Making Lanterns

Guest Post from Mary Kelso I stepped outside the church on a Monday afternoon after getting some papers signed for my kids to go to church camp.  We were under the awning, waiting for the rain to let up so we could run to the car.  A woman was standing there; she had attended a funeral in the building earlier in the day and was trying her best to hide the cigarette in her hand so my boys wouldn’t see her.  I said hello and she immediately explained how bad she felt smoking… at a church… in front of kids… “I’m just so ashamed.”

We talked for a little while, and though I wasn’t concerned about her hiding her cigarette, I was grateful to her for caring what my kids saw.

That doesn’t happen very often.

I am never so tempted to go all “mama bear” on people, as when I see them blatantly and carelessly displaying their filth in front of my kids.  Bumper stickers with obscene profanity, t-shirts with course jokes and gestures, commercials with unsavory and distasteful messages, angry outbursts or frustrated diatribes of strangers in a store littered with words no one should have to hear, let alone kids.  Yet, somehow the shame that the woman with the cigarette was feeling, is nowhere.  I feel angry and helpless at times.

I think I’m not alone.

You know what makes me feel better?  Letting my kids know that God loves those people. Teaching my kids that they should pray for the angry girl in the beat up car with the “anti-Christian” bumper sticker, does more for my soul than putting a bigger “fish sticker” on my own vehicle.  It really does.

See this world isn’t getting any healthier to live in.  Even in the sweetest, quietest, towns there are people full of darkness, there always has been, but when I was a kid, more people were ashamed of the darkness, and tried to hide it.  Today we live in a world where darkness is called light and light is more and more considered the bully on the playground.  My kids are growing up in that world and as a parent, it’s my job to give them the right eyes to see with.

I can’t hide them from it, but I can prepare them for it.  I sent them to private school for a while, not because I was shielding them from the world, but because I was filling them with the Word.  I plan to homeschool them this fall, not because I’m hiding, but because private school is expensive and my best subject is their best offense in a world against truth.  The Word.  Prayer.  It’s what we will study first every day.

I have no intention of keeping my kids from being exposed to the darkness; it’s the darkness that should be hiding from what we are producing in our home.  We are making light.  The light is a sign of welcome, of comfort, of escape from the unknown.  I’m making lanterns, not molding hermits.  I am flavoring their character with salt, and brightening their countenance with truth.  I’m not educating them on how the darkness works, because when the true Light comes, it has to flee anyway.

Yes, they will have to navigate some dark paths, among mean spirited people, but they won’t have to fight the people, their battle, and mine, is not in shushing the people.  I have to put my “mama bear” away, silence my roar, and let the Light speak for Himself.  I don’t want to silence the people, I want to shut out the darkness and bring the people into the Light.

I can’t teach my children to be followers of Christ and leaders of men, by out-shouting the opposing view.  I must out-shine it.

My boys love Jesus, that’s the start.  They recognize right and wrong, that’s a step.  They must be FULL of the gospel, FULL of the Holy Spirit, FULL of the Light of Christ, and then they will be able to stand at the edge of a hurting world and with confidence speak the words of welcome to those who desire to come out of the darkness.

The advantage of a world in darkness is the obvious presence of the Light.

I do not have to arm them with arguments, I simply hand them the Word.

I do not have to shield them with law and judgment, I simply educate them with grace.

I do not have to mark them with slogans and symbols, I simply fill them with Light.

We truly do not wrestle with flesh and blood, that’s an unfair battle because we are using a sword on someone who is already broken and bleeding.  We must focus our battle on the darkness that imprisons them.

My kids need my example, more than they need my “mama bear” façade.  They need to see that I am afraid of nothing, and that every darkness is under my feet.  They need to see that I am not leading them from my opinion of right and wrong, but I am completely reliant on the Word made flesh, the Light of Life.

We are encountering a vicious enemy, but that enemy fights in chains and a leash.  Our Lord told us that we would face tribulation, but that He has already overcome the world. The darkness is simply hiding that from those who have not met Christ.  I refuse to hide my children.  I am preparing them to speak the truth, live Christ’s love to all those they meet and speak His truth fearlessly to all the world.