Go ahead, draw it. The simplest of all shapes; rectangles, triangles, squares. If placed correctly they could look like a house. I'm guessing that if you took the time to try drawing by my "blueprint" you either got frustrated and stopped or came sortof close to a house-type structure.
With my instructions you could draw anything, really. It may take awhile for me to get you to do it just right, but eventually we could come up with a fairly decent drawing. But if we were to take that picture to an art gallery and hang it up, who would get the credit for the picture? Me or you?
When we raise our children, we have a picture of what they could be, We see their strengths and weaknesses and know what sort of career they could be really great at. But our picture is not always what our child ought to become. It is tempting to see successful people and force our kids to pursue that greatness. And like an artist taking directions from an outside source, our child could try to build their lives exactly the way we see fit- but never quite be able to live up to the perfect picture in our minds. Because it isn't the will of God for their life.
What we must do is give them the proper building blocks, the basic shapes if you will, then let them become what God needs them to be. Because in the end, our child will have to give an account for his or her life. We can over-control and fear the building process in our children, or we can be a witness and stand alongside them in prayers and encouragement.
There is the letting go I have yet to experience (but very closer now with an 11 year-old), when my kids enter their teen years, to let them develop as they need to and yet maintain the role of authority/protector over them. I can't let go or force them into my vision of my desires for them, but what I can do is stay faithful to the "basic shapes" and trust the scripture when it says"train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." And realize that over time God will take over the parental role as the kids becomes independent.
The one thing we must never let go of, though, is the responsibility of being an example. And that is the best we can do for our children, become a blueprint of a surrendered life. A holy life set apart to the glory of God.
In the garden with Adam and Eve, He walked among them and had relationship. After evil entered the world, He allowed us to be miserable for awhile and work life out the best we knew how- then came God in Flesh; Jesus Christ.
Jesus came as a giving God as well. Giving not only unconditional love, but also rebuke, healing, encouragement, discipline. And then His life.
All this made me realize how selfish I am. Here, God did this great thing in giving us the world and all it's inhabitants and Jesus gave his life, yet I only think about wanting more for myself. More for my kids, more for my family.
Give and it will come back to you- that's a promise in the Bible. But again, sometimes we only give so it will come back, not because just as God gave us unconditional love, we can do the same. What failures we all can be at re-gifting God's amazing love, yet God is faithful and gently reminds us to continue on faithfully giving, even when it isn't deserved.
Willie Robertson and his Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty were on a sitcom last week for a guest appearance. One of the characters on the show was questioning the meaning of life and they gave him scripture and God's solution to life's purpose. Even quoted a chapter and verse out of Mark. I was blessed the network "allowed" it, and yet a little uncomfortable because it is not something I'm used to seeing. Mostly, I was impressed that Willie And Si did not forget why they were Christians - even when being paid to memorized a couple lines and be on Prime Time television.
I have seen people who have been in the ministry for over thirty years still excited about their work. How do they do this? And when we learn the right steps to take, can we stay committed to live our faith?
I have learned that it comes down to two basic disciplines:
1. Having a purposeful prayer life
2. Remaining faithful to reading the Bible
American culture tells us that God doesn't matter and living for yourself is the most important thing. It is an empty existence, though, and never satisfies the soul. Not to mention, doesn't guarantee you a home in Heaven when you die as well as peace, joy and hope while you live. It doesn't make sense to those far from God. It takes a real step of faith, but when Christians are bold about their faith and encouraging to others, it is not as scary to the unbeliever.
Romans 1:16-17 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Perhaps the groom is one that she's heard stories about, but has never met. She may have a picture of him, or even chaperoned visits, but not the opportunity to really know him until the "I do's." Whether he's nice or distant remains to be seen. How long would it take to fall in love with a stranger? How long until that stranger has learned to love her, too?
One difference between the arranged marriage and our relationship with God? He doesn't need any effort to fall in love with us! He is madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with us! It may take effort on our part, but none on His. He loved us before we were even born because God is love. It is His character and He cannot deny Himself.(Sidenote: He loves us enough to hold us accountable, too!)
I John 4:9-10 "By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins."
God may not need to figure out this "love thing" toward us, but we have a lot to learn on how to love Him. We do this through the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God! I'm getting excited just writing this out! It is an exciting journey to get to the understanding that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead can work in our lives (Romans 8:11). The most important thing the Spirit's power will teach us is how to love, because the greatest commandment is to LOVE. Mark 12:30 says we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is out of this love that God can use us.
Like any relationship, it will take work to learn how to love God with all that we are. It takes discipline, hard-work, and sacrifice. But as we keep our eyes fixed on God's love for us and really make an effort to spend daily time with Him, it won't be a burden, it will be a blessing! Some brides are terrified of their arranged marriages and at one point in time people had to be afraid of God. He was so perfect that only a few people could be in His presence. After Jesus, though, all that fear is gone and we can come to the Altar of Commitment fearless, balanced with awe and humility. Read the scripture below and allow yourself to fall in love a little more with the God who sacrificed so much to reach us.
Hebrews 12:18-24 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.