And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
Last night was Maundy Thursday . I went to church feeling quite unstable. One son had had a meltdown. Two others were being ten times more obnoxious than usual. Even the "good kids" weren't happy about going church on a Thursday night when their friends were all out socializing. I had a conversation with an adult child that made me profoundly sad. I was emotionally spent.
When I got there Bart preached a profound sermon.... He talked about family dysfunction and how Jesus knew all about that. He sat at a table at the last supper with his disciples knowing that one was a betrayer, one of them was a denier, and the other ten were going to run away as soon as trouble come. And yet He shared a meal with them -- He remained true to Himself -- and he served them, even washing their feet.
I couldn't help but think of my children. There are twelve of them. Through the years some of them have done those things to us. They have denied being part of our family and told us repeatedly that we aren't our "real parents." They have betrayed us -- lied, stolen our things and money, and made false allegations against us. They "run away" from us emotionally when things are difficult.
I started to think about all of the years that I had asked God to make me like Jesus. But I realized it was never my wish to be made like Jesus when it comes to His suffering. I'll take the glory, but keep the suffering, thank you very much.
I confess that I have not been looking forward to the weekend. Our kids who live here and have multiple issues make it miserable here during holidays and the kids who don't live here coming back expecting to have a good time which isn't always possible here.
But my call from God this Easter is to be like Jesus -- and sit at a table with those I love so much who have stolen from me, lied to me, used me, and hurt me again and again. And like Jesus, it is my assignment not let them get to me -- to be true to myself, to love them, serve them, share with them and recognize that without God's grace I'm no better than they are.
The above song was playing as I prepared for communion at church last night. I hadn't heard it before and I sat there in tears, realizing for the first time that I needed to be carried to the table to take communion. And when I stood there, it so happened that all eight of our kids that live here were standing around in the same circle with me.
I realized just how much God loves each and every one of them. I realized that sometimes my attitude towards them is not at all like God's. I realized that I am just as broken as they are and just as much in need of the cross, salvation, and God's grace.
It was a humble realization. None of us get to choose how God makes us like Jesus, but it is very clear that it will involve suffering. And this weekend the way that I will share in that suffering is to look with love upon those who have a long history of doing and saying unloving things to me.
I shared all this because maybe your family isn't perfect and your holiday might be difficult as well. And possibly we can encourage each other to have a servant's heart and serve lovingly, remaining true to who we are in the midst of the dysfunction around us.
I have long ago learned that the only person I can change is me. So I'd simply like to conclude my Easter weekend with the knowledge that I did all I could do and then decide that that is enough.