As Beloved Children

We just returned home from a week with our daughter and her husband as they awaited the birth of their third child.

Because of the baby’s due date, Donna and I had the rare privilege of worshiping with our children on Mother’s Day. (Aside: Thanks to all those who manned the ship here in Cave Creek so we could spend this time with our kids!)

Walking to church, I noticed that Momma, Daddy, and Maddie were all toting Bibles, with little brother Lincoln in Daddy’s arms. Maddie’s is a storybook Bible we gave to her on her first Christmas. The cover is long gone by now, but she carried it to church proudly. As I watched her, I thought of C.S. Spurgeon’s famous line: “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”

When we entered our daughter’s church, she was greeted with a lot of, “I thought for sure you’d have that baby by now!” But she didn’t, and we were grateful, for as a result, we were able to spend this Mother’s Day with her.

As often happens when I worship with my kids, I had a lump in my throat listening to my daughter and her husband singing heartfelt songs of worship and praise. Pastor Bruce gave an excellent message from Philippians 1. Afterward, he made a special point to say to me, “I want you to know what a blessing Matt and Kyan are to our church family.”

We did not have much time to chat, however, for we had an 11:00 appointment to join our son and his wife at their church 30 minutes away.

Kyle and Beth are active lay leaders in Imago Dei, a church plant in Downey which we have supported since they first started three years ago. Their pastor, DJ, has spoken to our church family twice.

It was a blessing to be with them too, especially since it was Kyle’s turn to lead worship for their community. I loved standing next to Beth while together we sang songs of praise under Kyle’s leadership. DJ gave a powerful message from Acts 19, and I especially enjoyed celebrating the Lord’s Supper with them that morning.

We had lunch together at a great Mexican restaurant in Whittier, and I told Kyle and Beth how grateful I am to know that our kids and their spouses are not only active in their churches, but are also a blessing to their senior pastor. As a minister myself, I know how rare that is, and how much it means to their minister.

On Tuesday our daughter checked into the hospital for the birth of their baby, and we spent two days playing parents for our grandchildren. We loved it, but afterward Donna said, “Now I know why it’s good you have babies when you’re young!”

Late Tuesday night we received the good news: our daughter had given birth to a beautifully healthy baby at 10:37 p.m.: Raegan Jean Wallace, 6 lb. 4 oz. We did our best to fall asleep, full of thankfulness for God’s blessing to our family.

We brought the kids to meet their new baby sister on Wednesday afternoon. We held our precious little granddaughter, kissed our kids, and said, “Thank you for making us grandparents again.”

On Friday we traveled home, arriving just in time to say the bull-riding prayer at the Buffalo Chip. I’m exhausted, but it’s been a blessed week.

Today has been a day to recuperate and to prepare for the incredible privilege of being with you, my Church at the Chip family. I’ll be returning to our series from Ephesians, which begins with this admonition: “Be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

We saw this truth in action while visiting our kids this week. Children love what their parents love. It comes naturally. Lincoln loves to play with tools and trucks. My boys loved to play with bats and balls. Genetics? Perhaps. But not likely.

I could give more examples, but you get the point: Beloved children naturally love what their parents love. It’s a proven principle in family life. But it’s also a proven principle for spiritual life.

If we focus only on the things God expects us from us, we will become prideful of our success or despondent over our failures. But if the truth that we are God’s “beloved children” -- children brought into his family at tremendous personal cost -- if that truth moves out of our heads and into our hearts, our response of love to God’s love will cause us to naturally imitate him.

As God’s beloved children, we will naturally love what our Father loves. As God’s beloved children, we will naturally want to do what our Father thinks best – even when we don’t understand it. As God’s beloved children, we will instinctively avoid what our Father wants us to avoid. We will grieve when we disappoint him. And we will rejoice in his loving forgiveness.

It is well for us to remember this, for there is much in our culture (and in our genes) to cause us to doubt that we are Gods’ beloved children, or to doubt that God is really looking our for our best interests. We need to be saturated with the awareness of God’s costly love for us – which is precisely the point of the first three chapters of Ephesians – so that we will naturally respond to God’s loving direction in our lives – which is the main thrust of the final three chapters of the book.

For example:

Our culture teaches us to treat the church like consumers; God teaches us to treat the church like family. Our culture teaches us to see the Bible as a source of truth; God teaches us to see the Bible as the source of truth. Our culture teaches us to exclude the stranger; God teaches us to include the stranger. Our culture teaches us that sex is a matter of choice; God teaches us that sex is a matter of covenant. Our culture teaches us that our money belongs to us; God teaches us that our money belongs to God. Our culture – you get the idea.

This is why it is vital for us to begin with the confident assurance that we are God’s beloved children, that God only wants what is best for us, and that therefore God’s way is always the best way. Only then will we naturally trust him when his guidance goes against our own best judgment. We must never forget that we are, in fact, the dearly beloved children of God.

One of the many memorable moments of our week with the grandkids occurred in the hallway just before we entered the hospital room where we would meet our newest family member. Maddie, concerned that Lincoln might feel jealous of his new sister, paused to whisper into his ear: “Don’t worry, Linkie. You’re still my baby brother.”

Amen. Let us never forget it. If we are serious about following Jesus, we will find ourselves in many hallways opening to uncertain. We are naturally fearful. But, if we are holding tightly Jesus’ hand, he will whisper into our ears, “Don’t worry, Linkie. You’re still my beloved child.”