“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
Jesus does not offer his disciples any reassurance of material comfort when they pledge to follow Him. Rather, He warns them that they will very likely go without food and shelter. He preaches material detachment. His “Come follow me” is quickly followed by a “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Are we really ready to go down that road? More importantly, why on earth would we!? I have two children who will be confirmed in the coming year. Before they make that step, they need to have a clear answer.
As a mother of five children, ages 4 to 14, I have had to answer that question every day. My children don’t ask me daily, “Mom, why do we follow Jesus?” Rather, they ask by testing limits, being disobedient, unkind, selfish, and contrary. I don’t respond by pulling out the catechism and reading it to them. No, my answer comes in the form of my parenting. Sometimes, I am gentle and guide them through their challenges and provide a witness to the great “Why?” Other times, I can be impatient, angry, and a really bad example. My answer to their unasked question may as well be, “There is no good reason to follow Jesus.”
When my husband and I began our family, we both agreed to follow Jesus wherever He would take us. We turned our family planning over to His care, even though we knew that this would mean we had little control over future financial planning. And, the babies kept coming. Both of us agree that with each announced pregnancy, we did not respond with fear about our financial future, but rather with joy that we were going to welcome a new person into the world. We attribute this freedom from fear to the Grace of God that flows when we put all our trust in Him. He provided the confidence that allowed us to keep our eyes above the waves and walk toward Him.
So, why did we do that? If we had not followed Him, we would have two very nice cars right now. We could have had a few exotic vacations under our belt. I definitely would not be wearing crocs and yoga pants every day. And, we wouldn’t have to reassess every year who is going to go private school and who is going to be home schooled. I can tell you with complete confidence that those thoughts never enter my mind. All I have to do is look into the eyes of my youngest son and know that no material object, no assurance of financial stability, nothing could fill my heart the way he has just by coming into being.
As my family evolves from an era of having babies to an era raising children, I am challenged to continue to respond to each event in our life, large or small, not with fear, but with joy. Often, I allow myself to become enslaved to the daily tasks required to raise children. I forget to live the faith that has enriched my life beyond words. When I fall short, my children are there to witness.
Just the other day, my two sons followed me around the house begging me to watch a movie with them. I responded impatiently by asking them to stop nagging me because I had laundry and dishes and they were getting in my way. My oldest son made one more plea. He said, “Mom, watch the movie with us. God will help you find the time to get all that other stuff done.”
I dropped the laundry basket and sat down to watch the movie. That’s why we follow Jesus. Well played, son. Well played.