“He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” -Hebrews 1:3
People have often asked me why I emphasize beauty--art, candles, beautiful music, a cup of tea, cinnamon rolls, great stories and books, and celebrating life. It seems there are so many “more important” things to focus on. Bringing the reality of God and His life into my home is my goal in keeping beauty primary. He painted the skies and the flowers, he gently touched human hands and feet, he gave us all a capacity to think, he told epic stories through prophets and in his sermons, he fed and celebrated amongst his own disciples. He comforted the sad, healed the broken hearted, inspired the vigorous young men sharing daily life with him to continue living for a kingdom that would never end.
He modeled, through his every waking hour, the vast love, compassion, holiness, beauty, and servant leadership that expresses the very heart of God. Jesus is not just a thought to be understood or a verse to be memorized, but a living, breathing, vibrant, loving, personal God who lives and walks amongst us right in our homes each day.
Young adult children are confronted more than ever today with post modern values. Almost every movie, television show, and book will inevitably turn to a focus on immorality, infidelity, and impurity. Our children are confronted with it at every turn. There are fewer and fewer models that we can point to in order to say, "Follow his pattern of leadership, of sacrifice, of holiness."
A sky He painted for my pleasure the other night. What picture are you painting for the pleasure of your precious ones?
This is why our homes must become a true and vibrant picture of the living God, of the marvelous depth and beauty of Jesus. What does that look like? I have asked myself often just what it is that is causing so many of our older children to fall. My children have precious friends who have grown up with godly parents and heard the message of the gospel, yet they still turn away from God.
Many of these parents were faithful and wonderful. Our world is a very lonely place for godly people. When they venture from home, they will find few young adults with strong values and convictions. They will have to stand alone again and again amongst the crowd--a veritable sea of people who are not living with a paradigm of faithfulness to their Creator. Loneliness is very difficult to bear over and over and over again. Therefore, we need to stand in the gap, to be there for our children, to reach out to them, to understand their temptation, to keep giving and giving and giving--to continue being the servant leader that Jesus was.
But we also must guard against the tendency we often have, in our zeal, to attempt to influence our children’s behavior through fear. We tell them of the harsh realities of the world, make them memorize verses, indoctrinate them with our philosophy, and focus on their behavior--we follow methods and formulas and law. Instead, we must understand that it is only when we reach their hearts and pass on a true love of God. These past few years, I have focused my spiritual study on Jesus Himself. Jesus is, according to Hebrews 1:3, "… the exact representation of his nature …” In other words, when you see Jesus in scripture, you see God, himself, living in the flesh.
To look at Jesus is to behold God the Father. Jesus was a man who walked on water, was tossed about in the stormy sea on a smelly fishing boat, hosted a picnic and satisfied the hunger of thousands of people several times. He didn't just talk about truth, he satiated the hunger of rumbling stomachs. Jesus touched the untouchables--he touched a prostitute, lepers, the sick and dying with tenderness and love. He held children on his knee and laughed with them and loved them. Jesus was not afraid to rage at the religious leaders who led people in legalism and performance but were not compassionate--he was not afraid of them at all.
He talked of birds, trees, lilies, mountains, and creation. Jesus, the very Son of God, washed one hundred and twenty dirty toes the night before he died, and wiped them tenderly with a towel as a mother bathes the children she loves. He celebrated and drank wine at a wedding, cooked fish on the beach, and validated women for their service and tender love toward him.
He is the way and He is with us along the way.
In their hearts, it is the life and reality of a God who came to love and serve and redeem them that my children long for. For now, they experience this through my service and love and excellence and faith and confident celebration of life. I can only give to them what I have found by loving Him on my own, by seeing Him with my own eyes, by understanding Him in my own quiet time and then living from a soul fully engaged in Him. The joy of life, which is contagious, comes from being in His presence and rejoicing in it.
In my day to day life with my children, where I love and value and serve them as Jesus did His own disciples, these four will not just hear of doctrine and manners and chores, but they will feel the touch of Christ, the compassion of Christ, the encouraging words of Christ. They will learn to love Him because they have felt and seen and lived love in the minutes of our lives together. Even as Jesus said, "I will never leave you or forsake you," so I will let my children know, "I will never leave you or forsake you--I will be praying for you, I will celebrate life with you (and cook for you and give you gift cards when you are far away from me!) You can tell me anything, and I will be your friend and companion as well as your leader and guide.”
Take a moment to complete the reflection and application below:
• Psalm 16:11 says, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Do I experience this? Do I believe it? Do I live it?
• When you read, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” what’s your reaction? Can you relate to the truth of a Father who is always with you? Or has your past made this difficult to grasp? Ask the Lord to show you the truth of this scripture and to know how near He truly is at all times!
• If Jesus was the “exact representation” of God the Father, what does that tell you about Him? What qualities do you see in Jesus that are most important to you?
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Remember, today, You Are Loved!