My children were off school last week – maybe yours were too. When your children are off, people always ask what you’ve been up to or what your plans are. I do it too – it’s just a way of making conversation. But sometimes it can induce panic. What if I don’t have any plans? Does that make me a bad mother? Argh! I must go home right now and Google ‘(Free) things to do in half term’!
We actually did go away this time, which is partly why I haven’t written in a while. But usually in these sorts of ‘what are your plans?’ conversations I have very little to offer. I’m definitely not the person to ask if you’re looking for something fun to do with your children. There are a few reasons for this. We are limited, for example, by my own capacity to take three small children anywhere exciting – if it takes me two days to recover, it may not be worthwhile!
We’re also limited by finances. We’d have more money for after-school clubs and day trips if we’d made different choices. This is true for everyone, of course. We all make choices. Sometimes we have a bit more money than at other times, but I’m pretty sure we’d have a lot more money if we weren’t Christians. We probably would have very highly paid jobs and wouldn’t have chosen to live on possibly the most expensive council estate in the country (I have no proof of that but it must be close). And that’s all fine when it’s just the two of us missing out on fancy shoes and expensive holidays, but when it affects our children, the guilt can easily set in. I don’t know if you ever feel that, for one reason or another, your children are missing out?
I was listening to a talk on Romans Chapter 1 the other day. The speaker said that he’d been reading an inspirational autobiography by someone who’d travelled all over the world, helping developing countries to improve, changing many lives for the better. The guy giving the talk said, “When I read this book, I found myself thinking, ‘why am I spending my life preaching the gospel?'”
I’m not a preacher, but I am spending my life preaching that same gospel to my kids. We’ve made that the priority over fun experiences and enrichment activities. No, we’ve never been to Peppa Pig world, but we have done a Bible overview. To the other mums at the Toddler Group, that choice just doesn’t make any sense. (Of course, you can do both! But there are only so many hours in a childhood). When my children are old enough for a Christian summer camp, we will save up to send them even if it means we can’t go on a family holiday abroad. Some what call that foolish, illogical or downright immoral. We call it Kingdom living.
I’ve always loved the way Paul says in Romans 1 v16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel…” He doesn’t say “I’m proud of the gospel,” and to me that implies that there is a temptation to be ashamed of it. I can say to myself as I walk home from the Stay-and-Play, “I’m NOT ashamed of the gospel, even though it sounds pathetic that we will spend Easter Weekend doing Bible crafts and not going to Disneyland Paris.”
But why prioritise the gospel? Why not be ashamed? “… because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” If you can manage to disciple your children AND do fabulous family fun as well, then I salute you. (Of course, even the Brookses have fun sometimes!) If you did pretty much nothing at all last week with your kids other than teach them the Bible so that they might have this salvation for themselves, then well done, good and faithful servant. What a blessing you are to your children.
In five hundred years’ time, by God’s grace, my children won’t be asking me why we never went to Harry Potter World. They’ll be too busy dancing and praising the Lamb in the New Creation. Nothing is more enriching than that.
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