He doesn’t owe us the birds singing or the flowers budding or the smiles or the warm connections. But he gives them to us because he loves us and he doesn’t want us to panic or be anxious. They are the tokens that his promises of relief and redemption are true.
We all love to re-watch our favorite movie scenes, including the suspenseful ones, and we experience all the nervousness and anxiety all over again as if it’s the first time. It’s almost irrational because we are behaving as if we are in the dark about something we actually know quite a bit about. In part, that’s because it doesn’t have anything to do with what we don’t know, but how we are perceiving in the moment what we generally know. It’s also because we know all too well that death is ultimately inescapable, no matter how many times the hero thwarts it in repeat showings.
When God acts in history, he does so to highlight his glory and to govern and preserve his people. He manifests his purposes through the voluntary and involuntary actions of the spiritual body and its members. We generally are not aware of it, though. We just thread the needle. We just drive the car. We just breathe.
When we raise up Christ and introduce him to our children, talking about him and pointing out where he touches every part of their lives, we demonstrate our hope that their desire will be to see themselves as “friends of Jesus.” By coming to identify themselves in the context of who Jesus is, what he’s done for them, how he helps them make decisions, how he comforts them in times of trouble, they move out of the center willingly and beam with delight when he gets the glory—“That’s my friend, Jesus!” And if it doesn’t seem to be happening willingly, remember how stubborn your heart was before it was redeemed, and don’t give up. Pray to this end out loud and in front of them to show them that you rely on Jesus’s centrality in your life.
If I disregard the protection my blood pressure medication affords me or neglect the exercise of regular dosages or leave it in places where it would get lost or stolen, I am making my heart an easy target for stroke or attack because of weakened and malfunctioning systems. When we disregard the value of the graces the Lord has provided, or fail to put on the spiritual armor available to every believer, or neglect the benefits in growth and maturity accessible through the body of Christ, the church, then we make ourselves easy targets for the side-of-the-road attacks from the fiends of temptation, affliction, and sin.