One of my students recently said, “Me and my dad aren’t close at all. And he knows that. The only thing we ever talk about is volleyball.”
Hearing her say that bothered me for a couple of reasons. One, what led to the “distance” between them? I wanted to know because I absolutely don’t want to repeat it with my daughter! The other reason, she came from a Christian home. Sure, maybe that’s not entirely fair to expect more. We are broken people after all, and all have some degree of hurt and dysfunction in the home.
But surely, if there's one thing we can get right, it’s to make sure that our children know that we love them, and that love draws them close. It’s the same type of love that draws us to God. Surely our actions and decisions can reflect the same closeness we have with our Heavenly father to our earthly children?
The same week, I was informed that three families in our kindergarten class were in the middle of a divorce. Three families! Three God-fearing families. Let me put that in perspective. Three children are in the process of growing up in a broken home. Three children are in the early steps of what will be a very confusing adolescence. Three children will likely have Christmas with a different parent each year!
Surely, if we get something right, it can be to show that God’s love can overcome any circumstance. Right?
If within our Christian community we live like the rest of the world, then what’s the point? As it always works out, around the same time, my Bible class studied the account of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts. Two verses struck me:
The first, “Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.” (Acts 8:13, NIV).
The next occurs shortly after, “You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.” (Acts 8:21, NIV).
If you’re like me, you thought, What? He just believed and was baptized! And we’d be right. He just believed and was baptized. He just did what so many of us, including families in the setting that I work in, do everyday. But to believe and to be baptized does not make our hearts right before God.
Remember James said, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” (James 2:19, NIV). Last I checked, demons will have no part in spending eternity with Jesus.
So what gives? Why wasn’t Simon’s heart right? Why do some fathers fail to show the love of God to their children? Why do some parents forget their promises? And most importantly, why do I forget God’s promises just the same?
Because sadly I fail to commit my heart to Jesus. Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:19, NIV).
I’m taking a big guess, but in those moments and decisions when we need to hold on to God, we don’t. I can spit venom like no one’s business and still believe in God. I can manipulate like no other and still believe that Jesus died on the cross. However, if I commit my heart to God’s commands, I cannot hurl verbal cannon balls at anyone. I cannot put up walls of apathy.
Oh Simon, did you commit your heart to God? Oh dads have you committed your hearts to Jesus? Have you committed your words to Jesus? Have you committed your time to Jesus? I think if and when you do, you can make up for the distance between you and your daughter.
Oh parents, have you committed your marriage to Jesus? Have your committed your role as wife or husband to Jesus? Have you committed your life to God’s forever truth, not your fickle feelings? I think if and when you do, you will save your marriage.
Now can I be really honest? Like, wow-I-can’t-believe-you-said-that kind of honest?”
I don’t always love my family. Not for long moments. Maybe for a few brief seconds or minutes. But it happens. You might reply, “Oh but you really do. You’re just saying that.”
Nope. I really do have those moments. Thankfully, now in the middle of the darkness, I'm able to think through my feelings and disengagement and come to this conclusion: Oh, I’m not living out what I claim to believe right now. Then, when I reach that point, a miracle happens. God fills my heart. And through Jesus, despite my sinful flesh and selfish desires, I can love my family. I can make godly decisions instead of what may be okay or expected, or justified.
Or to put it in much better terms,
“To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
(Proverbs 16:1-3, NIV)
Yeah, I think that sounds better. Take note that the author of Proverbs wrote, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them . . .” But it’s not always. In fact, most of the time, it’s not!
So have you believed? Check. Have you been baptized? Check. Have you committed this day, and all the decisions you’ll encounter today to God? Check? Maybe? Getting there?
If not, don’t worry. Here are two quick points to hold on to:
- If you think you’re absolutely right . . . then you’re probably wrong.
- Commit to the Lord WHATEVER you do because He’s never wrong. He’s always absolutely right.
God is good. The more we hold onto Him, the more we'll reflect Him to the dying world, and maybe, just maybe fix some of our damaged relationships, caused by our godless decisions, along the way.