Some thoughts on 4 things I’ve learned. Being a parent is such a great gift. It teaches you so much about how we are supposed to live and our relationship with our Father. And the kids themselves teach you beautiful things, too.
Free Will: As a parent, the Lord taught me the power and purity of free will. We really don’t give Him enough credit for that one. It’s huge. And it’s like a boomerang, because you get to choose, every day, all the time, all these things. And you are attached to these choices, so you will own them, and He has grace for you to overcome and make more wise choices, and it just goes on and on. It’s a strong Father that can do that. No cajoling, no pleading, just free will. Because only what we WANT to do, with a glad and happy heart is what He longs for. ❤️
Unconditional Love: I’ll never forget learning this lesson. It was so painful. When our oldest son moved out (a longgggg time ago) the Lord showed me, that while I loved our son unconditionally, I had not shown that love to him unconditionally. It was a crushing realization, but we learn our most from our mistakes. It’s not enough to love unconditionally. You must communicate that love in a manner that shows it’s unconditional. People on the outside looking in, will judge. They will think they know better. They don’t. Nobody but you and the Lord really know. You live before Him. And Him alone. And He’s the best teacher of love and parenting. Anything I ever get right as a parent or grandparent it’s because I listened to the Lord. Anything I miss. Anything I get wrong, well, it’s because I went my own way, even though unintentionally.
Two things I learned from our sons:
Don’t rush. Be still, be slow, enjoy the moment, take it all in. Take your time. Breathe. Kind people are not in a hurry all the time. Gentle people are not rushing around. That’s it.
Acceptance: accept people for who they are, just like they are. Not as we’d like them to be. Or how we think they ought to be. But, just as they are, just like that. It might sound strange, it’s so simple a thing. Just accept. Here’s part of the dictionary definition: “the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group. “you must wait for acceptance into the club” – this is a quality of children, right? We tend to lose it as adults, but I don’t think either of our sons ever lost it. I think they got that from their Dad, and I learned it from them.
This is what happens when you’ve had the virus and been having too much time in your head! 😅💚
“Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special.” — 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5, The Message
We lost my Daddy on 1 January this year.
He and my Mom had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my youngest brother and his wife and their daughters, and I am pretty sure that my Baby Sis and her family made it there as well.
In our family we did not have a set routine to celebrate Thanksgiving. So, each year we all did our own things, sometimes some of us connecting in various ways at various times.
A few scant days after, he took ill. It happened horribly fast, no time to adjust at each step of decline, before another step overtook us.
We are all walking with a limp now, I guess you could say. Walking it out, figuring it out, praying it out, talking it out, loving it out, faithing it out, sometimes crying it out.
Questions. So many questions. Memories. Unaccomplished wishes. Things to hold onto that make you feel close to him. Like he can live on in your lives and be instilled in your family dna.
Beyond the thousand little cuts where you can’t hug him, can’t introduce him to great grandkids, can’t text him, can’t call him, or drive the backroads to visit him, beyond all this hangs the question, ‘What’s he experiencing? What’s Heaven like for him right now? What is he doing?’
I don’t doubt it’s beyond our ability to conceive. Far, far richer, far sweeter, far deeper. But, I want to know. And I feel the Lord encouraging the question. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. — Proverbs 25:2
Yesterday afternoon, all the way through last night, my thoughts and pondering peaked in this regard. Jesus taught during His time on earth, through the rabbinical style of asking questions, and still does today.
I found myself the last week or so wondering if my Father in law had met up with Daddy yet, for a cup of coffee and ‘catching up’, welcoming him to the place. We lost my Father in law in December 2014. I think of him every day. Miss him very much. See him in his son, my Batman, everyday.
Then I realized likely my Granddaddy would be at that table for coffee. We lost him in late March of 1983. I picture the men on the outside of a wooden building, under an overhang, as to a porch on an old style of a General Store.
I picture them smiling, talking, sipping, contemplating. The question came ‘Do you really think so?’ Yeah, I really kinda do. ‘Ok. Can you think of what you know from The Word that can help support that?’
I can. God is very relational. He created us for relationship with Him. He designed us not only in His image to have relationships, but also that we need one another, and each have different parts and pieces that only work best in collaboration with each other. The Church (Body of believers) is designed for us to work and be in relationship with each other. He designed us so that some friends are like family and some family are like friends. Yeah, I think that continues at a higher level in Heaven.
He let me steep in that picture for a little while and then took me around the table to what they might be saying:
My FIL, (sweet smile he had when he’s tickled): “I tell ya, I never imagined how much I would like it here. How welcome I would be. How much at home I would feel. I had no idea how good this would be!”
My Daddy, with eyes in wonder: “It’s more than everything I ever dreamed! I did not realize or expect to be so near to the Father and His Son, to be so near to Jesus, to see where all the prayers are kept! It’s absolutely overwhelming! It makes all the hell seem trivial in comparison to this!”
My GrandDaddy, looking at his coffee cup, kinda smiling: “You boys haven’t seen the half of it! Wait until you see what they’re working on!”
“Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.
When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.
Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them. The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, “He saved others. Let’s see him save himself! The Messiah of God—ha! The Chosen—ha!”
The soldiers also came up and poked fun at him, making a game of it. They toasted him with sour wine: “So you’re King of the Jews! Save yourself!”
Printed over him was a sign: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!”
But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”
43 He said, “Don’t worry, I will. TODAY you will join me in PARADISE.” — Luke 23:32-43, KJV
“But WITH THEE WILL I ESTABLISH MY COVENANT; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.” — Genesis 6:18
Do you remember the great financial crisis of 2008? It was a humdinger. There are those who say something even more substantial is approaching. But, that’s not my wheelhouse.
If you recall, a large factor was the housing bubble collapsing. But, it wasn’t that people weren’t buying homes. People were getting mortgages and then a great number couldn’t or wouldn’t pay. So much so, that the banks were short on funds. Investment firms were short on funds. This made a great cascade effect.
Individuals, banks, investment firms, pension funds, cities, businesses — many, many, many could no longer keep their word. Because too many had promised too freely for too long and things went sideways.
As I listened to the news back then (which I often did then, but no longer do), I was reminded that our society no longer understands giving and keeping your word, and have no comprehension whatsoever of covenant at all. It’s not a thing discussed or talked about, or (with great exception) modeled.
It got me started thinking, how can we raise up a people who know they have a covenant making and keeping God, who has made a pledge to them, if they are willing to be in relationship with Him, UNLESS they learn this term, unless their mind becomes aware of the sacred significance of giving your word? And keeping it.
“Now THEREFORE, OUR GOD, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, WHO KEEPEST COVENANT and MERCY, LET NOT ALL THE TROUBLE SEEM LITTLE BEFORE THEE, THAT HATH COME UPON US, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day.
Howbeit THOU ART JUST IN ALL THAT IS BROUGHT UPON US; for THOU HAVE DONE RIGHT, but WE HAVE DONE WICKEDLY:
NEITHER HAVE OUR KINGS, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, KEPT THY LAW, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them.
For THEY HAVE NOT SERVED THEE IN THEIR KINGDOM, and IN THY GREAT GOODNESS THAT THOU GAVEST THEM, and IN THE LARGE AND FAT LAND WHICH YOU GAVEST before them, NEITHER TURNED THEY FROM THEIR WICKED WORKS.
BEHOLD, WE ARE SERVANTS THIS DAY and FOR THE LAND that THOU GAVEST UNTO OUR FATHERS to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, BEHOLD, WE ARE SERVANTS IN IT:
And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us BECAUSE OF OUR SINS: also THEY HAVE DOMINION OVER OUR BODIES, AND over OUR CATTLE AT THEIR PLEASURE, AND WE ARE IN GREAT DISTRESS.
And BECAUSE OF ALL THIS WE MAKE A SURE COVENANT, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.
Here a remnant of the Jewish people have gathered to rebuild their city, rebuild the wall, come back to the covenant their God had cut with them through Abraham and reiterated through Moses and through David. They judged Him faithful and righteous and pled mercy that they may live in freedom and in righteous covenant with Him as intended, once again.
Covenant: a formal, solemn, and binding agreement: a written agreement or promise under seal, between two or more parties, under seal, especially for the performance of some action. A pledge: to make a covenant by promise.
In the Biblical times a pledge would be marked by blood, or by salt, quite frequently.
The Bible mentions covenant 280 times.
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart…In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. HE THAT SWEARETH TO HIS OWN HURT, AND CHANGETH NOT….He that doeth these things SHALL NEVER BE MOVED.— Psalm 15:1-2,4,5b
We are made in the image of God. He is a sacred promise/pledge maker and keeper. Jesus taught the wisdom of counting the costs before undertaking an endeavor. Don’t do things lightly. Be aware. Be all in. Trust Him for your weaknesses in order to see it through.
“But THOU SHALT REMEMBER THE LORD THY GOD: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, THAT HE MAY ESTABLISH HIS COVENANT WHICH HE SWARE UNTO THY FATHERS, as it is this day.” — Deuteronomy 8:18
Batman is super affirming of me and those he is close to. Not quick to criticize. It has always been that way for us in our relationship. So, on the rare occasions he speaks a criticism, a correction, it really carries weight and gets my full attention.
In the early days of our marriage he pointed out that I could be quick to speak good things I wanted to do, but maybe not so quick to follow through. Those were not his words, but the essence of it. But, it was about 32 years ago, and I still remember where we were. I, right there in that moment, mentally took stock and KNEW he was speaking the truth. And I also KNEW, that I wanted to permanently do better. From that point on, I have made a focused effort to take stock, make a mental and/or heart assessment before making my commitment.
Yes, if we will be teachable, keep a listening heart, God will speak to us through our loved ones, especially our spouses.
It has served me well, though the failures, the misses hurt, I press on. Thank God for grace and for renewal and for training us, bit, by bit!
“If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.” —
Hebrews 8 (especially verses 6-12) is a chapter that I strongly urge you to read, as it explains how the first covenant was for a time and season, but was always intended to be replaced by a new and even better covenant. That’s how the Lord works, everything improves, ‘(the path of the just is as the shining sun, shining more and more unto the perfect day.’ Proverbs 4.)
An excerpt from Hebrews 8: “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” Hebrews 8:6-7
He’s a covenant keeping God! He’s our Father and He has made us for a purpose and has good plans for us. He has indeed counted the cost. He’s all in, in His good plans and purposes for us. We are made in His image, and I just stopped by to say we will not be as fulfilled as we long to be until we discover the joy of functioning as made. To be people of our word, who are careful to swear to our own hurt. Be all in. Pray. Seek (ask Him) daily for His wisdom. Then go fulfill those words. He grows us in our vision, our patience, our faith, our endurance, our generosity, our persistence, our heart…He does a work in us as we partner with Him to be a people of our word, because He is a God of His word. He is trustworthy, we are His children, His sons and daughters, and He helps us fulfill our word.
If we want our society, or even our own lives to be better, we must do the work, BY FAITH, THROUGH GRACE, to be and do better.
I think being a people of our word is a great place to start.
“NOW THE GOD OF PEACE, THAT BROUGHT AGAIN FROM THE DEAD OUR LORD JESUS, THAT GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP, THROUGH THE BLOOD OF EVERLASTING COVENANT, MAKE YOU PERFECT (complete) IN EVERY GOOD WORK TO DO HIS WILL, WORKING IN YOU THAT WHICH IS WELLPLEASING IN HIS SIGHT, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” — Hebrews 13:20-21
Thank you so much for coming along in this ramble of ponderings with me! Sometimes we just need to talk it out to process, right?