More than “I just want them to be happy”
Some may ask, “So, don’t you want them to be happy?” Of course, we do but, at the end of the day, we want so much more for them, and my prayers need to consistently reflect that.. (5 min. read)
Recently, I was watching a film whose title I do not remember about troubled relationships between controlling parents and a young woman who was trying to convey her adult independence in not-so-subtle or successful ways. As the argument grew more and more heated, the climax was reached as the mother expressed this amazingly predictable line, “But I just want you to be happy!!” The ultimate goal for every parent, right?
Parents of the Groom
As many of you are aware, our elder son and ANiC’s communications director, Scott Hunt, was married on Saturday May 19th to Richelle Lyons, an incredibly special young woman. Together, they will serve the Lord in numerous ways, many of which are yet to be revealed. As Margaret and I shared our little “parents of the groom” speech at the dinner reception, we made a strong point of our commitment to pray for them for as long as we have breath in these bodies. We passionately believe that prayer is the most important activity that we can do for them.
Since then, as I have thought about the content of my prayers for them, I was aware of just how comfort and convenience-oriented my prayers were: “O Lord, may they have lovely weather on their honeymoon in Maine”; “May the traffic not be too congested as they cross Toronto on their way home”; “May they be kept free from this nasty cold that I’ve had for seven weeks!”; “May Scott’s job demands not be too onerous in the first week of his return”; “May it not be too hot in their little apartment after all this hot weather we’ve been having!” etc., etc. I think you get the idea.
Some may ask, “So, don’t you want them to be happy?” Of course, we do but, at the end of the day, we want so much more for them, and my prayers need to consistently reflect that. More than simply circumstantial happiness, we want to see the truths of the Gospel being worked in and expressed in their lives, their marriage and their ministries.
And All Other Benefits
In the Communion Liturgy, there is this wonderful prayer by the celebrant; “Grant that by his merits and death, and through faith in his Blood, we and your whole Church may receive forgiveness of our sins and all other benefits of his passion.” That’s what we want for any and all whom we pray for – all the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection”.
So, practically speaking, what does that look like? I recently read a Twitter post by Scotty Smith, a pastor whom I follow and whose passion for being Gospel-centred I deeply appreciate. Here is what he said:
“No longer under the demands of the Law, under the guilt of sin, under the illusion of self-sufficiency, under the weight of shame, under the pressure to perform, under the fear of exposure, under the stress of not being enough, under the incomparable burden of a gospel-less life.”
Space does not allow me to fully unpack all that is contained in these wonderfully Scriptural statements, but read them over, phrase by phrase, and let the power of each of these “benefits” impact you:
· No longer under the demands of the Law– Paul makes it abundantly clear that those who are in Christ are no longer under Law we couldn’t keep, but under Grace. (Romans 6:14)
· No longer under the guilt of sin– the power and freedom of knowing that we stand totally forgiven, no longer fettered by a guilty conscience. (1 John 1: 19)
· No longer under the illusion of self-sufficiency– our old nature so desperately wants to be independent and need no one. Yet, Jesus says that without Him, we can do nothing! (John 15: 5)
· No longer under the weight of shame– there’s guilt over our sins that we commit frequently, and then there’s shame, those dreadful sins that nobody knows about and that we so deeply regret. But, even those ponderous weights, Jesus has dealt with on the cross. We are no longer defined by our sin! (1 Peter 2:6)
· No longer under the pressure to perform– how many of us struggle with “doing it right”, keeping the rules, getting great grades, etc. Our identity is in the wrong place. Those in Christ are totally loved, approved of and adopted by our Loving Heavenly Father. Nothing for us to prove. (Ephesians 1: 5)
· No longer under the fear of exposure– Someone once said, “If God knew what I’m really like, He wouldn’t want me!” But God does know, everything we’ve ever done, and loves us anyway. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8: 38-39)
· No longer under the stress of not being enough– God seems to hold the bar so high! How can I ever attain to his call upon us? Paul says that only in his recognition of his own weakness is God’s strength released to us. His sufficiency, never ours. (2 Corinthians 2: 5)
· No longer under the incomparable burden of a gospel-less life– the Gospel offers us so much more than we often lay hold of. Trying to live life with a little bit of religion or atheistic independence is a crippling burden. Only in Jesus is the yoke easy and the burden light. (Matthew 11:30)
These Are the Things
These are the truths that I want my family to know, not just theologically, but experientially. For this season at least, all of these are the things that I’m praying for my sons, their wives and children – passionate gospel-centred lives.
May I encourage you, dear readers, to examine how you pray for your loved ones, and consider as I did the things that are far more important than their just being happy. Let’s pray for them as never before!