The line to get a book signed by the authors wrapped around the convention hall like shoestring licorice. People stood in line, seriously, for hours clutching their book and waiting some more. The celebrity authors offered sessions on topics pertaining to parenting, family, and finances. I missed the boat on those sessions which required advance registration and an additional, though nominal fee, attached to the registration fee. So I sipped my convention coffee and wondered, while watching the line get longer, what could this celebrity family offer in their book that God didn’t already cover in his book?
I suppose that could be said about last year’s key note speaker, Ted Tripp, who drew a full house into his sessions on parenting. Not really. Tripp shepherded us into God’s word to discover and affirm God’s ideas about parenting. He spoke of real life parenting and the perils which accompany the monumental undertaking. Tripp shared personal stories from his parenting journey and the mistakes he made along the way.
It’s sad but true; we want to follow a formulaic path for parenting, marriage, devotions, finances, and the list goes on. I am guilty for wanting to take the easy way out. Just give me a formula to follow, step by step, that guarantees spiritually devoted kids, a healthy marriage, and financial security.
I gallantly strode by the line to the celebrity family and on to another session. That day, out of rebellion perhaps mixed with a tad of self- preservation, I attended a talk given by a not so famous mom but what she said did not come from the pages of her book but from the depths of her heart: “Glean from people, don’t follow them.”
A simple, yet profound statement. In other words, don’t become a Christian groupie. If I buy the book, follow the steps, watch the show, dress the part, all will be well. Not so.
If I follow a movement or a family or an individual, I risk losing my dependency and intimacy with Jesus in exchange for the false, golden formula. Interestingly, the Israelites wanted the same quick fix.
I know my weakness all too well. I need to remember that the Christian life isn’t like a recipe in the cookbook of life.
My Christian life doesn’t get the benefit of editing before airing on national TV. In my house, the cameraman would record me losing it with a kid and expressing disappointment through unloving words or a scene with my husband when I choose to be selfish, self-centered, manipulative…It’s ugly because at that moment my heart is wretched. Eventually God takes my wicked, twisted heart and bends it to reach his. He takes his crook and pulls me back into his fold like he has done many other times.
In my unedited, raw display of real life, the camera guy would then view the climatic process of restoration and reconciliation too.
So why was the conference room I attended only half-filled while the room where the celebrity parents spoke was full to brim with live- stream overflow seating full as well? Did the celebrity parents really have the secret formula to a happy Christian life, successful parenting, and a thriving marriage?
What I gleaned from NOT attending the talk given by the Christian celebrity family:
- God wants my family to draw near to him to find the plan he has for us.
- There is no perfect family.
- I own the book with the True formula for life; in fact, we own several copies, in numerous translations. This book of truth contains answers to marriage, parenting, devotions, how to dress, how to educate children, what kind of music to listen to, how many children to bear, etc.
- Life is about relationships with: our Savior, our kids, our spouse, our friends, our church community, our enemies, and the friendless.
- God’s formula for my family includes grace and not condemnation.
- Glean from people, don’t follow them.