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There are two things we pass on to our kiddos. One we didn’t know. One we hardly believe.
First, we pass on our faith. Second, we pass on our doubts.
However, we who are smart, savvy, modern believers know that we can neutralize doubts with a faith in something real.
No problem! God is real. We believe Him. Done!
We believe Him, except.
Except when we’re not sure that His promptings are the actual way to go. Except when we know how to call on His name, but don’t know how to call on His action. Except when we trust His love, but doubt how that translates into practicality.
Our faith in Him is real. Our doubts about Him are real as well.
As a result, we wrench back control over our lives, usually in imperceptible, quiet ways. We keep it secret, often even from ourselves.
Until, what to our wondering eyes should appear but our kiddos acting out the I-believe-God-but-I-kinda-doubt-Him-too, just like us.
OUR SECRETS, LOUD AND CLEAR
Just like us? We thought we kept our doubts about God a secret.
We’re not alone.
Case in point? Abraham.
Alas, then his son Isaac right along after him.
Abraham’s story is a lynchpin in the plotline of God getting close with His people. Lynchpin though he may be, Abraham had to actively put his faith in God just like any of the rest of us.
Sometimes, Abraham doubted.
At a certain point in Abraham’s storyline, he headed to Egypt where, under duress and feeling he had to take control over a bad situation, Abraham pawned off his wife as his sister in order to get in good with an ungodly king.
Stakes are high in any faith walk. In Abraham’s storyline, that ungodly king might have otherwise slain him. Still, his wife-as-sister move was not a God-is-my-shield-my-very-great-reward kind of thing to do.
Some might say Abraham was supposed to be different. Some might say he was different.
Perhaps cracks are inevitable in any character and start to show after a long and exhaustingly faithful life?
Except that it’s only page 10. And Abraham did it twice. Plus, there is no sign of a meaningful apology or repentance or even acknowledgement.
Little did Abraham know how that would transfer to his son.
COMING BACK AROUND
Abraham’s son Isaac had a chance to change the family heritage when he found himself facing the exact same temptation two pages later.
How did Isaac proceed?
Under duress and feeling he had to take control over a bad situation, Isaac pawned off his wife as his sister in order to get in good with an ungodly king.
You have got to be kidding.
Inheritance never looked so bad.
The idea that we will hurt our kids in ways we do not even know is unbearable to us. We have an overwhelming desire to protect them – especially from our own fear-fueled doubts that lead us to make embarrassing mistakes.
LOVE OF ANOTHER KIND
Lucky for us, faith in this God comes with benefits unlike any other. This is a God who comes for His own. What does that even mean? It’s hard to put into words.
But let’s try.
Here’s word: “beriyth.” It’s an agreement from times of yore, a contract made by passing through pieces of cut up animal flesh. It is not as gross as it sounds.
Simply, two people struck a deal, and the person with less clout walked through pieces of flesh, signifying that if he broke the promise then he, too, would be cut to pieces.
I guess it is as gross as it sounds.
In Abraham’s case, God told Abraham to set up the pieces for a contract between the two of them. Cue the music for the walk-through-the-flesh portion of the show, which would fall to inferior Abraham.
But. That is not what happened. Instead, God’s lightning bolt passed through the pieces of flesh.
In Abraham’s place.
It was the outward sign from God that yes, Abraham, you may promise me, but what trumps all is that I promise you. Afraid you’ll revert, digress, and mess up? You will.
And I, humbly, will absorb the cost.
PS – I offer the same for your kiddos too.
“I am the God of your father, Abraham,” God said to Isaac. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”
Inheritance never looked so good.
IN GOD WE TRUST
There are two things we pass on to our children.
First, we pass on our doubts, but not just any doubts. We pass on the doubts we are afraid to admit. Even to ourselves.
Second, we pass on our faith, but not just any faith. We pass on faith in a God who accepts that we will doubt Him. A relationship with this God and humans originates with God, depends on God and is sustained by God.
Despite our doubts, in light of our doubts, God comes for us, rather than the other way around. Receiving a God who wants to pay for our mistakes, compensate for our doubts and also guide and comfort and love us is oddly…hard.
It was hard for the biggest names in the Bible. Until they gave it a try.
Overcoming doubt and experiencing the broadest, richest aspects of our faith takes…practice. Meaningful relationships often do.
Relationships take an act of will and then a lot of trial and error, sometimes heavy on the error.
On the other side of that resolve is a connection with a God who loves deep and wide in ways that our kids will come to count on because they experience Him first hand. Sound like a lot to hope to pass on to our children?
For the God of the Bible, that is just how the story goes.
Janelle Alberts writes pithy Bible synopses for anyone who asked questions in Sunday school but didn't get straight answers. She is a regular contributor to Christianity Today's Gifted for Leadership and can be found here.