This past year gave us a lot of opportunities to show real faith in action. Through all the turmoil of the year, what is the take away that your kids will remember? Let’s give ourselves a bit of a performance review, shall we? Not to beat ourselves up, but to see where we have failed and where we have succeeded.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”Deuteronomy 6:4-9, ESV
Through all the scary medical stuff and navigating a new virus in the world, did your kids see your faith? You had the opportunity to show them in a real-life situation where we, as Christians, place our hope. Did you display that faith for them? Did you walk them through praying and hoping and trusting even when things were uncertain? Did they see you panic, make decisions out of fear, or try to secure your own future? This past year, we got the chance to show our kids and the world that we place our trust in Jesus— that we are not a people without hope. We got to show what life lived-out in hope looks like. I’m not saying this was easy, at all. I’m not suggesting it wasn’t a struggle. But did you struggle? Did you come to the altar with your concerns and your heart or did you just stockpile toilet paper and binge on the news?
Through political disagreement and national hurting and turmoil, did your kids see your love for your neighbors? Did you help them see the world as Jesus does? A world of hurt and pain crying out for justice and desperately seeking truth (whether they find it or not)? Did you show them that “the other side” (whatever that might be for you) is filled with the faces of men and women made in His image? We had the opportunity to not vilify those with whom we disagreed but to love them and pray for them. I am not suggesting we back away from the truth or let lies dig deep into the soil of culture; I’m simply asking if we were able to love the people even while rejecting their ideas. It may be a difficult task, but loving our neighbors isn’t optional. We should destroy ideas, not people. (Thank you, Mama Bear Apologetics.) Those people are people whom Jesus died to save. He loves them to the end.
Through unemployment, supply shortages, and general uncertainty, did your kids see you pray? Did they see you seek the Kingdom of God? Did they see you stepping out to do what it took to help others in your community— others who may have lost jobs, who may not have been able to find supplies, or who found themselves spiraling in the uncertainty? Did they see you step up and be the hands and feet of Jesus in a lost and dying world? Did they see you earnestly seeking the Lord and calling on Him? We had the opportunity to show people the love of Jesus in such tangible ways. We were able to feed those who had no food. We had the opportunity to be salt and light in a very dark and decaying time. Did we take the opportunity? Or did we let the darkness, the decay hold us down?
If you find that, in retrospect, you didn’t do such a great job, you didn’t take the opportunities as you could have, you let fear rule your heart instead of King Jesus, you let disagreement turn to bitterness and hate and failed to see the person made in God’s image underneath the ideas, you hoarded up for yourself here on earth to protect yourself instead of looking for opportunities to spread the Gospel in a tangible way, you shut yourself off from the grace of God because you would not seek His face… If you find that you’ve pretty much failed this performance review— great! You now have the opportunity to adjust. You’ve recognized your own insufficiency and know even more deeply how much you need a Savior. It is never too late to change our ways. No, we won’t get those missed opportunities back, but other opportunities lie around the corner. The world is still hurting. The world is still lost. The world is still dying. And you’re still here— still here to hope, still here to trust, still here to seek truth, still here to love your neighbor, still here to be salt and light, still here to cling to Jesus with all that you have and gather those little ones around the foot of the Cross with you.
If you find that you did a pretty good job, keep it up. I’m sure you’re well aware that it isn’t of your own accord you’ve been able to do any of this. If you’ve assessed yourself honestly and find that you did use the opportunities given to you, you know this was only through God’s grace. You clung to Jesus hard this past year, maybe harder than ever before. You were bombarded on all sides, so you knelt at the foot of the Cross and dug in for the long haul. Keep that up. Keep relying on Jesus. Keep clinging to Him. Keep taking His yoke upon you and placing your children under His wing. We’ve got more to go. The Kingdom is here and not yet, so we must keep choosing each morning to live our lives with Jesus as King.
Today, the world is still in turmoil. There are still hurting people all around us. Political opinions and agendas still divide us. People are still getting sick. Even though the toilet paper shelves at the store now look properly stocked, other supplies are now in shortage. The world is still dark. You still have the opportunity to show your children what faith-in-action looks like. You still have the opportunity to turn your fear over to Jesus and live in faith instead. You still have the opportunity to love your neighbor. Take the opportunity you’re given to live for Jesus in front of your kids. Your life is a megaphone into theirs. Be salt and light and show them what it means to preserve and show the way in a dark, twisted, dying world.
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the hods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”Joshua 24:14-15, ESV