Precious Lil' Idols
It was Christmas Eve 2013. I was busy in the kitchen chopping the salad, mixing fondue seasonings and fretting over each detail of our traditional fondue meal when my daughter, Maddy, called me into the living room. She had a surprise gift for me. I saw the size of the package and immediately knew what it was – telescoping fondue forks. I had seen them at the store the previous week. Sweet, but not tradition. I considered that Jody, her dad and keeper of all traditions, would not be happy with the change. Nevertheless, I put on my brave face and opened the gift. But as soon as I began to unwrap it, I realized that I was wrong. This was not trendy fondue forks. Instead, I found a picture of a POSITIVE pregnancy test! I immediately started crying! Maddy's baby brother, Michael, immediately caught on to what the gift was and started jumping up and down chanting over and over again, "I'm going to be an uncle!" My husband, who wasn't wearing his glasses, was clueless for a few seconds, but then he caught on too! Happy tears, hugs and words of congratulations were spoken, and our family was forever changed (see attached video at the bottom of the post – it will warm your heart)!
At that very moment, a switch flipped in my heart. Though I had always hoped to be a grandmother, I just hadn’t expected it so soon – my daughter had only been married for a year or so. This Christmas Eve news rocked my world! Fast forward nine months. There I was, standing in the delivery room of our local hospital with Maddy and James, her husband. I had happily walked into their hospital room expecting that my daughter would need me. What I found instead was that she already had exactly what she needed – her husband, James. The room was filled with anticipation, love and support. She had her husband and he had her – their eyes held each other in a beautiful way that I will never forget. My sweet children had merely invited me in to share in the joy of the moment. So, there I was that hot August afternoon, holding my daughter’s left leg, James holding her right, as she pushed. And then it happened – a precious little boy popped into the world, our world, screaming his lungs out. He has a huge personality, and it was evident from the very first minutes of his life! I remember his sweet face and being overwhelmed by emotion as I shouted out praises to God. I cried. I also hugged James and a few random nurses! I thanked the doctor and kissed my daughter who had just made me a “Sweet Mama!” It was a day that I will never forget! Soon after the birth, Jody joined me and together we held that bundle of joy, our first grandchild. This was one of the very few times that I have seen my husband cry, but I wasn’t surprised. It was the only appropriate response. It was indescribable joy!
Today I have four amazing grandchildren – two boys and two girls. I have been privileged to watch two of them come into this world. My oldest granddaughter came into the world super quickly, gracefully actually, and in an amazing birth that made childbirth look easy. Unlike all of my own three C-section births, my granddaughter’s birth was a beautiful event. This birth was to my oldest son, JP, and his wife, Sarah. JP and Sarah worked like a well-oiled birthing machine. This was their second child, and their experience and confidence was awe inspiring. There was no fussing and no screaming; just the sound of praise music in the background and the love of two young people gently encouraging each other. My son coached his beautiful wife and comforted her by massaging her back as they welcomed their daughter into the world. They really didn’t need the doctor, and almost didn’t have one. The MD walked in right as my sweet granddaughter entered into the world en-caul, meaning she was born with her amniotic sac intact. This is incredibly rare, and was truly beautiful! With a gentle prick from the doctor’s finger, the sac disappeared and our beautiful girl let out a tiny cry. The memory of this still gives me chills! I will always be grateful that I got to witness that beautiful moment and share this memory with my children.
Every one of my four grandchildren owned a portion of my heart from the moment I caught their first smiles, received their first waves of good-bye and heard them call out my name and reach up to me to be loved like only a sweet mama can do! Grandparent love is a totally different feeling from parent love. I love my children and truly enjoyed being their Mom. But with grandparent love, there is a double-layered rush that includes both the pride you feel as you watch your children parent their own children well, and the love you feel for the precious little joys that remind you of the faces you have loved before! Grandparent love is intense! If you have grandchildren, you know the truth of this. If you don’t have grand-kids yet, I pray that one day you will so that you can know this feeling too! However, and as with many other good things in life, this intense love can be a “two-edged sword.” Quickly and subtly, your love for your grands can replace, or as my husband puts it, “usurp” your spouse’s position. As for me, if I am not careful, my precious little grands can become idols that also usurp my relationship with God.
Here in the United States, we don’t often talk about idols. To most of us, idols are those golden things that people from third-world countries worship, or they are something from Old Testament days. If you were to ask churched Christians in the US if they ever worship idols, most would reply with a resounding, “NO!” But, I dare say that they would be mistaken. There are many idols that slowly, subtly and sometimes entirely replace our love for God. They are not the “golden calf” variety, for in this country, things are much more sneaky. Often what Satan uses to waylay our affections for God are good things, like work (money), home (comfort), vacations (pleasure), political convictions (self-righteousness), and children (objects of affection). In my case, the objects of affection are my grandchildren. My list only scratches the surface, but I think you get where I am going. We must guard our hearts and keep God first! This is tricky, especially when the things are good, not evil and often start as blessings or gifts from God. You can begin to love the gift more than the gift giver. I agree with Tim Keller when he says, “Idols are often good things that we have made into ultimate things.” Further argument comes from AW Tozer where he says, “An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.”
So, our subtle placement of anything other than God on the throne of our life is dangerous and requires our scrutiny. Let me explain. I’m directionally challenged and have never gotten true cardinal directions, like east and west. Actually, I am notorious for not knowing my right from my left, but, I digress. In our lives as Christ followers, we have directional relationships, both vertical and horizontal. Our vertical relationship is with God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This relationship must be primo! I can check how I am caring for this relationship in my own life by looking at how I spend my time and by what flows out of my mouth, especially during difficulty. If God is truly the KING of my heart, it shows! My horizontal relationships are with my husband, my children and grandchildren, my extended family, my church family, and with other people who are in my various communities (neighborhood, work, etc.). The batting line-up for these relationships is very important! My number one horizontal relationship is with my husband – he is the only one in that long line of relationships with whom I have made a covenant. In the wedding ceremony, and before God, we make a covenant with our spouse. This is our most important earthly relationship, and it deserves respect! Now some will argue that God gave them responsibility for their children, and I whole-heartedly agree, but often these people act as if their relationships with their children are their primary horizontal relationships. When they do, they damage their marriages. I agree that raising children can demand the most of us in terms of work, but there is a subtle difference when we make our children #1 and downgrade our spouse to #2. I say subtle, but to the person being downgraded, I think it can be LOUD and IN YOUR FACE!
So how do you keep your heart in a Godly perspective? I know that I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but the answer is through spiritual discipline – reading the Word of God, meditating on His principles and while hand-in-hand with your spouse, actively chasing after Him. What you chase after will fill your heart (Psalms 63:1-8). Keep alive your passion for Jesus, just like you did when you first believed! Do not let anything dampen this passion. And do not let any horizontal relationship take priority over your marriage. Let this be evidenced in your active pursuit of each other. Keep all things in order so that you can enjoy them together with your spouse. And, do not let these things become stumbling blocks to your marriage. But most important, do not let these things become idols that replace your relationship with God. Keep reading, friend!
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;