Saturday, June 28, 2014

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

O love that will not let me go.
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow may fuller, richer be.*

Two years ago, Alex astutely pointed out that one thing our home lacked was grace.
A year ago, as the abortion battle raged in the Texas capitol, I mused to Brett that babies are not ever classified as a consequence of sin in the Bible, that the Church better get her grammar straight on this.
A few months after that, I wondered if, should my child ever confess to me serious sin, I would respond Biblically or just react.

Random as these events seem, God was stringing each of them together. Little did we know that we would soon be put to the test. Could each of these pearls be joined to make a garland of grace?
We're not perfect parents, but I think we've been attentive parents, deliberate parents. We certainly parent on purpose and with purpose. Still, consecration is not the same as sanctification. And no amount of sprinkled holy water will ever do the work of the Holy Spirit.

Setting apart.
That is the job of parents. We discipline and we disciple, train and teach.
We sprinkle them with the Gospel.
We sprinkle them with the Word.
We sprinkle them with prayer.
We sprinkle them with worldview.
We sprinkle them by homeschooling, taking them to church, talking about life.
We monitor who they're hanging out with. We try to know the condition of our little flock AND the friends of our flock.

(On the other hand, we fall, too. We fail often. We bobble between being too strict...or not strict enough. Sometimes we're authoritarian; sometimes we're permissive; sometimes we're selfish. We do a lot of repenting.)

The point is, we consecrate our kids. We set them apart from the world. We acknowledge that they are image-bearers--albeit fallen image-bearers--and we strive to be good stewards of these good gifts. But we are realizing something lately.

I am not the Christ. 

Kevin DeYoung, in his book Crazy Busy, says that his friend once reminded him of these words of John the Baptist. And you know what? Someone needs to remind us parents of that, too. We should wake up every morning and recite it to ourselves.

I am not the Christ.
I am not the Christ.
I am not the Christ.

And no matter how deliberately and attentively we parent, we cannot do the job of Christ. We cannot save our children; neither can we sanctify them.

The problem is that we got consecration mixed up with sanctification. And we sent a consecrated kid off to the big, bad world, when only a sanctified kid can survive it. Guess what? Consecrated kids can't stand out there.

This year was a tough year for our consecrated college sophomore. Let me say right here that I am not opposed to sending your kid off to college. There is some speculation that Christian kids are losing their faith in college. But that can't be, as that would be flawed soteriology in light of God's Word.  If we could lose our salvation, we would. What's really happening, I think, is that college has a way of separating the truly sanctified from the merely consecrated.

So here we are. And this is our story:
We sensed that he was having a bad year. He was not communicating with us very often. And when he was, it wasn't hopeful. We were alarmed and looking forward to getting him back home for summer. That was when the other shoe dropped. I'll keep it short and to the point.
There's a young lady. And there's a baby on the way.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee.
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's blaze its day may brighter, fairer be.*

Grief and grace. As far as I can tell, these are the only ways to respond to a repentant believer.
Grief over sin because sin grieves the Father's heart.
And grace for the sinner.
Unmerited favor. Emphasize unmerited. And then emphasize favor.
Suddenly, I was glad Alex had confronted us two years ago about grace. That was a God thing. And we had been working since then to be a gracious household. I dare not think how I would have responded outside the context of grace. What if this had happened two years ago? But God is faithful. He had been grooming us for this moment. More precious, even, He had groomed the kids.

There have been individual conversations with the siblings.
The 23 yr old dripped grace.
The 21 yr old dripped grace.
The 18 yr old dripped grace.
The 14 yr old dripped grace.
I did not expect these responses. I expected shock, disdain, rules. I am undone by their grace. I am blown away by their understanding of sin and salvation and forgiveness and the Cross. Brett looked at me through misty eyes and said, "If we had thought we were raising pharisees...we're not." And I will treasure these things up in my heart.

O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain that morn shall tearless be.*

We walked through the Gospel. We've done serious peacemaking. And we are confident that this son of ours who walked away is home again.
In more ways than one.

So there's a precious young lady.
And there's a precious baby on the way.
And, again, I can see that God prepared us ahead of time. For now we can see this child is not a 'consequence.' S/he is a ray of light, a redemption of something evil, a way of taking back what Satan meant for harm. And I trace this rainbow through the rain.

In August, we will add a daughter-in-law to our family.
In January, we will add a grandchild.
We hope, friends, that your response to our story is grief, grief over what grieves the Father. But we hope your concurrent response can be grace for this repentant sinner. We hope that you can find it in your heart to come alongside us and rejoice.
Rejoice in a Love that does not--will not--let us go.
Rejoice that God, rather than Satan, is writing this story.
Rejoice over new life.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

What's done is done.
Who has sinned is forgiven.
Weeping shall endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee.
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red life that shall endless be.*

*O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go, George Matheson, 1882

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fear Not Part Two

This is an addendum to my last post.

There are a lot of good reasons to walk around in fear. We live in a fallen world, after all, and the brokenness of our world hurts.

Our mind is threatened by vain philosophies and distorted gospels.
Our spirits are hurt by broken relationships and sin.
Our bodies are hurt by disease and crime and accidents and forces of nature.

Danger lurks in the bedroom via an unbiblical view of sexuality and marriage.
Danger lurks in the kitchen via microwaves and Monsanto.
Danger lurks in the office via cell phones, social media, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

We can't even go for a good, old-fashioned walk without  fearing critters, pesticides, and too much sun.

But...if we parent out of our fears, we are not going to raise safer kids. We're going to raise neurotic ones. I think we may be doing a disservice to our kids if the focus of our homes is 'safety'.

If we junk the television
or buy  car seats with 17 point harnesses
or slather them in sunscreen
or forbid social media
or hide the candy
or don't own a microwave
or clean everything with vinegar
or make them wear bike helmets
or load them down with herbs
or teach them to distrust the government
or hide from the neighbors
or put a water filter on the hose
or move to Timbuktu
or have a curfew
or helicopter parent...

...we are not guilty of sin.
I'm not saying that.

But I am saying that may be there is a trust issue.

Maybe we don't trust that God put us and our families right here, smack in the middle of the twenty-first century, with twenty-first century challenges. And trying to make our homes little replicas of Eden is not going to keep our families safe. Believe it or not, some of our fears might actually materialize. We might suffer for living in this broken world. That's what it all means.

And there are lots of legitimate reasons to fear for our children,
Unless you are a believer,
In which case there are ZERO legitimate reasons to fear
Because God is sovereign and good.
He does everything for His glory and our good.

And if He let 'it' happen to you, no matter what your 'it' is, it is for His glory and your good.
So I'll say it again.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. 

Ain't skeered.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fear Not

I fear God.

I don't fear failure.
I don't fear cancer.
I don't fear cholesterol.
I don't fear tyranny.
I don't fear Islam.
I don't fear tap water.
I don't fear terrorists.
I don't fear car accidents.
I don't fear heresies.
I don't fear the Internet.
I don't fear losing my children physically.
I don't fear microwaves.
I don't fear sugar.
I don't fear intellectualism.
I don't fear vaccinations.
I don't fear being alone.
I don't fear birth defects.
I don't fear drinking out of plastic cups.
I don't fear flying.
I don't fear aging.
I don't fear cell phones.
I don't fear television.
I don't fear false gospels.
I don't fear losing my children spiritually.
I don't fear gossip.
I don't fear atheism.
I don't fear technology.
I don't fear poverty.
I don't fear real bread and real wine.
I don't fear homelessness.
I don't fear sunburn.
I don't fear crime.
I don't fear criminals.
I don't fear pesticides.
I don't fear tornadoes.
I don't fear unemployment.
I don't fear bad company.
I don't fear Apollyon.
I don't fear death.
I don't fear hell.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Ain't skeered.