The last several weeks have been a very trying time in our family's life. In the month of July we learned our youngest son, Dylan, has a rare type of diabetes called 'diabetes insipidus.' This led to a number of test and procedures concerning his bladder and kidneys. You can read more about that here "Practicing What I Preach." Needless to say, the last two months have been overwhelming with everything from taking care of Dylan's catheter to homeschooling for the very first time. There have been A LOT of changes in the Beck family here lately.
Yesterday during Dylan's surgery, I meditated on what God has been teaching me the past few months. By the way, if you are a Christian, God should be teaching you things about both Himself and yourself everyday. As I reflected on what God has been teaching me, I thought of areas in my life where I have grown and strengthened as a husband, father, and a pastor.
1. My family needs me more than my church.
Please don't misunderstand that sentence. I love the Lord's church at Pleasant Hill Baptist, but as pastors we often place the church before our families, which can be sinful.
The Apostle Peter reminds the elders in 1 Peter 5:1-2 to "shepherd" the flock God, a flock which He has placed the elders "over," "exercising oversight..." The word "shepherd" means "to feed, tend to, take care of." Peter is exhorting the elders to give spiritual care to God's people. Paul reminds Timothy of the qualifications of an elder, overseereer, or pastor is one who "manages or rules his own household well with all dignity keeping his children in submissive" (1 Timothy 4:4). It is plain to see that an elder's first and foremost responsibility (after his relationship with God) is "managing" or "caring" for his family.
I have failed in this area in many ways as a husband, father, and as a pastor by placing my family on the altar of sacrifice for the church. In a recent blog on Nine Mark's website entitled Leading the Church While Leading Your Family, Bob Johnson made a profound statement which shook me to the core of my soul. He said, "Your church can get another pastor, but your kids can't get another dad." I would also add, "My wife can't get another husband." By God's grace, I have tried to be more aware of protecting my time with my family. Overseeing the temporal needs and eternal future of my wife and children can not be disconnected from what I do as an elder. Rather, it is the very work of the pastor in managing his own family well! I know of too many men who have disqualified themselves from being an elder because they have failed at giving themselves more to their families than their church.
I am learning my family needs me more than my church.
2. Christ is sweeter in my struggles.
Writing on his trials, Charles Spurgeon said, “It would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity.”
The greatest comfort for me as a believer in Christ is everything which I face or will ever face has passed through the sovereign hand of my God. Knowing this causes me to flee to Him. By His grace, the Lord is teaching me more of His mercy, grace, and love during this season of my life, especially during these last couple of months. The Lord is allowing me not to focus so much about MY trials or problems, but more on the God who has given this to me as a "good and perfect" gift from Him (James). Knowing God has entrusted me with the season I am in now, I am to receive it with a heart of gratitude and give Him the glory for such a gift! The sweet communion and fellowship I have enjoyed the last few months, and in particularly the last few days, have been at the feet of Christ acknowledging He was tempted and tried in every way, and yet, He was without sin (Hebrews ). Knowing Christ struggled, was tempted, and is yet without sin brings me to a place of sweet communing with my Savior.
My walk with Christ is sweeter in my struggles as I grow more in the grace and knowledge of my Savior.
3. God's gospel is enough.
Trying to explain to my 9 year old why he is sick and has endured 3 surgical procedures in less than two months has opened the door to share the gospel with him multiple times. I have been able to explain we live "in the already, but not yet" world. We live in a fallen world as he learned from Genesis 3. He has the understanding that something is wrong with his body, but that was not the way it has always been. For in the beginning God made man "perfect and upright." Man was in a relationship with God and there was no sickness or death. Yet, because of disobedience to God's Word and rebellion of man's own heart, man choose to sin. Thus, "just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned" (Romans ).
"But God" (Eph.2:4)...(I love those two words!)... being rich in mercy and perfect in grace, God provided a way out. Instead of killing the man and woman, he substituted them for an animal and covered them in the skin. What a picture of God's "grace," "mercy," and the "penal substitutionary atonement." Where God should have killed the man and woman, He provided a way out; He provided a substitute. This was pointing to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Who would be provided as a "substitute" for God's elect. Christ lived a perfect, holy, sinless life, and where I should have been placed on the altar as a sacrifice, God provided "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John ).
Now for all those who have repented and placed faith in the finished work of Christ and Him alone, we are awaiting the return of the Bridegroom for His Bride. At that time, He will make all wrongs right. There will be no more suffering, crying, surgeries, or catheters. For He will and He is making all things new for our good and for His glory! And so my prayer is, "He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely, I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev.22:20)
God is teaching me and my family a lot in this season of our lives.
1) My family needs me more then my church.
2) Christ is sweeter in my struggles.
3) God's gospel is enough.
What do you think? What is God teaching you today, right now in this season of your life?