
God is sovereign over salvation. We preach the Gospel to our children. We take them to church. We keep them accountable. We inspect. But we don't save. That's God's job. And consider this:

If we could lose our salvation, we would.

Ain't that the truth? I don't know who said that, but he was spot on. If we could lose our salvation, we would. We imperfect, hellbent sheep, who do what we don't want to do and don't do what we want to do. If we could lose our salvation, we would. We who have been offered a place in heaven and actually get tempted by the world's pig slops. Pfff. We couldn't keep an eye on our salvation for a whole day, let alone a whole lifetime. But GOD is the author and finisher of our faith. GOD will complete the good work that He began in us.

If He started it, He will finish it. He's faithful like that.

If we could lose our salvation, we would.

Alas, it's the corollary of that that's bothering me today. If we can't lose our salvation--and we cannot--then how do we interpret a picture that makes it look like salvation got lost? This is how: there was likely not salvation there to begin with. God preserves His Saints. People who grow up in Christian homes do not lose their faith when they leave home. They do not lose their faith because they cannot lose their faith. But some of them leave home without ever having had faith. And that's a fact.

This long haul of parenting is hard stuff sometimes. There are seasons of late night feedings...and there are seasons of fervent prayer. Who knew that I would one day be in a position where both are simultaneously required of me? The little ones keep me in yoga pants; the big ones keep me on my knees. I have eleven constant reminders that parenting is a call to vigilance, faithfulness, and grit.

A picture perfect family is no more my goal than Banana Republic jeans are.  That kind of silliness is for 'fit' moms. Raising grateful, sanctified wretches?  That's for fit moms. That is my hope. That is my prayer.

I'll keep preaching the Gospel. That's my job.

But salvation belongs to the Lord.