Monthly Archives: January 2012
We had mum’s funeral yesterday.
The emotions were conflicted. The over whelming thought is that of joy. Joy that suffering and pain has gone and that she is now with Jesus – renewed. The cemetery manager actually commented how encouraging it was to have a “born again” funeral. (His words).
Yet mum was my/our mum someone important in our lives. We have a history together – an important history. So that is where the pain lies for us – the pain of loss. But even that pain will only be temporary. The time will come, when, before the throne of God we will be united.
Finally it was a privilege to conduct the committal and funeral. Because of the strong family presence it seemed, to me, like a special family gathering.
Since the early 1970s she struggled with MS but it was a sign of her character that she took up this struggle resolutely and determinedly.
Mum had been through the “Great Depression”, war and then moved to a new land in the early 1950s with a young family. In all that time her life was characterised by diligence and hard work. Most of all, in everything she did, her desire was to do it in a way that honoured God.
We will miss her, but our joy is that she is now without pain and suffering in the presence of her God and King.Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4&5
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I’m still perusing photos. I came across one of my parents the other day and remembered that when I was a lot younger, I thought that they already seemed so old in this photo. Then the daunting reality hit me that now I am now a lot older than they were at the time of the photo. Generations come and go. My children are part of the coming generation and I am definitely part of the going one.
For God generations have an important task. They have the awesome responsibility of preserving and passing on His promises. We see a hint of that in God’s promise to Abraham in the text above.
As a parent or grandparent, you have no greater responsibility or privilege than passing on, in a living, loving and authentic manner, the promises of God to your children and grand children. That is your foremost and most (eternal) life giving task.
Too often I have seen parents so obsessed with the present, getting money, house, job success and so on, that they have neglected eternity. Their children know how to acquire and succeed, as they have learned well from their parents, but the children have failed to grasp and live faith.The patterns of life have already been set in their children. I have seen many older parents in tears because they have come to this understanding too late.
So parents, above all else, teach, show and live faith before your children. Other things may be important, but nothing, nothing at all, is more important than this.
The picture (left) was taken 58 years ago on the “Johan van Oldenbarnevelt” as I travelled to Australia with my parents. I was three and half years old at the time (and quite cute). It was a five week journey that took us from Amsterdam, via the Suez to Australia. The JvO made this journey many times as it delivered migrants seeking a new life. There have been moments when I wondered what my life would have been like if my family had not emigrated. But really, that is an empty exercise.
I have also wondered what drove my parents and the many others to seek this new life. Air travel and telephone communication were expensive. Keeping contact with loved ones would not be easy. For both my parents it meant that they would never see their own parents again. I know that for my father, he desired a future for himself and his family. Living in a cramped attic in post war Rotterdam and struggling to find work encouraged him to seek an alternative life.
I have been grateful for his restlessness as I have enjoyed the life and the opportunities that it has spawned. One regret is that my dad didn’t live long enough to see how his granddaughters took these opportunities to a new level.
The one constant for our family then, and my own family now, is that we both had a heavenly dad whose plans and purposes over-arched any petty plans that we may have had- big or small.
So as I blunder into 2012, I for one know that whatever my decisions and actions, there is a heavenly father who cares for me and my loved ones with an eternal perspective.
In a few short weeks the Australian school year will commence. Already, teachers are planning and plotting the new year. For a Christian teacher there can be no better starting point than the passage above in order to revitalise one’s orientation.
It begins with the famous “Shema”, “Hear O Isreal,” and then it continues with one of the most profound yet simple explanations of what a faithful education looks like. In short, it encompasses life and involves the community of faith. All of life is the arena for teaching and learning – nothing is left out. A child is to grow up with a worldview that is anchored in the faith of the community.
The heart of education is to be a relationship with God. Love God with “all” heart, soul and strength is at its core. Then from this relationship springs an understanding of God’s world – a world ordered and organised by God’s “commands”. These are not to be offered to the child as an “option”. A concept popular with today’s parents. “When the child is older they can make up their own mind.” We don’t do that with food or health, so why faith? Impress them on your children – there is an urgency.
Life is the school room. At home, in the community and bedtime are opportunities not to miss. Our actions (hands) and our thinking (heads) are to be shaped by our relationship with God. So whether in your own home (doorframes) or venturing into the world (gates) we are to walk, talk and be, a living representative of God’s family. That is what we are training our children into.
So to my fellow pedagogues, whether professional or home schoolers, may this passage be an impetus for the task in 2012. And in case you feel left out, every Christian is part of the training of our children. Your word and example is to be a central aspect of the world of their education.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.