God's Plan for Your Children Before Self
- 2003 13 Apr
There have been plenty of times I've put my "wants" on hold on behalf of my kids. Superficially speaking, I've given up nice cars, better vacations and a fatter checking account because of my children. ~~Wayne, a dad
As I sat on the bride's side of the church, watching with about 200 others, as the bride and groom exchanged their vows, I couldn't help but shed a tear or two. Not only did I love this young couple, I had admired their spiritual commitment to God, which rose sharply above their desires for themselves. I knew they were coming together in purity; that this very night they would open the last of their wedding "gifts;" the one from their Heavenly Father. The "two would become one flesh."
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
As they were pronounced man and wife, they turned to face the congregation-those of us who had come to witness the joining of their lives, hearts, and souls-and the pastor introduced them for the first time as "Mister and Missus."
He looked lovingly at her.
She gazed shyly back at him.
My breath caught in my throat.
What a joyous moment!
Naturally, as soon as the reception was in full swing, the "ha ha" comments started. Teasing remarks led to a blushing bridegroom and his new bride.
Somehow, I think, those of us who have been married for some time make these comments in order to keep that which is so serious and so sacred and sometimes so scary...light. In a strange way we wish we could all go back and relive that moment...that night...that precious, precious night. As the honeymoon car -- graffiti-ed in balloons, shaving cream and shoe polish -- drives away, we who are left behind with nothing but slightly romanticized memories look at one another and sigh.
Let's be honest here. What's next for the newlyweds is the moment we've hopefully all waited for. Suffered for, at times.
Men, would you be willing to put the opening of that "gift" on hold, were God to require it of you?
Think About It
I remember a friend of mine from high school days. Every time she saw her "honey," she broke out in a sweat. Literally. What makes us think Joseph and Mary were any different than we are today? What makes us imagine that the sight, presence, and the mere voice of the other did not stir the two of them? God, in His goodness and love, created us thusly.
It has always interested me that when God pronounced the "garden curse," on Eve and her female descendents, He added a little addendum: To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband...~~Genesis 3:16
Even though we know that childbirth will be painful, we will desire our husbands. These words were spoken to Adam and Eve...and the natural desire between husband and wives has been there ever since. Sadly, Satan has used it skillfully; it has toppled kingdoms and driven men to madness. Books and plays and poems and sonnets haven been composed about it and today it has been trampled by television and movies as common and ordinary. But Christians know its value, its preciousness. This is God's gift to the husband and wife.
And Joseph was told to put it "on hold."
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us." When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~~ Matthew 1: 16-25
Because the Savior of mankind was to be born of a virgin.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. -- Isaiah 7:14
One of the first things Joseph had to do, in order to fulfill the Father's plan of salvation for mankind, was to put his feelings, his desires, his flesh aside.
How often do you put your needs...your wants...your flesh on hold?
Personal story: as long as I can remember my husband has wanted a particular sports car. It's a classic, it's collectable, but it's not necessary to sustaining life or maintaining a home. It certainly was not needed in the raising of children.
As a young man he could have afforded it, but he became a father at 19. For the next 30 years he would think about that car, talk about that car, buy magazines about that car, and dream at night about that car. But he would not own one. Instead, he would support his children, taking care of their needs-and sometimes their selfish wants-because that is what God has called fathers to do. Eventually he would purchase the car of his dreams, but not until we were empty nesters.
Fathers, as you pray today, ask our heavenly Father if you might have put your "wants" above what God has desired for your children. Ask Him to show you how you can put His plan for their lives above your plans for your life. Know this: Joseph's foster son changed the history of mankind in THE most powerful way ever. But so, too, shall your children. They won't save the world from sin, no. But they will make their mark on history. HOW is largely up to you.
You want to watch your favorite adult drama. They want to watch cartoons.
You want to take a nap. They want you to play catch...or "house."
You're wishing you could skip church "just this once." They are "raring to go" hear all about Jesus!
You want to build that workroom behind the house or buy that car you've been hoping for since you were 16. They want to go to college.
But remember, you are building young men and women of God. What they one day will sacrifice for the world will begin with what you sacrifice for them.
Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams & Summon the Shadows and an award-winning national speaker. She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at Bridegroomsbride@aol.com or you can go to her website here.
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