Mrs. Meyer is a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Walker, Michigan.
As we have seen in a previ-
ous article, “in” is a tittle
of a word that is worth our consideration. The supreme object of this little preposition is found, always and ultimately, in only One — Jesus Christ our Lord. It is in Christ that we live and move and have our being. And it is only in Him. This is true for us and for our children. And this has implications for us as we raise our children, for we must be living as those who are indeed in Christ.
Now we will take up the jeweler’s loupe and examine this little gem more closely. We will look at some specific rays that have emanated and reflected from only one facet of it, a facet that applies to our families and homes.
The calling to live in Christ as parents and children in our homes is a high calling, a calling which is humanly impossible. And that’s the point. We do not, cannot, and may not live in ourselves. We live in Christ. Such a life then is possible. Such a life that obeys the injunction of Deuteronomy 6:6, 7 to instruct our children diligently and constantly in the words of our Lord is, in Christ, the life for which we realistically can and must strive. Of course, we are not able to do it perfectly. But in Christ we are able to make a beginning. Though it be extremely small and sinful, and though it be a constant battle with our own flesh and the world of sin around us, it is a beginning.
What are these specific rays we will examine? They are evidences of these beginnings, imperfect though they may be. These “rays” are the beginnings of Christ’s work in us in our families, His work as He leads parents in the instruction of their children — His children. And also note that the “rays” recorded here are actual vignettes of interactions between parents and children in covenant homes. They are not fiction. They are real and they can be done — in Christ.
May we be encouraged in the battle.
The first snowflakes of winter began to fall. A mother and daughter watched from the window as the bits of snow floated gently to the earth. The ground was not cold enough to sustain their frozen designs, but their course through the air was slow enough to give a fleeting glimpse of a few of them.
“I can hardly believe that all those snowflakes have a different design,” said the daughter.
“Yes, it is amazing. It shows how mighty God is. How infinite!” the mother responded.
“Are all the designs of this snowfall different even from all the other snowflakes in the snowfalls from last year, and the year before that, and from all time?” asked the little girl.
The mother had to pause a moment. This was more than even she had imagined! But yes, that’s what it means to be infinite. She nodded and said, “God is able to make even that many different designs. No wonder we’ll be able to learn more and more about Him for all eternity!”
The last morsel of the meal disappeared and Father reached for the Bible. He found the place where they had left off reading the evening before. All around the table became silent and hands folded in stillness, ready to listen. Then Father began to read from the fifteenth chapter of Judges:
Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi. And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us. Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them. And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee….
Father stopped after reading part of the passage. “Why did Samson let the men of Judah bind him?” he asked.
Each child looked to another. Then finally someone volunteered, “He knew he would be able to break free anyway.”
“And,” added Father, “this way he would be brought right back into the middle of his enemies, so he could fight them again.”
Mother added a question as well. “What did Samson’s strength picture? Does God make us strong, too?”
The oldest child attempted an answer. “Yes, but not physically. He makes us strong spiritually.”
“He was very brave, wasn’t he?” said Father. “May we be so brave and courageous to stand — to stand for the truth.”
The light was fading as she tucked the blankets in neatly around her son. Then she reached for their favorite Bible story book and snuggled next to the little boy, opening the book to one of the first stories it contained. But this record of the first murder in the history of mankind was not one of the most pleasant stories to read.
“So why did Cain kill Abel?” asked her young son.
“He slew Abel because he was jealous of Abel. And being jealous showed that he wasn’t repentant. He wasn’t a child of God.”
The sadness the little boy felt over the death of Abel was apparent in his eyes.
“But God had another child chosen in His thoughts,” she added. “His name was Seth. God chose His people even before He made the earth. He loved His people then already. It was all in God’s plan.”
“Before the earth began?” he repeated. She nodded.
His eyes grew big as saucers, and in quiet yet profound reverence he said, “God is awesome — so awesome.”
What was that noise? The clock showed it was well past midnight. But there was that strange muffled sound again. Mother got up to investigate. Yes, it was coming from down the hall. Someone was crying, even sobbing. Alarmed, she hurried into the room.
“What’s wrong?” she asked as she put her arm around her oldest son.
In between sobs, he explained his fears to her as best he could.
“So you’ve been talking in school about the last days?”
He nodded. He had become terrified of the final persecution and tribulation as he continued to think about it after going to bed.
They sat together in silence for some time.
She wasn’t exactly sure how to comfort him, but finally a few words formulated in her mind. “You don’t have to be afraid. I can’t deny that Scripture talks of terrible things that happen to God’s people on this earth, but God gives us everything we need to stand firm in it. His grace is always enough. And His Spirit will even put the right words in our mouths!”
They sat in silence awhile longer. She chose her next words very carefully. “When you read of how saints have died for their faith in the past, were they screaming in terror? No. Many were singing hymns when they died! Even Paul and Silas sang the night they were in prison.” She paused and added, “Do not fear. God takes care of His people.”
She watched and wondered whether these words would be enough to help him. But after several more sniffs and a little more discussion, he nodded and said, “Yes, I think I can sleep now.”
He returned to his bed, and she to hers, a silent, thankful prayer upon her lips.
“So you’ll be moving into your own apartment tomorrow?” a mother asked her oldest daughter. Of course she knew her daughter was leaving, but somehow it was hard to imagine she had grown up so fast! Her daughter nodded.
“There’s one thing I don’t want you to forget when you are there. Always take time for devotions at mealtime — even when you’re by yourself. If you neglect it just once, it will be easy to forget again, and even easier to forget the next time. You’re the head of your household now.”
Her daughter nodded again. It would take work to remember.
A question had been bothering her for some time. Maybe her father would be able to answer it.
“Dad?” she queried.
“Yes?” he raised his eyes from the book he was reading.
“Well, I have a question. Why couldn’t God save us without the cross? I mean, why couldn’t He just say it, and we’d be saved?”
“Hm,” he stroked his chin, “that’s a good question. Let’s get a Psalter and — yes, here it is, in Lord’s Day 4. ‘Will God suffer such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished? By no means.’ And here in question and answer 12 it says, ‘God will have his justice satisfied: and therefore we must make this full satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another.’ And that other can only be Jesus. Do you see?”
She nodded, though she only began to see just a little.
He handed the Psalter to her. “Here. Read these questions over for yourself. That will help.”
So she read them over some more.
The children were about to go out the door.
“Wait!” said Mother, and the children looked back at her expectantly.
She paused and said with emphasis, “Be kind. Be good. Be godly.”
We make so many mistakes. We have so much to learn. We have so many areas in which to grow. The fact is, we can do nothing without Him. But we are not without Him. We are in Christ and He in us. He is the “beginning” in us!
May we be encouraged in the battle.
(The Lord willing, we will look at several more “encouraging rays” next time.)