Friday, October 28, 2011

Nails, Wedding Days and Purposeful Pegs

Nails, nails, nails… for days.

When I first decided to redo part of our basement, I really had no idea what it would entail. Up until the day I began to transform the dreary, cold area into a warm, cozy space, it had been storage to a hodgepodge of lawn tools, Christmas decorations, car wash paraphernalia and anything else that could not go anywhere else. And I think every resident over the last 50 years had nailed at least 100 nails each into the bare wood support beam that lined the ceiling.

Ok. That might be bit of an exaggeration but I don't think you could have told me any different as I stood on that ladder surveying my task.

32 old, rusty nails scattered everywhere. But I was determined that Every. Single. One. Would be gone. Working hard in those precious nap time moments, I pulled, I banged, rested and stared at the ones left, then pulled and banged some more… and finally, after three days, even those last few huge, deep nails gave way.

As I wrestled with those nails, I thought about how they had been nailed in with no real purpose or, at least, no lasting purpose. I certainly did not know why the beam was riddled with random nails that, over the last five years, we had never once used.

As I labored I was surrounded also by the thoughts and prayers that go into a new school year, my first homeschooling year. My mind mulled over the classical education idea of pegs in the grammar stage. The idea of teaching and drilling things you want your children to remember so that later you can build upon them. And here, among my thoughts and hopes of intentionally pouring into my children, were these anything-but-intentional nails.

And in those moments I determined, with all the determination to remove those pointless nails and more, to be intentional with my children. And not so much just in teaching them, but in everything. To purposefully, intentionally teach them things that I want them to remember for life. I did not want my children to look back over their life and see a bunch of useless nails but instead purposeful pegs they can hang their life on. 

Isn’t that part of what Deuteronomy is getting at when it tells the parents to know the Word and to talk of it when they sit, when rise and when they walk by the way? While it should flow from us easily and permeate all of our life, the command in scripture makes it clear that we are to be intentional as well.

Recently, my ever-encouraging God gave me a glimpse of the fruit of this in an overheard heart to heart conversation between Rachel and Sam the other night:

Sam: "Rachel, when we grow up, I am going to marry you."
Rachel: "No, Sam. You can’t marry me because you’re my
brother. But when you grow up, I hope… I hope… I hope you marry a girl who
loves Jesus more than anything in the whole world."

With joy inexpressible, I remembered the many, many times I had told Rachel to marry a man who loves Jesus more than anything. As she paused, I could almost see her mind working, searching, remembering those conversations. One day we will talk about what it means to marry that kind of man in great detail but for now it is enough. I pray that one day she will walk down that aisle to a single-minded, Jesus-loving young man and I will wipe away tears of joy... that those intentional words will, by God’s grace, have proven to be a peg that she could hang her life upon.

Those nails, I owe those nails a debt for the hours it gave me to ponder their uselessness and how I did not want my parenting to be numbered with them. 

For in those quiet moments of struggling to pull out carelessly nailed in pegs, I found what I wanted my mothering to look like. And if there were one word to define my mothering, next to
gospel-drenched, then I hope it would be intentional. Intentional in my instruction in school, as we drill 9+9= 18 for the 50th time, and intentional in showing them what it means to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind.

I kept those nails, all 32 of them, as a reminder for my heart. Be intentional.

So pray for me as I hammer. I hope, if this is new to you, that you have been encouraged to dust off your hammer hidden deep in that closet somewhere. Or, if you are laboring, with your hammer in hand and nails ever ready, that you don’t grow weary in doing good for in due time we will
reap a harvest. Smile at the future with me and pound away hard for the glory of God.

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