Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Susannah (page 2 of 3)

Like Father, Like Daughter

image_308There are certain moments in a father’s life that make you stop and think… ‘wow… that child sure reminds me of me!’

Last night, after proudly proclaiming that if she finished her dinner she would get a treat, Susannah finished her dinner. Of course, now Daddy was somehow obliged to provide a treat (since Mom, who may well have kaiboshed the whole treat thing, was not there).

Anyway, I didn’t know what to get her, so I thought, ‘What would I like?’ The first thing that came to mind (as usual) was ice cream. So Daddy heads to the freezer, scoops some gelato into a bowl and returns it to Susie.

Within moments she was meticulously scraping the last of the melted ice cream from the bottom of the bowl. Once she had that done, she lifted the bowl to her face and licked the entire thing clean (as evidenced in the picture of the bowl which looks like it’s just come out of the dishwasher.

What was the result?

image_309She was about as happy as her daddy would have been. Which actually did make her daddy pretty happy. 🙂

Daddy, Did Jesus Do That?

My daughter Susannah is almost two. I love her just about to death. One of her favourite things to do (just like her daddy) is to go outside in the rain. It thrills her to no end to run around and splash in the puddles and get soaked by the falling rain.

A few nights ago when it was raining, we stayed outside and talked about where the rain comes from, who makes it, and who sends it. The answer, of course, is that the rain comes down from heaven and is sent by God. Throughout the Scriptures rain is a picture of God’s faithful provision even for unfaithful people.

Like most conversations with Susannah, I really didn’t think she was listening too carefully. She was wanting to get down and run around some more, not sit with daddy and philosophize about the biblical-theological import of rain. But as it turns out, she was actually listening closer than I thought.

Today, as we were outside (playing in the rain again), I pointed to ‘Auntie Janis’ car’ and said, ‘Look, Susie, it’s wet!’ As she always does, she reached out and touched the car to make sure daddy wasn’t pulling her leg. She looked at her now wet hand, then at me, and said, ‘Daddy, did Jesus do that?’

It’s a funny thing how words just sometimes have more impact when a child speaks them. 

The rain we were experiencing today was a result of Hurricane Ike. The answer to Susie’s question is the answer that so many people need to hear in this world today. ‘Yes, Jesus did that.’

Ah, to have the faith of a child. For us adults, there are a million follow-up questions. We are quick to try to justify God and show all the reasons why we would deny the plain truth that Jesus sent the storm: he would never desire suffering; he can never cause evil; he would never want anything bad to happen. And it goes on and on.

But the reality that we must face is that God controls the weather. God appeared to Job in a whirlwind. When Elijah prayed, it didn’t rain for 3.5 years. Jesus calmed the stom on the Sea of Galilee with zero effort. He reigns providentially over all creation and all weather-patterns. Whether you want to say ‘God sent it’ or ‘God didn’t stop it’ really makes no difference (although one is much truer than the other). Either way, it’s from the hand of God.

When God sends storms, it is mercy. It is mercy because it proclaims to all that the real storm of final judgement is coming. None of us can escape it. No early warning system or evacuation plan could ever save us from this. This very minor, very localized display of the power and the fury of God should cause us all to question, ‘Am I prepared to face the real thing?’

Survival kits, flashlights, thousands of jugs of bottled water will do us no good. When the end comes (and it will come in a flash, without TV networks showing us radar images days and weeks ahead of time), the only thing that will matter is whether we’ve trusted in Christ or something else. The storm is coming, and only the Christian, with his house built on the rock of Christ’s teachings will be able to withstand it. When the fury of God’s wrath beats on our shores, and the anger of his judgement floods our houses, only the Christian will escape.

The Christian is the one for whom there is no more wrath. All of it–the full storm front–has all been borne on Christ, and we are safe. The fury of the storm has been sated, and only the peace and calmness of God’s goodness remains for us.

Praise God for his merciful reminders in storms. Praise him for his mercies in Christ.

The Purpose of Pain

The other day Stacey returned home with a special purchase for Susannah. It was a bottle of bright-coloured, foaming hand soap. Susannah has reached an age where we want her to be able to do more things (like washing her hands) on her own.

Susannah took to this task with joy! She stood at the sink (on a stool) like a big girl. She got her hands all soaped up, and then her daddy said, ‘Put your hands under the water and rinse them off.’ So she put her hands under the water… only to quickly pull them out and yelp, ‘Hot!’

I had accidentally left the tap turned a little too far too the left. She wasn’t badly hurt at all, but looked at me as if to say, ‘I’m not doing that again!’

That got me thinking about pain. I thank God that Susannah is able to feel pain. Not because I like the thought of my daughter hurting, but because I know God’s purposes in pain are good.

Medically speaking, it seems that the purposes of pain are generally straightforward: Pain alerts you to the fact that something is wrong in your body and needs attention. Something must be done now to avoid greater consequences later. Pain is a warning.

In James 5, James is alerting his audience–people who are undergoing suffering–that they must be patient to endure hardship and pain. He gives them several reasons. He argues that those who persecute them will be finally judged, and that the Judge stands at the door. He also refers to the prophets, and then to Job.

When he gets to Job, James becomes more specific and says,

you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

The Lord’s purpose in Job’s suffering was compassionate and merciful. At the end of Job’s turmoil, not only did he receive back more than he ever lost, he said these words:

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. … I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust ashes.

The Lord’s purpose in Job’s suffering was to reveal more of himself to Job–and then ultimately to us, thousands of years later. God was revealing himself as one who is compassionate and merciful, even in suffering.

There are things which are eternal and there are things which are temporal; things which will matter when the Judge appears, and other things that won’t. At least a part of the purpose in our pain in this life is to warn us of a bigger problem: that this world and everything in it is cursed because of sin, and already under condemnation. We suffer pain, things fall apart, tragedy happens, all to warn us of a potentially greater tragedy to come: eternal condemnation and wrath against sinners for sin.

If Susannah didn’t feel pain at the little bit of hot water, she might leave her hands there until they were scalded and then permanently damaged. The pain was uncomfortable, but it let her know that if she didn’t act, worse would result. The Lord’s purpose in pain is–like his purpose in everything else–compassionate and merciful. He desires to show us that there is no ultimate life, no hope, no safety in this world. Those things can and must be found in him alone. He wants to ween us off our selfish joy-seeking in the creation so that we might pursue true joy-seeking in the Creator.

My Girls

My girls… In their PJ’s, all calm and quiet, ready for bed. Or not.

Things I Love

Aside from my Saviour, my greatest love is for my family. So, of course, this post brings me great delight.

My wife, Stacey, has been blogging for a few months now–and I love it! This post is just reciting a few of our favourite memories of our kids from over the past few weeks. They grow up so fast… it’s so much fun to think of all the different things they’re learning.

Hope you enjoy it half as much as I did!

Read the full article here: Precious Moments

Parenting and My Heart

Sometimes it’s good to do what’s counter-intuitive. In fact, I’ve found that the longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I need to second-guess and examine every motive. Sure enough, there is deep-rooted sin in there somewhere. I’ve found God’s evaluation of humanity in Gen 8.21 (‘the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on’) to be absolutely correct in my case every time I’m willing to consider for longer than 23 seconds.

This examining and cross-examining of motives and actions is almost nowhere more necessary than in parenting. What can on-first-blush appear to be ‘for the baby’ can really be simply for my immediate gratification (‘I made her feel nice, now I feel better about my ability to parent’). What is really sad about this, though, is that what is often for my immediate gratification as a parent will more often than not be to the child’s long-term harm.

So, for example, we’re in a store and Susie really wants something, but I already told her she can’t have it, I had not planned on buying it, we haven’t budgeted for it, and she doesn’t need it. What do I do as a parent? The ball is only $1.99 or something silly like that. She is sad if I don’t get it. She’s happy if I get it. Why not just ‘make her happy’ and get it? Wouldn’t it also make me happier to just buy something for my daughter that I know will make her happy?

Because we teach by example, I’m teaching Susie something in that situation when I give in and buy it. I’m teaching her that it’s okay to make unplanned purchases, on an impulse, whether you have the money or not. I’m teaching her that when you complain and fuss in life, you get want you want. I’m teaching her to look for happiness in ‘stuff’ that can be purchased. I’m teaching her that it is okay to strive against an authority. In all these ways I’m doing my daughter tremendous spiritual harm by ‘making her happy’ in that moment.

If that’s true–and I know it is–then why would I give in to her? Why would I cave when she has a fit? Why would I leave her undisciplined when she breaks rules? Why would I let her go to bed late, get up early, eat what she wants, etc., when I’ve thought it through and prayed it through ahead of time? Why would decisions that my trusted counsellor (my bride) and I have talked through at length be discarded in a moment?

Because I love my daughter? Far from it. That’s the opposite of love.

Why would I be willing to ‘do whatever it takes’ to stop our baby from crying and make her ‘happy’? Because the inclination of my heart is evil from my childhood on. Because my heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all else and I cannot understand it. Because my near-sighted selfishness is willing to sacrifice the long-term spiritual welfare of my child for the immediate gratification I get from feeling like a good parent; or maybe so that I can congratulate myself on how gracious I am.

I believe it. Now all I need to do is continue to preach it to myself as I make the moment-by-moment decisions I need to make in parenting. God give me grace to be faithful!

It’s Better to Be Christian

Life is better as a Christian… for so many reasons.

The other night, when Stace and I got back from our trip to Washington DC and our visit at Covenant Life Church, I had the pleasure of putting my girls to bed.

Susannah and Caitlyn have both had special songs that I sing to them when I’m putting them to bed since the time they were born. As I sing to them I pray for them while they fall asleep. These are precious, spiritual times that I know I’ll always remember.

Here’s what non-Christians have to sing:

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all. 

Compare that with what I get to sing to Susannah:

I will praise You all my life
I will sing to You with my whole heart
I will trust in You
My hope and my help
My Maker and my faithful God 

O faithful God
My faithful God
You lift me up
And you uphold my cause
You give me life
You dry my eyes
You’re always near
You’re a faithful God

And here’s what I get to sing to Caitlyn:

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore 

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

Help me now to live a life
That’s dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me

Need I say more? Life is definitely better as a Christian.

‘O Faithful God’ by Mark Altrogge © 1987 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)/Dayspring Music (a division of Word Music).

‘O Great God’ by Bob Kauflin © 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).

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