Mornings are good times to go walking with God. Nothing much has happened yet during the day and the stuff that happened the previous day has already been separated from us my a night time of sleep. And so it was this past weekend when I set out on a journey through the woods.
My wife and I live in a small house near Hartman Creek State Park, here in Wisconsin. As state parks go it's rather average. There are many other parks in our state that contain more beautiful scenery and higher bluffs or sandier beaches but the thing I like most about "our" state park is . . . it's right out my back door and I can enter it without driving my car to it or buying a sticker to get in. I can just walk in!
I was walking to the park Saturday morning, praying as I walked. Multi-tasking. My wife would be so proud. I was thinking about our children. My wife had done a pretty good job of raising them, getting them to Sunday School every week. Then there were the softball games for our daughter and baseball games for our son. But their father, me, was usually at work (I work in a town, an hour away from home) and I missed many of their after-school activities. I missed the opportunity to participate in an important part of their lives.
So, I was thinking about that as I was walking and I began to read. I was REALLY multi-tasking then!! Thinking, walking AND reading!!
I was reading in the Book of Luke, the seventh chapter. The first half of the chapter is all about faith. It begins with "The Faith of the Centurion" and is immediately followed by a story about a widow whose son has died. The following text is that story.
"11 Soon afterward he (Jesus) went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country." - Luke 7:11-17
So, I had that story fresh in my heart the following day, Sunday, as I was surfing through the channels on the television. I don't watch much TV but from time to time I will seek out a sermon or two to watch. I did that on Sunday and found one by David Jeremiah. He was doing a parallel study of Genesis 22 and Hebrews 11. Oh, my goodness!
The story in Genesis was about the faith of Abraham. When God told Abraham to "sacrifice his one and only son," Abraham was willing to do it because God had told him to. Even though God had promised to build a huge nation through his son, Abraham never questioned God. God rewarded Abraham's faithfulness by sparing Isaac and doing just as God had promised. Abraham's faith had saved his one and only son.
Hebrews 11 speaks about all of the examples in the Bible of men and women whose faith was worthy of note. Funny . . . they were all in the lineage of Jesus - God's one and only son.
After reading both of these passages I began to think about my performance as a less than Godly Father . . . and how I had failed God by not bringing my children up in the ways of the Lord. But then my thoughts traveled back to the story of the widow in Luke. Verse 13 . . .
"13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”"
Verse 15 . . .
15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother."
The moment I read that story again, the moment I recognised the connection between the widow and myself; and the widow's son and MY son, a tremendous burden lifted off my shoulders. I thought about Abraham and how God had given him back HIS son Isaac because of the faith that Abraham had. Would God do the same for me? He could if He wanted to. What stands in the way? What could possibly keep God from "giving me back my children" through a saving FAITH in Jesus Christ?
. . . . MY faith?
While it is possible that God could reward me for MY faith, their salvation has nothing to do with me. It is only through the grace of God that we are saved. That should be our prayer for ALL people. But he DOES bless us. He DOES perform miracles, even to this day. Our God lives!
And so it was that I lifted up my children to God this past weekend. God removed all of the guilt and the shame I had been carrying these past years. I am grateful to God for his guidance and for his grace and for his provision. He reigns.
"9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." - 1 Peter 3:9
He Reigns - Newsboys