We celebrate Passover every year. It is something I have been doing since a child. It is probably my favorite celebration of the year, because I learn something new every year. As a Christian, it is amazing to see the symbolism in every aspect of Passover pointing to the Messiah and how the Jews seemed to not only have missed Jesus, but how they hated and rebuked Him, even though they celebrate Passover. But one of the most important parts of the celebration for me is when I stand and make a proclamation just as Joshua did: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” That is such an important statement. We have all seen this quote on all kinds of things. It sounds good, and it typically makes us feel bold, confident, and reassured. It is not just a statement, but a declaration. It is a clear declaration of choice. As the scripture states in Joshua 24:15:
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
But as I have been thinking about this lately, I can’t but begin to think that it is different now than it has been. I know as a follower of Christ, I am still imperfect and still have a sinful nature. My flesh still desires the things of the flesh while my spirit desires the things of Christ. It is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit that ultimately drives my actions and attitudes. And as I sin and make mistakes, I come to the Father seeking His forgiveness, because I want to restore that relationship and trust that I broke with Him. I am not perfect, but I know I want to be more like Him and what He created me to be and less like I am now, which is just a shell cloaked in all these ideas, images, and defense mechanisms that are just illusions of value and worth.
The thing about a personal relationship with Christ is I know exactly where I am with it each day. It’s not like I can hide it from Him. So, when I say, “I will serve the Lord,” I mean I will serve the Lord. I trust the same goes for my wife. My kids are innocent and are under the age in which they are accountable for their actions. In other words, they haven’t sinned, because they don’t really know and understand what sin is. Or do they? And that is when I began to literally lose sleep a couple of weeks ago, and God has begun to show me some changes I need to make.
My belief is that God blessed me with an opportunity to raise His children. But, for the past 13 years, I have seen them as mine. We dedicated both our son and our daughter to the Lord and made a promise to Him to raise them in a way that is pleasing to Him and to teach them about their Heavenly Father. I think we have done that, especially with the help of our tribe which has given them the best Sunday School teachers out there! Ok, I might be biased, but nonetheless they have given them a wonderful education on the Bible.
I know that sooner than later we will take them back to the alter and give them back to God again, but this time it will be their choice, not ours. Oh, what a day that will be! But, then it hit me, and it hit me hard. For them to know and understand what a relationship with Christ is all about, they will have experienced sin. Then what happens? I know the Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” But how long will it be from sin to salvation? A week, a month, six months, a year, or more? And as I thought about it, that’s when the struggle began. I can’t fix this one, and I don’t like things that I can’t fix. I can’t keep it from happening, and I can’t change it. I can’t make the choice for them, no matter how much I wish I could. But then I also realized that God doesn’t leave us in our struggles. I was struggling with this idea of my kids losing their innocence, just as Adam and Eve did, and having to struggle with things that separate us from God and how that might affect their life forever. I was torn, because I know that God cannot accept sin. I realized that in all of this, I was experiencing something I haven’t felt much in my life…unconditional love.
The love for my kids does not change based on their successes and failures, just as God’s love for me doesn’t change because of my failures. Although I can’t and won’t justify or excuse sinful behavior, I will do whatever I can to correct and encourage better choices, which is exactly what our Heavenly Father does for us. Why? Because I love them. Because He loves them. Our Father in Heaven loves us all. We are more than our mistakes.
Mistakes are just a part of life. But so are choices. And although I can’t make the choice for my son and daughter, I can help influence their choice. The other day I was getting upset with Eli, because I felt like he was just checking the boxes off to appease me, instead of actually attempting to do what I was encouraging him to do. I remember telling him that I wasn’t sure that he was working on trying to have a relationship with Christ. Like many previous conversations, it seemed to have gone in one ear and right out of the other. As a father, that is the most annoying thing to me. And of course, the conversation bothered me more than it did him.
And as I thought and prayed to God to help me, I realized that he probably doesn’t even know what relationship means. In fact, we use words in teaching Christian principles that are hard for me to grasp and understand, and I expect my 10- & 13-year-old children to get it? So with God’s guidance and wisdom, my family has been having real, meaningful conversations about relationship. We’ve been teaching them the things that constitute a relationship such as gratitude, respect, honesty, communication, commitment, love, and sacrifice. As we go through this with them, we are explaining how there are good, healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships. The healthy relationships are rooted and grounded in Christ. The unhealthy relationships are plagued with lies and deception from Satan as he creates illusions and delusions to distract us from the reality and truth of Christ. There are both physical and spiritual relationships, and each relationship is nurtured with give and take, trust, and faith.
As we engaged in these conversations, there was more I needed to learn, too. The journey we take in life might be just as important as the destination. I tend to only focus on my goals and where I want my family to be. But in the end, I lost sight on not just me getting there, but me getting my whole family there. I have to not only be a father to my kids, but also father them. I have to not only be a husband, or help mate, to my wife, but I have to help my wife. I not only have to be a disciple of Christ, but I have to disciple and discipline my life as Christ did. I must take my life and change the nouns of who I am to the verbs of what I am doing. I have two kids at the beginning stages of puberty. A time when they will be making all sorts of changes, physically and emotionally. A time when their belief system will be formed and challenged. I can either sit back and let be what will be, or I can at least prepare them for what they are facing and give them a positive viewpoint from Christ. Ultimately, I know this is out of my control. For the first time in my life, I am good with that. My influence will probably be more successful than my attempt to control.
Husbands and fathers, I encourage you to get in the trenches and fight for your kids and wives. Let them know that they are the most important prizes in your life, only second to Christ. Do whatever it takes to guide them, protect them, encourage them, and prepare them for what lies ahead. Go to God and spend time in prayer seeking His wisdom and solutions. Mothers and wives, I encourage you to stand firm with your husbands. Pray for him. Pray for your children. Let your love nurture them as Christ’s love abides in us. Single parents, I encourage you to hold strong. I can’t imagine being a single parent, but know that with God, none of us are alone. He will make a way. Set time aside to pray with your kids and check in on them. Whatever gaps we fail to fill, someone or something else will. We can’t fill them all, but at least be an influence on what fills them.
Relationship is one of the most important messages of the Bible. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God’s relationship with us is the most precious thing that we can hold on to, and the most important thing that we can teach our children. But everything hinges on choice. What do you choose? What do you choose for your family? Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for ME, MY WIFE, AND MY KIDS…WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!
— Written by Lee
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