As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
Psalm 103:15-16 NKJV
We’ve come to the end of what I have to share about how I made peace with my parents. And that end is the issue of eternity. Eternity is a dominant subject throughout the entire Bible, and as a result, so is the issue of our mortality. But living with an awareness of the eternal is a gift from God, because we just aren’t able to do it.
If you are even passing familiar with Martha Kilpatrick’s teachings, then you know that the eternal is front and center in all she says and writes and is! Eternity was in my face with the first book I read by her. And here’s the thing: I really didn’t like it. To live with a heart for the eternal means dying to your hopes and dreams for THIS life, because Jesus could return tomorrow, and we are called to be “eagerly, constantly, and patiently waiting for and expecting Him” (Heb. 9:28 Amplified). Well, I didn’t think it was fair that I was supposed to be excited about the eternal when I hadn’t come close to living out this mortal life yet. I wanted my chance, my adventure, my shot at the world. I wanted my life – literally.
So before I could be in the place to receive or even want the gift of awareness of the eternal, I had to die a huge death to what I absolutely wanted from this life: husband, kids, grandkids, see the world, live in a castle, etc. It was no small surrender for me, and it took time. But what I found on the other side is that I really wasn’t as reluctant to follow God down the rockier paths any more, like confrontation and separation – and making peace with my parents.
When eternity is at stake, what does a painful confrontation matter? Or a long separation? I mean, what’s longer than eternity? And when it comes to parents, your soul may not be the only one in danger. Do you have siblings? How about kids? Even your parents’ souls may hang in the balance.
When I refuse to allow the Spirit to safeguard and own the dreams I have for my life or the dreams I have for my family, I am are blind to the eternal and worshipping the mortal. This is what God showed me when I tried to put limits on just what I would allow Him to do with the relationships in my life – the most intense being my relationship with my mom and dad. To draw a line in the sand with God is to tell Him “no.” And the only reason to tell God “no” is because in some way, I’m worshipping at the altar of this life at the expense of my eternity.
That’s what it came down to in the end. My eternity was on the line, and maybe eternity for the people I loved, as well. I had to choose, and I chose to say “yes” to God.
So what has changed for me since then? I genuinely, unbelievably ENJOY my life – THIS life – as I never did before. As Martha says, it’s such a paradox! I thought that dying to my life would leave me stuck in a gray, church-y tedium, counting the days until I could die and be free. Instead, I experience inexplicable joy in this world and all the things that used to irritate me, like a long drive, waiting in line, sitting in traffic, doing the dishes, or smiling at strangers. I feel a sense of purpose attached to the very things that used to annoy me, and now I have joy in them – Christ’s joy.
I thought that dying to my expectations and hopes in my parents would make me feel cold and distant toward them – and very alone. Instead, I am at peace when I’m with them, and I love them with a freedom I never had before.
Making peace with my parents allowed me to make peace with my life, and in doing so, I made peace with the mysterious, Eternal God behind it all.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
(We invite you to read all of the articles in this series on parents, as well as John’s related posts.)