11 April 2015

remembering Egypt and our rescue

This was originally a letter for our church newsletter.

We have some very difficult circumstances in our life. I would be desperately controlling, freaked out of my mind, and consumed with bitterness, blaming God. Yes, me. Yes, today. Those are things that I currently fight with. But in fact, as of now, I have been rescued. I have the freedom to choose to live in rest and with peace in my soul. Our home is a place of joy, refreshment, and abundant provision. God has given us new, soft hearts and daily pours out his love into us. This is absolutely proof that the Spirit of God is alive and active and producing his fruit in me, our family, and our church. Jesus “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:19). Glory be to God.

* * * * *

Let me explain why I need to say this. I am convinced that God models the perfect parent relationship (not to mention lover, friend, king, etc, etc) for us in the Bible. For the past weeks I’ve been pouring through Deuteronomy—a book expounding God’s instruction to Israel, the Father’s instruction to his children—asking these questions:
How does God lead/instruct/train Israel in his ways?
What would it look like for me to become more like the Father as I parent and lead?

Check out this constantly recurring refrain throughout Deuteronomy:

  • But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are to this day (4:20).
  • ...take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (6:12).
  • ...say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand’ (6:21).
  • ...the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt (7:8).
  • Also 4:37; 7:15; 8:2-18; 9:7, 12, 26; 10:22; 11:3-7; 13:5, 10; 15:15; 16:1, 3, 6, 12; 17:16; 20:1; 21:8; 23:4, 7; 24:9, 18, 22; 26:5-11; 29:2, 7-9; 32:10-13; 34:10-12. And this list is not exhaustive!

There is a continual revealing and reminder of the roadmap, the big picture story, which they were living. Israel had been languishing, powerless and in bondage; the Lord had chosen them because he loved them and had rescued them. It’s the same plot line as the story that Paul wrote: “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:19). Their story is our story is my story.

Stories of salvation and personal rescue necessarily entail stupid, tear-inducing, threatening, God-awful elements. These things are rarely highlighted in our scrapbooks, Christmas letters, or profile pictures. We avoid these things in casual conversation, maybe even in personal reflection. They are too difficult. Honestly, when was the last time you asked, “How are you?” and the response came, “I was under the control of Satan—I was
consumed with worry
or fear
or unable to forgive
or crazy angry
or seeping lust
or bitter to the core
or passive aggressive
or disbelieving God’s goodness toward me. And God has redeemed me by the blood of his Son and given me life. His Spirit is sustaining and empowering me to walk in life!” Or, should I ask, when was the last time that you spoke that way? Honestly.

Wildly, this is how God was teaching the parents how to parent. I sense that this is a vulnerability, humility, and awareness that is rare among parents. God wanted his people to constantly remember and speak of their salvation to their children! Constantly and at every turn. I challenge you to locate yourself in the redemption story today and start telling it over and over and over. Learn to tell the long version, but also learn to sprinkle it constantly in conversation. Have it on your heart, teach this diligently to your children, talk about it all the time.

I say these things because I believe this is the best we can do for our children. And because I am one who lives a rescued life.

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