The Blessings of Change
Changes for the better can be effortless, giving family members dominion over career moves, homework, sports, relationships, fears, stress, the economy, bullies, and even terrorists.
Categories: New Year/Change
Parents sometime wish they could wave a magic wand and change some of the inappropriate things their youngsters do...the incessant whining of a toddler, the irresponsibility of a grade school child, the dangerous habits of a teen or collegiate. And we sometimes fear certain changes when well-meaning friends say things like: "Just wait for the terrible twos," "My teenager is like a stranger," or "He'll never manage on his own." These limiting statements have no power over you or your youngster if you remember his or her changeless heritage as the perfect creation of a loving Father/Mother/God (as described in Genesis 1). Changes for the better can be effortless, giving family members dominion over career moves, homework, sports, relationships, fears, stress, the economy, bullies, and even terrorists.
The Bible is filled with stories of changes in character that happened quickly (Nebuchadnezzar's acceptance of God as the only power) or stories of young people who took a while to get their act together (remember Jacob who had to run away for decades). But the best example of change is probably that of Paul. The steps he took are ones worthy of your discussion with kids as you consider the new year and how to make changes for the better. (Paul's basic story is found in "Acts of the Apostles" chapters 8, 9, 13 and onward.)
Paul's life experience of changing for the better brought blessings to countless people - even to us today. As a very young man, Paul did the right things - learning from top teachers and practicing life skills (tent-making and leatherwork, which proved helpful later when income was lean.) Youngsters can follow Paul's example at this point, pursuing their education even when some school subjects seem boring. And skills taught in the home (financial responsibility, nutritious cooking, personal upkeep, sewing, car maintenance) will come in handy later. So, with the new year, discuss what changes your youngsters might make in study habits, course selection, use of free time, family participation. How can parents support these good changes?
Paul was a writer and is credited with writing or dictating the first known book of the New Testament: First Thessalonians. Today, even with computer technology, kids' writing skills often need polishing. Perhaps a youngster will decide to be the family historian and keep an update of achievements, travel, and other important events. But sometimes life isn't all roses. Paul is honest about his actions and admits grave mistakes in his persecution of the Christians. In Galatians 1:13, he says, "I persecuted the church of God and wasted it." Translating that line into present-day church activity, are we "persecuting" others who worship differently? Or are we "wasting" the opportunity to make changes for the better by learning from religion and the Bible? Would your family be willing to make a commitment to activities that increase personal spirituality while encouraging Christliness in others?
Probably the most important change is the humongous one Paul made in his life when terrorist Paul became a beloved follower of Jesus. His conversion story is in Acts 9 (also retold in Acts 22:3-16 and Acts 26: 4-18). In a dramatic occurrence, he accepts Jesus as Messiah and God's son, and also accepts his assignment to be the missionary to the world beyond Jewish territory. What a change that was!
Such radical change is possible today...starting right at your house. Your family can pray for spiritualized thinking and freedom from bad habits. Also consider praying whole-heartedly for those we label terrorists, so that all humankind can find an effective and peaceful way of accomplishing good aims. Let that start at home.
After his conversion, Paul spent time in meditation in Arabia, preparing to prove himself to the skeptical disciples. We all need time for thought, for looking back and forgiving oneself and others, and looking forward to new activities. How can your family find time for this important introspective thinking? It could be part of the morning routine, a bedtime moment, a weekend activity, or a discussion while traveling in the car.
With the new year will come exciting adventures for your family. Accept the blessings of change as Paul did when he set sail on his missionary journeys. These took him far from home and friends, and were occasions of great satisfaction in teaching about Jesus as well as occasions of persecution and hatred. With regard to your family's "missionary journeys" into the community and world, are you preparing yourselves to handle the successes with grace and the rejections with courage?
Go into this new year eager to welcome new experiences and good changes. Be comforted with these words from Paul's Second Thessalonians: "...pray...that the word of the Lord may have free course...that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men...be not weary in well doing...Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means....and keep you from evil. The Lord be with you all. Amen."