About Me

I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure (using font only to enable access in settings with poor internet)

Friday, 6 February 2015

Living in the light of eternity

Often you hear about how the siblings of an ill or disabled child develop unique strengths of character and frequently enter caring professions. Recently I have been encouraged by how my sons approach having had an older sister who died before they were born (more on our story is found here, here and here). Tomorrow would have been her seventh birthday. Her birthday brings such mixed emotions - remembering the fresh hope of becoming parents, the hopes and dreams (many of which may have been unrealistic) that we had, but also the sadness of having watched her die. But we do have hope that we will see her again. Yesterday we spoke of how she can't come back to us, but that one day we can go to her - as David said after the death of his firstborn son, 'But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:23. And in the light of that, I'd like to share some encouragements.

1) Heaven is a real place - they love the descriptions of heaven in the book of Revelation ie chapter 21 verses 18-21: 'The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.' They ask many questions about how that could be, and I have heard them talking to one another about how amazing and beautiful it must be. I envy their free, childlike imaginations which are filled with awe as they consider these things.

2) Eternity is real. Their questions about what happens when you die are very simple and direct. They want to know! What happens? Does your body rot away? Do worms eat your eyes? Tonight we read Luke Chapter 12: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.' They understand that your soul lives on, and that there will be a time of judgement.

3) They care about their eternal destiny. Many times in recent weeks they have asked whether they will see their sister in heaven. We have explained that we very much hope so, but that they therefore need to know where they stand before God. As I've recently blogged, they are increasingly asking questions which encourage me that they are considering these truths carefully. Sometimes it seems like they want to go to heaven just to play with their sister! But on other occasions, they seem to understand that seeing her will be just one of the many amazing things that they get to enjoy.

4) Their questions about resurrection bodies are interesting! The Bible talks of how we will be given a new body - particularly see 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 verses 38-38. I don't think it is possible for us to fully understand what this means of what it will look like, but it is clear that there will be no more sickness, pain or death and that will be marvellous. (They also particularly liked how some of these verses are set to song in Handel's Messiah, and we enjoyed listening to this for a time). What I like here is that the children don't consider that there are some parts of the Bible that are 'good for children' and others that are 'more complicated' - instead they ask very real questions, and as parents we seek to provide them with the most honest answers we are able to. We also appreciate that with their childlike faith they may well understand some of these issues better than we do. This is something that I come back to time and again when I consider how we are seeking to raise our family - that we mustn't stifle their questioning, but also how as parents we need to be familiar with the Bible. As Paul instructed Timothy, 'Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.' (2 Timothy 2:15).

5) Illness and pain and suffering are a 'normal' part of life to them. As doctors (and indeed as church members, or individuals within a society) we often see adults in mid-life who really struggle to cope when they face a bereavement, redundancy, serious illness or disappointment. Quite often it is the first time in their life that they have come across a real challenge, and there are often undertones of, 'It's not fair!', 'Why me?', 'I can't live with this situation', 'How can I keep going?' I do not want to minimise pain. However, as the Apostle Peter wrote to the persecuted church, 'Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.... So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.' (1 Peter 4:12-19) Our boys understand that people do get ill and die. They know that life can bring hardships and pain. These are lessons that many Christian parents will be seeking to teach - and I would also highly recommend Christian biographies which describe how people have brought glory to God through times of trial (reviews of Christian biographies for children are here and here). It is my prayer that the boys are equipped with the tools they need to stand firm in the face of trial when it hits them.

Of course it is not always so simple! My two year old nodded wisely as I described heaven and eternity, and then asked whether he could go to heaven now in the car, and take his toy plane with him! One of the five year olds wants to spend most of his time in heaven playing with his sister because of all the time he has missed playing with her here. And because tomorrow would be her birthday (and we always do have a cake, although a simple one with plain icing and no candles), one of them asked whether she would come and join us for cake. As with any children, their questions sometimes make me laugh, sometimes make me sad, and really my prayer is that as parents we have wisdom in knowing how best to make the most of opportunities that arise every day as they ask more and more things.

How have times of trial affected your children? Can you think of times when hardship has brought spiritual development to your family?

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