Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Our first duty

The below Truth for Life blog post convicted me so much I had to write about it. Some of you who have read my blog or my posts know that I am a newly born again Christian. In 2013 God finally got through to me and I have never looked back.

Prior to that I was very lost. If you would have asked me back then what I believed, I would have responded that I was raised Catholic but was unsure where I stood with God outside of being raised Catholic. I would have told you that, while I was unsure what I believed about God, years of Catholic upbringing made me afraid to not believe in God. So I lived in limbo knowing only that I didn't believe or agree with all Catholic teachings, but, since that was all I knew, it left me confused about everything else.

Oh- and since I was so confused myself but afraid not to believe, I sent my kids to a Catholic school and was actually grateful that someone was teaching them about God since I sure wasn't.

Once I gave my life to God, though, I was changed. It may be taking my behavior some time to catch up, but my heart definitely changed that instant, and it changed HUGE. Even with a changed heart, after spending all of my adult life (more than 20 years) actively avoiding God and having never read a Bible (I didn't even own one), there was (and still is) a lot of work ahead to get me to a place where I could lead my children in a Godly way.

First, I started to attend church to hear the Word of God preached directly from the Bible. Then, I bought a Bible and started reading it. Slowly, I started to learn about God through His word; a God I never knew even after 13 years of Catholic school and 18 years of church on Sundays (passive participation, I have learned, doesn't develop a relationship with God at all). I started to hear God nudging me to talk to my children about Him, to talk to others about Him, and to spread His Gospel wherever I could. That's been the hard part. Hunkering down with the Bible and reading books and commentary by Biblical scholars and teachers- that's easy compared to sharing God's Word when you feel so ill-equipped to do so, so uneducated and so new at it all.

I've been at this new life now, and it really is a new life, for almost 3 years. I have such a long way to go, but God is doing His good work in me, and I'm trying hard to cooperate (or rather, not get in His way). My children still go to a Catholic school even though I don't fully agree with all Catholic teachings. I am happy for them to be in a school environment that can still talk about God, that can still celebrate Christian holidays, and that talks about and supports moral values that come from God. 

I don't, however, still send them there as a substitute for my responsibility to raise them in a God-fearing, God-loving, Gospel-sharing home. I am FAR from perfect- God knows I struggle daily with my new heart and new responsibility as a Christian in a secular world. But I now know and embrace my role as my children's primary witness and example of the Gospel in this world. When I go before my Savior at the end of my life, it will be what I did to raise these precious gifts He gave me with a fighting chance at loving and living for Him that will be on His mind- not who I delegated that responsibility to in my place.

Here is the devotional that sparked this blog post today- hope you feel it calling you as it did me:

"Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation."  Joel 1:3

In this simple way, by God's grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land: The beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the Gospel and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty; we are to begin at the family hearth: He is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. The heathen are to be sought by all means, and the highways and hedges are to be searched, but home has a prior claim, and woe to those who reverse the order of the Lord's arrangements.

To teach our children is a personal duty; we cannot delegate it to Sundayschool teachers or other friendly helpers. These can assist us but cannot deliver us from the sacred obligation; substitutes and sponsors are wicked devices in this case: Mothers and fathers must, like Abraham, command their households in the fear of God and talk with their offspring concerning the wondrous works of the Most High.

Parental teaching is a natural duty. Who is better fitted to look after the child's well-being than those who are the authors of his actual being? To neglect the instruction of our children is worse than brutish. Family religion is necessary for the nation, for the family itself, and for the church of God. By a thousand plots empty religion is secretly advancing in our land, and one of the most effectual means for resisting its inroads is routinely neglected—namely, the instruction of our children in the faith. It is time for parents to awaken to a sense of the importance of this matter. It is a pleasant duty to talk of Jesus to our sons and daughters, and the more so because it has often proved to be an accepted work, for God has saved the children through the parents' prayers and admonitions. May every house into which this volume shall come honor the Lord and receive His smile.

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