When I initially found out I was pregnant for the first time, my day dreams were immediately filled with images of a beautiful little girl. Because he had only sons, Adam’s dad’s heart was set on a granddaughter…and because of the wonderful relationship that I enjoyed with my mom, I innocently assumed what I most desired was a little lady in my life.
Our 20 week ultrasound came around…and Isaiah was not shy about showing off his male anatomy. There was no denying it – we were having a boy!
As I began to pray more specifically for that tiny body being formed in my womb, I remember feeling the weighty responsibility of raising a young man. I wanted him to be strong. To be a leader. To do things for the Kingdom that I would never be able to do myself.
I remember feeling the pressure of potentially raising a stereotypical “pastor’s kid”. Of walking him through mistakes and failures. Of teaching him how to treat a woman.
And now my load has doubled. Two boys. Two hearts to shape. Two lives to mold. And the responsibility is heavy.
As we thought through our goals for this year, I felt desperate for wisdom in how to mother these little men and what prayers I should be praying for them.
And ol’ John the Baptist just keeps popping up all over the place.
In my last post I shared what God was teaching me through my own personal time in the Word that also paralleled what Isaiah was learning in Sunday School (“A Piece of Humble Locust Pie”).
But this past week, God directed my attention back to John again. The girls (or ladies, depending on how old you think we are 😉 ) in my Bible study just started studying through the book of Luke. And who is highlighted in first chapter? My buddy, John the Baptist.
And in Luke 1 I was sent back to the beginning. Rather than being introduced to a hairy, locust eating preacher, I caught a glimpse of a tiny baby. A miracle pregnancy. A promise fulfilled. A new promise given.
The birth of John was no run of the mill birth, after all. His birth was announced by an angel proclaiming his destiny. His mother’s formally barren womb the home of his filling of the Holy Spirit. His father’s tongue, silenced because of doubt, loosened after the revealing of John’s name.
And the chatter started amongst the people. I love what they said…
“…and all who heard them laid up in their hearts, saying, ‘What then will this child be?‘ For the hand of the Lord was with him.”
– Luke 1:66
Now John obviously had special strength and favor, as well as the responsibility of being the forerunner of the Lamb of God, that my boys don’t have. But this verse does hold a question for them that has been burned on my heart.
What then will this child be?
More than the portions of magnetic personalities, high IQs, or dashing good looks that they’ll inevitably receive from their earthly Daddy ;-), I’m begging for their lives to be characterized by the hand of their heavenly Daddy…
“This is the portion that we ought to seek for our children. It is the best portion, the happiest portion, the only portion that can never be lost, and will endure beyond the grave. It is good to have over them, ‘the hand’ of teachers and instructors; but it is still better to have ‘the hand of the Lord.’ We may be thankful if they obtain the patronage of the great and the rich. But we ought to care far more for their obtaining the favor of God…
Let us bless the God that never changes. What He was in John the Baptist’s days, He is now. What He did for the son of Zechariah, He can do for our boys and girls. But He waits to be entreated. If we would have the hand of the Lord with our children, we must diligently seek it.“
– J.C. Ryle
And what characterized John’s life?
The hand of the Father.
The presence of the Holy Spirit.
A life that directed others to the Son.
The bold call for repentance.
An unwavering courage in the face of opposition.
And in his own words, “the friend of the bridegroom.” (John 3:29)
The friend of the bridegroom.
Since I’m often in wedding mode, helping my husband do several couples’ pre-marital counseling, and having recently attended the wedding of a dear friend, that simple phrase exploded for me.
In Jewish culture, there were certain people that were called the bridegroom’s friends, who were the means of communication between the bride and groom before their wedding. Their duty was simply to communicate the groom’s interests, providing good understanding between the couple, and removing all obstacles standing in the way of a speedy union between the two. Ryle states that if they saw the bridegroom “received favorably and gladly by the bride, their end was accomplished and their work was done.” They then stood at a distance, drawing the attention toward the bride and groom.
John was essentially saying that his role was to help form a good understanding between the Bridegroom (Christ) and the Bride (the Church) so that they would accept his invitation (salvation) and grow in relationship with Him.
John was the ultimate groomsman.
My mind went to the week before our wedding, when two of Adam’s best friends each took me out for a meal. Individually they expressed love and care for me, affirmed Adam’s character, and shared excitement for our coming together. They promised to help in the growth of my relationship with my groom. Their interactions with me made me even more excited to take Adam’s hand in marriage. Their actions were not about them, but all about my groom.
This past weekend I attended the wedding of a dear friend. Because God had already been stirring in my heart regarding the friend of the bridegroom, I couldn’t help but think about the role of my friend’s groomsmen. Before the ceremony began, I watched intently as two of his closest friends lit the candles in the front of the sanctuary. What may appear as a seemingly meaningless tradition to some held a whole new importance for me.
Two men, dressed like the groom, preparing the way for his arrival.
The darkness of the stage illuminated by the lights they carried.
Then they quietly took their places behind the groom, supporting him and drawing all eyes to him.
“John solemnly affirms that Christ must and will become greater and greater, and that he himself must become less and less important, until, like a star eclipsed by the rising sun, he has completely disappeared.”
– J.C. Ryle
This is what I want for my two boys. This is what is good.
What then will these children be?
It is my prayer that they are friends of the Bridegroom. That they would daily grow to look more and more like Him, being dressed in His righteousness. That they would know Him intimately, speak of Him passionately, and draw attention to Him humbly. That they would step into the darkness and shine brightly for His glory. That they would live lives that make much of Jesus and less of themselves.
And that they would one day take their place with the Bride to meet Him face to face.
Give them one pure and holy passion
And give them one magnificent obsession
Jesus, give them one glorious ambition for their lives
To know and follow hard after You.