As I tuck my oldest son into bed, we talk quietly, exploring different worlds through imaginative stories. I tell him about rescue workers, brave puppy dogs, and even royal princes who travel long distances to defeat evil. Sometimes, our stories veer off the genre of fairy tale into the territory of truth regarding heaven and the new earth. This, I tell my son, is the ultimate rescue story.
My son leans over and asks, “Will you and Daddy be there in heaven?” expressing his desire to be with us forever. I calm his heart, letting him know that yes, we will be there. But I don’t move on before telling him there is someone more important for him to be with, and that person is Jesus. I explain as plainly as I can to a preschooler, that the best thing about heaven won’t be the lack of tears, the healed boo-boos, the fellowship with family, or the joyful songs. The most wonderful thing about heaven will be seeing, knowing, and treasuring Jesus face-to-face; worshipping him and glorifying God forever. Jesus is the ultimate treasure. He is also the ultimate rescuer, and the person who mommy loves more than anything else.
What I speak to my son in the dimly lit bedtime hour is the truth. With the Spirit in me, I can say with all joy and seriousness that Jesus is my greatest love. But my present life in the flesh means I don’t always act that way. Even in my best attempts, I fail greatly, and find myself worshipping other loves. I enjoy the approval of my children and my friends, I lay down too much for the sake of worldly achievements, I pursue satisfaction in entertainment and social media, and I desire for all those under my reign to make me look good. To my child, it might even seem offensive to hear I love someone else more, but ultimately, it’s the greatest gift I can give.
If my son could understand, I would tell him this is such a good gift because...
When mommy loves Jesus more than her own peace and quiet, she can graciously endure the loud whines of tired children, putting their need for firm, compassionate training above her desires for them to leave her alone.
When mommy loves Jesus more than her dreams and achievements, she can invest deeply in the discipleship of her children, trusting God with the limitations he brings in each season.
When mommy loves Jesus more than approval, she can seek long-term good for the souls of her children instead of gaining the short-term relief that comes from satisfying their cravings.
When mommy loves Jesus more than her own domestic kingdom, she can discipline with calm justice, knowing that her and her children’s offenses are equally egregious and equally atoned for.
When mommy loves Jesus more than the title of “mom”, she can entrust the souls of her children to their faithful creator while continuing to serve mightily for their good.
When mommy loves Jesus more than her children’s good behavior, she can patiently exposit the loveliness of the gospel over many months and years, instead of finding temporal satisfaction in immediate external changes.
When mommy loves Jesus more than her personal rights, she can sweep crumbs off the floor for the 1000th time without grumbling or complaining, because she remembers her Savior who humbled himself to the lowest position.
When mommy loves Jesus more than her comfort, she can get out of bed repeatedly; sacrificing years of sleep to nurture, support, pray for, and minister to her children.
When mommy loves Jesus more than her entertainment, she can use her precious personal moments to invest in the eternal knowledge of God’s word instead of automatically binge-watching her favorite show.
When mommy loves Jesus more than her social media following, she can appropriately protect and celebrate the lives of her husband and children instead of exploiting them for her personal gain.
When mommy loves Jesus more than her ability to control her circumstances, she can trust God, not fearing anything that is frightening in this world, because she knows the God who overcame the grave.
While the reality of these things might be exceedingly difficult to obtain, and the applications will look different for every mom, the importance of making Jesus our greatest love cannot be overstated. When we fail to do this, and instead make good things too important, our children are shortchanged. They might get the gift of good nutrition, wise direction, athletic training, popularity, or material wealth from us, but they don’t get the eternal gift of the gospel.
And for every mommy out there who read those truths and grieved the state of her own heart; there is still an opportunity to glorify God. Because you can still show Jesus’ greatness as you repent and remind your children that you are not their ultimate hope. “Mommy” will fail, so they must rest their hearts on someone eternally satisfying.
So, as awkward and abrasive as it might sound to my son’s little ears, I will continue to tell him (and all of my children, for that matter) that I love Jesus more. I pray that someday, my son will be able to tell his children the same truth amidst fairy tales, rescue stories, and dimly lit bedtime snuggles.