One story of faithfulness that has deeply touched me has been that of a lovely lady named Lilias Trotter. You know you have been in the presence of a beautiful soul when your eyes have been opened with a deeper clarity, your own soul is refreshed and inspired, and you are spurred on to greater depths. Lilias Trotter is one such soul whose life and vision kindles in my own heart a deeper yearning to draw nearer to my Lord. Her story of giveness is well worth reading in her biography: A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter. The Lord has used Lilias’ life and artwork to touch many lives in such a poignant way—a way that, even after her lifetime ended here on earth, the sweet fragrance of her worship to the Lord lingers on and is still affecting lives for the Kingdom. I’d like to share one such lesson Lilias penned in her diary on July 9th, 1907 that has personally touched me:
“A bee comforted me very much this morning concerning the desultoriness that troubles me in our work. There seems so infinitely much to be done, that nothing gets done thoroughly… but we seem only to touch souls and leave them. And that was what the bee was doing, figuratively speaking. He was hovering among some blackberry sprays, just touching the flowers here and there in a very tentative way, yet all unconsciously, life-life-life was left behind at every touch, as the miracle-working pollen grains were transferred to the place where they could set the unseen spring working. We have only to see to it that we are surcharged, like the bees, with potential life. It is God and His eternity that will do the work. Yet He needs His wandering desultory bees.”
This little parable resonates to my mother’s heart in this season of pouring out and tending to the physical needs of my sons as well as their eternal souls. During every moment as I “walk along the way” I can be as a bumble bee among my little “sprays.” Whatever the Lord lays in my path, in whatever I do, whatever I say, through the home I create, the example I set, with every touch I’m leaving behind life — life — life.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines: desultory as passing from one thing (or subject) to another in a way that seems random, and leaping from this to that.
This reminds me of what life with little ones feels like sometimes. So many things in our lives with children can seem mundane or at the very least a constant stream of jumping from one things to the next without what may seem like any great purpose. We may ask ourselves, “how does this affect eternity?” Washing dishes, ironing clothes, tucking our children into bed, making yet another meal, breaking up sibling squabbles, picking up the ever-present scattering of toys… jumping from one thing to the next… the ebb and flow of our everyday lives. But here lies love. Here as we “leap” from one thing to another is where we can showcase the small, tangible, ever present graces of our Lord to our children.
As we are supercharged with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit — he is in all and fills all, His life will spill out upon every task we do as it all points to Him. In each moment we are given an opportunity to pour out capital “L” Life — to pour out Christ upon our little ones, these sprays that have been purposefully placed in our path. In spite of the feeling that comes with all the ordinary tasks that feel random we can be intentional to pour out Christ in the midst of our everyday ordinary.
“The best way to instruct children in faith, is to link every little daily act of a child’s life with the Divine Life that gives meaning to all things.” — Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
This outpouring of our faith to the little eternal souls around us is a lifestyle, where the Lord is the very foundation of your family and your life. As you “walk by the way” (Deuteronomy 6:7) each seed sown, even though it may seem random, will accumulate and the richness of our Lord will be discovered and tangible to our children.
A few Sundays ago was such a beautiful example of just that. A couple young ladies in our church got baptized in the winter frosted lake behind our church. As our whole church, young and old, came out to witness and celebrate with them as they testified to heaven the death of their old man and rising in newness of life in their Lord Jesus Christ. It was the perfect opportunity to allow the life-giving grains of “pollen” to be planted in my boys hearts as their eyes were watching everything happening, their ears soaking in everything that was said. Later that evening around our dinner table Josiah, my oldest, brought up what he had seen that morning trying to decipher in his four year old way what was really happening when “those girls went under the cold, cold water.” Josh and I were able to again add to those grains of pollen that was sown that morning, adding life — life — life.
Here are a few ways I have gleaned along the way in which we can spread life to our children intertwining it throughout our days:
- Dinner table discipleship:
As we study the life of Jesus Christ he is an example to all of us who have impressionable tender hearts in our care. Jesus daily walked among His disciples, washing their feet, tending to their hearts, living by example, and teaching them over the table as they broke bread together. I read once we have roughly 19,658 meals to mentor our children… breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snack times from wee tots to 18 year old (and more meals beyond that) in which we can wisely use to pour out to and mentor our children. The table is a space where we can invite them into God’s vibrant reality. We can be instigators of goodness, influencers of their hearts, and shapers of their worldview. Developing their habits, inspiring their thoughts, and sharing friendship and laughter along the way. It won’t look perfect, there may be many moments of spilled milk and grumpy children but these too are opportunities to teach and show our children what mercy, grace, and patients looks like lived out. Or if we fail, what asking forgiveness looks like.
- Allowing our children to be a part of and witnessing the lives of believers in our midst.
There is such a richness and beauty to be found in the body of Christ. The vast uniqueness of the lives of the Lord’s people coming alongside each other and sharing the so many rich facets of the Lord through their lives.
- Night time devotions:
Sometimes the sweetest conversations I have had with my boys and with other children I have taken care of over the years have been as I tuck them in bed for the night. Take the time to step out of your agenda and allow the Holy Spirit to guide.
- Praying with our children and in front of our children:
Having an ongoing conversation with the Lord throughout our days. It is a beautiful thing for our children to witness as we invite the Lord into our days.
- Rehearsing truth out loud to ourselves and to our children:
Through singing songs, memorizing passages of scripture together, learning about the Lord’s character, etc… There is a wonderful company called Tiny Theologians which has been a wonderful resource in our home. Right now we are loving learning about the names of God A-Z. It brings my mama’s heart joy to hear Josiah and David talk about God being the Bread of Life and the Helper of the Fatherless.
- Not to be afraid to showcase to them what humility is in asking for forgiveness:
As we sin or slip our children are watching and learning from that way we respond. Are willing to showcase to our children what true humility looks like? To set our hearts to be used of the Lord so our children know that when they mess up his grace is readily available to us as we step forward in repentance.
- Sowing seeds in their hearts by delighting in the world around you that the Lord created:
As you take a walk together point out the sunset in wonder that the Lord is painting that evening, point out the beauty of the trees and grass veiled in winter frost. Praise Him for His artwork that surrounds them. Open their eyes and hearts to the Lord visible all around them.
- Invite them into our days, our tasks, and our thoughts:
What has the Lord been teaching you today? The Lord has been working on me in this very area. I tend to ponder and keep it to myself but I am learning that even though my boys are young they can still understand and be immersed in what the Lord has been working in my heart and life if I simply share. Not only are they able to witness the Lord as an integral part of my life but they can also learn along with me. I have found that their simple faith of taking things to heart has challenged and spurred me on as they play out those lessons in their childlike ways.
How humbling it is to parent a child and train them in righteousness! Just as my friend and fellow mother of mine, Morgan recently shared, “It is always pointing beyond where you are yourself, whispering of the glories of what you have not yet fully attained and yet declaring the sweetness of what you’ve already tasted.” I am fully aware of my human fragility as the Lord is guiding my husband and I in His strength. Yes, we lean heavily upon Him as we toil in this task of raising our tender little sprays. Entrusting the seeds sown – the life-giving pollen spread into the Lord’s capable and all knowing hands.
So just as the bumble bee is doing what it is created to do, purposeful in its pursuit of spreading about potential growth and yet touching here and there as he flits from one delicate spray to the next. We too can be as the bee amongst our sprays as we act as agents of His glorious gospel in the souls of the children the Lord has strategically placed in our lives. Our comfort is knowing that the Lord is the conductor of our days and we can harmoniously weave the melody of the gospel as it courses through our days with Him guiding us.