These are the days of children being born and children leaving for college. They are the bookend transitions of family that are critical. One of them strikes fear into parents with the magnitude of responsibility to train this new little human in the Lord, and the other one strikes panic into parents that they may not have trained enough. In between is approximately 18 years of family wanderings. I don’t want to carry the illustration of the children of Israel too far but there are likenesses that merit some thought. God seemed determined to teach his children faith building lessons during the wandering time:
- The most obvious was his unimaginable power. Whether they obeyed or disobeyed, they experienced the power of God in every circumstance. He made sure they understood who was in control.
- He supplied for their needs. They had food to eat and shoes and clothes that did not wear out.
- He defeated enemies – with or without their help.
- He taught them how to worship and the camp was physically arranged around his presence.
- He did not allow sin in the camp and there were consequences for them.
- He disciplined his children.
- He showed mercy, grace and forgiveness all along the way.
- He continually kept his covenant of love.
Do we see what families can go through during those years of “wanderings” as he works in our lives and for his glory? Some of the things mentioned above are what parents do as his instruments of developing faith. Some of them are what he continues to do for our families and in our families.
I’m afraid many times when a child is born, the human focus of the family during the 18 years is to get them capable to live “out there on their own.” To be fair, some of that is true. However, there is a subtle message we give to our children when they hear that phrase or “as long as you are under my roof” that Christian values in the home have an expiration date. Psalms 139:7-10 makes it clear that God is involved before birth and there’s no place to go where he is not. That means our children will never be on their own and they never leave God’s authority – no matter where they live. That is the covenant God of the wilderness. This is encouragement to families who are currently at either bookend or anywhere in-between. God is the eternal Creator and when we, as his children, are wandering in the years of family journeys, he is faithful.