Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

The Connected Child(ren of God)

Years ago, when we began the journey of adoption, it was surprising to read in “The Connected Child” that we would want our daughter to cry.  Reading the explanation, however, seemed to make perfect sense.  For a child who has never known the safe environment of a loving home and parents who cared for her needs, she has to learn the connected-child-cover-web-198x300instinct to cry out.  Previously, crying gained her nothing, or quite possibly the opposite of affection, and so she may have “unlearned” the behavior.  As our child became connected to us, it would become evident through moments like crying out – knowing she could trust a proper and loving response.

Fast forward several years.  We’ve finally brought home a daughter who is about 5 years old, and not only has she “unlearned” many habits of children who grow up in healthy environments – she’s also acquired many habits of children who grow up in unhealthy environments.  She is loved, for the first time as never before, and brought in to being part of a family. At first, she didn’t understand much of anything.  What did “Father” mean?  What did “Mother” mean?  There are certain things, and certain words, that if you were to examine them in the routine of many normal homes it would be confusing.   But in our context, where we’re attempting to purposefully build the connections most children would naturally develop from birth, they make sense.

Now take a step back.  Think about the Old Testament and the actions or words spoken between God and His people.  A common question among people who don’t want to believe in God, or even those who do but are honest with their doubts – “Why would God command ______?  Why would God do ________?”

I can’t pretend to understand the mind or heart of God completely, but I do understand the heart of a Father who wants to connect with the heart of their child. A child who has never known a Father like this before.  A child who has become so separated from the concept of “family” or “parent”, that it is a completely foreign concept.

So we see God calling out His people from among all others.  We see God rescue His people, only to force them into depending on Him through the wilderness for 40 years. We hear words from God about the wrath He’s capable of, even though ultimately He reveals His heart to be powerfully Loving and full of Grace for humanity. (lol, I realize that sounds bad here.  No worries, we’re not threatening wrath or taking our daughters on 40 year wilderness journeys.)

It’s not the kind of relationship we’d have if we were born aware of Him.  But it’s an adoption that impacts us to the very core of our being, for eternity.  Romans 8:15 reminds us, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

One of the most natural ways to build that connection and bond? Simply to hold our daughter, and to allow her to feel our love. To remind her that we are here, and she is here, and she is ours no matter what happens.  To help her feel safe, and loved, and comforted.  To provide for her needs, and help her to see how depending on us to meet those needs is a trustworthy habit to develop.

In this moment – maybe it’s a good reminder for you and I – if this is what I am aware of, can’t we trust that God knows even better how to move His children into a fully connected relationship with Him?  We can trust in these moments, if we allow ourselves to be held by Him, to listen to His words, and to depend on Him to provide – these are habits worth developing in our own lives.

Even as I continue to pray my daughter would know my love deep in her heart, and not just in behavior – I also pray that my heart would deeply come to know the Love of my Father, not just in my behavior.  I pray that God would use this understanding of His Love – to invite even more children into fuller connection with Him…

Leading Them To Water

Moses: Hello rock.

Rock: Hello Moses.

Moses: How are you today?

Rock: Oh, ya’ know, it pretty much rocks being me.

Moses: lol, always so witty.  Hey, do you think you could give us some water?  God said it was cool.

Rock: Well sure (transforms into giant office water tank).  Go ahead.

Moses: Wow, that’s a pretty nifty trick.

People: WHOO HOOO.  Hooray for the Lord, God of Moses! All of creation responds to His desires!

You may not recognize the above story from your time in scriptures.  That’s because it never got a chance to happen.  In Numbers 20:8, God directs Moses to relieve the thirst of the people and their animals by speaking to a rock “that it may yield its water.”  Who knows what they may have looked like?  Okay, probably not the situation above, I just had a bit of fun with it.

Instead, Moses was filled with anger and frustration at a whiny group of untrusting people.  Even after all they had been through, they were blaming God for their thirst, and asking if Moses had led them to this place to die.

I imagine a large group of kids in the back of a mini-van.  This trip has been much longer than they thought.  They’ve asked “Are we there yet?” about a hundred times, and now have escalated to the drama of “I’m going to die, I’m so IMG_9800thirsty!!”  Mom and dad are in the front, thirsty too, but driving through traffic jams in the middle of midwestern cornfields doesn’t offer many chances to stop.  Finally dad slams on the breaks and pulls over.  He’s had enough.  He turns around to look at his children and the main goal in that moment is to stop the whining.  He gets out of the car, and hits a rock.  The rock starts gushing water, and the need is met.

Now for a “bigger lens”…

As parents, we want to meet the needs of our children.  Just like Moses, we feel the burden of providing for our family.  There are ways to do it, that honor God and help turn the hearts of our children toward responding to their ultimate provider in worship.  There are other ways to do it, that simply (or luxuriously) put food on the table, but end in a result of our children being amazed at our abilities and filling their thirsts.

It’s difficult…sooo very difficult to spend time talking to rocks.  But in the end we recognize our children have a thirst that goes deeper than any material item in this world can quench.  More important than causing the water to flow, and meeting their every immediate need – is providing them a path on which they see and experience the love and provision of God, and are shaped to depend on Him.

The question then becomes – Where is the rock God is calling you, as a parent, to talk to?

 

confession: I want to prove God.

For as much as I wasn’t a giant fan of “God’s Not Dead” for reasons we can talk about in person…I will confess I have something in common with the young college student.  I have a desire to prove God.   It’s not that I want to prove His existence, or even prove to someone that Jesus was divine.  It’s not an intellectual debate I want to win.  I want to prove to my children, the goodness and faithfulness of God, in the midst of a world where such testimony may be hard to hear behind other noises.

It struck me in a particular way recently, as I was praying for our adoption.  You may have something else weighing on your heart.  Something your family is praying fervently for.  Something you and your children name regularly every night in family prayer time, and the main thing your kids might mention if they’re praying before bed at a friends house.  Whatever that thing is, beyond praying for that “thing” itself….as a parent we also find ourselves praying it for the sake of our children.   That they will experience God’s hearing of the prayer, and be able to celebrate together as a family when He responds.

So what happens, when that “main family prayer”, becomes the one unanswered?  The one a family is left to struggle with.  What if our children grow up praying about it, almost as a reflex, but slowly and accidentally learn never to actually receive a response from God on the issue?http___makeagif.com__media_5-05-2014_dpmt43

In my anxiety and frustration, God calms me down.  Hand on my shoulder, tears welling up in his own eyes, He speaks with love.  “You and your family are not the beginning, or the center of what I’m up to, Chadwick.”  In a moment of humility, He reminds me of where I sat just a few weeks ago, at a Seder dinner with my children. From my own lips, my children heard God’s story as one we are now the continuation of.  That His people lived for hundreds of years in slavery, and have faced suffering and death for millenia.  That the story of God’s people is one of embracing what it means to suffer in a world that is not yet made right.  What it means to not pretend everything is easy or can make sense.  Imagine what it would’ve been like for an Israelite parent to teach their children the goodness of God, in the midst of generations of slavery.  God calls us to live uncomfortably in a world that idolizes comfort and ease.  We are a people who have been crying out to God for thousands of years, and God has been/continues to respond to that cry.  He invites us to actively participate in that response as well.  Not by denying or avoiding the brokenness of the world – but by how we suffer as those who know God is with us.

His was a reminder – one of the greatest things we do as a parent is to give our children, and younger generations a context for their struggles/doubts.  A safe place to express suffering…(any youth pastor who’s heard a teenager lament at a broken relationship can understand this)…and a larger view/context that helps to bring genuine perspective and comfort knowing God is with us even in these moments.  Not promising to make everything better for every individual who comes to Him like a genie inside a magic lamp.  Yet….not like a removed deity who has nothing to do with the world He set in motion, either.

God is at work.  In faithful and world-changing-ly large ways.  But also in small, thankful whispers of reminder.  We know that His heart is seen being revealed in “Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.'”

All of that to say, be encouraged.  Even when it seems our prayers aren’t being responded to.  Not because “God’s working it all out to be even better than you would’ve prayed.”  But because, God is with us.  Always.  Has been, and will be.  That’s the story we invite our children to live within.   That’s the story that invites them to prove God…

how the US is fighting world peace.

A news update I’ve become aware of (that you may all already know, because you watch the news), concerns the future of the US and our World in a way that seems to matter.  “UNESCO” is the “United Nations Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organization”.  It was launched many years ago under the premise that you do not bring peace about by enforcing a cessation of violence, but by developing minds and hearts together.  Literally “building peace in the minds of men and women”.  More specifically, it came together in the mid-40’s, “In their eyes, the new organization must establish the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” and, in so doing, prevent the outbreak of another world war.”

unesco-sign-and-buildingSounds like a pretty important effort, right? One that we would not only want to join, but help be an influential voice within?  And we did.  Until 1984, when we left because UNESCO’s goals were found to be different from our own.  But in 2003, (after we were attacked horribly in 2001, and remembered why it’s important to connect hearts and minds globally), we rejoined.   President George W. Bush stated, “As a symbol of our commitment to human dignity, the United States will return to UNESCO. This organization has been reformed and America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights and tolerance and learning.”  Ever since 2003, we’ve been a big part.  Even as recently as a few years ago, the US Contributions to the UNESCO budget made up over 22% of their operations.

They’ve done great work to connect the scientific developments across the globe.  Along with cultural education/sharing/protection, encouraging/promoting rights to eduction and especially of girls/women.  They do some pretty incredible and VERY important stuff – for more specifics, check out their report from last year. Education for children, power for powerless, food for hungry, etc.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is, back in 2011, UNESCO voted to allow Palestine participate as a nation.  That went against a 1990 US Policy that amounted to “If you invite _____ to the party, we’re not coming.”  At the time, some feared that it was a first step into crazy things like Palestine joining the UN.  I get it, as a group, Palestine definitely has problems with stability.  Some with long-standing land-conflicts..and some from the “Fatah vs. Hamas” conflict within.  I’m very limited in my knowledge/understanding, but I don’t like a lot of what I’ve learned about the Hamas side of things.  That being said…would I still want to invite them to a global conversation on how to better humanity around the world?  I think so?  After all, look at the list of nations who are part of UNESCO…we were cool sitting at a table with North Korea.

There was a grace period of a few years, where we had opportunity to keep our involvement/funding.  But now we’ve officially lost our “vote” as a part of UNESCO.  Whether it was just a final plea for our finances or not, the Director-General made some very powerful statements about why the US needs to stay connected to UNESCO.

So what’s my rant about?  I just think it’s important to note that most of the world disagrees with us on this one (in the 2011 vote, out of 159 nations, 13 sided with us).  That in order to protect “our own interests”, we’re actually modelling the very behavior that in the 1940’s we set out to combat.  That the “interests of humanity” worldwide must always be more important than the “interests of a nation”…if we’re to avoid roads of world war…or even continue living on this earth as the growing collective humanity that we are.

So how do we communicate all of this…something I hardly understand myself…to our children?  I’m not sure, but it starts with prayer.  “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…”, not as interpreted by one nation…but for all.

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