Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
I lead a small accountability/prayer group on Monday nights. Since the start of 2014, we have been working our way through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John. This week we finished up John. With Mickey Mouse Clubhouse playing in the background for the toddler who never fell asleep, I prepared for our meeting. Being honest here, the assignment was John 16-21. Between making dinner and breaking up ninja fights, I only made it through Ch. 19. I’m telling you this so you know 1.) I procrastinate and 2.) I am not perfect. But the part that stuck out, the part that I felt like I needed to focus on with my group was in Ch 17.
14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
The sanctification part really struck a chord in my heart. Sanctification is, in plain terms, the process by which we are made holy. Notice how I used the word process and not the word change? As believers, God is constantly refining us and tweaking us to be more like Jesus. We are to be sanctified, or made holy, through truth, sacrifice, and good old life experiences.
I encouraged the girls to all discuss things or people in their lives that sanctify them. For me, the biggest thing right now in my life is my kids. I love my little men more than life itself. But they are a handful, hot mess, and a regular three-ring circus. When two people with strong personalities get together and make babies, there is no hope of them being simple, easy-going little dudes. I really do love this about them, and I know that the zeal inside of them will one day be used for greatness. But on a day-to-day basis, it can be tiring, fretful, and downright horrible dealing with them.
For example, Michael Jr, age 7, struggles with submission to authority. He just simply doesn’t understand why he should answer to anyone. He almost seems to find joy in questioning and judging the words and actions of others. But when I look at him from a different perspective, I see a little man full of confidence with headstrong ways; someone who will make an excellent CEO one day. God is using the things I see as difficulties in my son to help make ME more accepting and less critical of others.
We have Lincoln, age 4. He is what one would call the ‘spirited’ child. I wouldn’t say that he is strong-willed, as he submits to authority fairly easily. But he is spirited in the sense that it does not take much to get a rise from him or get him upset. Both physical and emotional things can trigger a fire. Little things like hair combing or teeth brushing can sometimes cause tears. Calling him a nickname or laughing at something he didn’t intend to be funny will cause him to retreat to his room or under a cover. When I view this guy through a different lens, I capture a little boy who is teaching me patience and to choose my words and actions carefully. He’s a little boy who reacts to things differently and whose mind moves a mile a minute. He will more than likely be an engineer or a professor, and I will have learned to love people more.
We can’t leave out Knox, age 2. Knox is the Terrible 2’s child I never got with the first two. He is full of joy and spunk and as my husband says— “His give sh**er is permanently turned off”. With his delicious blond curls and all caution flowing in the wind, I am constantly praying protection from harm over him. HIs life is a party. He is the child that is literally too cute to be angered by. Rather than trying to control or harness that free spirit (or those wild curls), I am sanctified daily by stopping to take joy in life with him. He reminds me to not get caught up in the big picture but to take 2 minutes to stop and enjoy the little things. His excitement over a plane in the air or a rabbit in the backyard is the equivalent to me fitting in my skinny jeans. He reminds this busy agenda-ridden mommy that Jesus is the life and center of everything. Knox will more than likely reside as president over his fraternity then go on to become a stunt man.
I struggle with sins of control, idolatry, and pride. My children remind me of that. Seeing my children as annoyances only drive me deeper into my sin. When I shift my lens to view them as little sinners too who are making me more like Jesus, it changes the whole game. Nobody ever said following Jesus was easy, and if they did, it was a big fat lie. Jobs, friends, parents, enemies, children, churches, and schools are all full of people and things that are put there to sanctify us, i.e. make us more holy. Rather than looking at those things (usually people) as bumps and deterrents, wishing they would change, I encourage you to ask yourself what God is trying to teach you about yourself by putting this person or situation in your life. Do you need to be more forgiving, less anxious, or even just turn your ‘give a sh**er’ off like Knox?
Never forget though, that sanctification is a process. Because we are born of man, we will never achieve perfect holiness until the day we meet our maker. Everything he takes us through and every person we meet is just a small step towards getting there one day.