Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Making the Crooked Paths Straight, Waiting for Our God to Come

When I think of John the Baptist, a couple of Biblical phrases come to mind: "making the crooked straight," "preparing the way" and "I must decrease, He must increase."
I heard a well-known preacher say the other day on Christian radio that raising godly kids is not rocket science.  Do Steps 1-5, and voila! Christian kids you can be proud of.  No mention of the fact that godly parents (not those who do 'everything right'- as those obviously do not exist) occasionally have rebellious children.

There comes a time when GOD HIMSELF has to make His grand entrance into the lives of our children, or we labor in vain.  So how do we "make the paths straight" for the coming of God into their lives.  Back to John the Baptist.  He recognized the coming agenda/will of God, and he showed the people their sin and need of a Savior.  He prepared their hearts to receive the Son of God.  In parenting, is this not the 'stacking of the deck?'  It is not enough to say, "Well, God has to do his work, and even He, the perfect parent, had a rebellious child- Adam?"  No!  We shout and yell, "He's coming.  He's coming.  Expect him.  Get ready.  You need him!"  Through intentional, godly, Biblically wise parenting, we do all we can, with His help, to smooth the way for the coming of God.
And then He comes.  Quietly sometimes.  A child will make a remark, and You will realize he/she is starting to hear the voice of God.  Our job is to say, "Yes, here He is!  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away your sins!  Accept Him!"  Then we must be willing to be God-like.  God WILL walk down the path we have straightened for him and offer our children eternal life.  (In fact, He offers life to all.  But for some the path is still so messed up and crooked, I'm afraid they don't even recognize him.)   But he will not force entry or overpower their will.  If they walk away, we continue to call out the truth.  God forbid any of us experience the pain of watching their backs fade into the distance!  But some of us already have.  Becky Keep wrote a beautiful article on this in a recent God's Revivalist issue.  (It begins on page 14 of the May issue here)  I would encourage a reading of it.  Through the tears and personal rejection, we accept the comfort of God, who in Isaiah 5 says, "What more could I have done?!?!"  He has experienced the pain of a wayward child, and we can trust Him to keep asking, to keep knocking.  So, so hard- I can't even imagine.  However, we can't afford to become so demoralized that we leave off straightening the path, preparing the way for the younger children still in our care. 

The other scenario, far more pleasant but yet still painful, is transitioning them into responsible Christian adulthood.  There should come a time when they stop 'following us' and start following Christ.  At some point, we should be decreasing and Christ increasing in their lives.  See Valorie Quesenberry's excellent article here.  That's the goal.  To stand back and watch them become path-straighteners for others.

Luke 3:4-6 
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
    and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
    and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

John 1:29
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

John 3:28-30
I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Psalm 127
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.

It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

God help me straighten to path and prepare the way in Kathryn and Alex's hearts!