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Cleaning out a drawer this week, I found a card with big, gold letters.

Because you’re my mom, I’ll always have a special reason to believe in the goodness of God.

A very mature sentiment, but I couldn’t remember having received it recently from either of my grown kids.  Curious, I looked inside and found the familiar, but almost forgotten scrawl of my precious little ones.

My heart welled, and my eyes stung.  Alone, I held the card to my heart for a moment.

My kids hadn’t picked the card.  I knew that.  They couldn’t have.  At the time it was given, they had no frame of reference for the sentiment expressed.

But my husband did.

Seeing who I tried to be and what I tried to do for our little family, my husband had loved and appreciated me and coached our kids to do the same.  Oh, I’m sure the kids meant what they wrote, but, in a sense, their scrawl was actually a gift from his heart.

Having been a minister’s wife for almost 25 years now, I understand the strain ministers and their families experience during the holiday season.  Sure, the schedule is tough, and you sometimes wonder whether there will ever come a day you can just focus on you and yours, but it’s more than that.  It’s a yearning to see people grow to maturity in their faith and offer our gracious Heavenly Father the worship He’s due with sincere and grateful hearts because you know Who He is and what He’s done.  You love Him.

Sometimes, it happens—at least, you think it does—and your spirit soars.  In those moments, every sacrifice you and your family made in obedience is worth it because you feel sure His heart must be blessed.

Sometimes, though, it doesn’t.  Low attendance, apathetic stares and lackluster participation, whatever the underlying causes may be, break your heart and sink it to the pit of your stomach.  In those moments, you weigh the results of your efforts against what they cost and wonder whether or not you chose wisely.

You did.

Rest assured, your people will come around in due time, maybe not when you want them to, but they will.  Remember, transformation is the Holy Spirit’s job, not yours, and He’ll get them where they need to be when it’s time for them to be there (Phil. 1:6).

In the meantime, take heart.  God knows the dust we’re made of, and He doesn’t expect perfection (Ps. 103:14).  God of the Harvest, He doesn’t even expect results (1 Cor. 3:7).

Truth?  When all is said and done, it won’t really matter how many people attended your Thanksgiving meal, how many shoeboxes and angels were taken, or how ‘alive’ your living Christmas tree actually felt.  All that will really matter is whether or not you led your people the way God told you to lead them.

To obey the Father is to love Him (1 John 5:3).  Do this and He will be blessed, despite any melee or mess.