Faithful with a Full House
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Let me paint a picture for your of April 2019 for our family. Four kids at four different schools (No we are not gluttons for punishment - it’s a long story how our three elementary boys ALL ended up at different schools! This school year they were reunited together at one school…praise the Lord!). Our heads were spinning keeping up with the various school functions and activities. We were in the throws of little league baseball with practices and games 3-4 nights each week. The church was growing rapidly, and although the growth was a tremendous blessing, my ministry plate was full. Even the GOOD growth was accompanied by more stress than I wanted to admit at the time. Stephani and I limped into the summer worn out, tired on every level you can imagine. Each day seemed like one long continuous scramble from sun up to sun down (that sounds like we live on a farm, ha!). Family devotionals were rushed and sporadic. Quality conversations were jammed between activities, and quite honestly, I lost a sense of family mission in the midst of the craziness.
That was LAST April. Not for one second do I look back and bask in the nostalgia of last spring. As we rested up over the summer and moved into the fall with healthier rhythms, we vowed that we would not hop on that roller coaster ride again. In fact, Steph and I have lamented the pace and priorities of culture and how detrimental it is to family connectedness and discipleship. Among Christian parents, there’s a growing trend we’re noticing among many families - a trend that I truly don’t understand. It’s pervasive in the spring and fall, but it’s perhaps even more evident in the summer when parents scramble to fill as much of the free space as possible. The name of the game is…How many activities can I sign my children up for? How many camps can I send them off to? How much of the summer can I get them OUT of the house? Keep them busy? Keep them occupied?
We say it’s for them. It’s so they can go have fun with their friends. It’s so they can have those summer experiences. It’s so they won’t sit at home all day playing video games. I hear that.
But…Is something else going on under the surface, that if we more closely examined, might reveal a value system that has become unhinged from Scripture. If parents were brutally honest with themselves, is there is something else at work in these decisions and in this mission to keep children busy and occupied. I don’t want to paint in broad brush strokes and make blanket statements about the state of Christian families. I know what I'm about to say doesn’t encapsulate EVERY Christ-professing American family. But I need you to hear me out for just a minute. Ready?
When you read Deuteronomy 6, it’s hard to escape God’s call to disciple your children. It’s constant. Extensive. It requires tremendous diligence. It is THE MAIN THING when it comes to bringing up your child/ children. The utmost priority is that they come to know Jesus through the Word of God, that they come to love him, trust him, and commit their lives to the mission of living for him and his kingdom. Christian parents, this is OUR job. It’s not secondary. It’s not something we delegate. It’s something we take seriously and tackle diligently.
So here we are in the midst of this new Corona Virus world, and I see the memes. The coffee passing off the baton to the wine. I see the social media lamenting and complaining. I have heard the exasperated parents, lift up their voices in protest of having their children home 24-7 for the last six weeks. It’s like parents are finding solidarity and solace in banding together over being forced to…parent more. Did I just say that? That reads a little harsh. But its’ how I feel right now. So your kids are home with you. A lot. But think about it. That means they get to hear your voice, instead of the voice of culture. It means you get more time to instill your value system, instead of watching the culture attempt to indoctrinate and force feed its own value system. Yes it means more time, coaching, correcting, disciplining, encouraging, and so many other things. And, yes, it’s hard. But it also means more time for spiritual conversations. More time to talk about Jesus. More time to talk about how the gospel informs their attitudes, their thinking, their speech, their free time, their school work, and so much more.
Christian parent, what do you value? Really? It’s hard to read the call of God in Deuteronomy 6 and then give God your leftovers in regard to family discipleship.
Are our values being exposed right now?
Do we think that our ________________ (fill in the blank) is more important than the hard call of God to be the primary intentional disciple-maker of our children? Have we come to treat our children (in the daily hustle and bustle) as an impediment to getting our work done, to getting that project knocked out, or that deadline met? An impediment to our mommy and daddy chill and relax time? I think every Christian parent would say they want their kid(s) to know and follow Jesus. But the question is: Are we willing to pay the price of discipleship? Parenting is hard. Parenting God’s way is impossible…without the constant empowering presence of the Spirit of God to guide us. Without the transformative power of the Gospel daily moving on our hearts and through us. Without the encouragement of Christian community continually spurring us on toward the goal.
And perhaps that’s what I want to do here. I just want to spur you on, Christian parent. Don’t buy into the noise of culture. Don’t succumb to its value system and priorities. Don’t grow weary. I know it’s hard. But it’s worth it.
And for the record, we are definitely NOT the standard of family discipleship. This pandemic has us ALL thrown off of our rhythms. There’s far more I should be doing right now in the way of family Scripture reading time together each day. I’m certain there have been some conversational opportunities I’ve missed in my obliviousness over the last month and a half. Grant it, as a pastor (whose sermons are being pre-recorded), I have LOVED our time of family worship on Sunday mornings in our living room. I LOVE that our older three boys are reading their Bibles nearly every night right now. Grant it, I think part of the deal is they’ve realized they get to stay up later! I have CHERISHED some of the gospel conversations we’ve had with the increased time together. But we’re not the standard. God’s Word provides us with that. And praise the Lord, there is grace for ALL of us who fall short.
But my prayer is that Deuteronomy 6 would create a sense of gospel urgency right now. My prayer is that you would get a crystal clear picture of what you would like to see at the end of your time on this earth. Christian parent, do you want to see successful adult children who have achieved greatness? Do you want to see adult children who have multiple degrees? Do you want to see adult children who have become good, productive members of society? I hope you see all those things. But I hope you see sons and daughters who love and follow Jesus. Sons and daughters whose eternities are secure. Sons and daughters who are gospel trailblazers for the glory of God. I hope you see that.
But know this: The HARD work is now. Now is the training ground. Let’s steward our “Corona” family time well for the glory of God. Let’s not waste a single moment. Let’s not bemoan the fact that our rhythms, and previous pursuits have been rudely interrupted. Honestly, they probably needed to be interrupted! Before, the pace and priorities of culture were an encumbrance to that Deuteronomy 6 lifestyle. Praise God, the encumbrance has been removed! Your kids are home! Let's get to work. Let’s make family discipleship the main thing. And let's praise God for the blessing of a full house.