Dawn, I struggled with chapter 5. Clarkson states that God is our life coach, cheering us on in the midst of difficulty. My struggle is this: God is so much MORE than a coach! He's the Creator of all things, sustainer of life, help to the needy, giver of life! (I know Clarkson believes these things too.)
Recently, our church family was praying fervently for a young girl who was hospitalized suddenly. I was stopped in my tracks when our Pastor pointed out that while it's good & right to plea with God to heal her, we also needed to stop & consider that maybe this is exactly where God wanted her to be. As I reflected on my own trails, all the pain & tears, I saw how God used those very things to shape me to become more like His Son. Praise God we are never outside of His loving care!
I firmly believe that God is in control of all things. And yet, He never sins. BUT He doesn't sit idly by watching the world spin, wishing His creatures would change. He brings trials to form us into His image. It isn't fun & we don't have to pretend that it is! The Psalms are full of cries for God for deliverance & laments of suffering. But there is also a peace that can't be shaken because we know that our God does all things good! YES, good! Even when I can't put all the pieces of the puzzle together, I bow my head & (often in tears) praise Him, waiting for Him to deliver me.
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" (Psalm 46:10)
The big take away from chapter 5 was the reminder as a parent to not try to shelter or deliver our children from trials. That can be tough because no one wants to see their babies hurt. But more than the desire to see my children happy, I desire for them to walk closely to their God & become the men/women He created them to be. I want them to own their lives! I love how Clarkson put it:
"As his parent, I saw my role as helping him through his challenges, not removing them.... He would have to lean into the process of character training that his life required." (pg. 57)
In chapter 6, Clarkson reminds the reader to humble themselves under God. I loved the quote she shared from C. S. Lewis:
"As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you." (pg. 69)
Humility before our God helps us to remember we need Him to save us & it gives us hope because we know He is faithful to keep those promises! God is not mean- He tenderly cares for His children. I loved how Clarkson shared that God's creation often humbles & refreshes her spirit. It's so easy in the bustle of life to miss this & I love when our family finds time to soak in God's creation! Clarkson also encouraged the reader to have eyes of a child. Oh, how grateful I am for my children- they help me see the world in such a humble, simple way. They delight in God with such enthusiasm! They struggle hard against sin, often in foolish ways that need training... just like me. They teach me many things!
"I will lift my eyes to the hills- from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall persevere your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore." (Psalm 121)
At the end of chapter 6, Clarkson encourages the reader to find time each day to spend with God. I KNOW how hard this can be when your a mama of littles. There have been seasons when all I can do is pray & read a short passage. Some days I can't even read that. Sadly, sometimes my busyness isn't for good reasons- it's wasted in fruitless activity. THAT'S when I need to re-evaluate my life & make some changes. But often my busyness is because I'm doing the very things God called me to do.
Here's one great tip: post Scripture around your house & when you see it, meditate on it. Work on memorizing Scripture so you can think on it when you're working. (If you're like me, it will take AGES to finish memorizing something but that's okay.) Also, if you're in that crazy mothering season, gather your little ones around & let your time with God be time with them too! Oh, and don't forget to sing! I'd highly recommend a quiet hour for everyone so you can have some time of reflection but I also know there are seasons when this doesn't happen.
I LOVE my time alone in God's Word. I LOVE my time alone soaking in His creation. But those times wax & wane with various seasons. And for me, my season has been a long one! ;) It's okay though- I'm seeking God when I can & looking to Him to sustain me. I'm grateful for a husband who gives me times of refreshment. I endeavor to do all I can to have time in prayer & His Word each day but if God ordains other things, I'm at peace. No guilt. :)
Be sure to check out Dawn's thoughts here!