Lessons From Mary, Part Two
In what ways are you teaching your child about their identity in Christ?
Mary’s family moved around to keep Jesus safe and prepare him to leave home. Each new place brought adjustment to cultural challenges and language barriers. As Military moms, we identify with Mary’s desire to give our children a strong sense of identity. This week’s journey shows us God can make every experience meaningful—for our good and for His glory—and reminds us who we are in Christ.
About This Journey
You’ve heard the saying that children are resilient. As a Military parent the only thing constant is change, so you must be more aware of your responsibility to make emotional and spiritual deposits into your family. Follow the stories of six people who were devoted to loving children and played significant roles in their spiritual growth for generations to come.
This Week's Readings
The Sweet Spot
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”-Luke 2:41-49
Don’t you love it when your child finds their sweet spot—that thing that holds their attention and piques their interest? In our family, one child has an insatiable interest in factoids. He enjoys reading books about unusual facts and is a trove of trivia knowledge. Another child finds great joy in figuring out how things work. He will take apart and put together anything that does not move.
The yearly journey to Jerusalem for Passover is another indicator of Joseph and Mary’s devotion to God. The dangerous trip took three or four days—an obvious sacrifice of time and resources for a carpenter’s family, but taking Jesus to the annual celebration was a step in his religious education. The temple was not only a place of worship, but also a place of learning as evidenced by the teachers who were present. Here we have only a snapshot of his education, but the scene indicates the parents of Jesus were involved in his training. In the temple, Jesus lingered, listened, and entered into discussion with the teachers.
When they realized Jesus was not with them, they went into panic mode. After an anxious three-day search, they found him in his sweet spot—in the temple, talking with the teachers. He had a thirst and aptitude to discuss spiritual issues. His parents sound more annoyed than astounded, angry not about the learning but because Jesus stayed behind without permission.
As the Son of God, Jesus is different from other kids, but all kids have individual interests and needs. Even though military families move around, we can still address the unique educational needs of our children. I recently met one energetic military mom with five children in five different schools! Nicole’s situation is unusual—and challenging, but she recognizes the temporary nature of her educational taxi service. She is dedicated to helping her children find their sweet spot. The prayer she and her husband pray for their kids uses the words at the end of this story about Jesus in the temple: May they increase “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
What do you see as your child’s sweet spots? How are you helping your children find them?
Lord, I pray _______________ will increase “in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and man.” Amen.
When There’s No Place Like Home
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”-John 2:1-5
“I feel like someone chopped off an appendage!”
“There’s no place like home. No, really—there’s NO place like home!”
The statements above describe my emotions when my family moved from North Carolina to Washington D.C. at the same time my oldest son left home to attend college in Tennessee. The transition felt brusque and harsh to me. Over the next few months we adjusted to D.C. as our new home, but when our son came to D.C. on school holidays he felt like he was visiting a strange city.
The shift from being supervisor of daily activities to mentor of an adult child is a necessary and natural adjustment for parents and children. However, the change in roles can feel curt for military families when home base suddenly changes to an unfamiliar location.
Mary had to feel some of the same emotions as her parenting role shifted. After all, how do you parent the Son of God? No miracles are recorded in the New Testament up to the miracle described in John chapter two, but this was the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. Jesus performed this miracle at the prompting of his mother. Things would not be the same after this miraculous event.
The response of Jesus to Mary’s request may seem harsh to our Western way of thinking, but when Jesus addressed Mary as “woman,” he took the necessary step toward redefining their roles. His identity moved from son to Savior. He was not only the son of Mary; he was also the Son of God. He willingly responded to her request to do something to help the bride and groom, but he did not do it under her authority. This time he moved in the authority granted him by God. Mary’s response was exemplary. She did not take offense, question him, or rebuke him for his response to her. She trusted him to do the right thing, illustrated by her command, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Whether the adjustment is a swift ninety-degree turn or a slow curve, remember that parents still play an important role as children leave home. Your role as one who believes and trusts in our children’s God given talents and gifts will not change. Your encouragement can be your child’s home, no matter where you live.
How was your experience when you left home for the first time? In what ways would you want it to be the same or different for your child?
Pray for someone you know who sent a child to college this year. Let them know you prayed for them today.
Where Are You From?
While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”-Matthew 12:46-50
Ask either of my boys where they are from and the answer will be, “Nowhere.” I know this because I posed the question to each of them. I also asked them if they resented the day they had to turn in their military ID card after they reached the age of ineligibility. My guilt was assuaged when they both answered, “No.”
As I spent time on a Military BRAT web forum I learned that many adults who grew up in a military family struggle with a sense of belonging well after they relinquish their ID. One woman wrote of her experience, “We no longer carry a Military ID, and we are no longer welcomed on a military installation. In fact, the military does not even recognize our existence. They have taken our privileges, and we are left to ourselves to adapt to a foreign, civilian world. The second we resign our ID card, we resign our identity.”
When Jesus asked the question, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” he was not denying his relationship with his family. Rather, he pointed out that from an eternal perspective his family included all of those who live for God. In a practical sense, he was showing the transition from his identity being from his family of origin to his disciples partnering with him in ministry. Jesus established a community in which believing on him as Savior means we are all “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 KJV).
As military families, we must prepare our children for the day they leave the nest. That preparation must include a thorough understanding of our confidence in their unique ability to contribute to the world. Most importantly, that preparation must include an understanding of their identity as a child of God. Their military ID card may expire, but their status as residents of God’s Kingdom will bring a sense of belonging that a military ID cannot begin to match.
In what ways are you preparing your child to leave the nest? In what ways are you teaching your child about their identity in Christ?
Lord, I pray my child would know your great love. Help my child to grow up to experience your grace and mercy in abundance. Amen.
The Mother Lion Awakened!
And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.-Matthew 13:53-58
Do you remember the first time someone rejected or treated your child poorly? I sure do! The strong emotions of anger mixed with compassion and an overwhelming need to protect my child welled up within me. Someone had to hold me back and talk me down! The mother lion in me was awakened and I was ready to pounce on those who mistreated my cub.
My kids experienced the spectrum of acceptance and its lack because of their military status. At Ft. Leavenworth they attended a great school on the installation. They met acceptance from the other kids because all the kids were military like them. When we moved to North Carolina they attended a public school. My youngest son began playing on the varsity football team as a sophomore. However, when the coach found out that we would be moving in the middle of the season he pulled him out of play. The coach rejected him because he was a military kid who would not be around next year to help the team. Yeah, someone had to hold me back and talk me down after that situation!
Was Mary like me when Jesus was rejected in his hometown? Jesus did not follow the pattern of hometown boys. Surely a good Jewish boy would have remained in the village and continued his father’s occupation as a carpenter. Add in that Jesus was teaching beyond what the townsfolk thought was his ability and you get rejection. He did not fit their preconceived ideas of a homeboy. Their inflexibility and unbelief was their loss, because “he did not do many mighty works” among them.
As a mother, I must look at the big picture. Was I angry and disappointed for my child when he was rejected because of his dad’s job? Yes. Did I think it was unfair? Yes. (It was!) However, disappointments and, yes, even rejection, can prepare and train kids for the realities of a world that can be unfair and harsh. My natural tendency is to get angry, protect, and strike back. But I need to remember that I am not rearing children, I am rearing adults. Handled wisely, rejection can build resilience and character. Our children need to learn how to bounce back in spite of challenges. Military kids can grow up to be resilient adults.
What difference does it make to think of your role as rearing adults as opposed to rearing children? How have you helped your child bounce back from challenges?
Lord, help me to have a spirit of resilience when challenges come my way. I pray I will be an example to my child/children. Help our family to trust you in times of uncertainty, fear, or change. Amen.
Families Take Care of Each Other
...but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.-John 19:25-27
I cannot begin to grasp the sadness, fear, and grief Mary must have felt as she watched Jesus journey to the cross. Her son—her firstborn—was fighting his most significant battle to accomplish the ultimate victory for mankind. The battle with spiritual and physical forces weakened him to the point of total exhaustion. His suffering was beyond comprehension. Yet surrounded by political authorities and bystanders who demanded his death, he showed concern for his mother.
This scene at the cross exemplifies the strength of family ties and the responsibility we have to care for each other even during the most difficult times. Jesus knew that after his death and resurrection, he would no longer continue as Mary’s son in the flesh, but her human needs for care would remain. He assigned the disciple he loved the role of caregiver.
Her grief was palpable, but for her this was not the end. As you read the first chapter of the book of Acts, you will discover that Mary was waiting in the Upper Room with all who had gathered for the promised Holy Spirit to come. She was present at the formation of the church as described in Acts 1:14: “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” She would continue to claim and proclaim Jesus as Messiah and Lord. The same Holy Spirit, who overshadowed her when the angel came and told her she would give birth to Jesus, would fill her with power to carry on the mission of Jesus after his resurrection.
Jesus shows us how we can fulfill our individual calling in life, while expressing an appropriate level of concern for others in our family and doing what we can to meet their needs.
In what ways does your family take care of each other? No matter the age of your child, it is never too soon to think about the future. How do you want to be cared for as you grow older?
Lord, I pray the faith of my family would grow strong. I pray we would see your hand in this day and find you in the details of life. Amen.
Resources & Info
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