"Think of what is above, not of what is on earth." -Col 3:2
My family and I have started watching the show, The Chosen. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it! It is a show about Jesus’ life. While it’s fictional, it has helped me to better imagine the life of Jesus and his disciples. During one of the episodes, the character of Nicodemus encounters Jesus and realizes that He is the Messiah, the One he has been waiting for his entire life. He is awe struck and moved to tears to be in Jesus’ presence. Jesus invites Nicodemus to follow Him. Nicodemus wrestles with the challenge as he would sacrifice his family, reputation, status, etc. Jesus acknowledged the great difficulties for Nicodemus to follow Him. However, Jesus stated that what Nicodemus would gain by following Him would be far greater and more lasting than anything he would abandon.
In the end, Nicodemus couldn’t accept Jesus’ invitation. While watching this scene unfold with Nicodemus, I moved from anger and disappointment to sadness as I saw how entrapped Nicodemus was in worldly desires to break free even when it would affect his life eternally. I thought about my own self. When making decisions, am I always focused on the eternal or am I shortsighted and only focused on my desires and what is most comfortable for me in the present moment? As my children’s daily devotional book puts it, am I focused on the harvest, the end goal?
This school year, my elementary aged girls and I embarked on an unexpected homeschool adventure. I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, and I spent several sleepless nights worrying about the curriculum and what I would teach them. I worried about what materials to use and if they would be behind when they returned to school. I doubted my abilities and how I would effectively teach my daughter who struggles with learning differences. Without even expressing these worries to a friend, she seemed to understand my anxious heart and had the perfect words for me.
“Darcie, more than schooling, you are leading them to Heaven. And all the love you pour into them will bear fruit in their hearts and overflow into all areas of knowledge. I have absolutely no doubt about it!”
I truly felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me through my wise friend. I was being too short sighted. While curriculum choices are important, they aren’t the most important part of homeschooling. I needed to focus more on cherishing our time together, more one-on-one time to love on them. More time to share with the girls about Jesus’ love and grow closer in their faith with God. The reminder from my friend was just what I needed to broaden my sights and keep focused on the harvest, on our true eternal goal of leading my spouse and children to Heaven.
Making the decision to homeschool was not in my plans. I was actually looking forward to the kids getting back to a more regular school schedule after a difficult year in 2020. I was looking forward to having more time to work on a prayer project. I was starting to look at new job opportunities. Thank goodness, God made it clear that I needed to homeschool. Even though I was convicted in God’s plan, there were times I doubted our path. Again, God always had perfect timing.
I came across a video from Catholic speaker Chris Stefanick that confirmed in me my vocation and where my focus was needed. In the video, Chris was sharing how he visited a good friend and mentor who was dying and facing the final days of her life. Chris asked her if she could pray for his work for the Church, the work that he had learned from her. Her response stopped Chris in his tracks because it didn’t have anything to do with his work. She told Chris that the best thing he did was marry his wife. She told him to hold onto his wife, his kids. Don’t forget them. Chris said it was a great reminder to not lose yourself in your work, even when your work is for God. If your vocation is family life, that should be your focus.
It was the reminder I needed that my work can wait. I needed to set my sights on God and His perfect, ultimate plan.
As I reflected on our homeschool adventure, I realized that everyday we encounter choices. Choices in how we love, live out our vocation, and share the gifts we’ve been given. Are we entrapped in our desires, in worldly vices like Nicodemus or are we going to keep our eyes on the harvest? Will we choose to love, sacrifice and follow Jesus with the promise of something greater than we could ever imagine?!
What are the worldly desires, worries and vices that keep you enslaved and get in the way of following Jesus?
Talk to God. This Advent season is a wonderful time to spend greater time in prayer. Ask God for His mercy, grace, and guidance to abandon those things that get in the way of following Him and to focus our eyes upward, towards God, towards the the eternal harvest of Heaven.