This past weekend I ventured off with a small group of ladies from our church to The Women of Joy conference in Branson, MO. It was a great time of fellowship, good speakers, and a little quiet time to reflect upon life. After the first evenings sections I prepared for bed and settled in for my first night away from the kids sense Eli was born. My feet went up and I pulled my iPad out to play a little mindless game.
I had always considered my evening “gaming” time as a way to relax and unwind from a full crazy day with the kids. But if this was true then why was I playing tonight. I didn’t have the kids all day and I already felt pretty relaxed. I guess my time on the computer was more habit than purpose. With a clear mind I decided that mindless gaming was over and I really should be putting that time to better use. Say maybe reading my Bible or praying?
I read a couple chapters of Romans but with lost interest I switched over to Facebook, with a short prayer of thanks for my day, as it loaded the newest status updates. I told myself a couple chapters was great for tonight and didn’t really even feel guilty that I didn’t have a desire for more. It wasn’t until the next day listening to one of the guest speakers, and strongly disagreeing with her, that I realized my problem.
She quoted Matthew 7:17-19: “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” She spoke about the different kinds of fruit we should be producing and some of the ways that we might do so.
This is something I have heard many times and had no issues with the general idea. My problem came with what she said next. She explained that there were a few times in life that we probably wouldn’t produce much fruit; one of which is when we have young children. She reassured all of the young mothers in the auditorium that once are children grew up that we once again could start producing fruit. (Were you wondering why the tree pictures? I bet you get it now.)
I couldn’t believe that I was just given the next ten years off from being a Christian. Sure I still had to obey the rules and not kill or lie but I didn’t have to worry about loving others as Christ did or helping the least, last, or lost. I had an excuse; I had young children.
It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized I was using my kids as an excuse. I had been using mindless games and social media to relax and connect to others when I was drained when I should have been using that time to read or pray. Honestly I am not at a place where these things are relaxing and filling but I know from experience that they will be with a bit more time and practice.
If I use my children for an excuse not to follow Jesus how much easier it will be when something else difficult, time consuming, or really important comes along for me to once again have an excuse. From now on my children are not going to be my excuse. My children need me to “bear good fruit”, they will learn from witnessing and tasting my fruit.