Now we praise the Father for his great love, certain that he values us. We delight in our walk with Jesus, certain that he knows us better than we know ourselves. We listen carefully to the Spirit’s promptings, certain that we are empowered and engaged to fulfill the purpose for which we have been placed on this planet. I would like to suggest that all of theology, all of what Scripture reveals can be organized under these three main ideas.
Consider these words from Ephesians. “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. So God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us as shown in all he has done for us through Christ Jesus. For we are God’s masterpiece. He created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Eph. 2:4-10 (NLT)
WHAT THEN IS OUR RESPONSE? It is clear that we give value to what we love, just as God does. Here is a very “homely” example. It was back in the early seventies and I was mothering a household that contained four children, ages four to fourteen. One fall Saturday, I decided to clean house from top to bottom, searching out corners rarely visited in our normal routines. I ended the day with some mending, and as I worked the cloth through the sewing machine, I looked at my hand and realized the stone had dropped out of its setting of my engagement ring. Now, it wasn’t a very big diamond, but I valued it because it represented a very special moment when Frank invited me to marry him.
A vigorous search began with everyone involved and – with no success. Sadly, I tried to accept the empty feeling that came over me every time I realized my left ring finger was missing this symbol of our love. Some days later, in another unusual burst of cleaning energy, I decided it was the refrigerator’s turn. Emptying the vegetable bins, I tipped one on its side preparing it for a good scrub and rinse, when I encountered a tiny, hard object. You guessed it! The diamond from my ring. Once rescued, it soon disappeared again. Shortly thereafter Frank presented my engagement ring to me a second time on our wedding anniversary.
All this illustrates that our value flows out of the great love of God for us. And, our children experience God’s love when we convince them that we love them. Our children’s confidence, their self-worth, does not flow out of themselves, but out of the solid realization that God loves them. Then they can accept their unique identity, confident and whole, growing in their understanding of Who Jesus is and who they are in Him. Knowing and being known.
We help equip them with God’s “glorious, unlimited resources, giving them mighty, inner strength through his Holy Spirit.”(Eph. 3:16) They then gladly fulfill his purpose for their lives. Let us be clear. We love and value children. We look for better ways to understand who they are and we guide them with practical ideas about how they can fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.
And let us be certain that children can grasp these things – and that, at a very young age! For example, a very precious three year old in my life asked her parents one day recently, “Did you know that God gave everyone a special smile?…everyone!” You have your own favorite stories from your experience with children that illustrate their amazing faith, wisdom and influence.