So, the family and I have spent the last few days embarking on an adventure to a beautiful island off the shore Apalachicola, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. Several miles into the gulf lies the little island of St. George, basically an overgrown sandbar, that I must first say is home to some serious fishing, oystering, shrimping, and right outside the largest national park in Florida. Yep we saw warnings of black bear, alligators and bald eagles all in the same little stretch. This must be one of the last frontiers of real Florida, you know the kind where people sound more like they are from Alabama than Brooklyn, folks are friendly and us being from Kentucky is “pretty far north”; This is a little slice of paradise, no high rises, no chain restaurants, seafood sold that were swimming earlier in the morning, Blue Bell ice cream everywhere, sweet tea is tea, grits and biscuits and gravy are normal breakfast foods.
One of the goals of this trip, different than years past, is to purposely work on the relationships we have within this little family God has blessed us with. Away from the hustle and bustle of life at home, we have purposely kept the laptops off unless the kids are sleeping, brought games to play, and family movies, coffee and books, and Scripture games, the Jesus Storybook Bible and more. All of this to work on the relationships within our little family. I called it “Turning our family inward and upward”.
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:0-5 ESV
Turning Inward and Upward
Even though I am going to Seminary for Family Ministry, it does not make me any less prone to family fatigue, stress, and letting life and my carnal tendencies get in the way of glorifying God in the most obvious ways and places.
As much as this little vacation seems like a slice of paradise and a time of rejuvenation; without turning to the Word of God for the clear direction, promises from God, and wisdom to apply to our lives together as a family, we would be laboring for nothing.
All over this island it is covered with sand, it drifts, erodes away with the changing tide, and further more provides us with the perfect illustration of God’s word and our life. The houses are built on stilts which are tall posts planted firmly on concrete, to provide them with the stability to withstand the storms that barrier islands are faced with regularly. The sand may blow or wash away, but the foundation remains and even though everything around it shifts, they remain.
This is a similar point to the point of this passage in Psalm 127 : Unless the Lord builds this house, those who build it labor in vain. It doesn’t get any more clear than that. God is constant, his truth is unchanging, and the only source of truth that will weather the storms of changing society, sin filled lives and temporary happiness we seek when God’s word is not central. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. I can try my best to care and guard my family from the evil of the world, but ultimately I am powerless without our omniscient and omnipotent Father.
I realized the last couple nights what the truth of verse two was getting at. The ESV notes say the command not to labor anxiously in vain for the provisions that only God can provide, but live by faith and rest. Rest in God’s providence. Rest knowing God is, will and has provided all you need to sustain yourselves and your relationship. So the imperative is to glorify and praise Him for it by resting. Rest shows God that we know, by faith, that only He can provide our needs, only He sustains us, our labor is in vain and without recognizing God as the central theme and primary ingredient, our toil and relationships are meaningless and ultimately sinking sand.
I have spent a considerable part of our time this trip taking it all in and slowing down. I haven’t been able to read quite as much as I had hoped but that’s okay. We both understood going into this that we want to show our children this vacation that we live to glorify God, and that alone. It is okay to gratefully rest in God’s providence and grace.
As We Go
The last part of our passage teaches us that parents have a responsibility. Our responsibility is clearly a commission from the Lord to extend his glory within the confines of our family. Simply put, teach and show your child what it means to live to the glory of God who created and redeemed us by the blood of Christ Jesus.
I have seen the phrase LIVE SENT a few times, and it means being missional, not in the seeker-sensitive way, but following the commands of Christ and example of Paul and the Apostles…mainly, as you go live to the glory of God, sharing His grace and love for others, telling others the Good News that there is forgiveness in Christ, and letting your children be a part of it all.
I want to ask you all to pray for our server at breakfast, she is battling cancer and recovering from chemo, she goes again for more treatment on Wednesday. Also please pray for our other morning staff at Courtyard Marriot in Alabama, she has several young children and appears to be sinking in stress preparing for a move.
What a wonderful reminder this passage give us from Solomon. We must rely on the Lord alone based upon His Word alone to grow together and grow in faith.
Look forward to upcoming posts as I interact with Michael Horton’s Gospel Commission and Dr. Moore’s Tempted and Tried