I’ll admit this up front, I’m still new at this whole “parenting” thing. I have a 4 year old daughter and a 2 year old son, and it still kind of boggles my mind that God believes that I have it in me to take care of these little ones and lead a family. In spite of my constant state of learning, there is one thing that has been hammered into my brain fairly regularly over the past couple of years. Maybe this truth resonates with you: Time moves so fast!
Sure, seasoned veterans impart this nugget of wisdom on new parents all of the time, but you don’t realize the profound reality until you’re in the middle of it. There are constant reminders along the way, of just how fast things are moving. We throw the diapers out. We get rid of the bottles. We go to Christmas programs. We tear up at Kindergarten graduations. We go to countless little league games. We watch them go from barely talking to talking non-stop. We see them awkwardly stumbling around to running full force down the field.
I could go on, but there’s too many phases and transitions to count. Suffice to say these will shoot by if we’re not careful and we may miss opportunities along the way.
Psalm 90 is a challenging passage of Scripture. It’s described as a prayer of Moses, and it’s contents are all about living and seeking God’s favor while fearfully respecting God’s wrath. Life is short, Moses writes in verse 10, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”
My favorite verse in this Psalm is verse 12:
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
I know plenty of parents who don’t want to acknowledge how much time they have left until their children graduate from high school. It can be a difficult pill to swallow; yet when we are armed with this truth we are free to begin to lead our families intentionally.
To clarify, when I mention leading our families intentionally, I’m talking about actively participating in the spiritual growth of your own children by pointing them toward God. As a parent with all of four years experience, I’m grateful that there isn’t some hidden, difficult strategy to doing this. After all, Jesus himself told his followers to have faith like a child (Luke 18:16-17).
So, how do we get started?
1. Begin where you are.
I remember taking my daughter to her first swim lesson. She was so tense and she wrapped her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist that I literally did not have to hold her. Everyone at the pool that day could hear her shrieks as I walked her into the water. I was envious of the other parents who lounged on the chairs as their kids sprung effortlessly off of the diving board.
However, I was determined to look my daughter in the eyes and tell her (about one thousand times), “it’s going to be okay”. It was slightly embarrassing to be the guy with “that kid” at the pool, but you know what? We came back. We returned to the pool the next day, and she screamed again…but not as much. That was where we started and things got smoother from that point forward.
This is how it is when we first begin to pray together. It may be awkward when you first open your Bible with your kids. It’s weird when a switch is made in what music is listened to in the car.
Awkward. Weird. Foreign. These words represent necessary seasons to fight through in order to point your family toward God. Don’t give up after a couple of eye rolls or refusals to participate. Press on! After all, we’re responsible for faithfulness; not the fruit.
2. Use natural times in the day.
Every one of us is busy. Super busy. Like we really have room to cram one more thing into our schedule!? I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. So, what if, we utilized the natural times that occur in our day to point our family toward God?
That’s what Moses told the Israelites to do, way back in Deuteronomy…
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Talk with your family all the time about God. About what His word says. Pray to Him regularly. When you’re at home, before bedtime or around the dinner table. When you’re driving from place to place. Use whatever time you’re in the same place and insert a prayer, or a Bible verse, or an encouraging word.
Over time this will build a foundation.
3. Write handwritten notes.
This is something that anyone can do. It doesn’t take any money at all to make a big impact in this technologically expanding world. Seldom does anyone get a handwritten note anymore. It almost becomes a treasure when we do receive one, after all; someone took the time to pull out a pen, hunt down a piece of stationary and write.
Handwritten notes communicate, “I am thinking about you.”
Find a 365 day devotional book, or check out the verse of the day on the YouVersion Bible app, and take that verse and write a quick note to your child. Encourage them from God’s word as you are encouraged.
I’m determined to make the most of these next 14-16 years of my life to point my family toward God. I’ve only just begun and I’m already fighting through the awkward stage. My prayer is that you will acknowledge the precious time that you have with your children. May that realization provoke you to intentionally point your family toward God and help you gain a heart of wisdom.
"My lighthouse, my lighthouse
shining in the darkness, I will trust in you
My lighthouse, my lighthouse
I will trust the promise, you will carry me
Safe to shore."
Habakkuk was written in about the year 600 or so B.C., and God told the prophet Habakkuk, “Tell your people I am going to have to destroy them because they are wicked”. And chances are, Habakkuk might have said, “Well, you’re right. They are,” and that seems relative fair, but God added a little twist to the end and He said, “What I am going to do is, I am going to raise up the Babylonians to destroy these people,” and Habakkuk said, “Huh? Wa a ai aiu…Ha … hey … Hang on a second. You’re going to raise up whom?”
The question we are going to wrestle with today is, “What do you do when life isn't going the way you thought it would go?”
Maybe God didn’t answer a prayer, or maybe you lost your job.
Or, maybe you've started to struggle with certain sins that came back and wouldn’t leave you alone, or maybe your kids started making bad decisions. Or, maybe there was something that you felt like God could do what God should do, and everything would be okay, but God didn’t, and all of a sudden, you’re going, “Wait a minute, God, I thought You were going to be like this, but now, You’re not doing what You could,” and you enter into what author Henry Blackabee calls a crisis of belief.
Here’s Habakkuk’s plan for the crisis he’s facing, and it comes out of the first 2 verses of chapter 2.
I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
Then the Lord replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
3 Things That You Should Do To Grow In Your Trust In God:
1 - Stop and Listen
I have a daughter named Eliana, and she’s 4. I don’t know if you guys remember back to when you were 3 years old or not…or maybe you have a 3-4 year old living in your home. But, 3 year olds are demanding. They want things…constantly! Which is why sometimes, Nanny Netflix has to come visit our house to help settle things down. But, Eliana, had this saying when she didn’t like what I was doing. She’d say, “That is NOT what I’m talking about!”
I think this is the tenor of Habakkuk, "This is NOT what I'm talking about. Habakkuk says, “I don’t like what You’re doing. I’ve stated my case. Now, God, it’s Your turn to reply. I need some answers. God, what do You have to say for Yourself?”
You see, here’s a beautiful thing about God. God is a relational God, who loves to speak to His children. God is a God who speaks, and if you will stop to listen, God will often speak to you.
How will He speak? All sorts of different ways. God can speak audibly. I’ve never heard His audible voice, but I know people who have, and I believe that He can. God can also speak through His word. Every single day, He can speak to you through His word. God can speak to you through circumstances. If you look around, God can speak to you through other people. God will often speak to you, and sometimes, He won’t, because He is God.
Now, here’s the deal. If you will listen to Him, and if He will speak to you, you may not like what He says.
But at least we can know where we stand with God.
At least we can know what He’s up to when He speaks to us.
2 - Write
Write down what God shows you. This may raise more questions for you, but writing it down helps you process it. It may not make sense in the moment, but writing it down preserves it for you so that you can look back at a later time and see that God was truly up to something.
This was God’s instructions to Habakkuk.
Then the Lord replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
This is why I always try to take notes when I hear someone preaching. Honestly, I’ve heard some boring preachers, and hopefully I’m not one of them! But I always want to take notes about the things that stand out to me from that message, because I believe that it is through preaching that God speaks to people. I’ve heard things that have changed my life and it was because God used a preacher to speak right to me.
I write them down so that I can remember.
When I was in college, I remember praying and thinking that I wasn’t really making a difference with my life. I was feeling down and out, and it was a low point for me. I had the responsibility to preach the next night at camp, and I prayed that if God was really going to use me…and I hardly ever do this…I gave God a number. I said, “If you really want me to keep preaching, would you bring 5 people forward at the end, when we offer an invitation time.” I wrote the number 5 in my notebook and circled it, but I didn’t tell anyone about my prayer.
The next night I got up to preach, and I offered the invitation for anyone to come forward and give their life to Christ, and the song started and nobody was moving, but I had my eyes closed praying and when I opened them. I looked around at the other counselors from the camp who were standing by 5 people who came to be baptized into Christ.
God is faithful; even when He has to speak something to us that we don’t like. But when you’re in that low place: Be Silent and Listen regularly to God. Write down what you hear God say to you. And the third thing is…
3 - Wait
Abraham - waited for God to bless Him with a child.
Joesph - waited though many trials before God made him into a great leader.
Moses - wandered in the wilderness for 40 years waiting to enter the Promised Land.
There are examples all throughout Scripture of waiting for God.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.
This doesn’t mean that we do nothing.
Like, we just sit and wait on the Lord thinking, oh no…I’m stuck here. Think about what a waiter in a restaurant does? A waiter serves people. So while we’re waiting for God, we look for ways to serve others.
Habakkuk listens for God.
Habakkuk is told to write down the message from God.
Habakkuk is told to wait for this message to come to pass.
Then God tells Habakkuk what is going to happen to the Babylonians.
See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright--
but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness--
The enemy is puffed up, and conceited, and arrogant. God sees the evil that is being done by the Babylonians and He is going to act.
Woe to him who piles up stolen goods… Hab 2:6
Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain… Hab 2:9
Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed… Hab 2:12
Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors… Hab 2:15
Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life!' Hab 2:19
…but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.
THE LORD IS IN HIS HOLY TEMPLE; LET ALL THE EARTH BE SILENT BEFORE HIM. Habakkuk 2:20
While you're waiting, remember where God is. He is where only He can be; his Holy Temple. He hasn't moved. He isn't going to move. For His is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
When you’re in that low place in life and it doesn’t seem like anything is ever going to change, and you’re doing all you can to Listen, and Write, and Wait…always remember and never forget and trust…
THE LORD IS IN HIS HOLY TEMPLE;
LET ALL THE EARTH BE SILENT BEFORE HIM.