The following is based on a devotional given by Mr. Roy Bradley during LINK 2020
For many of us, this summer looks quite different than summers of the past. Usually a time for traveling, family gatherings or relaxing around the pool, this summer has become a time for sitting inside, avoiding large social gatherings, and attending virtual hangouts.
How can we create a spirit of joyful endurance during this season? How can we raise children who will prevail in hope despite something as disruptive as a global pandemic?
For answers, let’s look at the book of Hebrews. Written to encourage a group of believers facing intense persecution, the author reminds us that, despite the social distancing mandated by COVID-19, we are not alone in our journey. Here are three reminders to keep in mind as you navigate this summer of endurance:
Reminder #1: We are not alone
Community has looked quite different this year. We have lost the simple yet delightful interactions with people at work, the gym, or a favorite café. Lively church gatherings have been replaced by watching services online with our spouse and children. Our children waved at their friends through a computer camera, all extracurricular activities having been paused.
Yet despite the lonely feeling these experiences may have added to our parenting, we can take heart because we are not alone.
In Hebrews 12, the writer paints the picture of a “cloud of witnesses” gathered around us to encourage us. This imagery fuels our endurance by reminding us that we are spiritually united with a long line of faithful men and women who have run this race before us. Many of them faced events much more challenging than a global pandemic. They were ridiculed, tortured, and forced to live in poverty. Many sacrificed their lives for the sake of faithfulness to God.
As we navigate this year, we would do well to remember the faithfulness of these men and women. They are the lion-hearted of God. They are our spiritual heritage and a spiritual community to which we remain connected. Even on the most isolating of days, we can draw courage from their witness.
Reminder #2: Even when our labor of love feels unseen, God sees us
As parents and educators, we must remember that we are not simply transmitters of information. We are stewards of souls. Soul-craft is our work. For the Christian, education is formative, not merely informative. Our goal is not just to seek the next best educational curriculum, ensure our children pass tests, or to secure impressive college admittances. Our calling is to be faithful transmitters of an inherited spiritual tradition.
This work can be difficult at times and often feels unseen.
Yet the Westminster Shorter Catechism reminds us that we do not do this alone. Question 11 asks: “Can you see God?” The answer is “No, but God always sees me.” Not only do we have the cloud of witnesses looking down upon us, God Himself is also watching us.
As children longing to please our Father, let’s run this race to please Him with unwavering faithfulness, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Let us find joy in knowing that, even on the most unproductive of days, God sees and delights in our faithfulness.
Reminder #3: The state of our hearts matters more than our success
In Matthew 5, Jesus reminds his audience to not lay up treasures on earth, but rather, to lay up treasures in Heaven for, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This admonition to reevaluate our spiritual priorities echoes a similar truth from Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow all the springs of life.” But the claim of the Matthew passage is a bit different. The Proverbs passage says to guard your heart. The Matthew passage says to guard your treasure because your heart will be set on whatever you regard as your treasure.
As parents, it’s easy to get caught up chasing external measures of success for our families. But in this summer of endurance, we must remember that we are defined more by what we love, not by what we accomplish. If, with boldness, sincerity and humility, we regard our duty to treasure Christ as above all else, then our hearts will be set on things that bring true flourishing and the shalom of God.
My students often hear me say that the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. Deployment is at hand, or to shift the metaphor back to our text, the race has begun. So let us run with endurance. Let us set our eyes on the goal of knowing Christ and serving His Kingdom all the days of your life.
“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness, for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” — 1 Timothy 4:7-8