Toddlers are amazing. What’s more amazing is how excited we get about the things they do. Our hearts melt when we hear a new phrase which we didn’t know they knew. The other day I genuinely asked who a character in a book was. When I received the correct answer I was so excited I could barely sit down! It’s not that we’re impressed per se, after all, most people can name characters. We’re pleased, relatively, given their age and what we expect.
I don’t know if you’ve ever stopped to think about what it’s like for us to know God. God who considers the distances between the stars as perfectly normal. The numbers of the grains of sand on the sea as an obvious number. And for whom quantum physics is just scratching the surface of how he goes about his daily business of operating. Given all of this, how on earth do we understand anything about him at all.
Thomas Aquinas puts it this way, ‘God provides for everything according to the capacity of its nature.’ That’s an amazing truth isn’t it. God lowers himself so that even I can know him. As a parent trying to think about how on earth a toddler can understand the things of God I’m encouraged that they have the same God who lets me know him. If God can communicate himself to me there’s no doubt that he can communicate in whatever capacity that person has. I don’t know about you but I think it’s good to know that God is bigger than age or mental capacity.
‘No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known’
Your house is burgled. You don’t have insurance. The interest rate drops. You just fixed your mortgage rate: negative equity. Third party fire and theft insurance on your car with a big loan. You crash. It’s your own fault. In all these situations we would wish we’d invested in some protection. Better insurance in case the worst happens.
What about the worst case scenario and we lose our life. There are lots of things we may worry about. What have we left to our loved ones? Will anyone remember me? Surely the most serious question of all is, ‘What will I say to my maker?’ Surely we need some insurance there too. But what would that be? If you were standing before Jesus answering for yourself, what could you say? What should you say? Perhaps that you are a really nice person. Or that you are at least better than most people. Maybe that you said prayers every night before sleep.
God gives us insurance. In Exodus Egypt was about to be visited by the final plague, death. What would they need for protection? Get me out of here comes to mind! But no. In Exodus 12.7 they are told to put the blood of a lamb over their door posts. That doesn’t really sound like strong protection does it. They must have been tempted to bar their doors, block up the windows or just run away. What God asked seemed like foolishness. But by that blood the angel of death passed over those houses. By that blood they were saved, freed, able to reach the promised land.
If that was true for the picture or type of Christ who would take away the sins of the world just imagine what Jesus blood can do. It washes away sins and allows us to be in the presence of God. It may seem foolish, it’s never going to sound wise to the world. But it is the only way we can stand before the Father. It is the means of the defeat of Satan. It is the means of our forgiveness. In the end though it isn’t an insurance policy, you may never crash your car or have money problems but you will stand before God. Our need for the blood of Christ is certain.
‘The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’
– 1 Corinthians 1.18
‘Behind every great man lies a great woman’. A lady called Monica had a son. Being a Christian she began to pray for him from birth. Like many young people the boy grew up amid temptations in the world around and was charmed by them. She never gave up praying. She wept, she begged, she prayed. She longed for the Lord to bring her son to himself. It seemed as though he just got farther away. He rejected Christ and joined another religion. She never gave up praying. He was finally brought back to the Lord when he was 31. It hadn’t been an easy ride. She never gave up praying.
Today we know the boy as St Augustine. The man who taught Christians that in a world with a failing economy, mass migration and a questionable government their true security was not in the government of this world but in the city of heaven with God. Who having been claimed by Christ prayed, ‘Our hearts find no rest until they find rest in you’.
This story is so familiar isn’t it, it could be told by countless Christians all over the world all over time. After all, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 1.9). As a parent of one (nearly two!) children I fear for their adult years. I worry for the world in which they will live. But most of all I long for them to cling to their Saviour. Many of us will have children or grandchildren whom we pray for. I hope the, not unique, story of Augustine’s mum may serve as an encouragement. Let us persist in prayer. We may feel helpless, we may be helpless. No matter how long it’s been let us keep praying, keep begging the Lord to protect and draw to himself those we love. We can’t all be St Augustines, great erudite teachers of the faith. We can all be Monicas, faithfully praying, constantly interceding for our families. When others have given up the Lord hasn’t. Let us never give up praying.