Family Life that Is Really “Alive”
July 30, 2018
By Steve and Wendy Walker
“Does my child know more about the alphabet than about Jesus?”
Seventeen years ago, pressed for time on an Easter Sunday morning, our family made our way quickly down our curvy mountain road in the foothills. Ten miles into the trip, our three-year-old began throwing up cheerios and the chocolate bunny that my wife’s parents had given him. I was scheduled to lead worship at the community sunrise service, and so we simply could not turn back. And besides, our son felt great now. So, with not a minute to spare we simply cleaned him up and continued on our way. Arriving a bit frazzled at the hillside which was just beginning to glow orange with the morning light, I made a mad dash across the field to the already gathered group of worshippers.
After getting the three boys out of the car, my wife arrived with the children just as the first prayer began. It was such a peaceful scene. Under a large white cross, men, women, and children bowed their heads in the light of the day’s first rays on a bright green hillside. But the stillness was abruptly shattered when our three-year-old screeched joyfully, pointing at the cross with his chubby little hand “A ‘T’ mommy! A ‘T’! That’s the letter ‘T’!”
While I smiled and held back a laugh at the time, I also remember worrying—why doesn’t my child know that that’s a cross? Have my wife and I been more focused on the alphabet than on Jesus?
Life Is More Than This
I never imagined that years later I’d still be asking similar questions. Do my children love Christ more than facts? Are the facts they are learning driven by God-glorifying principles? Do they possess true joy or are they just learning to live together under the same roof? Have you asked those questions? What occupies the thoughts and claims the hearts of your children? What occupies your thoughts and claims your heart?
Modern culture has reduced parenting to providing care: food, clothes, a bed, and some quality time. Too many families are just “bumping along” as people coexist in the same house without considering some of the deeper purposes of family life. With the advent of the smartphone and tablets, even Christian homes can become mere “holding places,” where family members hide behind screens, rather than live as vibrant, joy-filled participants in havens for the equipping of spiritual warriors. Some believers improve upon the culture by adding that God has called us to add devotions at meal times and prayer at bedtime, which is certainly a good improvement, but the Bible tells us that the aroma of Christ should fill our homes every moment of every day and our goal is to see family members who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit only springs forth from hearts regenerated by the Lord.
We must not substitute a religious system for the person and work of Christ. We cannot just ensure that our children dress modestly and supervise their friendships, but then forget to make sure they recognize that Jesus Christ is their King!
Systems don’t save; not even good, biblical systems. Jesus saves! The meaning of life is Christ. Jesus Himself is our life, and that’s what family life should reflect.
We need to remember that no eye has seen, nor mind conceived of the things that God has prepared for us, so that we can be like the Hebrews who in Hebrews 10:34 are described as “joyfully accepting” the plundering of their property because they knew that they had a better possession and an abiding one. That’s what we need to preach to ourselves and to our children. While we need to reject the things of the world, we can’t simply stop tasting and seeing the things that displease God; we must taste and see that the Lord is good, for He has milk and honey for us!
The burden of my ministry as a pastor has been to make plain to others that the “steadfast love of the Lord is better than life.” That is our burden as parents too. If the love of God is better than life, then it is better than all that life in this world offers. This is why the psalmist Asaph cries out in Psalm 73: “Whom have I in heaven but You? Besides You I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Get excited about the things you learn or apply from Scripture. Flavor your conversations with talk about the Kingdom of God. Remind your family all the time about how God’s Word, your love for God, and your desire for the betterment of your neighbor direct your own decisions.
Is it true, by the way, that God’s Word, your love for God, and your desire for the betterment of your neighbor direct your own decisions? It will be difficult to help your family know that the things of God are better than the things of the world if that isn’t reflected in your own life.
Nothing on the earth, not even God’s good gifts of creation, can fully satisfy the heart. Only God can. This is what David meant when he said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.” Tell your children this; tell your spouse this; tell yourself this – every day.
Steve Walker is passionate about ministering to and encouraging parents and children to turn their hearts towards one another for the glory of God. Steve pastors a church in Central California and enjoys dating his wife, running and playing softball with his children, entertaining his eight grandchildren, and teaching families to love and serve Christ.
Wendy Walker is helpmeet to Steve, mother of six, grandmother to eight, and an adoring daughter of the King. She loves discipling women and teaching them about the importance of living as women of the Word and serving Jesus faithfully. Wendy delights in exploring Creation, cooking, reading, and training-up the next generation.