Keep Your Wonder On:
The Secret to Vibrant Spiritual Parenting
By Darlene Fussle
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty Savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17
Have you ever wondered what the secret is to living life to the full? Mel Gibson produced one of my favorite movies, Braveheart. One of the quotes that resonates with me is when William Wallace said, “Every man dies, but not every man really lives!” We are called to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Jesus also said we cannot enter the kingdom of God unless we become like a child. I’ve discovered wonder in my life to be beauty, childlikeness, all things made new, mystery is embraced, adventure is celebrated, and there are no limits to dreaming or believing. Many leaders in different spheres of life work harder than ever to try to build a kingdom they are trying to keep. The truth is that we aren’t here to serve ourselves, but to raise up the next generation to shine God’s light and advance His kingdom together. The question is, “What are we building and why?” Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no word from God, people are uncontrolled, but those who obey what they have been taught are happy.”
Studies show us that 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. By 2030, the number of youth is projected to be 1.3 billion. More than ever before, we need spiritual moms and dads. Paul said it best in I Corinthians 4:15. “For though you have countless teachers in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus…” Many people are looking for solutions to age-old questions. They are looking for a spiritual mom or dad to believe in them. The truth is that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life. We get to choose to stay where we are or continue to grow and mature in Christ. It is such an honor to RE-PRESENT Him to others. Jesus truly is irresistable. If more people knew who Jesus really is, they couldn’t help but give their lives fully to Him. He is not a dictator like some perceive Him to be. Failure or success is not measured the way we think He measures it. True success comes by simply believing in Him and abiding in Him like a child.
How do you keep your wonder on? My desire is to share the secret of how to personally thrive in the power and love of God’s presence within healthy family/community. I believe this lifestyle of being delighted in and delighting ourselves in the Lord is the biggest key to unlocking our destiny and the destiny of others! The more we grow in His confidence and our most authentic selves, the more others are given permission to freely be themselves as sons and daughters of Father God. Our efforts are futile unless we are awakened to our need of a Savior through the power and love of Holy Spirit. He is the one who shows us how to love ourselves in a healthy way. In and from His Presence, He teaches us how to love and live well in partnership with the King of Kings as well as in healthy relationships with others. He is such a relational Father! He just wants our heart and in return, He can’t help but give us the desires of our heart. It’s in Him we live, move, and have our being.
In Mark 4:38-40, we read the story about how Jesus slept in the storm. What storms of life can we rest in? Jesus spoke TO the storm and then asked the disciples, “Why are you afraid? Where is your faith?” He has given us faith and authority over the storms of life. Whatever storms of life in which we can rest, we have authority over. Let’s say someone struggled with their body image and the person had an eating disorder. Then, over time, the individual learned how to overcome the lies associated with it. The person has received and activated their faith to overcome the lies! He or she is free in the truth of God’s love and is able to give their breakthrough away to others. So why wait to take our places as a spiritual parent? Paul (the missionary) writes with great joy, “All of creation waits for the sons and daughters to be revealed!” I believe all of creation is also waiting for the fathers and mothers to be revealed!
If our lives are built on the sands of life, we don’t have a solid foundation. If we are rooted in the knowledge and belief that you and I are sons or daughters of God, we have discovered one of the biggest secrets to life! We are made in His image, not our own image. That’s true freedom! We can naturally learn from the beautiful example between Father God and His Son, Jesus. Jesus only did and said what He saw the Father do and say (John 12:49). In God’s goodness, He actually takes delight in us with GLADNESS. He calms ALL our fears and He REJOICES over us with JOYFUL songs! Now that is a really good word. Being a good daughter looks like serving and honoring my mom or dad (spiritual and/or in the natural) in the best way I know how. I can’t be a good spiritual mom if I don’t know how to be a good daughter. I used to believe a lie that once I left my parents’ home as a 19 year-old, I had to choose between staying a daughter or growing up. Of course, I always knew I would be my parents’ daughter. But, because I didn’t know what this looked like as a grown adult, I would sometimes try to create my own identity without really understanding the model Jesus showed us with His Father (John 15). We get to continually abide and thrive! The secret is revealed to us. Our best options are to see ourselves as a son or a daughter of God. We get to see our parents as God does while continually maturing in our faith walk. I can be a vibrant spiritual parent when I know how to be a good daughter. We can discover what it means to dream WITH other fathers and mothers!
I’m so grateful to have Steve Backlund as my mentor this year. Interning for him was the best decision I could have made and it truly is an eternal investment with life-long impact. He and his wife, Wendy Backlund, are all about partnering with God in beliefs. They say that what we believe about God, ourselves, and about others is key to how we interpret our world! Our mindset and heart posture as children of God towards the Father opens amazing doors in our lives. Our inheritance as sons and daughters as well as spiritual parents, is to stay in a continual place of rest. We get to receive the gift of wonder. Think of how a child lives his or her day. They don’t have any worries. They ask plenty of questions, but they are also ok with mystery. They laugh a lot more than the average adult. We get to depend on our Father God just like a child depends on his or her parents. Another part of the secret to vibrant spiritual parenting is to embrace the continual tension that happens in anyone’s life. There are always choices. We can learn from our past while living in the present. It is our joy to get to build for the future generations to come. We would not be here today without the blessings of our forefathers and foremothers. Isn’t it amazing to think about how we are descendents of historical legends like Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Jesus! Geneology is so clearly written in the Bible? How exciting to know that we are seated with Jesus Christ in heavenly places while living on earth right now (Ephesians 1:21). Where is the kingdom of God? It is at hand right now (Mark 1:15). The founder of Global Legacy, Paul Manwarring, describes the tension of life in the example of playing the violin. In order for it to be played effectively, it requires a tension between the bow and the strings. This tension creates energy and the energy creates the melody. The same is true in our life. If we find ourselves getting stuck without knowing why, often times, we just need to take a deep breath and step back to see the bigger picture again.
Part of my story is that I taught high schoolers grades 9-12 for almost 10 years and thoroughly enjoyed working with them. Little by little, I began to run out of tools for my overall wellbeing while I continued to pour into others daily, my lesson plans, and other paperwork after classroom hours. Do you ever wonder why people experience burnout in life? They believe their identity is based on their performance and achievement. I know this to be true because that is what I experienced. I knew there had to be more to life than what I was living. I longed to be in the midst of God’s limitless Presence with a community of people who longed to know Him more. In my fasting, praying, journaling, worshipping, and asking questions, seeking, and knocking, I began to hear Him more clearly than ever. I invited other key friends into my process and asked them to pray with me for wisdom. I knew I was facing another big transition in my life. Different friends from different groups asked me if I had heard of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministery in Redding. I was researching Hillsong in Australia at the time. After much prayer and a fully surrendered “yes” to God, I received confirmed direction from the Lord to accept the special invitation to attend BSSM. In addition to that, I listened to the wise counsel of trusted friends and I resigned as a high school teacher one year before moving out. I worked with children ages 1-5 years for a year. They taught me so much about how to laugh and play again as an adult. It was a new season and I recognized the moment. My heart had to dream bigger than ever and I gave it permission! I dared to believe that God would come through for me in providing for my 1st year tuition and missions trip. He did exceedingly above and beyond all that I could have asked for during all three years. Family and friends stood with me, believed in me, and they are still championing me today. I am forever grateful! Now that I am almost finished with my 3rd year, I am ready to be launched! I know that I know I am fully equipped and will be as a daughter of God and as a spiritual mom for every good work.
The biggest secrets to keeping my wonder on are:
- Never lose my wonder by delighting myself continually in the Father as His child.
- Keep receiving His limitless delight in me.
- Give to others what I receive from His heart.
- Share with other hungry people what I’ve received from key spiritual fathers and mothers.
- Stand firm in who God says I am as a daughter and spiritual mom.
Practical Strategies: I was listening to Steve Backlund and Michael Brodeur share truths with our 2nd Year Church Track and Global Legacy students. Here are some practical ways they referenced about wonder:
- Stay childlike, not childish.
- Repent from living as one who is independent from being a son or a daughter.
- Make time to have fun and keep doing your hobbies.
- Keep your heart warm before God and receive His love as a Father.
- Redeem what has been lost.
- Know you have access to the kingdom of God as a son or daughter.
- Hear from God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit for yourself.
- Honor God, yourself, your parents, and others.
- Keep your love on in relationships no matter what (healthy family/community).
- Eat, sleep, and exercise right.
- Think intentionally on what is true. See the gold in yourself and in others.
- Carry the torch/the blessings from previous grandparents, leaders, spiritual parents.
- Prioritize relationships above what we do.
- Have high beliefs about others.
- Keep renewing your mind to the mind of Christ and His Word.
- Speak life and be open for feedback from key people in your life.
- Keep it simple and be ok with mystery.
- Pray continually and see what God is doing.
- Have an attitude of gratefulness.
- Believe that dreaming with others empowers them to soar higher.
- Believe that God has given us enough time in a day to do all that we need to do.
- Families celebrate progress, not perfection.
- Keep your wonder on and keep going.
- Never quit.
I believe that the body of Christ is made to thrive in a limitless, loving relationship with the God of the universe. We get to live with one another in the vibrancy as WONDER-FILLED spiritual moms and dads. The next generation is waiting for us to take our place if we haven’t already. It is not meant to be difficult or frustrating. If it is so, then we have overcomplicated life again and it’s time to hit the reset button. This is the secret to releasing greater freedom in leadership as a spiritual mother or spiritual father to the next generation. We follow others as they follow Christ. Bravehearted ones keep their WONDER on and lead in vibrant ways. They grow healthy relationships that empower other sons and daughters to go further than they did as parents. We all get to lead from the FULLNESS of who we are in Christ, which means, we area all winning our races! These are simple and powerful keys of how to steward leadership no matter who you are or where you are. This kind of vibrant spiritual parenting will impact and affect many generations to come. Children can make a huge kingdom impact at such a young age, if we let them. Let’s go after the fullness of our inheritance together.
Say these declarations with me:
- I am forever and always loved as a child of God.
- I embrace childlike wonder no matter the circumstances.
- I am growing as a spiritual parent.
- I steward my secret place time with the Lord consistently.
- I steward my relationships well and I thrive in any environment.
- I make choices with the next generation in mind.
- I create healthy family!
- I am living the dream because God is that good and He is that true!
- Cultures start in the mind and we have the mind of Christ!
- Cultures transfer to the marketplace!
- My high beliefs in God, myself and about others transfers to whatever meeting I am in.
- I share good news/stories with excitement, ease, and joy!
- Laughter is becoming so easy for me!
Darlene Fussle is a writing-editing intern for Steve Backlund during this 2015-2016 year. She is an adventurous, Swiss-American who was born in Cameroon, Africa and raised in Indiana. This blog is taken from a sermon she gave on February 8th, 2016. She is passionate about abiding in God’s Presence and calling people to their destiny in an exhortive way that encourages the body of Christ.