No Greater Joy

I found them in the same bed this morning.

hannahnaomi

My girls, Naomi (8) and Hannah (11) best friends, worst enemies a.k.a. sisters

My girls share a room but have bunk beds.  The whole “sharing a room thing” has not exactly done wonders for their relationship.  Sometimes the fighting is non-stop and the words so mean that I wonder, “Where did I go wrong with these two?”  And then, there are these moments like this morning where it seems like it is all redeemed.

At first I assumed that Hannah, the big sister, had joined her little sister who’d had a nightmare the night before and was scared at bedtime.  But then Naomi whispered to me that it was actually Hannah who had been scared so she invited her up to sleep with her.  As Naomi left the room, Hannah hugged me and said, “I wasn’t scared but I knew she was so I told her I was and asked if I could sleep with her.”  And with a squeeze, she was off.

Oh my goodness!  They LOVE each other!! They really, really do!  Despite the constant bickering and the incessant complaining and the never-ending litany of “she said” or “it wasn’t me” that takes place day in and day out, underneath it all, they both chose to protect, comfort, and love on the other when the chips were down.  Each thought that they were the one who blessed her sister and neither sought to gain recognition for it or embarrass the other. Both went into the day believing that they had laid down their life for their sister.

And both of them were right.

As a mom, I was  blessed to see my girls displaying the attributes of love and self-sacrifice we have so often shared with them and encouraged them to walk in.  I felt like John when he exclaimed in 3 Jn 1:4 that he had “no greater joy than to hear that his children were walking in the truth.”

No greater joy.

Think about that.  That’s a pretty big statement.  There’s a lot of things that bring us joy, but John says there is “no greater joy” than to see his children walking in the truth of the Lord.  And I get it.

Because for all the weariness I feel when my kids misbehave, there’s no comparison to when I see them step out in willing obedience.  And for the frustration I feel when they fight with each other, there aren’t words to describe the blessing I feel when I see them serve each other in love.  And despite the condemnation I sometimes walk in when my children don’t seem to “get it”, I can’t even begin to share the joy I feel when their actions and words demonstrate their genuine spiritual growth and desire to follow Christ.

Maybe that’s part of the reason why God has given us as parents and caregivers the unique responsibility andbible privilege of being the ones who form their faith, disciple their hearts, and pass on the truth of God to their lives.  Because as painful as it can be to deal with them when they “miss it”, there is no greater joy to experience than when they “get it.”  Our opportunity to participate in the formation of Christ means we get to see the good along with the bad and the ugly.  We have the chance to grab hold of the beauty of those good moments and redeem those not-so-good ones with discipleship and mercy.

As I was writing this, my girls came walking up the sidewalk together from the bus.  I could see them chatting together as they strolled, excitedly sharing about the gifts they bought at the school fair today.  But I could also see the love they both experienced from the other the night before still affecting their relationship today.  I know they will squabble again (probably as soon as they head up the steps to clean their room), but these moments remind me that there is “no greater joy” than when they are walking in truth.

In the weary times, in the stretching times, in the times where we just think they are never going to get it, may that joy spur us on and may we celebrate those moments with them as they grow.

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