The thought of raising kids was so much easier in my dreams. I remember being pregnant and having their lives all mapped out for them. They would be perfect kids, who lived in a perfectly clean house. They would always eat healthy; they would have perfect friends, who would be great influences, and they would always be great students. Everything would be… perfect.
When they were born, we went about our perfect plan to carry out their lives, and you could say that we were a bit insane. We ensured that the house was as “sterile” as possible which meant no animals of any sort were allowed, and visitors were hand-checked at the door. When our children became toddlers, we placed them in private daycares to make sure they had an early jump on their education.
As they grew up, our perfect plans for their lives were challenged. They ate healthy and they had great friends and were great students, but more often, real life happened, and my carefully laid out plans for their lives were changed by the circumstances that we encountered. Raising my kids forced me to realize that I had attempted to fashion their lives on the mountaintop like so often we attempt to do in our spiritual lives.
On the mountaintop everything is pristine, and living in a perpetual state of worship is easy because the circumstances are ideal and life is grand. During those times, it feels like heaven is touching earth and nothing can stem the flowing joy… but there is no challenge to catalyze growth.
The valley is where real life happens; where friends aren’t always perfect; where situations are sometimes bleak, and plans go awry; therein lies the opportunity for spiritual growth.
While we enjoy the mountaintop because of the lack of challenge, He provides those experiences to prepare us for the valley, to prepare us for when situations arise and life happens. Spiritual growth does not occur amid mountaintop experiences, but instead it thrives in the sometimes mundane and often uncomfortable perpetual rhythm of life.
By pointing to Christ, we teach our children that the goal is not to have the perfect life, where there are no bumps or bruises, or disappointments or fears; but our aim is the excellent life where, though we fall, we get back up; though we are crushed on every side, we are not destroyed. By pointing to Christ, we teach our children to live and thrive between the mountaintops, in the depths of the valley because it is there that our relationship in Christ is strengthened. It is there that spiritual growth occurs.
Friends, though it is difficult as a parent to not dream of the perfection that lives on the mountaintop, we must lead our children down the side of the slope, because Jesus left the mountain, to walk in the valley beside us. It is in the reflection of Christ that we must live our lives and guide the lives of our children. The true test of our spiritual lives is in exhibiting the power of Christ as we walk in the valley.
Word of the Day:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4)
Father, I need your guidance today. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to make my children’s lives the perfect mountaintop experience that I forget that you have created us for a life of excellence in the valley. Please infuse in me the wisdom to walk before my children and show Christ to them in every step along the way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.