22 June 2012

A Party and A Test of Faith

This year Danika and Andrew’s birthday party was a true test of faith, and once again God showed me He knows best and I can afford to trust Him - with everything! Even something as insignificant as a birthday party.
Six of my 8 children’s birthdays are in the winter months, and since we live in the Western Cape of South Africa, we not only suffer icy cold temperatures, but rain, rain and more rain!  Over the past 18 years, I got used to pray for sunny weather, weeks before birthday parties and always had a plan B up my sleeve.  Many of these party dates happened to be cloudy, rainy days, but God was always faithful - not one single time did it rain during the two hours of the party!  

Since the older three children started tennis in September last year, there is constant tennis fever in the house!  In February the children persuaded me to also get a tennis racket and tennis outfit and in March, Danika, Andrew and David started their tennis lessons as well!  In the beginning of the year Danika and Andrew, who have their birthdays one day apart, begged me to have a tennis party this year. I thought it a brilliant idea, but oh, it is the middle of the winter. Not quite the right weather for a tennis party!

Despite all this, we decided to go for it and prayerful planned the party.  Two weeks before the party I started to check AccuWeather. Saturday, the 9th would be a cloudless, sunny day!  But as the 9th approached, the weather changed. On the Wednesday before the party the clouds picked up, by Thursday it rained non-stopped and we measured 35mm in one day.  Friday wasn’t much better and according to AccuWeather the constant rain would become showers only by Saturday afternoon, and the sun would shine by Sunday!

I really tried hard to keep my faith and hope, but by Friday morning I had to face the facts.  The most interesting of all was that everything else about the party was playing out perfectly.  All the special friends could make the party. The party would be a celebration for 4 children’s birthdays. One, the boy of a Friend, who would have a newborn baby the next week. 

So there was no way we could move the party. I was stressed out. How would we be able to keep 30 children busy in the tennis club house, while it was pouring outside?  And what about Andrew en Danika who were passionately looking forward to their tennis party?

After crying it out on my dear husband’s lap, I realized I can do nothing about the weather, I prayed without cease for days and just have to trust the Lord and enjoy the preparations and the day with the children. 

With all the discipline inside of me, I managed to have an exciting Friday with the children, decorating the cake and cupcakes.

All the time I was waiting, hoping, trusting for the miracle. God opening the clouds and sending a bright, clear sky on Saturday morning. Came Saturday morning the first thing I heard after the alarm went off, was the sound of rain…  It rained even more than what was forecasted!  I started the morning like usual with my Hello Mornings Bible study - Love Like Him, and the whole time prayed that God will make a way, or give me peace to accept it and miraculously let the children still enjoy the party.

Came 9:30 the boys were sweeping the court and trying to get the excess water off the courts!  In this they were having a ball, even more when the party friends arrived, who grabbed more brooms to sweep the court, while it started to drizzle!

10:00 came and a sliver of sunshine broke through the clouds and the rain stopped.  We decided to take the chance to play outside and CJ, Heidi-Mari and Josua started the games.  

The children loved it and it struck me, that the weather actually didn’t bother them.
Twenty minutes into the games, it began to drizzle and soon it was pouring.  We quickly went inside the clubhouse and started the party, blowing candles, 

prayed for the birthday children,

handed out cupcakes.

Soon the children formed groups and were having fun, chatting and munching away party food!  

Half-an-hour later the clouds opened and the sun brightly shone down on the wet courts, all the children were out in seconds and the games started all over again.

It didn’t rain again, and by 11:30 the sun was shining warmly and the courts were dry.  The children had a blast and they were not bored for one moment or even concerned about the rain, to the contrary it added to all the excitement.  The rain was only bothering me…  It was my faith that was crumbling under my expectations.
This just reminded me again that God is more concerned about my holiness than my happiness.  God wants each of His children to grow in faith, hope, love, holiness - becoming mature Christians lacking nothing, who can go out and change the world.  
I experienced this first hand with my children.  When I’m only concern about keeping my children happy, I’m raising spoiled brats.  I want to raise young, content adults who show the fruit of the spirit, and that is not possible if I jump to every demand they have. Not long ago I read in an Above Rubies magazine, “Say No to your children, more.” The focus when raising children is not to keep them happy at all costs, quite the contrary.  They are born with the tendency to preserve themselves and be discontent - the sinful nature.  We as parents can only break that disposition by training them to lay aside their selfish nature and model to them a content, satisfied and peaceful character in every situation.
But do we as parents allow God to train us into content, satisfied and peaceful adults?  Aren’t we even worse than a two year old throwing a tantrum when things don’t go our way? I almost felt like a two year old who wants to throw all her toys out of the cot, when it seemed like God wasn’t going to change the weather! I had to remind myself quite a few times to practice patience and believe that God would turn this out for my good - He has a plan, clearly not my plan, but it is the best plan.
I think unknowingly we believe that when we are Christians all things will go well in our lives (after all God is on our side, isn’t He?) and we will not experience difficulty and hardship when we follow His plan for our lives.  When reading John 15 it is clear God prunes us to bear more fruit. Pruning isn’t without much pain and distress. When God prune us, He is taking away things in our lives, which we still like, so we can focus our lives more to Him.  Do we resist when God prunes us, or do we allow Him to take away what isn’t important in His eyes and be content?
Then we read in James 1 we ought to count it all joy when we fall into various trials to test our faith.  This is exactly what happened to me. God was testing my faith big time, through something as insignificant, but important to me, as a tennis party for my children.  How often does God do this?  The God I know does it quite regular in my life.  My response can be to throw a tantrum, make a new plan, compromise... or I can submit to God, which will produce patience and a growing in faith experience.  In 1 Peter 1 we get even more information on this testing of our faith.  It will only happen if need be, to test the genuineness of our faith, like the purifying of gold through fire.  A few verses further someone who submit to God in testing periods, is called an obedient child, someone who does not conform himself to his former lusts in ignorance.  He calls such a person, holy!
I am a mother, and I believe most of my readers are mothers, so in your lives most probably too, children is God’s main tool of putting me through trials and tribulations to test my faith. This makes me holy and prune my life from unwanted and unimportant activities. This isn’t surprising as we read in 1 Timothy 2 women will be saved (become more holy and content) in childbearing (accepting their role as mothers) if they continue in faith, love and self-control.
Therefore I want to encourage every mother who is giving her life to bear and train up Godly children, to lift your head up high! Your are doing a great and mighty work.  You are tested to your limits, but the reward is more than you can think or imagine! God began a good work in you and will continue this great work in you (Phil 1:6) if you allow Him. 
Don’t compromise dear mother, don’t fall for worldly solutions to fix you trial, keep your eyes on Jesus and He will bring it to pass. 
Danika, Andrew’s, DuPré and Yaron’s birthday party was a huge success! 

The children could easily play for a few more hours, especially after the two days of pouring rain! 

And I …
I have grown up a little more too!
Much love

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Huisvrou said...

Enne ekke tjank!!!

So baie dankie vir hierdie een Linnie.....

Anonymous said...

I really love reading your blog, Linnie - you always make me smile, & challenge me to get to know my Father's heart more.

Jacquelin said...

Love this! Just found your blog on the Circle of Mom's, you have my vote! Can not wait to hear more. Plus, that is one awesome cake!

Wendy said...

Beautiful post my friend and you are raising very special children. David is playing in his first tournament for these three days and we have also been dodging raindrops!

Linnie said...

Welcome on my blog Jacquelin!
Thank you Wendy! Praying for the weather, looking forward to see you on Saturday!

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