Thursday, February 28, 2013

The First Time I Hoped For A Good News Day

Photo by emsago

The First Time I Hoped For 
A Good News Day
“How to Have a ‘Good News Day’ Part 2”

A few mornings ago I spent some time talking to one son about some of the mistakes I had made in parenting, and some of the bad habits that he and I had fallen into in our relationship.  I sprinkled some Gospel truth into the discussion, and the whole interchange was friendly and pleasant.  The morning routine ended up going fairly well.

As usual, after the kids left for school and I had breakfast, I read my morning devotionals and had some prayer time.  During that time, I was strongly moved with gratitude for all of God’s grace over the years in my life.  God’s sweetness felt truly amazing to me, and our time together was precious.

And, as usual, I hoped it would continue to be a “good day.”  Then that hope began to rise up as a sense of tension, of worry, of even a subtle demand toward God.  “I hope nothing bad happens” morphed rapidly into “Nothing bad had better happen!”

That was when God, for the first time, introduced me to my need to hope, plan, and pray for a Gospel-centered day in advance, instead of only applying the Gospel “as needed” if things got ugly.  This is what He impressed on my heart:

You want your son to understand and believe the Gospel, right?  
Do you think I want anything less for him?
Do you trust me that I know how to bring him to that point?
Do you remember that I had to bring you to a place of brokenness before you would repent and believe in me?
Are you going to demand that I not do the same for him?

That’s when I realized that I needed to hope, plan, and pray, NOT for a “good day,” but  for a Good News Day.  I needed to prepare my heart to live the truths of the Gospel no matter whether my circumstances turned out to be pleasant or horrible.  I needed to trust God that He was going to bring circumstances tailor-made for the kind of Gospel example (and perhaps even Gospel instruction) that my son would need that day.  
And it was not my place to tell God how to do His job.  It was my place to trust and obey.

So that’s what I prayed for.  Lord, help me to live the truth of the Gospel and to be prepared to speak that truth in love in whatever circumstances You wisely bring my way.  I am willing to be a tool in Your hands for the sake of my son, rather than trying to usurp Your throne.  Of course, I would LOVE it if You arranged pleasant circumstances, and I ask that You would do so if that would be best for my son.  But I yield to Your better judgment.   As Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.”

It was a whole different mindset.  And I had a lingering suspicion that He was not planning a pleasant set of circumstances for us.  But it was okay.  It was okay.

It wasn’t long before the phone calls started coming.  The school is a very good one, and the staff are wonderful, but by the second phone call it was clear that I had to come pick my son up.  He was suspended for the rest of the day.  Deservedly so.

Of course, that was not happy news.  Of course it was scary to go pick him up in the dean’s office, and even hear the dean somberly tell my son that, if he continued his current trajectory, they might have to think about expulsion.

But the Gospel tells me that we’re ALL hopeless without the Savior.  So I’m in no position to think myself superior, or to get up on my high horse.  In other words, the Gospel requires (and enables) me to be humble.

And the Gospel tells me that God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bridge the gap between man and God.  Jesus came to live a perfect life on our behalf, so that those who are united to Him by faith could have His righteousness credited to our account.  In other words, the Gospel gives me REAL hope to offer to someone in an increasingly hopeless-looking situation.

And the Gospel tells me that Jesus died to absorb the wrath of God on behalf of those who are united to Him by faith.  (It also tells me that His wrath remains stored up for those who will not believe.)  In other words, the Gospel gives me the proper perspective on sin (it really IS heinous), and does not belittle my concerns about the things my son is doing wrong.  But for those who come to Christ in faith, all of that is dealt with.  Real hope for real sinners.  The kind of hope that a sinner like me can gladly share with another.

And, the Gospel tells me that Jesus rose from the dead in order that all who are united to Him by faith might also have new life.  It also tells me that He sends His Holy Spirit as a seal on the hearts of those who put their faith in Christ.  This Spirit changes our spiritual DNA, if you will.  He begins to change us from the inside out.  The Spirit within us is our ONLY hope for real change.  My anger can’t change anyone.  That fact used to only increase my anger, fanning it to a helpless rage.  But with the real hope of the Spirit to offer, it’s safe to lay the rage aside.

So, when I talked to my son that day, I had Gospel truth with me.  Truth that enabled me to be brutally honest about the awfulness, of sin, but without arrogance or rage because I’m a fellow sinner.  It enabled me to offer real hope, to point my son to all that Christ has done for us on the cross, and to what He offers us now as mediator.  It gave me the priceless promise of the indwelling Spirit to share.  All things I’d talked about before, but that needed to be said again.  After all, I need to be reminded of these truths multiple times a day as well.

My son responded in ways that seemed hopeful, though I can’t know his heart, of course.  But the Gospel allowed me to come away from a painful experience with no regrets.  I know that I gave my son the best that I had to give.

I knew I wanted more Good News days.  After all, I’ve got plenty of regrets about my selfish “good days.”  That kind of living was yielding me a bitter harvest.  I wanted to put it behind me.

But the Enemy of Our Souls doesn’t let go.  Ever.  Until, of course, we go to Glory.  So he attacked viciously after this hopeful experience.  But that’s something for another entry.

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