FIRST-PERSON: When Mommy loves Jesus more

Tags: motherhood

AMES, Iowa (BP) -- As I tuck my oldest son into bed, we talk quietly, exploring different worlds through imaginative stories. I tell him about rescue workers, brave puppy dogs and even royal princes who travel long distances to defeat evil. Sometimes, our stories veer off the genre of fairy tale into the territory of truth regarding heaven and the new earth. This, I tell my son, is the ultimate rescue story.

My son leans over and asks, "Will you and Daddy be there in heaven?" expressing his desire to be with us forever. I calm his heart, letting him know that yes, we will be there. But I don't move on before telling him there is someone more important for him to be with, and that person is Jesus.

I explain as plainly as I can to a preschooler that the best thing about heaven won't be the lack of tears, the healed boo-boos, the fellowship with family or the joyful songs. The most wonderful thing about heaven will be seeing, knowing and treasuring Jesus face to face, worshipping Him and glorifying God forever.

Jesus is the ultimate treasure. He is also the ultimate rescuer and the person who Mommy loves more than anything else.

What I speak to my son in the dimly lit bedtime hour is the truth. With the Spirit in me, I can say with all joy and seriousness that Jesus is my greatest love. But my present life in the flesh means I don't always act that way. Even in my best attempts, I fail greatly and find myself worshipping other loves. I enjoy the approval of my children and my friends; I lay down too much for the sake of worldly achievements; I pursue satisfaction in entertainment and social media; and I desire for all those under my reign to make me look good. To my child, it might even seem offensive to hear I love someone else more, but ultimately, it's the greatest gift I can give because my love for Jesus impacts my heart and actions.

What happens when Mommy loves Jesus more

When Mommy loves Jesus more than her own peace and quiet, she can graciously endure the loud whines of tired children, putting their need for firm, compassionate training above her desires for them to leave her alone. She can seek long-term good for the sake of their souls instead of gaining the short-term relief that comes from satisfying their cravings. She can discipline with calm justice, knowing that her and her children's offenses are equally egregious and equally atoned for.

When Mommy loves Jesus more than her dreams and achievements, she can sacrifice opportunities as God leads for the sake of faithful child-rearing and discipleship. She can get out of bed repeatedly, sacrificing years of sleep to nurture, support, pray for and minister to her children. She can sweep crumbs off the floor for the 1000th time without grumbling or complaining because she remembers her Savior who humbled Himself to the lowest position.

When Mommy loves Jesus more than the title of "mom," she can entrust the souls of her children to their faithful Creator while continuing to serve mightily for their good. She can patiently exposit the loveliness of the Gospel to them over many months and years, instead of finding temporal satisfaction in immediate behavioral changes. She can use her precious personal moments to invest in the eternal knowledge of God's Word instead of automatically binge-watching her favorite show or checking social media.

The gift of Gospel hope

While the reality of these things might be exceedingly difficult to obtain, and the applications will look different for every mom, the importance of making Jesus our greatest love cannot be overstated. When we fail to do this, and instead make good things too important, our children are shortchanged. They might get the gift of good nutrition, wise direction, athletic training, popularity or material wealth from us, but they don't get the eternal gift of the Gospel.

And for every mom out there who read those truths and grieved the state of her own heart, there is still an opportunity to glorify God. You can still show Jesus' greatness as you repent and remind your children that you are not their ultimate hope. "Mommy" will fail, so they must rest their hearts on someone eternally satisfying.

So, as awkward and abrasive as it might sound to my son's little ears, I will continue to tell him (and all of my children, for that matter) that I love Jesus more. I pray that someday my son will be able to tell his children the same truth amidst fairy tales, rescue stories and dimly lit bedtime snuggles.

Emily Jensen, online at emilyjensenwrites.com and Twitter @emjensenwrites, and her husband Brad are parents to four boys under age 4. The Jensens teach Pre-K nursery at Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Ames, Iowa. This column first appeared at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's For the Church website, http://ftc.co.
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