Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm afraid of teaching wrong things to my children.

I sat in a room this morning among a group of women. I have been meeting with them for the past 4ish weeks. There have been good discussions. We center them around what we learn from the book of Daniel, for that is what we are studying. Today, we talked about legacies we inherit and those we leave. We discussed our families. Oh, how they have such a large impact on what we become. But they do not limit who we can be.

I had a grandmother who sang in the choir. Her fingers would run up and down the piano board, and other musical instruments had crossed her path as well. She taught me a love of God, hymns, hospitality, and love. My other grandmother took care of those around her. She gave and did what she could, and sometimes tricked others into helping when it may not be what they wanted. She taught me perseverance, forgiveness, and individuality.

I have been blessed in the legacies I have received, but I’m not na├»ve. They were not perfect people, and some things that were passed down were not things I was particularly grateful for. What I have come to understand is just because something is handed down doesn't mean I have to keep it. And just because I am a certain way doesn't mean it was handed down. Put plainly, wherever my own bad behaviors came from, I have a choice. Do I keep following those who came before me (or my own bad choices), or do I stop and recognize God as the one who formed me and created me to be His?

I look at my children and consider what I am passing down. I have worked hard to become different in some aspects. Not different than someone else, but from who I used to be. I was angry at times, too angry. I took it out on everyone around me with no care as to the results. I was blinded by anger and felt justified in those moments. For a while I justified afterwards for the guilt was heavy and it was easier to pretend it wasn’t there. But one day I realized the affect my anger had on my little boys. And it broke my heart.

That’s when I started allowing God to make a difference. I no longer accepted myself for the broken angry woman I had become. I knew God could create something beautiful within me and between me and my children, and that was what I longed for. After many years of hard work, heart changing work, I am pleased to say I still get angry sometimes. But it’s a different angry now. It’s healthy and caring and works to put the relationship first. While I still slip at times and it’s possible for flames to fly from my eyes I get it under control quicker and for that I am grateful.

So what legacy do I leave? Hopefully one which is fuller than simply anger. Hopefully it is one in which they know the legacy that passes through them is up to them. Hopefully I have shown them they can make a change because the God who loves them is with them, knows them, created them, and will help them.

And so I do the best I can to be the best I can be, leaving blame at the back door, and grateful that as my children go out the front door they go with God.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The fear for your family.

Isaiah 44:2
This is what the Lord says --
he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
and who will help you:
Do not be afraid,
O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

In this world the people we seem most connected with is our family; those who raise us and come from us. We want the best for them, and hope God will be with them. And yet, even Jesus asked who his family was. The answer: “Those who do the will of my Father in Heaven.”

Sometimes it’s hard to understand the teachings of the Bible. As I read through Isaiah 44 my heart calls to those prodigal children who exist today. So many who have strayed or turned their back on the Lord and I ask God return them to their home. The ache which happens because of the loss of a relationship is one which cannot be filled by anything else. Whether it is a parent, a sibling, or a child, it makes no difference. So, as God speaks here what is He saying?

I think God is reminding us that we do not only come from our parents, but Him, as well. He is also reminding us He will take care of those who come after us; we won’t.

God created us in the womb. He knows us more intimately than we even know ourselves. When our parents walk away, hurt, or behave in painful or hurtful way we can know God is our ultimate parent. The ancestors of the exiles made decisions which affected their children. They refused to walk with God so the children ended up away from the place they loved where they could worship their God. But God had not abandoned them. He reminds them He chose them. Let go of the anger and bitterness towards those who left you to deal with their consequences. God has you.

We are not promised our children will follow God’s ways, but we teach and we pray and we hope they choose well. Then we have to let them go. Then what? If they turn away we keep praying and hoping. We also claim those who come after us in the faith as our children, as Paul did with Timothy. Timothy had no father in the picture that we know of, but Paul claimed Timothy as his own and taught him, and hoped for him, and prayed for him.

Question 1: Is there a relationship you can heal by humbling yourself and admitting your own wrong doing? What is keeping you from changing the course you are on? Have you hardened your heart against someone who has hurt you? What will it take for you to forgive and let go of the bitterness?

Question 2: Forgiving a relationship, either past or future, does not mean the relationship is healed. Are you willing to give time to building trust and respect back to where it may have once been, or simply where it needs to be? Is pride standing in your way from making amends?

Dear Father
These relationships you have graced us with
are difficult and trying at times
Forgive us our lack of patience and our hard hearts
Help us to build bridges
Help us to show your love

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Exiles' Fear

Isaiah 44:2 and 8 are the next two “Do Not Be Afraid’s.” Originally I thought I would combine them, but digging in brought me so much information and insight I simply had to keep them as two separate weeks of information. We are still in the “Book of the Consolation of Israel” with Isaiah letting the future Exiles know they have not been forgotten. Chapter 43 ended with a warning of judgement.

Isaiah 44:2;
Oh Lord, our ancestors and we are sinners. We long to be with you but here we are in exile away from our people, away from our home, away from you…

But now listen, O Jacob, my servant,
Israel, whom I have chosen.

Oh yes, Lord. You chose us. Thank you. Abraham was your friend, you were with Isaac, and wrestled with Jacob our fathers. Thank you…

This is what the Lord says – he who made you,
who formed you in the womb, and who will help you:

God has created us. You created us. We would not even exist if it weren’t for You, Oh Lord…

Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant,
Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

Jeshurun – see! He has not forgotten us in this foreign and strange land. He calls us his beloved…

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

He can change the very land we stand on. Our children will be safe with Him. Our children will not be forgotten by God…
They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.
One will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
still another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.

They will be fruitful and plentiful all claiming the name of the Lord. Oh what hope and promise we have received. Despite our hardship God is with us and our children.

Isaiah 44:2

This is what the Lord says -- he who made you, who formed you int he womb, and who will help you; Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. (NIV)
Thus says the Lord who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, 'Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; and you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.' (NAS)  
Thus says the Lord, Who made you and formed you from the womb, Who will help you: Fear not, O Jacob, My servant, and you Jeshurun [the upright one -- applied to Israel as a type of the Messiah], whom I have chosen. (Amplified)

Barnes notes: Jeshurun expresses affection and tenderness. it is doubtless a title of affection, and probably includes the notion of uprightness or integrity

Matthew Henry: Israel is here called Jeshurun, which means "the upright one." Such only are Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile. Those that serve God he will own. He will help them over difficulties, and in their services.

John Gill: In this chapter the Lord comforts his people with the promise of the effusion of his Spirit, and the blessings of his grace upon them; the consequences of which would be fruitfulness in them and the conversion of others, who should profess themselves the Lord's people

David Guzik: Though Isaiah 43 ended with a warning of judgement, it does not mean God takes back his promise of hope and restoration. There is a sense that God made each one of us, so we have a personal obligation to Him as our creator. God will not only give them [a returning Israel] his spirit but he will pour out his spirit on them as if water was poured over them. They will spring up among the grass like willows: the effect of the poured out spirit is life. Life springs up and grows where the Spirit of God is poured out.