A few nights ago I was up late going through some mp3 songs to put on my phone. I’m sure you know how songs so easily take you down Memory Lane. I was well on my way when I ran across Phil Vassar’s song from back in 2000 called “Just Another Day in Paradise.” The song is all about how crazy life can be with a spouse and some kids, bills piling up, things breaking, schedules calling, juggling work and home, sour milk, but then the chorus kicks in with the following words that share the truth that although life is frustrating and crazy at times, it’s blessed:
Well, it’s ok; It’s so nice
It’s just another day in paradise
Well, there’s no place that I’d rather be
Well, it’s two hearts and one dream
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
And I ask the Lord every night
For just another day in paradise
At that point, I went from Memory Lane to rejoicing. The song just hit home in my heart because it was like Vassar was singing about my life. Life is crazy right now with three young’uns and one on the way, but man, am I blessed! I began to thank God for my wife and kids and eventually went to bed, but as I was lying there, this question came to my mind: Ben, do you love Jesus more than your children?
That’s just how the Holy Spirit works, isn’t it? And immediately the following true story from the 1999 book by dc Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs called Jesus Freaks came to mind. I had read it years ago and had really been impacted by it, and the Lord there in my bed brought it back to mind.
The story comes from North Korea in the 1950s and is called “More Love to Thee.”
For years, Pastor Kim and 27 of his flock of Korean saints had hand-dug tunnels beneath the earth. Then, as the Communists were building a road, they discovered the Christians living underground.
The officials brought them out before a crowd of 30,000 in the village of Gok San for a public trial and execution. They were told, “Deny Christ, or you will die.” But they refused.
At this point the head Communist officer ordered four children from the group seized and had them prepared for hanging. With ropes tied around their small necks, the officer again commanded the parents to deny Christ.
Not one of the believers would deny their faith. They told the children, “We will soon see you in heaven.” The children died quietly.
The officer then called for a steamroller to be brought in. He forced the Christians to lie on the ground in its path. As its engine revved, they were given one last chance to recant their faith in Jesus. Again they refused.
As the steamroller began to inch forward, the Christians began to sing a song they had often sung together. As their bones and bodies were crushed under the pressure of the massive rollers, their lips utter the words:
“More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee
Thee alone I seek, more love to Thee
Let sorrow do its work, more love to Thee
Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
More love, O Christ, to Thee,” (p124-5).
What an astounding and radical demonstration of love for Jesus! Do I love Jesus more than my children? Do you? Would I, in order to save their lives from persecutors, deny my Savior and Lord? Would you?
Jesus’ words ring so clearly in my ears, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it,” (Matthew 10:37-39).
So, will it be Jesus or your children? Oh how I pray that you or I would never be put in the situation to choose like those Korean Christians had to choose, but if it were to come to be, I pray my answer would be “Jesus.” I pray the same for you as well.
But dear one, let me go a step further. The choice is really not between loving Jesus or loving your children. The truth is that you can do both. You see, in these Korean Christians choosing to love Jesus more than their children, they were actually doing the most loving thing they could for their children. They demonstrated to their children by their choice of faithfulness to Jesus that Jesus is more prized than anything else. That is the most loving thing a father or a mother can do for their children. So, it’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and. Love your children by loving Jesus more!
And more importantly, this truth is not just relevant to life and death situations. It’s relevant to every aspect of your parenting life. In all phases of your children’s lives and in all interactions, be most loving to your children by loving Jesus more than you love them.