I was a twenty four year old grad student when a nurse placed an 8 1/2 pound baby boy into my arms. I wasn’t even sure of the proper way to hold him. I looked at this baby and then at my beautiful and exhausted wife. She smiled and said, “You’re a father now … You have a son … What do you think?”
Think? I don’t remember, but I’m sure I wanted to be a good father. I probably wanted to protect my son and help him grow up. Surely, I thought about the fun we would have and wondered all those things parents wonder. Who will he be? What will he be like? Will I be a good dad?
The desire was there, no doubt. But even with the good examples we had in our own parents, what we didn’t know about parenting was a lot. We did believe that children are received from the hand of God. And, in receiving our new son, we had been called to this grand adventure of parenting.
Not only was I holding new life in my arms, I had new life in me. During college, I had become a Christ follower and was beginning to look to God in his Word. Our new son, David Michael, had just entered into a covenant relationship with God through our family. And, when he grew up, Cheryl and I hoped to be able to pray and be thankful just as Paul prayed for his spiritual children in Thessalonica.
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
–I Thessalonians 2:13
We could not see into the future. Not even to the next five minutes. God had much to teach us about faith. The scriptures tell us that Abraham is the father of all the faithful and we are Abraham’s offspring. In his commentary on the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, John Calvin wrote,
“For the nature of faith is the same now as in the days of the holy fathers. We are therefore encouraged to ‘imitate their faith.'”
So, how was Abraham’s faith to be an example to us as new parents?
Abraham received a command from God but, with the command, God added a promise. The promise was that God would bless Abraham and be with him in a relationship we now understand as a covenant relationship. God told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. But how could this be? For Abraham and his wife had no children and Sarah was barren.
Though the promise seemed impossible, we learn that Abraham and Sarah took the “long view” and chose to believe God. They lived as if God would do what He had promised. This is the faith we are to imitate.
In his book, Standing on the Promises, Douglas Wilson reminds us that the Bible is full of promises to parents who are in the covenant, keep the covenant, and remember His commandments. Parents who do as they are commanded may comfort themselves with these words,
“My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be descendants of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.” –Isaiah 65: 22b-23
When you receive a child into your covenant family, by birth or through adoption, the “long view” will become the way you make it through the daily trials and disappointments that are sure to come.
Like Abraham’s, the graph of our marriage and parenting through the years is jagged. But the overall trajectory is upward. Even though our graph has ups and downs, sin and repentance, joy and sadness, belief and, yes, unbelief, God has been faithful to bless.
Christian parents, in the midst of the nitty gritty of daily life, pause a moment and remember the long view. And know that faith is living as if God will do what He has promised.