Our family loves the outdoors. Last year, my children both asked for one thing for their birthdays: to go camping. They are August and September babies. Even the thought of trying to sleep in that heat, in a tent, makes me start sweating. So, we promised them we would go camping over Spring Break. For sleeping, rain is better than heat, right? The promised time arrived for us to camp this week and, as we prepared for a hike around the state park, my son spontaneously prayed, “God, thank you for this campsite.” What followed in my heart was a prayer of thanksgiving for that mark of faith present in my son.
Not only do I want my children to respond in thanksgiving to a holy, not-like-us, loving God who gives us everything and moves heaven and earth to reveal to us an identity grounded in Him, I want them to understand how their Jesus-given identity rescues when they make mistakes.
Religion: I messed up. My Dad is going to kill me.
Gospel: I messed up. I need to call my Dad.1
Just as they learn to hike in the outdoors careful of the natural habitat around them, I want them to navigate the rocky terrain of this world, looking to Christ to determine the framework for their thoughts, feelings, and actions. That means when they make mistakes, they can look to us, as their parents, and to God as their Heavenly Father for council and assistance.
Something that was made new for me again this week, by the Holy Spirit, is the power of scripture, God’s words to us, to form and shape who we are and elicit a response in us to love and serve the people around us. Day 6 of the Red Letter Challenge focused on this passage of God’s words to us through Ezekiel. Before you read the text below, pause to ask the Holy Spirit to speak His truth to you.
2: 7 And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house. 8 “But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” 9 And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. 10 And he spread it before me. And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe. 3: And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.
4 And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them.
Here is what stood out to me as the Holy Spirit used the Word to speak to my heart:
- God’s voice and words are so important to us: Even when they are words of mourning, lamentation and rebuke to a rebellious people, they are sweet as honey.
- Jesus is the Word who became flesh and lived among us (John 1:18). Ezekiel is given the Word to eat. The Word becomes a part of Ezekiel’s flesh like Christ’s body and blood become a part of our flesh through communion.
- Ezekiel, an OT prophet, was strengthened and sustained by the Word of God, Jesus. Ezekiel’s response to consuming God’s Word was obedience to the command to “go now and speak my words.”
- Having been fortified (literally) by God’s Word, Ezekiel was commanded to speak to Israel and call them back to their Father-Creator, to remind them of their God-given identity as his people.
- God was sending an agent of his Word to meet His people in their time of rebellion, when they had made a lot of mistakes.
As I continued to reflect on this passage, the song that came to mind throughout that day and as I woke up the next morning was this:
Oh Lord, you’re beautiful, Your face is all I see,
For when your eyes are on this child, Your grace abounds to me.2
What does this mean for my BEING? I want to read God’s Word not because it is my Christian duty. I want to read God’s word because, in His mystery, His Word is the life-giving, identity-sharing, redeeming person of Christ. And, I want God’s Word to remake my flesh so that Christ is in me.
What is the Holy Spirit telling you about His Word, your identity in Christ, or the meaning of communion? What are you struggling to understand?
(Photo credit: Brennan Frugé; 1: quote by Rob Radosti, posted by Her View From Home on Facebook March 12; 2: “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful” song by Keith Green; ESV Biblical text from Biblegateway.com)