“Still Good” Saturday: Big Seed-Little People

This blog was posted in its original form at http://www.Renovare.org.

A curious phenomenon occurs in elementary schools each year as children meander into their classrooms for the first time. Children scan the room looking for their desk, their locker, their space. Then they plunk backpacks down and begin a process of dominating their spaces. Some children arrange these spaces for as long as the person in charge will let them, others unload haphazardly, but all will settle their goods in their kingdom. Similar behavior can be seen on this first day in the lunch room, on the playground, and usually during Physical Education class.

Physical Education, class because laying kingdom boundaries has a definite connection to the body, the practical tool of carrying out the human will. This wonderful phenomenon is also observed, sometimes with shock and other times with elation, by new parents as their formerly soft and sweet baby begins to assert her independence in the form of tantrums and grand declarations of, “No” and “I can do it.” This is not a switch in personality, but a seed that is planted in every human by God.

In the natural world, seeds take time to germinate and push their spouts up through the protective dirt. This precious seed in children follows a similar route, pushing up through protective family members declaring to the world razor sharp dominion.  The Bible calls this seed the image of God; placing this seed in human beings is the pinnacle act of the creation story.

Each child has been born with the image of God. Without being told or prompted they declare their dominion. Naming is an example of an exercise in dominion easily seen in children. In Genesis 2 God names Adam and rivers. Adam functions in his dominion by naming animals.  Children naturally name and have a desire to know the names of people and things around them.  They instinctively know they were born to rule. But how they rule determines the fullness with which they will bear the image of God.

Within them they contain the capacity for relationship with God. As this relationship grows they will learn to govern with love of God and neighbor as guiding principles. They can grow in the reality of the kingdom of God and the fullness of his image. Although the theology behind the image of God can be complex, explaining the image of God to children doesn’t have to be. Children are innately aware of their own dominion. They also have less social baggage that can get in the way of seeing God and growing in his image. The Wisdom book of Proverbs speaks of this training.  As parents and trainers of children we are to train children to see and live from the image of God within them.

We introduce them to their relational life with God, while training them to govern their kingdom from the place of the image within.

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Purpose in Struggle

This week led to some profound discussion in my home.  There were topics that seemed pretty heavy for a 10 and 13 year old.  “Why did He let them arrest Him?”  “Why did He heal the people who were there to kill Him?”  Our discussion (as always) steered us in a direction I did not anticipate.

Jesus came to earth for a purpose and it wasn’t so that we could spend too much money giving gifts and sing carols once a year.  He came, fully God and wrapped in confining flesh, to do nothing less that offer salvation to a lost world.  To save us.  To show us the greatest love that the world has ever known.  At any time He could have given up.  He could have decided that it was too uncomfortable to live a life limited by the constraints of a human body. He could have returned to Heaven. Every day that He lived on Earth he made a choice to finish he task that was set before Him.  A task that was more than difficult but had a greater purpose than the suffering He would endure.

Everyone has to make hard choices.  As Christ-followers we have the choice to seek out our purpose in life.  The purpose that God Himself placed before us.  We have to choose to carry on when things get hard, when our lives don’t turn out like we thought they would and even when it doesn’t seem fair or when we think that someone else has it better than us.  We have to choose to stick around and not run away, to lean into our struggles and accept them as they build our character and sift out the ugliness of our flesh even as they make us more like Christ Himself.  Our choice doesn’t lead to the salvation of the world.  But our choice can lead our families to salvation.

One of the choices our family has to make every day is how to view autism in our lives.  We could choose to feel sorry for ourselves and to get mired in the why’s.  We could choose to compare our lives and our calling with the callings of more “typical” families.  And sometimes we do just that.  We cry out to God for answers and for relief for us and for our sweet girl.  He is always gracious to answer us and that answer always remains “this is your purpose.  This is how my Glory will be played out in your lives.  This is how others will see Me through you.”  This answer is humbling and so full of love that it makes my heart swell.

What an amazing gift to give to my children at Christmas time: the gift of knowing that though God doesn’t always step in when times get hard, He always has a greater purpose in mind.  The greater Glory.  And if we are patient, and learn to listen and to wait we just might get to be a part of that Glory.