Saturday, May 2, 2009

Clearing the Way

Mr. Steady and I are first generation Christ followers.

It often feels like we are pushing aside vines, crouching under branches, swatting flies away and literally putting one foot in front of the other through the mire and the muck of this jungle we call life. At least three times in our life we have very literally fought off a savage predator who was trying to tear our family apart in order to stay on the path.

Sometimes it is very hard to see what lies ahead. There are all sorts of things in our way. Everywhere we look there is stuff. The canopy is so thick overheard that only blades of light can get through. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's not *dark*. I've been in the dark and this ain't it. But still, if I could get some of the stuff out of my way, clear some of the canopy, more light wouldn't hurt anything. It's like reading in the early evening as the sun is beginning to set and suddenly you realize you need more light. It kind of creeps up on you, the dusk.

What I would like right now, more than anything, is a jungle guide. Mr. Steady tries very hard to be the spiritual leader of our house. But when you don't know the way yourself, it is hard to lead. When you've never been there you can still take people with you, but it's easier if you can consult someone who knows the terrain. We have a map, we read it, but it doesn't always make sense. Because, as you know, maps don't have every last detail on them. And maps don't account for construction. Large trees with dinner-plate sized insects aren't on the map. I wouldn't be opposed to having a map like this in our possession.

I know we have the Ultimate Guide who has been there, in fact, he MADE the jungle. But as one of our ministers said recently "I want someone with skin on". Someone I can call up and say "Hey, I'm confused..." or Mr. Steady can say "Have you ever went down this path?"

Now, I know there are a few people who might read this and say "I would help, I'd be glad to help." But when you're in the middle of the jungle, it's sometimes difficult to hear and other times my fear chokes me to the point that I can't scream. My fear of bothering people, my fear of coming across as stupid, my fear of admiting that I don't know something. And the few times I have asked I get the strangest answers like "I don't know, just keep praying" or "We don't know what we're doing either". Seriously? If someone stopped you in front of your house and asked you how to get to the grocery store, would you say "I don't know, we just kind of get in the car and go until we think we might be there?"

A short while ago I overheard a young mom telling another young mom about the "vision" they had for their family. A vision? What's that? Then I started thinking about it. Maybe we should treat our family like a company. Every company has a vision and a purpose (I know, I cringe when I hear that word too, but it was a word a long time before somebody cashed in on it). Why don't we?

So Mr. Steady and I made a date, dropped the Three Man Wrecking Crew off at Grandma's and sat for nearly two hours and talked about our dreams for our family. What values do we want them to have? What does the trail look like to ensure they have those values? What do we need to pack with us to teach those values? Survival skills, people. Not how to call for pizza. How to build a fire and survive. Not just survive, but thrive.

Mr. Steady suggested we come up with a mission statement. So we did. We have been watching a video series called How to Disciple Your Family. And even though we feel it is not written for first generation Christ followers, it is very good and we are learning quite a bit.

My dad has a little piece of property attached to his that he has permission to be on. When I was a girl he cleared a path all through the area where we could ride our four-wheelers. To me, a little girl of 8, it was a magical place. It was secret and it was quiet. We would ride back there at dusk and see deer and rabbits and all sorts of birds. I remember spending hours back there. Last summer I took The Thinker back there to share my Eden with him. The problem was, it had been so long since anybody had been back there you couldn't even see the path anymore. My dad had some problems with some neighbor boys going on the path with their dirt bikes and tearing up the trees so he stopped keeping the path clear. It was grown up and the trees had grown together. I didn't even recognize some areas of it and at places it was so thick that we had to go back out into the field and in through another way.

I don't want to go through this jungle and not keep the path clear for my children. I want to maintain the weeds and trim the trees and widen the path so I can walk down it hand in hand with my boys. I don't want my boys to have to silently scream out for help when the predators breath down their necks. I don't want my boys to watch other families cruise past while they struggle to clear a path for their own family. I want them to be able to look straight ahead and see the direction God has for them.

I'm still praying for the guide(s) for Mr. Steady and I. But in the meantime I am making a mental note to make sure I keep the path clear and maintained for my children. Some people have garden journals to remind them of what plants worked and when they harvested certain crops. I'm keeping a Jungle Journal so that when someone in twenty years asks me I might be able to say "You chose the path you feel is best but here is what I did when I was at that junction."

Jesus said the gate is narrow and the road difficult but that doesn't mean we have to do it alone or that we can't give excellent directions to those that come after us.

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