Archive for July 12th, 2007

Before the Feast

July 12, 2007


I will not likely get a chance to post until after the weekend – the wedding is coming soon upon us and it’s not local. Bags are being packed – last minute details that seem to be endless are all coming to an end that lack of time alone can bring. When it’s all said and done a wedding takes place.

As I have written before, our family gathers from the four winds for my son’s wedding this weekend in S.C. I’m sorry that you’re having to read about this again, but I’ve thought about almost nothing else for the past week if not the past month. And when you write, eventually you have to actually write about what’s going on around you.

I think of nothing more daunting in anyone’s life than raising children. When our first child was brought home from the hospital my wife announced, “I’m tired I’m going to sleep, listen out for the baby.” I cannot remember more frightening words. I slept that night on the floor beside her crib. I learned very quickly that you can actually sleep in your bed and hear a baby wake up.

There is also the fearful thought for every young parent that you will do something wrong with your child. Do you spank? How do you discipline? Where should the lines be drawn? If your family of origin was healthy and these things were clear this may not be a great issue. It was an issue for me.

I remember Stanley Hauerwas at Duke saying, “The blessing and curse of children is that almost no matter what you do they will turn out to be like you.” Stanley has been named by Time Magazine as “America’s Greatest Theologian.” I’m not sure that makes him America’s greatest parent – but as time has gone by his words have largely been proved true in my little family. Fortunately, three of my four children are girls which means their primary model was their mother. My son, despite my every effort has turned out wonderfully.

In hindsight it seems clear to me that though we do much to raise our children well (though there are those whom I know who do great damage to children as well) it is still the case that grace has a way of trumping both our best efforts and sometimes our worst failures.

I can look at my own life and see any number of places where events could have turned on the spot in such a manner to have changed the entire course of my life for the worse. On the one hand it says that in certain times in my life I sailed a little close to the edge (this is true). But it also says that despite my own efforts to damn my soul, God saved me. And this is the witness of Scripture, that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

At one point in my son’s young life I had an occasion in which I would have to say, “I heard God speak.” My imagination was running in one direction for my son and reality was headed elsewhere. I heard the words, “This is for his salvation.” I drew back in tears surprised by my own ignorance and the wonder of God. I also stood back from my son, realizing that I was not the Lord of his life, or the shaper of his destiny (how demonic that would be). I laid the words to heart. These children do not belong to me and never have. They belong to the only one who can give us life.

And thus we can pray for them and do for them that which parents should do – be aware at every moment that their life is for their salvation and God alone knows how this must be.

I rejoice that my son’s salvation includes his marriage this weekend – and now his salvation becomes interwoven with that of another whom God has mysteriously led to this point.

Great art Thou, O Lord, and marvelous are Thy works! There is no word to hymn Thy wonders!