Supposedly people are leaving California by droves. I saw a Babylon Bee this week to the effect of awarding Governor Newsom the highest salesman for U-Haul trucks. I do not want to get political. I think I am largely allergic to politics.
That being said, I felt the weight of the world this week. I felt the weight of the reality that God has led us to have our children in public schools in San Diego (if you disagree, please take it up with the Lord himself, as we get our orders for our children each year from him). Even those who are not called to raise their children in an urban, postChristian, postmodern city must grapple with the incredibly strong cultural currents that are ripping through once seemingly (though only seemingly) serene cultural seas.
This Friday, I spoke to our youth, a motley crew of 12-15 years olds, about identity. I had to contend for things that were once commonly presumed and assumed. But I was glad for the chance to be sharpened and concise enough in my communication of biblical identity to be heard and semi-understood in fifteen minutes before fifteen year olds.
Our identity is not the same as our identifiers. Our deepest identity is not merely the sum of our surname, our sport, our successes, and our sex. Our deepest identity is who our Creator says we are irregardless of our feelings, failures, or foibles. As his created image-bearers, we are his by birth (Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 139; Isaiah 43:20). And those who are in Christ are twice-his. His by birth and His by rebirth (Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3: 5-8).
As those purchased at an unthinkable cost, our lives are no longer our own (Galatians 2:20-21; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
I wish I could say that I always lived in the peace and with the purpose that comes from these rock-solid realities. But, as I was teaching them, I was reminding myself.
If I were my own, I could make decisions on my own. I could at least pretend to be in control of the circumstances around me and my children. Alas and alleluia, I am not.
When I think about what our children are hearing and seeing, I cringe and cower in fear. I want to remove them from any trace of the evil one and lewd lies (John 8:44). But, then the Spirit leads my stirred-up spirit to truth as spoken by our Savior.
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you send them me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:14-18).
As I was praying this for our children, the Spirit opened my eyes to a new reality. When Jesus was praying this for his disciples (and us, as his future disciples), he knew exactly what this meant. He could not claim ignorance or partial knowledge of evil and its power, as He, being fully God and fully man, knew evil in its full, unalloyed strength.
Jesus could likely see Peter hanging upside down on a cross when he prayed these words. He prayed this costly prayer knowing full well what Nero would do in the Roman colosseum. His all-knowing, all-seeing, all-pure eyes knew evil in a way that we never will, as we would be crushed and undone. Jesus prayed with one eye wide-open to evil and the other expectant of the keeping protection of His Father.
Yet, he still prayed, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” These words, spoken on behalf of his disciples, only reiterate what he had spoken directly to them:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs are on your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).
When fear of what my children may be hearing or seeing fills me, a greater fear must do the work of expelling it. My God sees, hears, and knows all. He knows the boundary lines allotted to my children. He knows the days they are living in. He chose their zip code.
Far more important than these realities, he knows them. He knows their hearts as he knows the hairs on their heads. I am limited. I am fallible. I often don’t know what is best.
But their ultimate Keeper does not grow weary and does not follow a circadian rhythm. He stands alert even when I sleep. He goes where I cannot go. He guards constantly, keeping watch over their souls (Psalm 121). He alerts me through his Spirit and his Word. He directs us both. He is our lodestar, the fixed point who steers us through cloud-shrouded days and dark nights.
God is the lodestar of our lives;
He keeps our course set aright.
Above even the fiercest storm,
He guides us through the night.
The Lord, our designated Captain,
With great cost has gone ahead.
He charted a course through Hades
As the firstborn from the dead.
The Spirit, our steadying compass,
Cabins ever-so-closely within.
With Christ-exalting accuracy,
He points both to comfort and sin.
With such Triune involvement,
Even broken vessels have hope.
We’ll be guided safe to harbor
Bound by love’s threefold rope.