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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

To Glorify God


It was a very special day for my eight year old. She had competed in the AAU Georgia State Gymnastics Championship. She came away winning First Place State Champion on beam, Second Place State Champion on floor, and Third Place State Champion in All Around. It was precious. 

But as we moved through that last season, experiencing all the various successes and joys—and sometimes failures and sorrows—I really began to dig deep to understand why we were doing all these activities. What was their purpose in the lives of the children to whom God had entrusted me? 

The Lord gave me wisdom as I pondered this more. The purpose was not to “be great” or to win or to be first. Though that seemed to be the focus of the parents with whom we interacted at these events (whether it was ballet, baseball, or gymnastics), this focus was not even close to where our hearts were centered. Throughout all of these extracurricular activities our family began to focus on bringing God pleasure and glory in all that we did. Whether it was hitting a baseball, writing a book, doing a cartwheel, or turning a pirouette, we were in it for Him. It’s a form of worship to use the gifts, talents, and abilities—the mind and body God gave us—for His joy and glory. It’s worship when we give Him the credit if success follows. 

I sought to help my children understand it was not solely for their benefit that they were doing these activities. It was ultimately for Him because He gave them this special work—through the gifts, talents, and passions He developed in them—and it brings Him joy when they walk in that. It is His glory, His joy that we seek. We are worshiping God when we do the work He has given us to do, and it becomes an eternal work when our hearts are truly focused on Him.  

I finally quit praying for my kids to win. I can't tell you how many times I sat there, biting my nails and praying like crazy that my son would get a hit or pitch a perfect game, or that my ballerina would get the part she wanted in the Nutcracker, or that my gymnast would win first place. Then God showed me it's not about them. It's about Him. My prayers changed to praise that God is their God, that He has blessed them, that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that they are His children. I began praying that they would simply bring Him glory. Whatever would bring God the most glory is what I prayed for. Amazingly, as I changed my heart in prayer, my attitude underwent a dramatic change. When they lost, I was not nearly as troubled or sorrowful. When they won, I was overjoyed, but not as relieved and overwhelmed as I had been before. It's astonishing what this shift in focus did for my own heart as a parent. I was totally at peace, whether they won or lost.

Yet more than anything, it blessed my heart the most when I heard my children actually getting this. That's when I began to really swell with excitement. When I saw them confiding their own personal prayers during an event, the purpose God had in all of this became clear: It was to reach their hearts, building their understanding of God and their dependence on Him. It was to help them grow in their walk as they learned to truly worship Him with their lives.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1


7 comments:

Kindred Blessings said...

Congratulation to your daughter and to you as well. I've struggled with this issue. It is challenging to stay Christ-focused in the middle of competition and to teach Godly behavior to our children. My daughter was in competitve gymanstics and we've been in this exact situation. It is all about God no matter where we are.

Blessings to you!

MommaofMany said...

I've been hoping for an anatomy course! We are finishing up Botany and need a new book to study for the fall. YEAH!!

Daddy's Chick's said...

Well said . . . please tell her congrats!! After dealing with cancer this past CHRISTmas, as you told me before life will look so different to us. We are taking June & July to be still and seek God in what we should do outside our home next fall. Thanks for sharing and your prayers

EEEEMommy said...

I loved this post!! You really hit the nail on the head, and I enjoyed reading about the constant peace you now have regardless. It reminds me of Paul in Philippians, "I have learned to be content in any circumstance..." God has given you so much wisdom! Thank you for sharing it with us!

A JoyFilled Life said...

What a beautiful answer for many of my own questions regarding outside activities and sports. Wonderfully said.

Thank you!

Raising Olives said...

Congratulations to your daughter. I too was a competitive gymnast, winning the state championship all around for two years. Ultimately the goal is God's glory!

Blessings,
Kimberly

Joel and Laura said...

I really love this post. I am a writer and learning how to constantly ask God how I can glorify Him, whether my writing is published or not. It is not the outcome or worldly success of what I do that matters most - but that I use the gifts God has given me for His glory. Thanks for the reminder!!