Listen, Then Decide

John 5:30 (the message)
“I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I’m not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness.”

I am able to do nothing from Myself {independently, of My own accord–but only as I’m taught by God and as I get his orders}. Even as I hear, I judge {I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision}, and My judgement is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult my own will {I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose} but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me.

This is going to start out with the familiar tones of a mom dropping her child off for first day of school story.  The same story thousands of moms experience every year.  Just hang in there a minute, because I’ve got a point to make this morning.  A point I’m feeling some passion about.  Smile…

Yes, this was Leah’s first day of kindergarten.  Instead of the typical oatmeal or waffles she and Rivers enjoyed chocolate chip pancakes.  She already had a request for how she wanted her hair (curled and pulled over to one side over her shoulder in a pony tail).  She looked beautiful as we took pictures in front of the Lantana bushes (the same spot we took pics of Rivers on her first day!).

We walked her to Mrs. Sanderford’s class and stood by as she hung up her book bag and was shown where to put her lunchbox.  As I bent down to hug her one last time she whispered, stay.  I gave her my bravest smile and told her I knew she would have a great day.  Rivers and Shannon (and even Leighton) gave their hugs and then Leah picked out a crayon to begin coloring the sheet on her desk.

I cried, okay?  Before I got out of the classroom I cried.  Walking down the hallway back to the car I cried.  In the car and as Shannon hugged me I cried.

With Rivers, my tears came in waves…I remember lying awake in bed in the weeks before kindergarten, Shannon fast asleep, with tears rolling down my cheeks.  Pondering.  Realizing a season was coming to a close.  Most of all, the tears were born of gratitude.  Leah has been a little different.  I have three children this go around so although a time or two I felt the tears coming on, I have been too busy and way too tired to stay awake at night pondering!  So, I think as I watched her hang her book bag in her cubby and sit down at her desk the full force of this moment pressed in on me.  The ending of one season of life and beginning of another.  My girl will be fine.  No doubts.

As I pulled the “dream machine” into my driveway, I just sat there a minute.  Tears still coming, that most potent of questions pierced my mommy heart:

Did I do okay, God? 

You know, in vulnerable moments  answers can assault your mind…You yelled too much…You let her watch too much T.V.  For a few seconds those accusations were pretty loud, but then God (whom I was addressing in the first place) broke through and helped my heart remember some good, no great, things I did.

I came inside and sent some text messages so I could share pics with family and friends.  The encouragement was abounding!  As I traded messages with my friend Brigit and she shared her understanding of the whole “I hope I did okay” line of thinking, a Holy Spirit boldness began to seep into my heart and thoughts.  Actually, I would say a God-given “fed up with this” took hold of me!

Do you know what the Bible says about Satan?  He’s the accuser.  The father of lies.  He goes about like a roaring lion seeking those he can devour.  I sent Brigit a message that said you know what, the devil is not going to congratulate us on praying with our children.  He’s not going to say keep up the good work on taking the time to teach them God’s Word and right from wrong.  No.  He’s going to only remind us of the times we could have done better and when we start listening to that we forget all of the good stuff.  For me today, the devil can go to hell.  I’m sick to death of listening to him.

Along with my imperfections as a mother, I have done and do a lot of stuff “right.”  And believe me, I realize whole-heartedly the ‘right’ stuff has come because of God’s grace in my life.  I refuse to forsake His glory.  I refuse to forget that lots of love and truth has been poured into my children on a daily basis because of the goodness, the greatness, of God.  A lot of good has gone on.  A lot of “right” has happened.  And God deserves the credit and the glory.  I’m not going to keep robbing Him of it because I’m too afraid to tell the accuser to take his lies elsewhere.  Too afraid if I don’t berate myself for my weaknesses I’ll keep repeating them.  Pugh!  What a lie!

Now, as promised, this is more than a mommy story or passionate rant.  Smile.  As I read the words of Jesus in the verse above this morning (after taking the girls to school) I thought, Well, there you go!  Jesus Himself waited on direction and the voice of His Father before making judgements (decisions)!  Jesus Himself said I can do nothing independently, only as I’m taught by God and get His direction.  He said I don’t consult my own will because my aim is not to please myself but to please the Father.  Wow!  If Jesus could do nothing apart from the Father neither can I!  And that is A-okay!  It’s good and great and perfect!  I’m not supposed to have all the answers, just wait to hear the answer from my Father!

I don’t know about you, but this is so good for me today!  First off, I’m finished listening to the accuser tell me I’m not a good enough mother.  Finished.  I’m far from perfect but I am a woman who loves God and her family with all of her heart.  I’m a woman who longs for direction and to hear the voice of her Father.  So, like Jesus, I’m going to settle down about it.  Just “listen, then decide,” knowing He  will certainly show me the way forward in each moment!

Perhaps it’s not parenting but another area of your life in which you hear the accuser taunting you today.  Telling you that you aren’t good enough.  Reminding you of your mistakes and imperfections with a mega-phone.  I encourage you to tell Satan to shut up and pack up.  I encourage you to speak the name of Jesus, out loud.  I encourage you to believe that if the Son of God did not try to figure out the whole Messiah thing on His own but waited for direction from His Father, it’s surely okay if we do the same!

We don’t need to have life all figured out.  But we can get excited at the prospect of wisdom!  Slowing our pace long enough to listen for His voice in the choices we make, the judgements and the responses we give.  I don’t need to be the perfect mother, I can’t be, I just need to know the perfect God.

Listen, then Decide.


2 thoughts on “Listen, Then Decide

  1. This made me cry, not looking forward to that day. I constantly question myself as a mother too–on one hand I think any good mother would but it is definitely Satan that makes us full of self-doubt. I have always thought you are a wonderful friend, wife, and mother and someone I look up to (figuratively speaking:). You have certainly been my yard-stick for motherhood! I hope I see Leah’s picture soon:-)


  2. vanessa, this was so good. it reminded me of davids first day of school he acted like a old man. he went to the back row and set down.i waved goodby ancried all the way back to the car. i can still see him at times when i remember that day so good you are a great mom and avery special grand child . dont ever second guess your self .love you


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