Discipled by the Great Discipler
By Brittany McKenzie
Being a stay at home mom is a new thing for me. After graduating nursing school in 2009, I worked a variety of different jobs and in a variety of different locations. I spent time with adults and children, in the critical care unit and in day surgery, overseas and stateside. At the heart of nursing is a deep desire to see creation restored. Sickness cured. Broken bones fixed. Wounds healed. Death ushered in with dignity. And I wanted to play an integral part in that healing. A front-line soldier of sorts. After 7 years of intense combat, I furthered my education and obtained my Masters degree. Now with the ability to diagnose and treat, I had more tools in my arsenal in the battle to help restore humanity on this side of heaven.
Three years ago, through life circumstances and the will of God, I was called to the hard, tedious, daily labors of raising my three, beautiful boys. I am a professional mom working to restore creation in my home (i.e. laundry piles, dishes), to love and support my husband while he provides financially for us, and to nurture the hearts of my wild, unfiltered, and unaffected-by-the-destruction-of-the-world, boys. Scripture tells us we have a personal sin problem. Something deep within us that has been “off” by God’s standards since we were conceived in our mother’s womb (Psalm 51:5). But when I put my faith in the death and resurrection of Christ over a decade ago, He put a new heart and a new spirit in me. He ‘removed my heart of stone’ and gave me ‘a heart of flesh’ (Ezekiel 36:26), and now ‘causes me to walk in His ways’. God himself restored a broken part of creation in me. But there is also the daily, personal sanctification that is taking place within. Thats where discipleship happens. God teaching me how to walk in His ways. How to obey.
Anyone who has raised children knows of the utter exhaustion. They bring out the absolute worst and best in me and my husband. As I’ve sought to be present with my children in a culture of distraction (i.e. Facebook, Instagram), I’ve heard the voice of God more clearly in my day-to-day life. A few weeks ago, God revealed to me that he was more concerned with discipling my heart, more than any excellent parenting day, or activity, or grace-filled response to my children. It came with the repetition of one simple phrase: "Please obey the first time." That phrase is repeated a dozen times daily to my kids, but one day, I heard it for myself. Having three children, three and under, requires constant attention to behavior, safety and manners, that it’s sometimes hard to hear that "still small voice" of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He also gently reminded me that “If you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15). Simple yet profound. So I need to apologize for being quick to anger with my child (James 1:19)? Yes. "Love is patient" (1 Cor.. 13:4). Does that mean I need to put my own needs aside and endure with my child? Yes. "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Rom. 12:12). So I need to choose joy, patience and prayer today although I don’t really like my current circumstances? Yes. Got it.
Suddenly the weight of raising three boys was lessened a bit. Why? Because I have a God who is committed to me and my holiness. He uses my imperfect parenting days, my short temper, my impatience, my weakness, and he showers me with grace and forgiveness. He wants me to obey him, to be faithful in his calling on my life, to stand strong on all of His promises in Scripture. As a parent, my greatest longing is for my kids to know that I love them, to know Jesus loves them and to see them become successful, Christ-following adults. Isn’t that God’s longing too? For me to know and believe he loves me, for me to follow him, and to be conformed into the likeness of his Son? God promises to "work in me, to will and to act according to his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). God, in his discipleship of me, is showing me that I am not bigger than his plan. I can’t mess up my kids. I might "fail" today in various ways but he will continue to transform me from one form of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). He will continue to restore creation inside of me, making me more and more like his original ideal for mankind- healing my brokenness, binding up my wounds- all while I seek to try and help my own children become law-abiding, productive and beneficial citizens. God is parenting/discipling me while I parent/disciple my kids.