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A couple of years ago, my daughter stood in the backyard looking out upon the open field and exclaimed, “The leaves are dancing, Mama!” Her gleefulness resonated deep within my heart, displaying to me that creation obeys our Creator. The leaves turn from green to the most extraordinary hues of mustard and crimson, appearing as a blazing fire to the eyes. It is incredible to witness fall become fall each year. But above the appearance stands the reality: it occurs because God annually exercises his sovereign reign over creation. That is a sweet, sweet thing to behold.
I treasure this in fall especially because I am not sovereignly reigning over the happenings in my own life. With little children, the fall ensues many Sundays away from worship with our dearest fellow believers due to a virus here or a runny nose over there. It often appears as a pile of bedding in desperate need of de-germing before bedtime. Of course, when we are on the up-and-up, we enjoy bustling through the leaves, parks, picnics, and thrilling family outings.
An Unchanging God with an Unchanging Purpose
Now, as I mother, I am constantly in a season with sub-seasons. Growing babies, new milestones, names to be written, Bob books to be read. Our children are constantly changing. And God is present through this time of uncertainty with the certainty of who He is and what He has done.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”- Hebrews 13:8
This image for me, of fall submitting to its Maker, points to the greater reality. God is reconciling not only His creation that has been submitted to futility (Rom. 8:20), but He is bidding mankind, of all ages, to come to Him. The Giver of life has devised such an amazing Christ-exalting plan to reconcile His people back to Himself.
The obedience of the fall trees and leaves provide an image for me of constant, seemingly-but-not miniscule acts of obedience in my daily life. When the children require discipline, de-germing, admonishing, instruction, and so much more—it is not only when we are frolicking through the leaves with gladness. It is also when, and even more so, the tears of owies, tantrums, and scary ailments are real and present. It is even as my own heart hurts due to some form of sin or suffering. Miscarriage, loss of a loved, and the pressing reality of the wickedness and neediness of those around me—sin residue in myself— can fill my heart with deep sorrow. Yet Scripture promises something sweet to us.
“Those who sow in tears, will reap with shouts of joy!” – Psalm 126:5
Obedience is a Sure Sign of Our Faith
Our faith leads us to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord. Our faith leads to obedience. If we are to please God in our obedience (Hebrews 11:6), we must believe that He is who He says He is and that His purposes and promises will come to pass, granting grace upon grace to His children all the while. Consider Noah. After being warned by God, he built a boat and separated himself from the stained world whose destruction was imminent. His faith led him to obey (Hebrews 11:7).
Every second of every day counts. It counts to be obedient to the Sovereign Lord that I have no good apart from (Psalm 16:2). It counts to ask forgiveness with tears as I sin against the ones I love. It counts to fight for joy and be in the Word and fight for time with the Lord all throughout my day.
I see the leaves preparing to fall; I am reminded of how my life is but a breadth. But it can count for something. I can sow in tears, working diligently in this world to point to the One that has come into the world to save sinners such as me. I can make it count. I see the glorious fall hues all along the road, so gently falling from their roots, and I plead with the Lord that I may exclaim how “the leaves are dancing!” knowing that I, even in my weakness, am striving in obedience. Not one falls without His call, and surely I can trust the One that demonstrates such power.
Obedience Marked by Gospel Hope
We run to things to make our ordinary seem much more special. We label ourselves as users of this or that, mothers who feed this or that, teach in this way or that, write for this blog or teach that class. All the supplements, coffee, grass-fed meats, and essential oils we use throughout our days help. But they aren’t the gospel. All of the secondary things we use to sustain us are not bad. They are hopeful means to a hopeful end. But the Risen Lord is our sure chief end. We can glorify and enjoy Him forever.
Rather than the go-tos we use as coping mechanisms to chaos, let us make Christ Jesus our go-to. The work of Christ in becoming man while remaining fully God, the perfect life lived, the death of deaths and glorious resurrection imputing His righteousness and justifying the unjust. With this glorious news, we can obey in freeing joy.
Consider and Obey—In Joy
My plea for me and you this fall is to consider.
This same-old-same-old season of motherhood is a good one. It is good in the sense that He is working all things together for the good of those that love Him (Rom. 8:28). It is good in the sense that the sowing in tears will reap joy, even if such joy is unseen on this side of eternity. So next time my days, maybe even yours, seem so outrageously ordinary and monotonous, consider the leaves. Consider who calls them, consider who changes them. But don’t stop there. Consider yourself. Consider who is changing us into His likeness. And he’s not done with us yet.
Our identity in God- hidden in Christ (Col.3:3), a new creation, sons and daughters of God, perfect/loved/accepted by God- is, as John Piper so wonderfully articulates, a means to an end. The end is namely God himself and enjoying him fully. Take a listen!
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” -Luke 18:1-8
I love the parable of the persistent widow. I see myself and the rest of humanity in the same position as the widow, yet I also see something lacking in myself when compared to the widow. I am encouraged to be like her. Let me explain.
Positionally, we are recipients of immeasurable grace (if we have called upon the name of the Lord for salvation), sinners saved though not yet glorified. We all, like the widow, are left for dead due to our state. We, outside of the faith given by God, have no source of provision, no way to survive. We need relief. We need justice. As it turns out, the justice needed is not in our favor.
We are those born blind and lovers of darkness (John 3:19). As John Piper states in his new book, A Peculiar Glory, “We are not chained in a dark cell, longing to see the sunshine of God’s glory. We love the cell, because sin and Satan have deceived us into seeing the drawings on the wall as the true glory and the source of greatest pleasure. Our prison cell of darkness is not the bondage of external constraint but of internal preference. We have exchanged the glory of God for images (Rom. 1:23). We love them. That is our blindness.”
Yet, one man, one alone could acquit us. God. God, to the praise of his glorious grace, definitively planned for his Son, the only Begotten, to be delivered into the hands of sinful man, murdered, and then rose victorious over sin and death forever (Acts 2:23-24). It is that predetermined act of love that opens the eyes of our hearts to see the heinousness of those drawings on the wall that enticed us and turn our hearts to Christ- the very God-man, our mediating Savior.
We can now, needy and desperate widows, stand before our justifying Judge and rejoice in him knowing that he has indeed granted justice to his elect through the work of Christ. With such reality in mind, we have one continuous, joyful, necessary duty- commune with God daily and beg for his help. His ability is there always. His willingness is the same. Looking upon us clothed in Christ’s righteousness, he gives to us gladly. Thus, let us plead with him gladly, never losing heart for he who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23).
Though it is intended for celebration, Father’s Day is often like a fiery iron brander to an already hurting heart, declaring one yet again as fatherless, or with a different kind of searing pain, unwanted.
Many of us can attest to some kind of broken or nonexistent relationship with our fathers, some with more agony than many of us can fathom. This morning as I prayed for my own earthly father and my husband, I paused to consider such a weighty role in light of where I now stand – a wife and mother of three children three and under. To say that being a parent is challenging is like saying Mount Everest is beautiful and should be fun to pursue. Both are accurate and exciting, but there is a distinct and simultaneous ferociousness about both- if the evaluation and ascent are improper, consequences of such a commitment do not leave you merely dissappointed. It is life or death.
Manhood is weighty. Thus, fatherhood is weighty. I speak not only from observation, but from the complementing party of womanhood and motherhood. When my husband and I first married, I concluded that marriage articulated my sinfulness and produced gratitude for my salvation far more than anything else. Then I became a mother. I am certain the same is for fathers.
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
This is not a suggested posture Paul was recommending for the men at the church of Corinth. It was a frequent command in the Septuagint- a wartime call. Fathers should hear this call and let it echo deep into their souls. It is not optional. There is an age-old war being raged against the household of God, and that war has to be fought first and foremost in the homes of believers. In a culture that promotes men doing the opposite of what this verse suggests, we need fathers to do just what it says- acting like men and working heartily to “not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Children are heavy-laden with anger towards their fathers due to the lack of presence in their lives emotionally and physically. Sadly, this anger produces a wound in the heart of a child that proves lasting and real into adulthood. Thus, the call is heavy. The outcome is great.
Act like men.
Imagine the soldier that guards the gates of the camp, allowing the enemy no entrance and blocking any imminent attempts of ambush. That is the watchfulness fathers must exude for their children. It is more than the necessary work of providing financially for your family, keeping the yard, and disciplining the children. We, mothers and children, desperately need guards keeping watch for the enemy. We need fathers hoping in the only Sovereign, their Commander in Chief, for their strength and power to protect, lead, and sustain their families in love.
The gospel of Jesus Christ.
A father is an image-bearer of our Heavenly Father. It is certain that how you love your children will serve as glimpses into God’s love for his children. Aim to make those as accurate as possible and proclaim to them what in you (and every single one of us) diminishes the Father’s image, namely a fallen nature in desperate need of saving. Give them the gospel.
It is possible to appear as a valiant father but be a coward in one’s home. Social platforms promote such misrepresentations where one can project themselves to be one way but in actuality be a sunken, puny vessel. One can profess Christ more on social media in a week than they can to their own child in months. It is evident which is harder. Yet a father, a man so enticed by the sovereign call of God to Jesus Christ, endulging daily in the Word of God, pleading for wisdom, proclaiming the Gospel to his household and all outside, working diligently in a broken world, and every single day putting on love and walking the perimeter of his family’s camp will be able to stand firm.
Fathers, may the risen Lord and his imminent return give you keen awareness. May the bitterness of sin in yourself and your family so shake your soul that you are moved by the powerful working of the indwelling Spirit to fight against the enemy forces that are waiting to devour. May the Bible stand as your surest word and communing with God as your greatest duty. It will move you to action for your family’s good and God’s glory.
May your fatherhood brand your children’s hearts with such wantedness and love due to the power of Christ at work within you. Act like men.
I was not raised in church, and God saved me at the age of 13. I was lacking biblical knowledge and found it especially difficult to read and understand the Old Testament. I remember looking through a children’s storybook Bible in desperation so that I could be brought up to speed. Of course, at the age of 13, I feared that my lack of knowledge would reflect on my relationship with God. Now, 13 years later, I embrace what I do know from the Bible and openly ask and seek for understanding of that which I do not.
That being said, since Josh and I have been married (I cannot believe we will celebrate FIVE years this May!) he has faithfully guided us through Bible reading plans each year. Here I am again in mid-February and thirsting for deeper, joy-enhancing understanding of the Old Testament, specifically the book of Leviticus.
My husband introduced me to The Bible Project, a non-profit producing videos for each book of the Bible, underlining it’s themes. Here are two videos that I have coupled for my study of the book of Leviticus: http://youtu.be/WmvyrLXoQio
Take a look at these wonderful resources. Hopefully they will encourage you to read the Bible in it’s entirety though some of it may be difficult to grasp initially. I have especially found deeper communion with The Lord in understanding his holiness and the Day of Atonement.
My family and I love listening to Seeds Family Worship! This summer and fall have proven to be strenuous days for our family, yet God and the truth of His Word have provided hope through it all. There is transforming power that comes through memorizing and meditating on Scripture, and this worship music and the site resources provide a beautiful avenue for that to occur.
As a wife and mother, I am continuously needing nourishment from the Word of God to love my husband well and nurture our little ones in the way of The Lord, yet it can be discouraging when the time isn’t always there because, well, life happens. Our children will wake during the night, sometimes back to back and for days at a time. Our quiet time may be cut short or non-existent during these days. However, we don’t have to always be alone with The Lord to have that soul rejuvenation. (Though that is always what we aim for because it is necessary!) When we are sitting in our houses, walking by the way, lying down and rising (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), we can worship with our spouses and children through song, study, furthered discussion, and prayer. Over the past several months, Josh and I have watched our daughter learn the Fruit of the Spirit while singing along with Seeds Family Worship and then discussing it with her when she (or we!) act otherwise. We have considered the character of God, how we have sinned and fallen short of His glory, and various other biblical realities. It has been rich as we seek to parent well and walk personally with God.
Seeds Family Worship is currently offering a FREE download of their album, Seeds of Courage, and I simply had to share this goodness! I encourage everyone to head over to seedsfamilyworship.com, grab a free copy, and stay awhile to checkout the resources (like free memory cards!🎉)