- - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There’s an old saying that many seem to have forgotten. But truer words were never spoken: “As the family goes, so goes the nation.”

America’s families are fractured like never before, and our country is breaking apart at the seams as a result.

While the Scriptures don’t necessarily give specific policy prescriptions for every issue we face, they do provide very specific principles for how to live as both as free people and decent human beings. And these principles for nourishing human interaction apply to each member of the family. God himself created marriage, and the Bible is filled with stories about what makes families thrive and what pits members against each other. If everyone were to perfectly follow the principles given throughout the New Testament, our country would be a slice of “Heaven on Earth” and our homes would only be filled with bliss.

But as my friend Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College points out, men are not angels. We fail. We rebel. We fail again. We are selfish. Did I mention that we fail?

Our great country’s prescription for federal government was formed through a beautiful document called the Constitution, which recognizes that individuals need a limited government to protect us from others who try to control us or deny our rights. The Constitution protects the God-given rights of individuals as well as protect us as a nation from enemies who would destroy us. But the power of the government is finite and limited. In fact, the 10th Amendment specifically says that if the powers aren’t listed in the Constitution itself, then it is left up to the states and individuals to make every other decision about how we will live.

Our government was not designed to usurp the power of moms and dads to raise their children as they see fit. Nor is it empowered to take care of or make decisions for our children (as those who support a “nanny state” seek to do.) As parents, our job is tough — but it is the most important undertaking of our lives. In fact, the book of Malachi makes clear why God created families: to produce godly children. That is a tough calling. But our Constitution allows us to openly and boldly share our faith with our children in word and deed without fear of government intimidation or sanction.

When moms and dads work within the framework of Scripture — which shows us how to have fulfilling, happy relationships — and as we defeat government policies that attempt to encroach upon our rights to raise our children in the way we deem best, our families will find great freedom and joy.

However, even with strong faith and the freedom to parent, the fact remains that we will often fail.

God himself pointed out mankind’s inevitable failings long ago. But the story did not end there. In a marvelous display of his immense love for us, he provided abundant grace through his only son, who took on our sins and paid the ultimate price that we might be forgiven.

God gives grace — abundant grace, amazing grace — when we fail in our interactions with him and others, including our family members. Such grace (defined as “unmerited favor”) comes to those who are truly repentant, who truly seek forgiveness and who are truly “turning from our wicked ways.”

My husband and I are going through Ephesians together and a description of that beautiful grace from Chapter One keeps filling my heart and mind with absolute joy. It’s the message I want to share with moms everywhere during these days leading up to Mother’s Day.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us .”

Read that again, and focus on the word, “lavished.” Think for a moment about what “lavish” means: “to bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities.” Wow! How beautiful is that word picture? God doesn’t just tolerate us when we fail; he lavishes us with grace. He does not say he forgives and then holds a grudge; he lavishes us with grace, with favor. Say that aloud. Voice the truth and feel the power. Then meditate a moment on the sheer joy that comes with experiencing that kind of love.

To the moms who might be entering Mother’s Day feeling a bit regretful about past mistakes, or who have not taken every advantage that comes with living in a country that still mostly allows you to raise your children as you see fit, let God lavish you with his abundant, rich, delicious grace. Take the time to close your eyes, ask his forgiveness, and bathe your soul in the hope and joy that comes with a new beginning.

God’s grace is here for the asking. As long as there is breath in you, there is always a chance to mend the relationships in your life that are damaged. Breathe in his grace like rich, life-giving oxygen. Focus first on your relationship with God, then your family members (being deliberate to ask their forgiveness, too), then turn your attention to other relationships. Finally, commit to fighting to restore and protect the freedom God gave you to boldly teach your children to how to also experience His lavish grace.

Rebecca Hagelin is the author of “30 Ways in 30 Days to Strengthen Your Family” (David C. Cook, 2016).

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