As usual, we have received the yearly missives from family and friends across the country. One dear woman handwrites her multiple-page letter to us, and it is a celebration of life in a family serving the Lord Jesus. Others, like ours, are mass produced and get the message out to a large number quite effectively.
As a letter is read, the family is presented through the eyes of the writer, usually Mom or Dad. The family’s events and accomplishments of the previous year that are considered important to the parents are condensed down to a page or two. So in just a couple of minutes of reading, we are updated on the noteworthy accomplishments of a family.
However, I’m grieved by most of the letters we receive from Christian families. What is being shared generally shows such a worldly focus in the homes. There is mostly entertainment and trivial pursuits, versus serving and life preparation, that rule. Is the Lord’s bride in love with Him or the world? Sadly, the proof is on the paper.
Certainly, these letters reveal the hearts of dads. Let’s “talk” Christian “man to man” for a little bit as we reflect back on this year and look forward to a new millennium. The return of our Lord Jesus draws closer each day. Will He find us busy? If so, busy doing what?
Will the Lord Jesus say to us, “. . . Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21). After reading the majority of the letters we received, I wonder whether it really won’t be, “. . . Thou wicked and slothful servant. . .” (Matthew 25:26).
How can a family know whether they are spending their time harvesting chaff or spending their time as the Lord desires? As usual, it begins with the father’s daily, personal, quiet time with the Lord Jesus. Dad must be “plugged into” the Vine if there is to be a chance of knowing what God wants his family to do. It may even be something that is good, but if the Lord hasn’t told us to do it, we must not.
Next, don’t seek a ministry, but seek Jesus. Frankly, it may be that the dad and mom with young children do little, if any, “ministry” by themselves outside the home. I’ve seen churches so hungry for male leadership they will take a father away from the home when the mother desperately needs him. There are seasons in life, and raising little ones may demand the full attention of Mom and Dad for several years. That is how the family strengthens their testimony for future years. Later, when they have succeeded in raising up godly children, the seeds and credentials for a strong ministry have been planted.
Dads, we must understand that a “need” is not a call. Only when the Lord clearly says, “Go!” and it does not impede our responsibilities, should we do it. It may be that the Lord has someone else He wants to fill the position (or if it is unprofitable, He doesn’t want it filled at all), and it really wasn’t for us. So if you have little children and are asked to do something that requires even an hour away from your family (few things ever really take only an hour anyway), and you can’t take your children with you each time, then this might not be the time to say “yes.”
A few years back, a friend greatly surprised me by nominating me for a statewide position I should never have accepted. I had a lot of interest in helping the “cause,” but it really wasn’t the season for me. After limping along under the conviction it wasn’t God’s will, I finally had to resign. So the need, a friend’s counsel, and a hurried prayer led to a wrong action. Something that required my time should have had serious prayer. Since my decision to agree to the nomination was needed right then and time would not allow for sufficient prayer time, it was clearly not God’s will for me.
Last evening I heard a radio interview with a retired Navy Blue Angels pilot. He said he felt it was a wonderful career opportunity to show that a Christian could do the job. However, he went on to say he had really struggled with the conviction that he should be home with his children instead of traveling three hundred days a year. I had to turn the radio off! Why wasn’t he man enough to quit and do what God had called him to do first?
The pressing need of our day is for fathers to turn their hearts to their children. Even those of us who think we are involved in our children’s lives need to constantly be on guard to be sure we are looking to their hearts. Taking children to Boy Scouts, T-Ball, and soccer is not turning our hearts to our children. These may be entertaining and fun, but they have little, if any, eternal benefit. Do we want to raise up men and women of God, or worldly, pleasure-seeking children who never mature? Even if some may argue the above is not chaff, no one should argue that if we are not doing what Jesus wants us to do, it is chaff. That is all that matters.
Most of those letters were such an indictment of the modern “Christian” family. Dads, may we hold each other accountable. May we challenge and exhort each other to good works. Are you willing to pour out your life for your family and your Lord, to cherish your wife and delight in her, to count every activity and commitment as chaff unless the Lord directs you to do it?
I would challenge every one of us in this matter. Why not, as husband and wife, agree to eliminate EVERY activity and pursuit? (This includes TV, books, sports, clubs, etc.) Now, prayerfully add back in only those that the Lord clearly says He wants the family and individual to be involved with. Don’t add it back until you can look your wife in the eye and say, “God has told me that we are to do this.” May our Lord welcome us with, “Well done my good and faithful servant,” on His return.