Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

God is for us

We were blessed to play for both the prelude to the Christmas Eve service for our own congregation and during the church service at my parents' church on Christmas morning. Interestingly, the theme for both services was Immanuel: God With Us. So it was an easy choice to pull out Casting Crown's song, God Is With Us, that Mariana performed for us last year. Every morning since, I find myself waking up with the chorus in my head, "God is in us, God is for us, God is with us Immanuel." This morning as I reflected on the tune going through my head, it was the center phrase that caught my attention: God is for us.

I was reminded again how long it took me to realize the truth of this statement, and how often I still need to do a reality check when having a personal pity party. For too long I saw God as a Being who sat up there and just waited for opportunities to say, "Let's get her now. Bet she can't handle this one."

But I don't see any examples in the Bible of a God who looks for opportunities to "zap" people with a test of their faithfulness. Conversely, we can read numerous stories of people who endured trial, but came out on the other side able to proclaim God's goodness. Additionally, in each circumstance, we can see how the events in that person's life all led to the perfecting of one's faith, pointed to the glory of God, and further connected the dots in God's sovereign plan.

Have you ever noticed how many times the book of Deuteronomy uses the phrases "do not forget" and "never forget"? There's a reason for that. First example: The Israelites. Hadn't God just taken them out of Egypt? Miraculously? In a series of events that should have led to stronger faith? Events that did proclaim the glory of God and did bring His people into the next step in His plan for them. Instead, a little adversity had them demanding a return to slavery.

It's no coincidence that Deuteronomy 6 (coming right after the 10 Commandments), reminds the Israelites to not only obey these laws and to love their God, but to share them with their children. And what else? "Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." In other words, "Obey my commands, love me with all your heart, and tell your children that I am a God who is for you."

However, too many Christians, in too many churches, are in the business of hiding the times of hurt and shame in their lives. Too many parents, in too many homes, are not sharing examples of "God is for us" to their children. Certainly, there are hurts that need to wait until children are a certain age. There are also seasons when the hurt is too raw. But how can we teach our children that God is for us when they don't see the realness of that in those who have gone before? And let's face it, is there anything in our pasts worse than, or more shameful, than examples we find in the Bible? Let's see, there are stories of drunkenness, disobedience, pride, murder, selling family into slavery, and killing Christians, just for starters. But each story is another example of how God is definitely for us. The time will come for each of our children, when they need to face hurtful circumstances. I want my children to be able to say with Joseph, "You intended this for evil. But God intended this for good."

So parents, grandparents, teachers, and mentors, as we approach the new year, let's resolve to share our hurts and our painful moments. In so doing, let us model to the next generation that we truly believe that God is for us and that we will never forget.

Like when we total the van but God provides a bigger vehicle, more suited for a family music group, with insurance money to spare.

Like when people turn on you and don't understand your need to follow God's call on your life, but God blesses your faithfulness.

Like when adoption isn't quite as you had planned, but as you embrace your calling to raise the children God has given to you, He gives you opportunity to share with hundreds whose eyes are suddenly opened to a reality that is different from theirs.

Like when addiction ruins relationships, but healing and wholeness bring new relationships and restored relationships.

God is in us. God is for us. God is with us. Immanuel.

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