Once upon a few kids ago, I was diligently at work completing my weekly Bible study when, in all her 18-month-old guile, my little girl began to foil my plans.
First, she grabbed the Bible. Then, my pen. And finally, the coffee.
Oh, the coffee.
Hadn’t anyone told this child that you do not mess with a mama’s coffee? Especially before noon? And particularly when the grabbing leads to spilling?
All over mama’s Bible study handout?
Right or wrong, I snapped. Full on snapped. At a kid still in diapers.
Although my memory now fails me, I suppose my verbal snap went something like, “Mommy needs to get this done, and I need you to just leave me alone!!!!! AAAAH! Pbbblt.”
Not one my finer mommy moments, to say the least.
Especially when her eyes filled up with crocodile tears.
I would like to say that the tears pressed upon my heart enough to remember what was really important. But sadly, I half-heartedly hugged her. And popped in an Elmo video.
Then I blithely went back to filling out the freshly-stained bible study handout.
And in doing so, I royally messed up.
You see, that day I chose to be a Pharisee.
I made the law and the text more important than love. I showed my baby that religion was more important than relationship. And I communicated that studying God’s word was more important than doing what it asks of me.
The truth is the world doesn’t need more Pharisees. What it needs is fishermen. Full-on, hard-core fishermen, willing to do whatever it takes to permeate the darkness with light.
In my Sara selfishness, I’d rather be and raise a Pharisee.
It’s less complicated. It’s easily measured. And it’s definitely more predictable.
But by the same token, it is completely and utterly ineffective.
True, Pharisees love to study half a million ways to Sunday on what it means to fish. Or to explain all the many fishing techniques to the greater public. Or to hold said public to their self-created and sometimes outrageous fishing standards.
But the crazy thing is, despite all their study, planning and brain power, Pharisees forget to fish. In other words, Pharisees study and study and study for an exam they never take. And what kind of sense does that make?
Not. A. Bit.
Its probably why Jesus never said, ‘Come and follow me and I’ll make you a bunch of Pharisees.”
And yet, I still struggle. Part of me wants to hope that my success as a mom is measured in only teaching my kids the truth. Believing that somehow, I can get away without showing them what to do with the truth we’ve been given.
Recite memory verses. Check.
Go to church. Check. Check.
Pray every night. Check. Check. Check.
But the truth goes beyond checklists. And activities. And routine.
The truth gives us the promise of Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” The truth guides our steps so we can effectively cast our nets. And the truth lights a fire under our backsides, motivating us to get up from the blooming table and do something.
Something that might even cause my old Pharisee-self to ask a telling question:
“Sara, do you really think you need a lamp at your feet if all you are doing is studying, sitting and cerebrating?”
No, I don’t need a lamp or a light to be a Pharisee. For that, I only need a lot of books, pens and a bevy of self-righteousness. But I do need a lamp to fish, especially in the darkness.
And yes, fishing may be messy and smelly and unpredictable. It may be measured in faithfulness rather than in numbers. And it may put me smack dab in the middle of the deadliest storms.
But even so, God’s truth shouts to me so loudly that I cannot miss what needs to be done.
It’s time for me to leave my comfort, my need for control and my self-righteousness on the shore. It’s time for me to get in the boat with my kids in tow, trusting God through the storms. And it’s time for me to set His lantern at the bow with these words visible at the stern:
We’ll be back when the sea is empty
Or when it’s time to come Home
Whichever comes first
Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew and one-year-old Sophie. When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers. But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful.