With the warm summer upon us, soaking in the swimming pool is once again a favourite activity. Armed with water guns, floaters, and goggles, we make the 2-block trek to the village clubhouse after each school day. Even our neighbours, usually tending to their gardens at this time of the afternoon and perhaps taking advantage of the cooler outdoors, have become accustomed to this routine.
There are a couple of cross streets we had to pass to and fro our usual route. On one such occasion, before we reached one of the intersections, I quickly call out, “Wait, stop. Don’t cross without me.” All five children had been walking ahead of me and in my mind I was only addressing the 4-year old who, for some reason beyond me, was scurrying to get ahead of the rest. But as soon as they heard me, everyone slows down and looks back. When I explain to all that I had only been calling their little brother’s attention, the 14-year old quips, “Well, mom, we hear your voice and we respond.”
Each of us walk quietly until we reach home. I think to myself, “What a blessing to have children who recognize my loving authority and actually trust that authority so that they immediately react to it.” Of course, this faith with accompanying response does not come naturally but is developed over time. Then, I am reminded of that parable in the gospel of John where Jesus, the Shepherd, calls His sheep by name, His sheep who follow Him.
I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.
In the same way my children recognize my voice, it is my prayer that they will recognize the true Shepherd’s voice as they walk in this journey of life. And even as it is true that,
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
the good news is,
Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. (Isa 53:6)
Just as my life in Him is the only meaningful life, I earnestly hope their lives will find the same Anchor.
I can only do so much as to remind them of this truth as well as, yielding to the Spirit, to live a life where, always before us, is the awareness of our need for a Saviour. I could only wish that as I explore the Scriptures with them, that the living God will thus reveal Himself in a very intimate way to each one. In time, they will hopefully have their own personal encounter with Jesus as the disciple Nathanael did. May their response be the same as his.
47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”
48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”
49 Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!” (first chapter of John)
The Christian worker Andrew van der Bijl, known as “God’s smuggler” to communist countries in the peak of the Cold war, began his life adventure as a solider for the Dutch East Indies army. Shortly after his conversion, he came to a point in his life when he questioned his relationship with God. He had come to a crisis in his faith in the area of God’s provision. Since he felt God’s call for him to go into the mission field, he had just given up his day job in a chocolate factory. He, however, had to trust God for expenses related to his schooling in Glasgow.
The thoughts that somehow cleared his mind is what I desire would eventually become my own children’s conviction as they they encounter the hardships of life:
If I were going to give my life as a servant of the King, I had to know that King. What was He like? In what way could I trust Him? In the same way I trusted a set of impersonal laws? Or could I trust Him as a living leader, as very present commander in battle? The question is central. Because if He were a King in name only, I would rather go back to the chocolate factory. I would remain a Christian, but I would know that my religion was only a set of principles, excellent and to be followed, but hardly demanding devotion.
Suppose on the other hand that I were to discover God to be a Person, in the sense that He communicated and cared and loved and led. That was something quite different. That was the kind of King that I could follow into any battle. (“God’s Smuggler” by Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill)