Tag Archive: children


when life changes

stone outcropI had a bit of a moment this weekend. To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we re-visited the hills we had explored when we decided to get married. We even took the same route we had taken all those years ago.

On the hill, overlooking one of my favourite places in the world, I was acutely aware that the most important period of our most important role in life is almost over. Our children have grown up.

Hope has completed her first year at university, Peace is about to leave home for college and Mercy is 17 in a few months time.  It’s not that you ever finish parenting – it’s simply that the role you play in your children’s lives changes and we are entering a new phase.

I was aware too that the most important wish I had for them when they were born was that they would each know and love Jesus for themselves, which they do.  I felt overwhelmed by God’s love and faithfulness across the years.

I am also aware that our marriage is entering a new phase too.  We have been preparing for life without our children at home, talking together about our future – the hopes and desires that we have – and about God’s plans and purposes for us.

It was so good to look out across the hills and vales and know that He has been faithful for so long and that He will continue to be so throughout the years ahead.

living like mario

My children appear to have re-discovered the joy of Mario.  Watching them play is hugely entertaining – it’s a very addictive game and they care very much about doing well.  Of course, I sit there offering advice, giving them useful hints and tips which they totally ignore for one very good reason: I am absolutely hopeless when it comes to actually playing.

The thing with Mario is this: you learn all about how to do it as you play.  Along the way you learn the skills and tactics that you need to complete subsequent levels.  You gain the knowledge that helps you progress through increasingly difficult scenarios until you reach the end.

So when I try to join them on any given level, I am completely useless because I have never mastered the basics.

Now the bible describes life as a walk.  How you live is how you walk.  And our walk has something in common with Mario.  It’s about learning lessons.

I have over forty years experience and observation of walking behind me and I’ve noticed something very simple.  You tend to face the same challenges over and over again.  If you’ve faced them before and learned how to deal with them, you face them again in a slightly more challenging way.  I think that’s how God prepares us for greater things.

And if you don’t learn how to deal with them, you just keep facing the same issues, maybe blaming other people and circumstances for all that’s happened rather than looking at yourself and asking, “What can I learn from this?  What can I do differently?”

Viewing life in this way also helps us to understand something else that’s very important.  Not everyone has been playing the game as long as we have.  When other Christians struggle and get things wrong we need to be there to help and restore them – not simply point out their mistakes.  “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently,” Galatians 6:1.

I don’t think I’ll spend enough time over Christmas to complete Mario but I will be spending time reflecting on the events of this year and asking myself, “What has God been teaching me?  What challenges have I faced and what understanding have I gained?”  Because I want to achieve greater things for God than I have managed so far, not get stuck where I am.

I work with people whose lives have been affected by alcohol, so when I saw this film on the BBC website I was very moved.  It’s part of a report on a children’s news programme which suggests that nearly a third of children are scared when they see adults drunk or drinking heavily and that half of 1,234 children surveyed had seen their parents drunk.

I’m not opposed to alcohol (I enjoy a social drink) but I am distressed to see the impact of uncontrolled drinking on the lives of people I care about.  The lives of children and of adults.

edit:undo

We were sitting around the meal table one day this week when one of my daughters said something that was a little less than helpful.  I felt that had to be pointed out to her.

“Oops,” she said, with a cheeky smile on her face, “Edit, Undo.”

And if it really worked like that, wouldn’t that be great?

baptisms

My youngest two daughters were baptised today.  They are 11 and 12 years old.  It was so good to hear them tell their own stories of coming to know Jesus, of promises that God has spoken over them which they long to be fulfilled, of their love for the church and their desire to live for God.

It certainly tugged my heart-strings.

I remember the funny looks we got when at three years old all three of our children asked Jesus into their hearts.  My eldest daughter had to ask us three times to pray with her – we weren’t really clear about how to handle it.  But we knew that God was leading her – that it is God who chooses and calls us; that being born again is a work of the Spirit, not of the intellect.  We’ve never looked back.

Baptism is more than symbolic (although there is symbolism); it is more than obedience (although it is obedient).  

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”  Romans 6:3-5.

I want to be careful not to say something that the Bible doesn’t say but I do think that something happens in heavenly realms when we are baptised.  Jesus is clear, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven,” Matthew 10:32.  That has implications for our everyday lives – because baptism is a very public acknowledgement of the Lordship of Jesus.

And even though they are young, my children know what it’s like to walk through difficult times.  They both spoke of that today too. 

But faith is forged in difficult times, so that our faith which is, “more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 1:7.  We haven’t hidden our difficult times from our children – we have shared them together so that we could teach our children how to walk through them with faith.  God is a good shepherd – but life isn’t always green pastures and quiet waters.  He also leads us through the valley of the shadow of death.  And how will our children know how to walk that path confident that He is with them, that His rod and His staff can comfort them, if we don’t teach them how to?

Their life stories were special today partly because they understand that.  Because they have walked through a valley and they still know the goodness and the mercy of God for themselves.  What a blessing that is.

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