19: Struggling during this time? Me Too, but don't give up
**To kick off our Daniel series, and in preparation for moving into our new home on October 18th, the elders have invited our church family to a 28-day season of prayer and fasting. These daily devotionals correspond with the 28-day Bible reading countdown to the day we celebrate our soft opening.**
So I'm supposed to write a devotional on Ephesians 4. Which would be cool, since it's one of my favorite chapters in all of the New Testament.
But I'm gonna pivot to tell a story about family worship that hopefully will encourage you.
I mean, read Ephesians 4. For sure. It's loaded. If you want some of my thoughts on it, you can listen to a sermon I preached just a few weeks ago. It's an important sermon. I hope you got the chance to listen. If not, and you call Grace City home, carve out some time and get it in the hopper. It's an important word from Paul and Jesus to our house.
But back to my story. It happened just last week. Our family, like many of you, are going through these 28 days of prayer and fasting. We're fasting from food, social media, screen time for the kids (as in, none), and a few other things we talked out as a family. It's been incredibly helpful, focusing, centering, fruitful.
Which brings us to a few mornings ago. There I was at the kitchen table being the world’s best dad, leading our morning family worship.Let me rephrase that.So there I was being the world’s best dad, trying to lead our morning family worship.We had just finished reading out loud (reading along with our church’s Bible reading plan), and I was trying to explain the nuances of Galatians 4. From the blank stares of my kids, it was landing on them with about the same level of understanding as if I'd been explaining the rudimentary principles of quantum physics.
Actually, I might have had better luck with quantum physics.
For whatever reason, Galatians 4 and a late night before were teaming up to beat me up. The more I tried in vain to explain Paul’s allegorizing of Sarah and Hagar, their two sons representing the old and new Covenants, circumcision, and something about Mount Sinai really being about Jerusalem, the more confused everyone became. Including the guy trying to pretend he knew anything about quantum physics. With every word the blizzard grew heavier until gale force winds of confusion had fully frozen over the glazed eyes of my children, and family worship had officially become “that time where dad tries to explain the Bible and neither one makes any sense.”I attempted to salvage the moment by muttering something hopeful. It came out weakly, “Well, it’ll probably make more sense when you’re older.” Even though it was clear that apparently I wasn’t old enough to understand it yet. As I closed the Bible, everyone stared off into space, grateful the painful foray into Old Testament allegory was over.
I was ready to cut our losses. I moved to offer a closing prayer, like putting a final nail in the coffin. We could always try again tomorrow.
And it was then that a little family worship magic happened.
Gideon, who had been sitting quietly next to me in his wheelchair while eating a waffle and listening intently, spoke up. The confidence in his voice was mixed with a bit of pity for me and my vain attempt at explanation.“So dad, what you mean to say is that basically Isaac and Ishmael are like Thor and Loki. Two brothers, but they're from different mothers, so they end up fighting each other.”He said it so matter of factly. Like it had just been sitting there staring at us the whole time. With one sentence, Gideon’s insight broke the thaw of my blizzard-words, and the sun of understanding began to shine on our little dining room table. Other kids started chiming in. “Oh yeah. And their father was a king, sort of like Abraham, conflicted over who to give his kingdom to.”“Right, and they fought, and it ended up in an intergalactic war, just like now with the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael!”
"And if the right son didn't win, it had really bad consequences for everyone. And the son who wasn't the rightful heir wanted it from the one who was...crazy dad. It's like all the good stories the world tells were already told in the Bible. Like they just borrowed them!"And just like that, Gideon’s Avenger analogy of Paul’s patriarchal analogy became the hermeneutical key that unlocked the mystery.Galatians 4 had come alive. And a lively discussion followed.So thank you, Gideon, for helping your dad out of a pinch that morning.And to all you dads and moms out there thinking family worship is a waste of time, or that you’re probably not smart enough to lead it, let me encourage you...don't listen to the devil. That's the devil trying to keep the Book closed in your home.
Trust me. It's landing more than you know. Never underestimate the value of making the time to sit down, open the Bible, and read. Talk. Pray. Watch the living Word connect with your kids' imagination and connect dots to the stories from the world around them. Your kids will learn more than you think, not only in what you read but in the value you teach: The Word of God is worth our time.
Spurgeon used to say the Word of God was like a lion...just let it out of it's cage and let it do its thing.
Family worship is like letting the lion out of its cage and into your house every morning. Just let it out and watch it eat devils and demons for lunch. Watch it captivate your kids with its beauty and imbue them with courage to make good battle that day.
So let me encourage all of us in the house of Grace City. Whether you have little kids, old kids, no kids...get the word open. Read it aloud. To each other. To yourself. Let the lion out of the cage. Watch the living and active word change your life.
We've got 19 days to go. Praying. Fasting. Reading. Building anticipation for the day when we are able to come together once again. What a great day that will be!
If you haven't started yet, check out the attachment below. Won't you join us? There's a lot of good days left to focus our attention on Jesus. The plan is simple. The results are profound. It's never too late to open the Book and let the Lion out.
Looking up to Jesus in hope, looking ahead to October 18th with great anticipation!