The Originator of life stood resolute. Heartbroken, but resolute. He loathed what He had to do. But do it, nevertheless, He would. Love demanded He do so.
He would take them seemingly backwards—as if before the beginning of time. Back where rebellion was cast down—banished from perfection—exiled from His presence. He would drive them from the garden—His children no longer having a home.
But love would allow, that unlike Lucifer, someday these creatures of the dust would have opportunity to return.
To turn around and come back home. Not back to the garden. Rather, to a new home. Where moth and rust could not destroy. Where grace and truth would illumine the halls. Where love and peace and joy would adorn the walls.
And so it began.
Laying a groundwork that made sense to these dust-filled minds, called for stories. Stories and stories, laid like stone upon stone. Each stone-story allowed evil to show it’s true face. Abel and Cain revealed murder and abolishment. The sons of Cain and Seth multiplied and grew so vile God ordered a total washing. This cleansing was an important part of the story but it allowed evil to think it had won. So God vowed to never flood the earth again, giving wickedness room to continue to draw many away from Him. And so many began to claim someone other than God as their father.
Oh how the Father’s heart hurt! Though the children thought they knew great pain, none felt the pain the Father did. None wanted to gift love in a way the children could absorb deep into their souls—only to have attempted gift-givings scorned and rejected. And so He continued laying the groundwork—letting the story play out, scene by excruciating scene.
Two thousand years into the story the Father began to call out a son through Abraham. And the story narrows, separating evil from good. And in His goodness, Abba began to show His own face.
As Jehovah Jireh, He abundantly provided—even when a wasteland was all that could be seen.
As Jehovah Rapha, He healed every wound and disease—applying balm to afflictions of the heart.
As Jehovah Nissi, He became their banner—their rallying cry, the standard that ignited allegiance, and the confidence that victory was certain.
As Jehovah Mekoddishkem, He set His children apart and made them holy—and wholly His.
As Jehovah Shallom, He bestowed a peace that passed understanding.
As Jehovah Sabaoth, He fought and won every single battle His children faced—as long as they obediently trusted Him.
As Jehovah Raah, He shepherded them—holding the young ones close, guiding, protecting, and feeding.
And as Jehovah Tsidkenu, He provided the sacrifice in Himself—paving the path to righteousness with His own blood.
He was all these things and more. Yet to truly know Him as such, these children had to suffer. They had to learn to need Him—desperately so. Because He had created them in His image, they were strong and capable, wise and loving. It would take hard, hard lessons for them to learn that though beautiful and resilient, without Him they were marred and lusterless; inept and insufficient.
And so, these children repeated the cycle:
obedience … abundance …
self-reliance … rebellion …
punishment … brokenness …
repentance … obedience.
Over and over. The Father had to allow this pattern to turn into a familiar story. The stone-stories: generation after generation, layer after layer. For another one thousand years.
And then in silence He let it sit. Four hundred years of settling—like petrified wood. A foundation. Rock solid. Glazed in tragic beauty.
Ready, this foundation had a hole in it. A Messiah-shaped hole. Soon the silence would be broken and the Chief Cornerstone would be placed. And a new building would arise.
A building of living stones. A temple—a permanent dwelling for God to be with—IN—His people. A HOME for the Father and His children to dwell—to commune and laugh and eat bread and drink cup—for eternity. Eternity—the front side of the story started long ago. The completion of cycling. (But not the end to the stories.)
Before we get too excited about the redemptive side of parenting (the finishing work) we need to first talk about the foundational part of parenting. That part where we watch our children experience for themselves the stories that lay the groundwork for everything else.
The learning to trust Mommy and Daddy would provide for their every need. That booboos would be kissed and bandages applied. That family provided an identity and a place to belong. Slapping hands taught boundaries. Disobedience led to discipline. Obedience brought reward. Truth and grace. Independence yet reliance. Numbers and ABC’s, colors and shapes—building blocks for the quickly growing mind.
These are the stones we expect to place in our children’s lives. We were prepared to do so. But what happens when someone else has laid that foundation? What happens when that foundation is sandy in places and glass-sharp in others. A foundation that’s uneven and causes our children to stumble. A foundation cracked and fractured by years of instability. What then?
These are the foundations my children had laid in their lives. How I longed to bring in the jackhammer, drill it all up and start over. But that was impossible. As I moved across the floors of their lives, I too often stumbled. I too was lacerated by the jagged pieces of their souls. I reacted in anger at something they very well had no control over. And truth is, neither did I.
No, but what I could do was do a little sanding down, leveling out, and filling in. And it took years. Years! I’m not sure I witnessed stabilization until my children were well into adulthood. Sometimes they—we—still stumble a bit.
So what was the sander, the equalizer, the filler I used?
Truth. God’s truth. Truth about Him and all He could, and would, do in their lives—with and without me. Truth about the real enemy—and the limit of his reach. Truth that God was their Father—always had been; always would be. Truth about God calling me to be their mom. Truth about God’s love for me and His enabling power to accomplish the tasks He’d placed before me.
Truth found in Scripture! God’s promises. God’s heart. God’s rock-solid faithfulness.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)