We have spent some of our Easter holiday digging a back garden pond – together! It’s been logistically complicated at times with lots of different needs to juggle. We ended up encouraging our youngest to bring out a trowel and paint brush to do some archaeology treasure hunting while we got on with the heavy digging. She was very excited to find some bits of pottery and some old red bricks. We chatted about what they may have been part of and used for, and who might have put them there.
The past is fascinating, isn’t it? When I’m unable to sleep because the children need me so often through the night, I have been quietly researching family history. I’ve found such a lot, and have been able to find out some fascinating details about some of the characters in our family tree. One wrote a diary, lots painted pictures which have been handed down. Some have been written about in periodicals or even history books, and some lectured and preached, with their words recorded. This past Christmas, my Mum found me a copy of the sermons of Thomas Bradbury, who defended the idea of the Trinity at a time when it was being questioned. It’s wonderful to be able to share about these characters with my children, and all the more so because there’s the thread of faith that I can trace back, a thread of my family’s trust and allegiance to God. But the thread is also about God’s faithfulness shown in family ups and downs, the trials and the triumphs over them.
Telling stories of God’s ongoing faithfulness, of the people of God’s ongoing adventures with Him is important in our family life. The faith we have is not in a God who worked powerfully once upon a time in the past, but in a God who is living and active through the ages and today. Over Easter, I had a chance to tell the stories again. As we sang hymns, I remember my Grandad singing when I was a child—with tears running down his cheeks, his strong hearty voice swept up in the emotion of the reality of the words, “There is a green hill” and “Let the church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing.…” We sang these hymns at Easter breakfasts when I was growing up.
I remembered out loud with my children, in a moment of worship, these very same words that stirred my Grandad’s heart, then my Dad’s heart, then mine. We spoke that the same God full of Easter life was leading, guiding and strengthening my father and grandfather in their faith adventures, just as He is ours. Testimonies of God’s faithfulness, of His provision amidst challenge are all around us in the lives of our church family today. Those testimonies were present in the lives of those who went before us, those—who like us—put their hope and trust in Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life stronger than death.
Do you see what this means? All these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running the race of faith—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
These old, old stories can excite and amaze us, they can cheer us on to expect great things from a great God, especially in the midst of the usual logistical juggling act that is day-to-day family life wonderfully shaped by disability.
See more of Cathy Porter’s work at https://clearlynurturing.wordpress.com/.