September means back to school, and back to school brings big changes for many parents. Young ones heading off to their first days of nursery school or kindergarten, or older kids moving on to elementary school or high school, or even beyond, and each new stage brings change and challenge.
I used to naively think that once my kids were older they wouldn’t need us as much. How wrong I was! The older the kids get, the more it seems they need their parents. Not just for me to teach them my exceptional dance moves, or for Kevin to provide free math tutoring services, but they just generally need us more.
More talking. More time. More money (that’s a given!). We give them more responsibility but at the same time we give them more space. It’s a strange dance we perform as we sway together to the music of “adolescence-turn-adulthood”, and I feel like I’m always tripping over myself.
This year our oldest began college, and every one of the pre-college parent sessions reminded us sharply that they might be our kids, but once in college they were adults in both form and function.
Translation: Back off.
I thought I’d be okay with this, but as my friends and my son can attest, the first week of assignments came home and I lost my mind a little bit. “When is this due?” “Where do you upload your assignments?” “What are you doing between classes?” “Where are you eating your lunch?” “Who do you talk to on the bus?” “Write in pencil, not pen!” "Don't forget to bring your computer to class!"
It turns out that parenting an adult is way harder than I thought it would be. Do you know why? Because you have to be prepared for them to get it wrong. To fail. To miss the deadline or to fail to grasp the point of the assignment, and to just watch it happen.
When I think about how frustrated I am already when reading papers that need some serious proofreading, or seeing from the syllabus that he missed the mark on some of his assignments, I think of my own spiritual journey and how the Father views me. How often I get it wrong. How I missed opportunities to speak up, or I spoke up when I should have shut up. How hindsight showed me how far I missed the mark of the task the Lord had given me.
So… is this the point where I draw a direct line from my own parenting skills to those of the Heavenly Father and tell myself that the Lord has to back off and let me make my own mistakes?
Does the Lord “back off”? Well, sure he gave me free will to worship or to walk away, but I think in this context the threads holding together that particular parenting argument are quite weak.
Scripture tells me that God relentlessly pursues me (Luke 15:8-10) and rejoices over me. That he sent a Messiah who saves me completely. He provides Scripture not just to teach me, but to rebuke me and correct me (2 Tim 3:16). And when I fail (as I often do), Jesus Christ advocates on my behalf before the Father. God is accessible at a moment’s notice (Hebrews 4:16), and I am assured that nothing can remove me from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39).
God will not back off or leave you to your own decisions. He does not watch you make poor choices and think, “Well, they’ll soon regret those choices, but what are ya gonna do?” (insert heavenly shrug here).
Maybe you don’t have adult children, or perhaps you have no children at all. Regardless I challenge you to remember that God has not left you to your own devices or washed his hands of you. When you are tempted to believe that God has fallen silent and is leaving you to suffer your choices in a hopeless state, name that as a lie and instead remind yourself that God will continue to pursue you until your time on this earth is done.
And now, if you need me, I'll be silently reading assignments over my son's shoulder and sitting on my hands so I don't correct his
It’s been said, “What we routinely do communicates, reinforces and shares who we are, often far more than what you teach.” In other words, “what I do, is often who I am”. The truth of that statement really cuts deep into my soul when I stop to think about it. The behaviours I engage in are either dictated by what I believe or are the outcomes of what is shaping how I think about life and the world around me.
This gets pretty tricky when we think about it from a faith perspective. If what I do is who I am, then what does that say about me and what I believe. What lifestyle, actions, behaviours do I communicate to my friends and family around me? And I wonder if the corollary is also true, ‘does what I believe dictate what my behaviours should be?’ I think it is.
This September we want to attach this idea of belief and behaviours together by looking at the convictions we hold about something critical to God’s mission on earth. Specifically, if we take seriously Christ’s command to “make disciples” (Matt 28), then what convictions should we hold to as followers of Jesus Christ and members of His body, especially regarding what discipleship is and how we should go about making disciples here at Calvary. Over that last year, our Elders have studied these convictions and have had to do a lot of soul searching about what the Bible says about how we are to be a disciple-making church.
So beginning on Sunday mornings in September we will explore these questions in our sermons:
- Why make disciples?
- What is a disciples?
- How are disciples made?
- Who makes disciples?
- Where to make disciples?
I am looking forward to delving into what the Bible says about these questions and I hope that you will be too. I believe that our best days as a church will come when we make Christ’s convictions our convictions. Won’t you join us?
As well, our Lifegroup ministry will be moving through curriculum we designed in-house specially for the purpose of taking a further look into the answers to these questions and apply the teaching to where you are right now in your spiritual journey. Our Lifegroups are designed to connect people together in smaller groups so that they can grow together and encourage one another. If you’re not signed up yet, contact us and we will make sure you get connected. If you can’t get into a Lifegroup right now I would encourage you to take a copy of the curriculum and plan to meet with someone weekly to work through it. You will be able to listen to our weekly podcast (insert link) of the message and then be able to talk about how we can get the topic deeper into our lives.
This Fall, my desire is to create a renewed vision to help people take a step towards spiritual maturity. It is not going to happen by chance; we must be intentional about it. I am very excited that all our Elders are behind this and we are all on the same page and moving toward the same goal. There will be many opportunities for you to find a place to get established in your faith and also equipped for making disciples. It’s going to be a great series and a great ministry tool! Let’s do this!
Pastor Aaron Groat
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