By Sara Elsner
“This place is lit.”
I love hearing those words from teens in their response to our efforts spent creating meaningful moments. Of course, daily life doesn’t stay “lit” like that, but there IS a standard by which God commands us to keep it “lit” for the next generations … continually.
In my early days of mothering, laundry was the only mountain I was inclined to speak to, and it wasn’t God-inspired. However, I did have heavenly-minded goals for myself and my children, so I spent time with God as best as my distracted heart and mind could, and I read books on nurturing kids to love Jesus. Also for several years, my husband Charlie would keep all the kids for a weekend, and I would retreat with other mom friends to a conference[i] featuring a favorite mom author/mentor. Other mentors would teach opening sessions, and I remember exercising patience beyond my spiritual IMmaturity when a reserved, unfamiliar, white-haired woman took the podium and directed us to the book … of Exodus.
I remember thinking this was going to be a long half hour.
Thankfully, the half hour session has lasted almost twenty years! I am reminded of her teaching daily.
This woman had the audacity to speak to us weary moms–moms of nursing babies, potty-training toddlers, needy preschoolers, and school age children–moms who were just trying to get through our exhausting days–about GENERATIONS, the generations beyond our own children!
“Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. The lampstand will stand in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron and his sons must keep the lamps burning in the LORD’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be observed from generation to generation.” Exodus 27:20-21 NLT
I know. There are words like Tabernacle. Law. Must. All night. My sleep-deprived self wanted to shut down. But there was something that caught my heart - maybe the other words like olive oil. And lamps. But I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Pay attention.” So I did.
Each day with our children is about more than just a day, and more than just our children. There is a bigger picture that we are impacting. There are generations at stake.
We do have to focus appropriately on the seasons our families are in, and not despise the small beginnings in any of those seasons. However, we must keep a heaven’s eye perspective on the journey and remember that our goal is hearts-for-Him over outward compliance or “success” from man’s perspective. That can be tricky, since we can often be more easily captivated by what we can measure.
Lighting the Lamps
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!” If we have grown up in church, these lyrics are familiar. But if this “little light” is “lit”, then that means at some point we saw our need for Christ to cover our sin with Himself, fill our lack with His fulfillment, reconcile us to our loving Creator from whom sin separated us, and prepare a place for us with Him for eternity.
If we have never known this need, then we need to light that lamp now, by acknowledging those very basic needs to a loving God, whose Son, Jesus Christ, lived as a human without sin, died in our place because we have sin, rose from the grave to show He won, went to His place at God’s right hand, and THEN sent us His Holy Spirit to fill us–a Helper to help us know His love more, and live like He intends us to–shining our lights!
As moms who know Christ, we want our children’s lamps to be lit. We have to remember that while God DOES say this is to be TAUGHT, it also must be CAUGHT. From us. So we have to be “carrying” something. For them to “catch”. And they have to catch it. We can’t catch it for them.
But we do have a Helper who helps us…and them! And we can trust Him. But we have to be filled by Him. And that is something He tells us to do. “...be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18 NIV). So we can shine. So the place can be “lit”.
Keeping Them Lit
For almost twenty years I have used the One Year Bible for my time with God. I am currently journaling through my third paper copy of this daily reading plan that divides Old and New Testaments, Psalms, and Proverbs, into daily chunks. It can take as few as fifteen minutes to read, or as long as I decide to spend, discovering the treasure that is there to gather, “hear”, apply, and pray. For the first several years I only spent minimum reading time, often falling behind, and I sometimes still do. There are seasons for everything! He multiplies what is done with the right heart. Because He is good and His Word is living. I digress - but not really.
ANYWAY, it’s interesting that our Exodus lamp passage is on the same One Year Bible date as Matthew 25:1-13. This is the parable of the ten bridesmaids carrying oil lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five were foolish and didn’t bring extra oil to refill their lamps. Five were wise and brought reserves to fill their lamps, as they knew they needed to keep them burning until the bridegroom arrived.
Numerous parallels can be drawn from this parable! But suffice it to say that we don’t want our lamps, or the lamps of our GENERATIONS, to go out before our Bridegroom, Jesus, comes back for His Bride.
We are to teach our kids about lighting their lamps. We are to share our light with them, and keep it lit. But at some point they have to “catch” it for themselves and maintain their own oil supply. An empty lamp is the shell of religion–no matter how polished or trendy–and it carries nothing to the next generation, and it carries nothing to meet the Bridegroom.
This is what takes me to my knees. We and they need the Helper–the Holy Spirit–to maintain the oil supply of relationship in His Presence–with Him and with them–to nurture beyond ourselves. So my prayers invoke the Helper–the Holy Spirit–to counsel us all to catch and carry the oil of relationship with Him. Together. And Individually. To the next GENERATIONS. And the next. … Until He comes back.
After that weekend retreat I still came home to mountains of laundry and other kinds of mountains and molehills that would require my daily and hourly attention. But I became aware of GENERATIONS beyond my children. And if it’s a good day, spiritually speaking, I obey the Holy Spirit to keep the molehills in their places. And He inspires me to speak to the real mountains, and keep the lamps “lit’.
A wife of thirty-ish years and homeschooling mom of eight, “plus-three”, Sara enjoys cooking for her remaining household of seven that grows to at least thirteen when their married kids are also seated at their family’s twenty foot table. As a math major, Sara battles symmetry-addiction, and she can’t avoid using both sides of her brain as she gardens and decorates. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!