Prioritizing God's Word

I have come to believe that the success or failure of every woman who hopes to build her children into a godly legacy depends to a great degree on whether or not she is spending time in the presence of the Lord and filling her mind with His Word. In this fallen world of Satan's domain, where we are constantly bombarded with worldly ideals and cultural ideas, we cannot hope to be guided into all truth unless we are daily instructed by the Giver of truth. To my mind, it is pretty certain that whether or not a woman invests time with the Lord will ultimately determine what she has to give to her children, husband, and others.

Through the Word of God, we are able to become skillful builders of our children's souls. May we come often to be enriched by the priceless treasures and jewels in God's Word so that our hearts will overflow with life to fill the treasure chests of our children. May our walk be step-by-step with Him, with His wisdom, and with His assurance. Because of our faithfulness to His Word, may our children be rich with His love, wisdom, and guidance for the rest of their lives.

God of Truth, Logic, Wisdom, and direction,

Make me sensitive and responsive to Your Word and to Your voice. Help me to establish my life on the foundation of Your Word so that when the storms of life come my way, I may stand fast and secure. Help me to develop deep convictions in my children's souls that are based on the principles of the Bible, so that my children will have a wealth of truth to help them in making decisions.

Give me fresh insight and new understanding of how to apply Your Word to the everyday issues of my life. Help me to establish a lifelong habit of spending time with You. Thank You for making Yourself always available to me.

I so appreciate having Your presence in my life. Amen.

"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2, emphasis added).

According to these verses, what distinguishes those who are influenced by culture and the standards of the world and those who are led by God? Are there any changes you need to make in your life to ensure that you have time to study God's Word?

WWII Books for Children

Crow Call

A hushed, contemplative picture book based on an episode from the author’s own childhood. What happens when a father returns from war, a stranger to his child? Gentle, honest, a tale that examines one of the difficult aspects of war with real tenderness.

Escape From Warsaw

A classic, long beloved tale of a family separated by war, and determined to find their way back to each other. With both of their parents arrested by Nazis, Ruth, Edek, and Bronia must fend for themselves until they meet a boy who tells them that their father is alive and waiting for them… in Switzerland. Thus begins a dangerous journey across war torn Europe as the children fight to survive and find their father.

I Am David

I read this book as an adult, and it startled me with its beauty. The story of a boy who has known nothing but a concentration camp, and how he learns what it means to be, not merely physically free, but liberated in heart as well, free to take on the bonds of love.

Irena's Jar of Secrets

A picture book telling of the true story of a young Polish woman who was a nurse during the Nazi Occupation and helped to save the lives of hundreds of Jewish children.

Number the Stars

The story of ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen who becomes caught up in the Danish Resistance during the Nazi Occupation when the life of her best friend is endangered.

No More Words, Please!

As I am watching all the pictures sweet friends are posting about their children's back to school days, this story I wrote many years ago about a day full of talking, talking, talking seems both far away and closeby--especially because our days still seem bound to be full of conversation.

Does anyone else ever feel like they just can't talk to one more person? Our philosophy of discipleship and of reaching our children's hearts in general is very relationship oriented--and that means lots of words!  I always feel I need to be available to my sweet children--but there are days when I'm not sure that's a great philosophy after all!

Before I had even finished a cup of tea or my quiet time that morning, I was on the phone with Nathan, who had just moved to California.  I also went back and forth on email with his agency in Denver, talking about resumes, head shots, movies and Youtube sample movies and auditions, sending information, talking bank accounts, money, recommendations, and was worn out by 9 a.m. Even from LA to Colorado, a mom is needed.

Then on driving to a history group meeting, Joy and I started a discussion that ended up lasting most of the day--- do you wonder how that sort of thing happens, when you really had good will in your heart, and it just gets turned around somehow? So we talked in the car for half an hour over some life issues before going into our meeting. Then at noon, we talked another thirty minutes about feelings and dreams and expectations. At 1:00 I met Joel for lunch as he was about to go back to Berklee, and we talked for an hour and a half about life, dreams, issues, money, school, work, housing, the Lord, food ...

Finally it was time to go back home where Joy and I talked for another hour and a half; she had a lot of "stuff" on her heart and it all seemed to bubble up that day. Sometimes I could see my kids felt lost in the crowd of the other children amidst everyone's  needs that are always vying for my attention in our home.  We are close friends and spent lots of time together every day, but sometimes with each child it takes a long time to get to the "ending well part" when you are in the midst of teen years and issues and friends and life.

Went to the kitchen to make dinner and was followed in by my oldest two, who proceeded to spend two more hours with me, talking about relationships with others in their lives and such, so more talking, more analyzing, and everyone, including Clay and me, having opinions. Thank goodness he got home from work so he could do half of the talking! As Clay says, if you ask a Clarkson a question, you will always end up with a discussion!

How long can you talk about an issue with your older children? Evidently, a very, very long time! Then we all went on a walk, and talked and argued even more about important issues like, "It's so hot tonight." "No, it isn't. It's cool. What's wrong with you." "I think you should be nicer to your friend." "I am being nice to my friend, you are just critical." "I love Mexican beans from this restaurant." "Really? I hate them. They are so mushy!"

Finally got home and sat down. I had spent all the words I had, all the compassion I had and all the energy I had and as much wisdom as I could muster--at which point, our golden retriever, Kelcy,  ran over the me and put both paws on my lap and seemed to say, "Now, it is my turn!" Joel and Joy rescued me as they could sense I was about to pop. At times, it seems like days like this tax you to your toes, and even now with 3 of my sweet ones home for just a bit, I am still amazed at how much I am in the center of everything and how much they all still want to talk--and talk! But, I now know that some days, my house is emptier when they are spread to the far corners of the world.  I will remember these days and I will miss the noise and conversations--I am enjoying it, really, at least most of the time.  But there are times when I am so thankful that a day has come to an end and I get to go to bed and sleep for a few hours without talking! Ever have days like this?

A Heart for Reading {And Music}: Sarah Clarkson Remembers

Episode #94 A Heart for Reading {and Music}

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This is the last week of our series, 10 Gifts of Heart. This weeks' gift is giving your child the heart for reading and thinking. Because Sarah Clarkson, Sally's daughter, just graduated from Oxford and has said that a love for reading was what gave her a desire to study there and the ability to learn to write, she joins Sally to talk about how important books were in the shaping of her soul, heart and mind.

 

In this episode, Sally is joined by her daughter Sarah and they discuss the deep roots and moral imagination and character that develops through books. They discuss the gifts cultivated by a reading life, and the capacity to pour those gifts back into the world as a result. Sally and Sarah will inspire your understanding  of the importance of books as central to the rhythms of home life and our interior souls and personhood. Then Sally is joined by her friend, Terri Moon who shares about the gift of music and how to help our children have a love of classical composers, and some of her favorite books to share with your children to introduce them to music. (All the books are linked below!)

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT:

-How reading furnishes in us an ability and increased capacity to see the world through another person's eyes

-The connection between faith and imagination

- How reading expands what we view as possible

-How reading provides a place for contemplation in our lives

-How reading trains us in focused and deep attention

-How reading helps to cultivate wonder in our lives and our ability to see the world as a gift

-How the words we read and use teach us to pay attention to the world around us

-How reading creates in us a true sense of self

-How to give our children a love of classical music

-Giving our children a sense of legacy by passing on what we love and appreciate

Links:

 

zin! zin! zin! A Violin

A Caldecott Honor Book which would be fun for the young child. This counting book introduces all the instruments of the orchestra with fun rhymes and playful illustrations. It might end up being a family favorite.

 

the story of the orchestra

An educational introduction to the world of classical music - from composers and music history, to the instruments of the orchestra. 

 

Young people's guide to classical music

Young People’s Guide to Classical Music by Helen Bauer Good introduction to classical music, including composers and the times in which they lived, with a lot of interesting information. Just right for kids around 12 and older.

 

Never play music right next to the zoo

A fun book about a little boy attending an outdoor concert in the summer. Perfect for story time for preschool - grade 2, maybe during a summertime picnic at the zoo!

 

 

 

 

Carnival of the animals

A famous piece of music composed by Camille Saint-Saens is combined with fantastic illustrations and poetry. A feast for the ears and eyes that children of all ages will love.

 
 

spiritual lives of the composers

The author has devoted one chapter to each of the composers, giving a thoughtful analysis of how his faith and worldview influenced the music he wrote. Each chapter includes recommended music to listen to which will enhance your study.

 

the gift of music

This book, with a foreword by Francis Schaeffer, was written by women who shared many talks about great music while they lived at L’Abri. Their great insight will teach you even more about the music you are exploring.

Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten

This is a really fun video, narrated by the famous British actor Peter Pears. It is designed to introduce children to all of the instruments of the orchestra, by themselves and in combination with each other. After all, the word, “symphony” means many sounds. There are fun illustrations included too!

1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky

This is the piece that Terri's brother loved, and it inspired him to play the trumpet.

Scheherazade, Op. 35 by Rimsky-Korsakov

 This is part of what made Terri fall in love with the sound of the violin and later want to play it.

Tubby the Tuba by George Kleinsinger and Paul Tripp

 A fun story about the tuba, a bull frog, and lots of other instruments! This version is narrated by Julia Child, a famous chef TV personality. (This is probably the one I, Sally, listened to as a child!--or something similar.)

For further episodes in this series on composers, check out cultivatinglifewithsally.com

We will introduce one composer each month at Cultivating Life with Sally each month. 

We will introduce one composer each month at Cultivating Life with Sally each month. 

Food for Thought

It seems many are preparing for the eclipse which will take place in a few weeks, and there's a meteor shower happening this weekend, as well. Such a gift, to be able to plan ways to enjoy such displays with our children, whether waking them up in the middle of the night with popcorn and hot chocolate to watch the meteor shower or driving a ways to watch a once-in-a-lifetime display of some other sort.

Beauty is such an important part of our understanding of who God is! In my mind are so many memories of times in which I was astonished by a sense of His indefinable beauty. Those thoughts have quieted and comforted me with awe. A glorious sunrise on a cold beach in Florida during a getaway with friends in college and how the spectacular, quiet moments of light spilled into the darkness. A glowing full moon suspended in the cloudless sky one evening minutes before a lunar eclipse. Snow crystals shimmering in the early morning as I opened my eyes from sleep to observe the first snowfall of the winter in our new Colorado home. A triple rainbow majestically filling the rain-cleansed sky at the tail of a storm, which seemed to flow completely from the east horizon to the west horizon. Five deer bucks idling in our front yard in the late afternoon sun, making a feast on our summer grass, as I, unnoticed, sipped a cup of tea on our porch.

These thoughts led me to recognize other opportunities for joy that I experience every day but often neglect to see as a part of God's personality and imagination invading the moments of my life.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

As I continued to relive memories of God's creative personality, I realized many had to do with food! Sitting on a cafe patio one cool summer's night and indulging in spicy chicken and beef fajitas with cheese and guacamole; hot chocolate fudge cake with whipped cream at a family birthday event; hot tea with fresh, warm scones, clotted cream, and jam at a friend's home; apple pie fresh from the oven, baked after picking the apples from an orchard. Much of my pleasure in life comes from the experiences I receive through my senses, which God gave me and which God delights in satisfying.

Even now these and many other pictures arrest me with a beauty that transcends my normal world. Each picture speaks of an Artist who paints with a palette of color, taking care to design his creations with movement and life. Yet, often I don't think of these things as gifts from the One who made them. I just take them for granted as a part of my material world.

But in reality, God made such moments to bring tangible pleasure to my life. Each day is filled with sense-invigorating pleasures: eating at least three meals a day, imbibing countless warm cups of coffee and tea, falling into my comfy bed after kissing my children good night, listening to music every day on my iPod and swaying and pulsating to the rhythm of the songs, enjoying the intimate embrace of my husband. All of these.

It is my hope that my newest book, shown below, will inspire you, encourage you and help you to see all of those thousands of meals and tea times as an opportunity to leave memories of your love that you prepare through tastes and beauty.

I was created to enjoy so that my life would not be dull and lifeless as cardboard.

And so were you!

Have a wonderful weekend--and if you can, make a fun plan to enjoy this upcoming meteor shower!

Storyformed Podcast Episode #12 - Encouraging a Love of Art Through Stories

In this episode Holly Packiam and Jaime Showmaker encourage and inspire listeners to cultivate a love of art through stories. The ability to participate in God's presence through viewing beautiful works is a gift of being created in His image.

We are grateful that artists over the centuries have used their gifts to create magnificent paintings and sculptures that express His nature. By showing our kids great art, we are not only leading them to know what is beautiful as a part of a great feast, but we’re also helping them to tap into their own creativity.

Enjoying art is an expression of the divine image because God both appreciates beauty -- He called His creation good --and IS beauty--He sets the standard for what is beautiful. 

“The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way. (There is no good asking first whether the work before you deserves such a surrender, for until you have surrendered you cannot possibly find out.)” - C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

Topics include:

  • The value of putting great works of art before our childrens’ eyes
  • Practical ways to capture our childrens' (from toddlers to teens) interest in art
  • The importance of presenting a feast of art to our children
  • Books to inspire a love of art 

Click HERE to listen to the podcast.

Practicing Believing and Walking In Faithfulness

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Life with children can be, or perhaps just plain is, messy. It is one drama after another with teens. Inevitably there's one mess after another with all ages of families, as they always seem to keep eating and creating dirty dishes and making messes! Children fuss no matter what method you use and no matter what book you have bought--especially with personality differences rubbing against one another.

All in my family are sinful--including me!--which means there are moods and attitudes and ups and downs. There are illnesses--mental, emotional, physical and spiritual--that make relationships a challenge.

Many of us carry baggage from our past lives that creep into our marriage, influencing the ways we view life and treat our husbands and children. If only we could take back some of the things we have said, or start certain conversations over again, we could do a better job! I remember often thinking as I learned new things about myself and repented from some bad habits and ways of dealing with my family, that I needed to have more children so that I could do it right at least once. 

Yet, now, as I get older, I have collected some perspective. God has used the humbling circumstances of having a family and being married to bring me to my knees. He has used these very circumstances to humble me--and to thus develop more compassion for others who also struggle. What good would I have been to myself, my children or my husband If I remained a self-confident, pompous Pharisee, who was assured of my right philosophy?

God's ultimate desire was to do heart surgery that I didn't realize I needed, in order to "little by little" make my heart and character more like Christ's. So, He in His sovereignty, used my family and children to chisel the blemishes and deficiencies away.

I have realized that part of my problem is that I am faint-hearted and conflict-resistant at heart--I do not like difficulty or challenges and tire of the whole process. Yet, God somehow knew that deep in my heart, I wanted to hold fast to faith and trust Him and persevere, so He was faithful to press me through difficulties.

Having now lived through so many seasons, it's finally obvious that in spite of my fretting, stresses and fears, God was there all the time, working, showing faithfulness, and being patient with me in the process.

It takes practice to do and pursue what is true and right. I have seen the Lord bring me through so many difficult courses. A key, however, was learning to choose to believe and listen to His voice and Word. When I come into His presence and spend time in His Word, He has been there for me--I didn't always feel His presence, but I took His Word and promises at face value and rested in them and then practiced taking steps of faith, one day, one issue at a time. Now, I can look back and see that He has used each part of the journey to shape me--my character, my love, my humility and compassion and learning to rest in Him.

The more I have learned to put all of my issues into his hands (along with my feelings of loneliness, fear, weariness and deep emotion), the more I have learned to leave them there--with Him who is able and will accomplish His will in His time in my life. These verses have been some of my anchors:

1. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:6I need heart- and mind-guarding so that I don't spend unnecessary energy and time on worrying, so I give my concerns into His hands and picture him taking everything and working on my behalf.

2. "In this world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world" John 16:33b. I have made a decision of my will to take courage--to practice being strong, practicing the habit of putting one foot in front of the other to believe in a good outcome from a Father who is good. Courage is believing and behaving as though God will indeed be faithful. These habits create a life of faithfulness.

3. "For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances and I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and having need. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength" Philippians 4:12-13. I have had to grow in character as I walk in God's ways--to stretch my capacity to work, to stretch my capacity to love--to resist the down feelings and to learn to cultivate a content attitude and to practice being joyful in front of my children and family. I can, by faith, and by putting one foot in front of the other, do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

I have told my children that it is best to decide to like and embrace God's will--because having a bad attitude about it will not make it go away and indeed will make the pressures and circumstances worse! I have also noticed that bad attitudes or depressed feelings or content feelings behave much like plants in garden. If I water and nurture the depressed or negative attitudes they are what grow even stronger. If I water and fertilize faith and obedience, they are what grows.

So here is my prayer for you today, as you seek to practice believing and walk in faithfulness ...  "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word" 2 Thessalonians 2:17.

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We've had such a great response to this week's podcast, which focused on training our children to have a heart of gratitude. Here's a snippet ...

"When we give our children every single thing they want and meet every single need, we're actually giving them idols. We're causing them to be spoiled. We're making them think they deserve for the whole world to kowtow and bow at their feet, and provide everything they want.

That is never how a godly person is going to be able to sustain their life in this world ... This world is not the place we've ever been promised we'll have everything we desire. ...

Sometimes we feel like our kids need to be happy all the time and have so many things ... Parents don't realize they are hindering their children by giving them the illusion that having things and having experiences is a right, and is something that's actually going to make them happy. ... actually, having more makes you more discontent.

When you run around with people who have every single popular piece of clothing and every single class and every single opportunity, it probably makes you UNhappy. The more ungrateful you are, the more unhappy you are with what you have, the more bitter you'll be, the less spiritual you'll be, and the worse legacy you're going to pass onto your kids."

To hear the rest, click here! A Heart for Gratitude

 

A Heart for Gratitude- The Gift of Living Thankfully

"In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude."

-A.A. Milne, WINNIE-THE-POOH

Episode # 93- A Heart for Gratitude

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Do your children hold wonder about God? Do they have an imagination that allows them to enter into the mystery of all He has made and all He has done?

A grateful heart is a humble heart, one that does not demand, but receives and then looks for how to give again to others with joy. Gratefulness begins by understanding the wonder of being a child of the God of the Universe and experiencing and receiving all of the goodness of God's world as a gift.

In this episode, Sally and Kristen discuss how to protect and preserve a sense of wonder in our children, how to cultivate daily habits of thanks, and what it looks like to embrace God's will for us to "rejoice always," regardless of circumstance. They share about what it has looked like in their own homes to raise children who are content, how to battle the demands and entitlements of modern culture facing children and parents alike, and how God has used unexpected times of difficulty to build gratefulness into the culture of their families. 

 

What we talk about:

-Cultivating a habit of wonder and gratefulness in the lives of our children

-What is means practically to rejoice always and in everything give thanks

-The importance of learning to see God's personal provision and work in our lives

-How to battle discontent, boredom, envy and jealousy 

-How to navigate a consumer culture of entitlement in our homes

-How developing a heart of gratitude is becomes a source of courage for our children when they leave home

-The importance of feasting and special celebrations

-Recognizing Grace in our own lives and serving others from the overflow of what God has given us.

links:

1 Thessalonians 5:18- "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

James 2: 15-16- "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world."

Galatians 5:22-23- 

1 John 1:7a- "Walk in the Light as He[God]Himself is in the Light."

Compassion International

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Many years ago, before Joy was even born, I had a paper journal where I shared educational ideas, recipes, traditions, articles and Bible study. This only lasted a while because it grew so quickly, we could not keep up with it. Ever since then, I have wanted to do something like it again. And now, with the internet and web possibilities, I can have that journal once again to send to you in the form of an online course. I am so very excited to share it with each of you. You can sign up and immediately receive all that we have prepared for you on September 5. Hope you will become a part of this community with me. I hope it will encourage you, like a little mini-conference once a month. 

Thanks so much for so many signing up for our launch team of my newest book, The LIfegiving Table. We are overfull and are closing it as of Sunday night, (tonight) midnight. So excited to have so many kindred spirits. I do have the mosts wonderful launch team. Thanks for joining me in this, sweet ones. I look forward to a fun time launching this book. Be sure to tell your friends they must be signed up as a subscriber of my blog to win. So excited. 

Sally

The End of a Busy, Exciting Week!

Here we are, at the end of one wonderful, wacky week! I've been hosting Nathan's wonderful film crew, making meals, picking up visitors, having great conversations, and sharing the bursting life that's been filling our four walls all week long. What a joy to have so much happening, even when I find myself collapsing into bed at the end of such busy days!

"From the time they were little, our children were included in our hospitality efforts. When we were expecting guests, each child was given a task to complete to make our table ready. Setting the table, cutting flowers, lighting candles, putting on music, cooking, meeting guests at the door, and making them feel welcome in our home were standard responsibilities shared by us all. Because we wanted our children to learn conversation skills, each one was to think of one question to ask our guests. There were even times when they were asked to give up their room or their bed for someone who was staying with us—a great lesson in serving.

Another important way we taught hospitality to our children was encouraging them to invite their friends over as often as possible. We served juice and cookies to toddlers, lemonade and sandwiches to ten-year-olds, pizza and popcorn to teens, and enough chocolate chip cookies to fill a fleet of semis. We opened our rooms and our yard to study groups, kids’ clubs, and lots and lots of games. In the process our kids learned even more about what it means to welcome and serve others." ~ The Lifegiving Table

And so here we are once again, practicing what we've preached, and loving every moment of it.

I hope you are enjoying these last few days and weeks of summer! There's been so much happening here I don't want you to miss:

This week's podcast, here: A Heart for Patience

A very exciting announcement about my upcoming Membership site

Bible memory printable: Week 9 Bible Memory

Lifegiving August Calendar

 

 

The Story of the World's Best Luck

anton-darius-sollers-282891.jpg

Perhaps the best-read book of all time is the Bible. But what kind of book is the Bible? Among many things, the Bible is a story—the Greatest and Truest Story of all. There are many ways of narrating this Story, but I love the way my husband, Glenn Packiam, did in one of his books, Lucky. Here’s an adapted excerpt. 

In the beginning, God. A good God made the world, and He called it good. This is how the Story begins. Man and woman were made to be God’s image-bearers, the ones who would rule over creation and care for it in God’s name and as God would, the ones who would most fully reflect Him. They were to multiply, producing other image-bearers who would reflect and reveal God, and in doing so would cover the earth with His glory.

But the image-bearers were not content to be with God; they wanted to be like Him. More than bearing His image they wanted His power, His autonomy, His unbounded freedom. For the creature to seek freedom from the Creator, to desire to be the Creator, is to say “I don’t need You. I am better without You.” It is an affront to the Creator, the ultimate insult. This rebellion was the beginning of evil in the creature and the end of perfectly bearing the image of the Creator. From that moment on, the image was marred, stained, tainted by the rebellion.

Because we are still bearers of God’s image we have some idea of how things should be, how the song should go, what the painting should look like. And yet because that image in us has been tainted by our sin, we recognize when there is injustice, we know that the song is being sung out of tune, that the painting has been smeared, that all is not as it should be.

Most religious stories get their shape by a human search for God. A prophet wanders off in the wilderness in search of God. Or a wise philosopher climbs the mountain to ponder truth. Or the old sage begins a quest for truth. But this Story does not begin with a man or woman searching for God. When the image-bearers realize that their attempt at living independently of their Creator has left them frail and vulnerable, they hide. Man and woman are not searching for God; they are hoping to avoid Him altogether. It is God then who says to Adam, “Where are you?”

From the beginning, God. God who is calling, God who is choosing, God who is blessing. Adam had been blessed by God, commissioned to multiply, to fill the earth with other image-bearers so that the world would be filled with the glory of God. Adam chose to attempt autonomy instead. Adam’s descendants are a mixed garden of grass and weeds; there are those who listened to God’s call, some with remarkable intimacy like Enoch, and those who ignored it, some with astounding audacity like Cain. 

The rebellion of the image-bearers reached a condensation point, and the sky became heavy with God’s judgment. It rained and rained and rained. When Noah and his family, singled out by God to survive these torrents, set foot on a land ready to bloom with new life, God re-issued His blessing: multiply, cover the earth with men and women who know God and reflect His image. Noah filled the earth, but with more fallen image-bearers. If God was going to show the world what He was like, it had to begin slowly, with one family, a family through whom all other families could be blessed. 

So God blessed Abraham. Abraham’s blessing was special. It wasn’t simply to re-create, to multiply. It was a call to carry the blessing to the world. To be clear about His plan, God didn’t stop with blessing Abraham; He blessed Abraham’s son, Isaac, and He blessed the son who got Isaac’s blessing, Jacob, through the man who wrestled with him until daybreak. The ones who received this blessing are forever remembered when this God is named. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

As the seed of Abraham multiplied, it is they who did the blessing, passing on what Yahweh had given them. They were not merely fallen image-bearers; they were to be luck-bearers. They carried God’s blessing, and they were to bring it to the world.

In Frederick Buechner’s novel of Jacob’s life, he describes the moment that Jacob realizes the significance of his children, born from four different mothers, but of the same seed:

I was like a man caught out in a storm with the wind squalling, the sand flailing me across the eyes, the chilled rain pelting me. The children were the storm, I thought, until one day, right in the thick of it, I saw the truth of what the children were…

…They were the dust that would cover the earth. The great people would spring from their scrawny loins. Kicking and howling and crowing and pissing and slobbering food all over their faces, they were the world’s best luck.

The world’s best luck. The world’s best chance of being renewed, of being restored with their Creator, would come through this nation, this people, Israel.

But this people chosen to carry luck to the world failed to keep listening to the Creator. There were glimmers of remarkable radiance, when they were a light unto the nations. Yet they set up golden calves, images borrowed from their pagan neighbors, and called them Yahweh. They forgot that when God told them to have no other gods He was telling them that He was enough for the. By using other gods to secure their wishes and control their outcomes, they were repeating the sin of their first Father and Mother: they were becoming a god unto themselves.

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