Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of you.” But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.” ~ Genesis 33:12-14
“At the pace of the children” – I can see Jacob’s caravan in my mind’s eye. I live it daily. My little girl running ahead of me, wild and full of glee, racing the wind, meandering all over the path. She stops at each worm to poke it. She chases the butterfly and the armadillo (“Armadillo! Where are you going?”). She sits in the long grass to feel the whisps of its seeds brush her cheeks. She tosses pebbles excitedly into the rushing water, giggling with delight at each splash. She stares intently at the water, questioning how tadpoles turn into frogs. And with no warning, she is exhausted, desperately needing to be carried. Her little head nestles under my chin and her body grows heavy and limp with the warm sun and the exertion. My little boy alternately runs alongside and then tells me he must lay down on the path to take a rest. I move at the pace of my children.
I must move at the pace of my children, realizing that my life is no longer just about what I can do (was it ever supposed to be just about me anyway?). I must consider their needs, their capabilities, their energies and talents, as well as my own.
I must move at the pace of my children, realizing that this life is not a competition, as the world would like me to think. Esau and Jacob could each move at their own pace. They would both arrive at the same place and enjoy each other then. I, too, must learn to see that I must move at the pace of my children (and myself) – and stop comparing myself to others. In the Christian walk, our aim is not to keep up with the Jones’s or anyone else. I must compare myself to God’s standards and quit comparing myself to others.
I must move at the pace of my children, which means I must sometimes say no. In this case, Jacob said no to his brother – not because he didn’t love him or he didn’t have the talent or ability to move as quickly. He chose to move at the pace of his children. I, too, must learn to say no sometimes to good or purposeful things, at least in this season of motherhood, knowing that some tasks can wait for a different season or at least a different week.
I must move at the pace of the children – because it is God who has placed them in my stewardship. I have a grave responsibility, not just to them, but to the God who has placed me in this role of mothering. And yet, He in all His mercy, has done so knowingly and providentially. It is God who has paired me with these particular children – and He will grant exactly what I need to parent them, if I ask Him. He covers my brokenness with His grace.
Raising faithful children demands my time and patience, my teaching and effort. It also reaps eternal reward.
May we seek to move at the pace of our children, to train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), and to realize that they have never been ours – they belong to the Lord.
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there. ~ 1 Samuel 1:27-28