Sunday, March 18, 2012

Walking by the Way

My husband is participating in this group at our church called The Round Table. One of the many tasks commended to the men involved in this group is the memorization of Scripture. My husband possesses about as much joy for memorization (of anything) as he does for having his teeth drilled without anesthetic; however, since the focus of the memory work is Scripture, and since my husband is a man of God who loves the Word of God, he willingly sets his mind and heart to work for this task every week.

One of the recent verses for memory was from Deuteronomy: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes."

One night he practiced this verse with me, and it led into a conversation about the loveliness of those words and about the beautiful, daunting task of raising our daughter right. What a huge task God has entrusted to us, this bringing up of an actual human being! Really, it staggers the mind: I can barely get through the first ten minutes of a day without inwardly cursing the advance of years upon my morning face, or without struggling to think of something other than myself for five straight seconds. As much as I love my husband, I have the faintest, sneaking suspicion that he also deals with (yes, it's true) sin. Yet God entrusts us with this actual little person, whom we are to teach and instruct, from the heart, about Himself, and whom we are to guide in the ways of rightness and justice.


I'm so afraid of failing.

Relief attends me when I remember that God is mindful I am but dust: He knows I won't perform this task perfectly; He is good enough to meet me where I am, to give me His perfect, precious Word, and to offer me wisdom when I ask for it in faith.

So we're walking by the way together, as a family, and it is a joy, I must confess. Before we eat, we give thanks for what God has given. During the day, we try to teach her about God's character: "We should be kind to others because God is kind to us." We try to read to her from His Word (sometimes this means reading from the "toddler version"), and we get to tell her how precious the Bible is: "It comes from God and tells us about who He is, about who we are, and about what Jesus has done for us." As we walk outside together, we ask her to name the different objects in nature, and we tell her of God's power and creativity, and how He also made us. And before Jerry puts her down to sleep each night, he prays with her. For her. We pray over her life.

It's a daunting, joyful task.

She's already changing so much, no longer a baby, but an official "little girl." The days pass so quickly, one upon the next, and the time is ours for the taking. It won't be given again -- we must use it wisely or waste it. And as we strive to use it wisely, as we seek to instruct our daughter in the things which will last, we get the reward of seeing the fruit of our work, even in the tiniest ways:

There was the time she bowed her head to give thanks for a meal, beating Jerry and I to the task! There was the time she opened her little Bible and found the page about the birth of Christ, pointing to the baby Jesus. There was the time when, of all the books to choose from, she wanted us to read from her bible storybook. And the time recently when, as I prayed aloud for Jerry one morning, she joined me, mumbling words only she and God knew with her little head bent to the ground.

Those moments are gold to me. They're so small in a way, but then, so is she. I don't expect her to recite the Nicene Creed, or to wax theological about the Pauline letters, or to offer me a description of the trinity of God (at least not until she's five). *smile* It's those tiny, little, adorable ways she shows -- God shows -- she's learning, in the most basic of ways, about Truth. What a gift that is!

Before God gave her to us, Jerry and I knew one thing: If we ever had a child, we would do our utmost, from the heart, to instruct him or her in the ways of God. We knew (and still know) we wouldn't do this perfectly. But we'd try. We determined that we'd entrust our child to God, as he entrusted that child to us.

We got the child. We needed a name for her. We couldn't agree on one. "The Kid" was sounding rather crude after having her for ten days, so one night we diligently poured over name lists for the umpteenth time.

And then there it was, that name I had always loved and had (for some reason) forgotten in the desperation to find options: Lilia. I said it aloud: Lilia. "That's pretty," Jerry replied. "I like that. What does it mean?"

"Lilia: To us, to God. Or, whatever is given to us is given to God."


We sense the honor given to us by God in raising Lilia to love Him. But we also sense the fear: What if she rejects Him? We can instruct her and teach her, sharing the treasures of God's Word with her and showing her (hopefully) what it means to follow Christ. But we can't make her love Him. Lilia must respond to God of her own will and of His grace.

Several weeks ago I started asking God to speak to Lilia, of Himself, in her dreams. I asked Him to be in her dreams, and I kept praying for that, day after day. About two weeks ago, as I got her out of her crib one morning, I asked, "Did you have sweet dreams?"

"Yes," she said.

"What did you dream about?" I asked.

"Gees-gees," she replied.

Translation: Jesus.