Monday, February 06, 2006
It May Not Be About You
When we face a trial, it is quite natural to wonder and even question, “Why me?” In fact, if you are a father or mother, let me suggest that your trial has more to do with your children than it has to do with you. Why would God allow a trial of faith for our children’s sake? The short answer is that they may see real faith exercised in a real God. Why is this important? Because this is one way real faith is transferred from one generation to the next. It is estimated that eighty percent of churchgoing young people leave the church after they graduate from high school. They leave regular church attendance never to return. No business could tolerate eighty percent losses each year and survive. There are some biblical patterns from which we can learn that demonstrate for us how faith is successfully passed from one generation to the next. That is the purpose of this blog.
First, it is important to make a point that pertains to our everyday experiences. When we face trials of any kind we often desire to face them alone. It is instinctive to protect our children from the harsh blasts of difficulty. This may be the instinct of a parent, but it is not wise to assume this is how God wants us to respond. Relax! I am not suggesting that we throw our children into danger. I am suggesting that God intends that we shepherd them through trials together.
The People of God, after watching the Death Angel pass over them in Egypt, moved out from under Pharaoh’s grip, and it did not take long before they were standing at a narrow impasse. They faced mountains on both sides, a huge sea in front of them, and an army bearing down behind them. The people were terrified and cried out to the Lord (Exod. 14:10). It is important to point out the obvious. The Israelites were in a fix, and they were in it with their children. Families were facing the real possibility that they would be slaughtered. They cried out to God.
With a very real and serious danger upon them, the people of God cried out for God’s deliverance. God’s answer was amazing. God opened a path through the Red Sea. Dads, moms, and children walked across on dry land. If you saw the Cecil B. DeMill film, The Ten Commandments, you know that Pharaoh’s army went in after them. The Children of God made it safely across, and then the army was swept away by the closing sea. The Bible closes this story with these words in Exodus 14:30; “ That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.”
The Israelite families stood on a distant shore watching as the dead bodies of the dreaded Egyptian army floated and bobbed along the shoreline. Overwhelmed, they looked on in amazement at the supernatural deliverance of the Lord.
As an Israelite father standing with his family, there might have been countless, stunning thoughts that crossed his mind. If he had spared his child from seeing this, he would have spared them seeing the hand of an awesome God. He would have prevented them from one of the single greatest moments in history. He would have spared them from realizing that God is great and is greatly to be praised. He would have created a safe, sterile, and dispassionate new generation who may or may not have wanted to carry on the faith of their parents. Instead, there was shepherded a new generation who knew firsthand that God is real, that He is powerful and that He delivers those whose faith is in Him.
In this kind of situation, it is natural for us to first consider how we might protect our children in the midst of it. It weighs heavy upon a father and mother when we think of trauma coming to our little ones. I do not think for one moment that God delights in traumatizing children. However, I do think that one of the reasons He gave them a father and mother is so that they might have a shepherd to guide them through life’s traumas.
The goal of our parenting needs to change from raising kids who are nice people to raising Christians who have a radical view of life. This view needs to be based upon faith in a real God who delivers and guides us through the crisis of life. It may begin when we stop thinking our trials are about us. God may, in fact, be producing a new generation that knows from experience that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”