When the Word Lies Dormant, Hope Does Not

I woke last Black Friday morning with an unfamiliar ache. I’m not being figurative here. My thighs ached. I reached for my friend Advil to go with my coffee. Then I remembered my run in the sleet with our sons the day before and my little “sprint” up the last hill. Sprints make me ache.

We had a lively discussion on our run. (Bill and I think our son’s love language with each other is debate. They like to mix it up over everything from Calvinism to Comcast. Most of the time, the effect of their vigorous conversations feels, to me, a bit like the blaring ambient noise of a TV commercial with the volume up too high. They start and end with love, really, they do, but they are young men who have not yet been gentled by sorrow and failure. And so they scuffle around with words like Great Dane puppies.)

Thanksgiving morning, as I ran with them, I finally got the breath to interrupt at the bottom of the last hill. I said something maternal and slightly wise… and confrontational. Then I took off up that hill. For the first time in our four miles I was a step ahead of them.

David did not skip a beat and picked up the thread of discussion, but Matt stopped him and said, laughing, “Wait a minute, David. Mom just laid Oswald Chambers on me. I need to process this for a few hours.”

And then Friday morning, aching, I read this verse:

“We have good reason to give thanks to God without pausing, for you have taken into yourselves the word of God we brought to you and received it as a message from God—not just something whipped up by someone like you or us—and that word is at work in you who believe.” (1 Thess. 2:13)

I was sore from those few fleet steps up the hill, but I also had good reason to be thankful, more thankful than most of you can fathom, for boys who are now men, who, though they love to spar with their words (better than the fists they used to use), love the Word of God best. All of them. They now know that this Word, which their father and I planted in them continually from birth, was never ours. And, being God’s, its work in them borders onto the miraculous. It has made them the strong, kind, purposeful men they are today. Now that is worth sprinting up a hill about.

So, young parents: Don’t give up in your task of planting the Word of God in your children. Don’t do it anxiously or overbearingly or tentatively or even excessively, but do it. Don’t despair when they are restless or blank when you read it to them. And don’t give them a word that is “whipped up by someone like you.” Tussle with this word yourself so you’ll know it well enough to plant it in them pure.

Parents of grown or almost-grown children: Don’t stop hoping in the Word you planted years ago. It’s still there. Don’t stop praying it will take root. Don’t stop letting that same Word comfort you as you wait. Don’t despair if quoting scripture or Oswald Chambers is met with scorn. (This is just me talking, but there was a season when I quit doing that and let the seed rest, dormant, in the ground without any more help from me.)

And then one Black Friday or any Friday, I pray you wake up with a sweet, satisfying ache from the years of handling the Word and the hard work of handing it off to your sons and daughters. I pray you’ll discover the joy of knowing, not that they have become your picture of godly or spiritual, but that they have received the Word you gave them, even if you didn’t give it as well as you could have. It isn’t your Word after all. And I pray you see glimpses, as you continue running the race of life with your children who are now your peers or will be before you know it, that it is at work in them the same way it has been at work in you all this time.

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