Proclaim the Goodness of The Lord to the Next Generation
This devotional was given at a Women of Grace Baby Shower on March 6th, 2017.
Whitney, you and I have been meeting together to pray, share and memorize scripture, and talk about life issues for about five years. We have seen many answers to prayer, and this baby girl is really an answer to three prayers: 1) That you would be able to become pregnant, 2) to share the gospel with unbelievers, and 3) the opportunity to disciple a younger woman. Since we have learned that discipleship is following Jesus’ example and inviting others to come alongside us and do the same, it is only fitting that this will be your primary job as you raise your daughter. You and Dan, with God’s help, will be her example of how to follow Jesus in word and deed. Francis Schaeffer said something profound about raising children: “True Christianity produces beauty as well as truth. . . . If we do not show beauty in the way we treat each other, then in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of our own children, we are destroying the truth we proclaim” . It’s a daunting and humbling task.
Gratefully, God has given us everything we need to accomplish what each of us has been called to do. The resources are boundless, and glorious, and mundane. The Lord’s prayer in Matthew is a passage that most of us have memorized and recited and is helpful in understanding the resources we have.
The first thing that pops out at me is that he has given us access to him through prayer. In the verses just prior to this prayer, the phrases, “When you pray” or “pray” are used five times, which assumes that we are doing this often. This will be your greatest resource particularly at night when Dan is getting a good night’s sleep and you are the only one on call to give nourishment to your baby. As difficult as this will be at times, verse six says that there is a reward for your time in prayer. The prophet Jeremiah gives us a clue as to the reward that comes when we pray: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known (Jeremiah 33:3 ESV). In the quiet, sleepless moments the Lord invites you to call on him, and he desires to make himself known to you.
Secondly, God has given you a community in which to raise your daughter. The Lord’s prayer uses the pronouns our, us, and we, which indicates that we are not only praying this together, but we are living this together. Unlike the world where “Parents have become more isolated over the last century, shouldering the burden of raising children without the help they used to have , this is not to be true of the Christian community. We were meant to be the family that shoulders one another’s burdens because this fulfills the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). These women that are present here tonight, and the rest of the Grace Church body are here not just for celebrating with you in the birth of this little girl, but we are present to acknowledge that we want you to call upon us in any time of need. This is what family does for one another, and we are your family. You belong to us and we belong to you.
Thirdly, and this also relates to community, is that God gives us the resources we need to love one another and live fruitfully with one another. Forgiveness is the restorative resource that binds up wounds, heals the diseases of the heart, redeems us from self-loathing pits, and crowns us with an unshakeable love and compassion for one another. There will be times when you will need to forgive your daughter, and in that moment the Lord’s prayer will probably come to mind as it has for me to remind you that you have been forgiven much.
Finally, I want to say something about daily bread as a resource for parenting. When you pray for daily bread, it could be for whatever provision you may need for that day, and that is a good thing to pray for each and every day as it is a way of acknowledging our dependence on the Lord. I also look at daily bread in a different way and that is sharing meals together. You will be amazed at the conversations that happen in your family around the dinner table. Over the years, when the girls were home more often, we would read after each meal. Sometimes it would be scripture, other times it would be books like Pilgrim’s Progress, church history or missionary biographies. Some of the best times, however, have been, and still are, the times when we share a meal with others. It is a reminder that we belong to a larger family and we are richer because of it. We learn from each other, encourage one another, and often hold one another accountable when things get difficult. Most of all, we feast upon the Lord’s goodness together as a reminder and pointer that one day we will feast together in his kingdom.
So, Whitney, my encouragement to you in raising this little girl and any other children the Lord blesses you with is to pray without ceasing, show hospitality, sing, read his word, share meals with others, love one another, forgive one another, forebear with one another, think and speak the best of one another, give thanks often and for everything, and worship the Lord in his holiness. In doing so, you will proclaim the goodness of the Lord to the next generation.
We will feast in the house of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
He has done great things, we will say together
We will feast and weep no more