One of the advantages of being with your children for hours and hours and days on end without any outside help from friends, family, or hired babysitters is that you actually get to spend time with them. I mean really with them.
God has really been showing me this week how little I actually abide with my children. I love that word...abide. It's a great Bible word (epimeno in the Greek). When I think of abiding, I think of living with, really being with, not just in the same space with, but listening to, learning from, and enjoying. In Biblical Greek, the term is a literal picture of remaining on, or tarrying, or staying at a place. It means to remain at or in the same place for a period of time.
This experience is giving me an opportunity to tarry with my children, to linger with them, to play with them, to listen to them, to really see them. Has my own life gotten so choked by the cares of this world, (see the parable of the sower in Mark 4), that I've neglected to really see my own children? I'm afraid the honest answer to that question is...yes. I have so many things that take my attention at home: extended family, friends, church, our home, my ministry responsibilities. Here, I literally have nothing to do except to take care of my family. And in a way, it's quite restful -- No phone calls to return, no stuff to dust and not much to put away (Our air shipment hasn't arrived yet.), no meetings, no outside obligations or parties to attend. Just time, sweet time, to tarry with with my children and my husband. At home, I don't tarry much. I flit from this thing to that thing, never really accomplishing much to be sure. But the duties, the obligations, force me to be the great All-American, multi-tasking mother. And a multi-tasker certainly doesn't linger!
Ever since it became clear that God was calling us to this part of His Earth, I felt that one of the things He might be wanting to teach me is contentment in my calling as a wife and a mom. I love being both, don't get me wrong. But I do struggle with desires and passions to be more, to do more, to make a huge impact in the Kingdom of God. And I sometimes believe the lie that I can't do that as a wife and a mom. How impacting is a woman who wipes down the same counters over and over again, who breaks up yet another argument between two quarrelsome preschoolers, who changes yet another diaper?
But what I'm doing right now, in really abiding with my children, I do believe that I can make an impact for God's kingdom. I can listen to them, and in that listening, they'll feel truly heard and loved. I can read to them and in that reading, they'll feel valued and learn. I can serve them, and in that service, I am "doing unto the least of these" and building into their hearts a desire to serve as well. I can see them, really see them, for the unique creation that God made each of them to be, and in that seeing and knowing, they'll feel acceptance, and yet hopefully be more aware of their need for His grace.
Is the kingdom of God being built in my little tiny London apartment? Right now, you couldn't convince me that it isn't. Because one day these little people will be impacting their worlds; one life, and maybe even one diaper change, at a time.