|Posted on August 14, 2021 at 11:40 AM|
My three grandson’s mother was killed in a car accident when they were very young. They are now reaching adulthood, but I will likely always see them as precious young boys just starting out in life. In the past ten years since their mom died, I’ve done my best to try and fill the void for them. Their dad, my son, has done the same. But I think I’ve always wondered what their lives would have looked like had they had their mom around throughout their growing up.
For one reason or another, it has become common for our children to be raised in single-parent homes. Studies show that in Western cultures about 90% of people will marry, and about 50% of those will divorce. In families with multiple marriages that number grows exponentially.
It saddens me to know that many generations are affected by marriages being out of balance, with one parent or the other taking on most of the responsibility for the family. I’ve wondered if the brokenness around us isn’t directly related to this ungodly dynamic. But then I got to thinking about Jesus’ life, and the example it is to us.
If you love bible history and mystery, as I do, you’ll realize that scriptural references to Jesus’s earthy father end when He was young. Scholars believe that Jesus was likely somewhere between 12 – 19 years old when Joseph of Nazareth died - before Jesus’ ministry even started. We know that he wasn’t the Messiah’s biological father – but he was the one that God chose to raise Jesus and be the example He needed as He entered manhood.
We know that Joseph was a kind and compassionate man. When confronted with his fiancé’s pregnancy, certain that he hadn’t impregnated her, he chose to do the right thing and not shame her or put her in danger. More importantly, we know he heard from God. Matthew 1:18-25 tells us that an angel of the Lord told him to take Mary as his wife, and that she was blameless. Despite material evidence that would seem to contradict that, Joseph was obedient to God’s command.
Although in manhood Jesus didn’t have a biological father present in the flesh, God provided everything He needed to prepare Him for the important mission that was coming up. The Father hand-picked His human parents, looking for a man of integrity and a woman of faith. Joseph obediently accepted the role as surrogate father, teaching Jesus the customs of His religion and providing spiritual training and nurturing love.
Families may not look exactly like we think they should, and our lives may not always turn out in a way that fits our preconceived notion. But all that really matters is that we acknowledge and accept that God is weaving the tapestry, and His ways aren’t our ways. Whatever the circumstance, He will provide – and He is the one who decides what a parent looks like.
Every child is intricately designed and formed with a specific purpose in mind. Psalm 139:16 says “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, everyone one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. And in Isaiah 49:1b we read “the Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother He named my name.
Whether our days here on earth are spent in a broken home, or with one parent absent through death, our real heritage comes from our Heavenly Father. And if we are the ones being called to be a surrogate parent, we need to remember that we were placed in that child’s life to be an example of the character of God, who is the real parent.
God entrusted Joseph with the earthly life of our Redeemer, His Son. And He has given us the sacred responsibility to teach the generations to come about the true nature of our Heavenly Father. So, when we step in as a step-parent, grand-parent, guardian or Sunday School Teacher, we must acknowledge the privilege and trust that God is bestowing on us. The eyes of the generations to follow are on us, and every step we take should be measured by that ruler.
In Deuteronomy 6 the children of Israel are told “teach [God’s commandments] to your children and talk about them when you are at home or out for a walk; at bedtime and first thing in the morning.” And those commandments are more than rules, they are loving instructions about who God really is. And the instruction is more important today than it has ever been.
We have a critical task -- to teach our children – whether they are ours by biology or God’s covenant trust. And we teach by example because our little ones are watching and learning whether they belong to us or not. Psalm 145:4 tells us “One generation shall commend His works to another and shall declare His mighty acts.” Let’s make sure the message is clear and seen in our lives, no matter the role we play.
Be blessed, my friend. God is on the throne!