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“Passing Through The Shadows!” 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Key verse(s): 26:“‘For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’.”
“Smile and the world smiles with you! Cry and you cry alone.” Walking through life with a smile on our faces is something to hope for, isn’t it? Life it far too short to be all gloom and sadness. Like the old song says, if you smile you draw crowds. When you cry you draw isolation and loneliness.
From an early age on we are taught not be be gloomy. There’s something about being around a person who is sad that simply repels us. Most of us will resort to nothing less than our best efforts to either avoid the gloom or change it somehow. Recently I returned home from a long day at the office dragging pretty much everything that I had encountered that day behind me. As I slipped in through the garage door into the entry way, so slipped in the meeting that had not gone well, the invoice that turned out to be more than I had planned, and the angry telephone call I had taken. Plop, they landed on the floor right beside my briefcase. Somehow I knew they were still there because even when I tried to refocus my thoughts on home and family, all I could think of was the office. I guess it was pretty evident on my face as I walked into the kitchen, shuffling across the floor in my slippers, mostly looking past my children and wife. They could see it written all over my face. “Had a bad day, huh?” “Yeah, the worst!” And I plunged into a lengthy dissertation on the woes of the day; moving back and forth between diatribe and regret. They had had a great day but now, as they listened to my woes, somehow their days had not been as good as they had thought. In fact, it wasn’t long before they were able to match woe for woe with the “king of woes”. My sorrow had magically become their sorrow. My sorrow like a drop of black ink in water slowly spread its inky murk throughout their clear and sunny day. “Gloom and doom, meet happy and promising!” Like that bothersome gab that grabs your hand and makes it serve as a sort of freeway for their emotions, gloom and doom simply won’t let go until they have poured themselves into you completely.
Carry our sorrow and laying it on others is not a very good idea. Yet, how can one be happy all the time? Isn’t there ever a place for sorrow, at least to balance out the brilliance of the light from time to time? In northern Chile, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, lies a narrow strip of land where the sun shines every day! Clouds gather so seldom over the valley that one can say, “It almost never rains here!” Morning after morning the sun rises brilliantly over the tall mountains to the east. Each noon it shines brightly overhead, and every evening it brings a picturesque sunset. Although storms are often seen rising high in the mountains, and heavy fog banks hand their gray curtains far over the sea, Old Sol continues to shed his warming rays upon this “favored” and protected strip of territory. One might imagine this area to be an earthly paradise, but is far from that! It is a sterile and desolate wilderness! There are no streams of water, and nothing grows there.
We often long for total sunshine and continuous joy in life, and we desire to avoid the heartache that bring tears to our eyes. Like that sunny, unfertile part of Chile, however, life without clouds and even an occasional downpour would not be productive or challenging. But though showers do come, they will also end, and the sun will shine again. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). (Our Daily Bread.)
Total sunshine in life? Let’s face it. That is never going to happen. In fact, there will always be a proper place for sorrow in life. I’m not talking about the impertinent spreading of your own personal gloom on people. Nobody needs that. No, I’m talking about the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and forgiveness of sins. When Jesus passed the cup to his disciples and broke the bread between his fingers at that last communing supper together, His soul was filled with a kind of sorrow that was truly appropriate and necessary for the moment. His soul was, as Martin Luther put it, “empty, single, and hungry”. His soul was prepared for the task ahead and He was demonstrating to His disciples how that sorrow could and would turn into joy. But first it must pass through the shadows and dwell in the darkness of sin. Here the soul must weep and by that invisible cleansing be able to behold more clearly the land of sweet light and happiness that awaits it if only it can endure the sorrow for but a short time longer. Yes, there is a time for sorrow when we rightly park our joy and walk some distance away from the light toward the shadowland where we find the source of that nagging that is constantly beating upon the doors of our souls. Here we too shall find the emptiness that makes preparation for being filled.
My first staff position in a church was as the Associate Pastor of The Kirk Community Church in Dunedin, Florida. I normally arrived at church early but on this particular morning my wife and I had arrived just a few minutes before the worship service was to begin. As my wife Christina unbuckled the baby from his car seat, I straightened my tie in the mirror and watched something which is really rather commonplace in a rather uncommon way.
I have seen people go in and out of church many times. That morning though, it was as though veil had been removed from things I had never before seen. It was one of those moments when something that has always been right in front finally comes into focus. Were I a painter, I would love to paint this image the way that it appeared to me that day. I paint a portrait of people walking as if unencumbered yet clearly overloaded with piles and piles of clutter on their shoulders.
It was as though God was allowing me to see the burdens that we carry with us every day and bring with us into the doors of the church every Sunday. It was as if He wanted me to know just how heavy and cumbersome those burdens are. As I watched the people filing into the church building from their sedans, trucks, and minivans, it occurred to me that each person carried his own invisible burden.
Some carried the burden of guilt for past sins. These people hoped that by regularly attending church they would convince God to forgive them. Some of them carried the burden of fear, depression, and anxiety. These people came to into the church hoping to find peace – even if only for an hour on Sunday morning. Whatever their burdens were, one thing became clear to me; most of us, all of us, carry burdens that we were not intended to carry alone.
As I sat watching all of these people, many of whom I knew well, making their way into the church that Sunday, I was struck with the sense that so many of us come to church and generally live out our Christian faith out of what is largely a sense of obligation rather than of love. We fill our lives with repetitious, albeit well intentioned, deeds in order to fulfill our obligations rather than living a life which flows from the love of God working in and through us.
Imagine the folly of a man who chooses day in and day out to hoard and heap burdens upon his shoulders which are not his to carry alone. Imagine the woman who works diligently to earn the forgiveness which she has already received.
Dear Saints of God, if we are ever to learn to live lives which are filled with the grace of God, if we are ever to live the grace-filled life, we must let go of obligation and embrace love. We do not do good works to earn God’s favor; we do good works because we have received His favor. Good works, duty, stoic obligation are not what is pleasing to God. While people tend to be mostly concerned with the outward appearance of things, God is concerned with our hearts. (I Samuel 16:7)
I read of a Norwegian missionary, Marie Monsen, who served in China in the 1950s. She testified to the intervention of angels when Christians were in great danger. They had taken refuge in the mission compound only to be surrounded by looting soldiers and they were astonished to find that they were left in peace. A few days later the hostile men explained that they were ready to break down the flimsy wall when they noticed tall soldiers with shining faces on a high roof in the compound. Marie Monsen wrote, "The heathen saw them, it was a testimony to them, but they were invisible to us.
Philip Yancey, in his book "Reaching for the Invisible God" describes the way God get’s blamed for things in this way.
"When Princess Diana died in an automobile accident, a minister was interviewed and was asked the question “How can God allow such a terrible tragedy?” And I loved his response. He said, “Could it have had something to do with a drunk driver going ninety miles an hour in a narrow tunnel? Just How, exactly, was God involved.”
Years ago, boxer, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, killed a Korean opponent with a hard right hand to the head. At the press conference after the Korean’s death, Mancini said, “sometimes I wonder why God does the things he does.”
In a letter to Dr. Dobson, a young woman asked this anguished question, “Four years ago, I was dating a man and became pregnant. I was devastated. I asked God, “Why have you allowed this to happen to me?”
Susan Smith, the south Carolina mother a couple years ago who pushed her two sons into a lake to drown and then blamed a fictional car-jacker for the deed, wrote in her confession: “I dropped to the lowest point when I allowed my children to go down that ramp into the water without me. I took off running and screaming, ‘Oh God! Oh God, no! What have I done? Why did you let this happen?”
Now the quest...
THEY'VE ALL BEEN WRONG
Looking back at how Christians have viewed Christ’s second coming in the past, we find many people obsessed with figuring out all the details and making predictions.
Here is a quote: "The last days are upon us. Weigh carefully the times. Look for him who is above all time, eternal and invisible" That statement was not made by a modern prophecy expert. That statement did not come religious TV. It was made by a Christian named Ignatius, who lived in 110 AD, just a few decades after 1 John was written.
Here is another quote: "There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power" That statement wasn’t made by a radio prophecy teacher. It was written by a Christian leader named Martin living in 375 AD.
In the year 236 AD a church leader named Hippolytus predicted that Christ was sure to return by 500 AD.
The years between 999 and 1030 AD were characterized by excessive speculation about Christ’s second coming among Christians, so much so that it led to social chaos as farmers didn’t plant crops for the next year, buildings weren’t repaired, and the details of daily life were neglected because they thought Christ would return in their lifetime.
In the 1500’s the Protestant reformer Martin Luther said, "We have reached the time of the white horse of the Apocalypse. This world will not last any longer… than another hundred years."
Christopher Columbus said he was sure the world would end by 1656. The year 1666 saw an explosion in end time speculation, so much so that one pastor wrote in his journal that every time a storm hit, people would go to church to await Christ’s second coming.
In the 1800s a Christian named William Miller said, "I am fully convinced that somewhere between March 21st, 1843 and March 21st, 1844 Christ will come." When Miller’s date came and went, hundreds of people walked away from the Christian faith. If their pastor was wrong about that, what else was he wrong about?
In our own generation, many modern day prophecy experts guessed that 1981 would mark the rapture of the church and the beginning of the terrible seven year tribulation period that would culminate in the battle of Armageddon. Now as we near the year 2000, dozens of prophecy experts on Christian TV, radio, and in books are making new predictions related to the year 2000.
Christian historian Richard Kyle cautions us, "Through two thousand years of Western history millions of…sincere, devout, and knowledgeable people have seen the end as [about to happen in their own lifetimes]…But they have all been wrong."
SOURCE: Timothy Peck. Citations: Richard Kyle, "The Last Days Are Here Again," pages 27, 55, 87. Abanes, "End Time Visions," pages 337-338.
Every animal on earth has a set of senses that corresponds with the environment around it, and some of those senses far exceed ours. Humans can perceive only thirty percent of the range of the sun’s light and 1/70th of the spectrum of electromagnetic energy. Many animals exceed our abilities. Bats detect insects by sonar; pigeons navigate by magnetic fields; bloodhounds perceive a world of smell unavailable to us.
Perhaps the spiritual or "unseen" world requires an inbuilt set of senses activated only through some sort of spiritual quickening. "No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above," said Jesus. "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned," said Paul. Both expressions point to a different level of correspondence available only to a person spiritually alive.
Citation: Philip Yancey, "Seeing the Invisible God"
Books and Culture May/June 2000), p.8
JESUS IN EVERY BOOK OF THE BIBLE
The Bible is about Jesus. He is pictured or prophesied about in each of the 66 books as well as in countless types in the lives of different characters in the Bible. Here is a breakdown of how He is pictured in each of the books...
O.T Book Main Revelation Key Prophecies* / Types of Jesus
Genesis The Seed of the Woman Messiah would be born of the seed of a woman (Gen 3:15, Luke 1:34-35)
Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (Gen 12:3, 17:19, 28:14, Luke 3:23-34)
Messiah would be a king in the line of Judah (Gen 49:10, John 1:49)
Typified in the person of Melchizedek (Gen 14:18)
The life of Isaac - the sacrificed son (Gen 22)
The life of Joseph - the rejected brother (Gen 37)
Exodus The Passover Lamb Typified in the life of Moses - the deliverer
The Passover Lamb (Ex 12, John 1:29,36)
The Manna from Heaven (Ex 16, John 6)
The Rock struck at Horeb (Ex 17, 1 Cor 10:4)
The Tabernacle (Brazen Altar, Lampstand, Table of Showbread, Ark of the covenant etc) (Gen 25-30)
Leviticus The High Priest Typified in the sacrifices and offerings (Lev 1-7)
In the Jewish festivals (Passover, Atonement, Lev 16, 23)
In the scapegoat (Lev 16:7-9)
In the person and duties of the High Priest (Lev 16)
Numbers The Cloud and The Fire Messiah would be a King (Num 24:17)
Typified in the bronze serpent (Num 21:8-9)
The Water from the Rock (Num 20)
Deuteronomy The Prophet Like Moses Messiah will be a prophet (Deut 18:15-19, John 6:14)
Messiah would be worshipped by angels (Deut 32:43, Luke 2:13-14)
Typified in the cities of refuge (Deut 4:41)
Joshua The Captain of Our Salvation Typified in the person of Joshua (our leader into the promised land)
In the Promised Land
In the Commander of the Army (Josh 5:13-15)
Judges The Judge And Lawgiver Typified in the Judges (for He is true Judge of the living and the dead)
Ruth The Kinsman Redeemer Messiah would be a descendant of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:12-17)
Typified in the life of Boaz - The Kinsman Redeemer (Ruth 2:1)
1 & 2 Samuel The Prophet of The Lord Messiah exalted by God with power (1 Sam 2:10, Matt 28:18)
Messiah would be a descendant of David (2 Sam 7:12-16, Matt 1:1)
Messiah would be the 'Rock' (2 Sam 23:2-3, 1 Cor 10:4)
Typified in the life of David - The King in Exile (1 Sam 22)
The life of Jonathon - the faithful friend (1 Sam 18:1-4)
1 & 2 Kings The Reigning King Typified in the life of Solomon (the Millennial Reign)
In the life and miracles of the prophet Elisha (multiplying bread 2 Kings 4:42, healing leper 2 Kings 5)
1 & 2 Chronicles Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah (1 Chron 5:2, Luke 3:23-32)
Typified in Solomon's temple
In the Wisdom of Solomon (2 Chron 9:22)
Ezra The Faithful Scribe Typified in person of Zerubbabel, the rebuilder of the temple (Ezra 4)
Nehemiah The Rebuilder of the Walls Typified in the person of Nehemiah, the rebuilder of the walls of salvation
Esther Mordecai Typified in the person of Mordecai
Job The Dayspring From on High Typified in the sufferings of Job and the blessings that would follow
Psalms The Lord Who Is Our Shepherd Messiah would be the Son of God (Ps 2:7, 12, Matt 17:5)
Messiah would be resurrected (Ps 16:8-10, Acts 13:30-37)
Messiah would be despised & crucified (Ps 22:6-8, 14, Luke 23:21-23, Matt 27:35)
Messiah would be hated without cause (Ps 69:4, Luke 23:13-22)
Messiah would be Lord, seated at the right hand of God (Ps 110:1,5, 1 Pet 3:21-22)
Messiah would be in the line of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4, Heb 6:17-20)
Messiah would be the 'stone' rejected by the Jews (Ps 118:22, Matt 21:42-43)
Key Messianic Psalms: Chapters 2, 8, 16, 22, 45, 69, 89, 109, 110, 118
Proverbs & Ecclesiastes The Wisdom of God Messiah would be from everlasting (Prov 8:22-23, John 17:5)
Messiah would be the Son of God (Prov 30:4, Matt 3:16-17)
Typified in the Wisdom of God (Prov 8:22-31)
Song of Solomon The Lover & Bridegroom Typified in the Bridegroom's love for, and marriage to, the bride
Isaiah The Suffering Servant Messiah would be born of a virgin (Is 7:14, Luke 1:34-35)
Messiah would be Immanuel "God with us" (Is 7:14, Matt 1:21-23)
Messiah would be God and Man (Is 9:6, John 10:30)
Messiah would have the 7-fold Spirit upon Him (Is 11:1-2, Matt 3:16-17)
Messiah would heal the blind, lame, deaf (Is 35:5-6, Mark 10:51-52)
Messiah would be proceeded by a forerunner (Is 40:3, Luke 1:17)
Messiah would be a light to the gentiles (Is 42:6, John 8:12)
Messiah would be despised by the Jewish nation (Is 49:7, John 10:20, Matt 27:23)
Messiah would be whipped and beaten (Is 50:6, Matt 26:67, 27:26)
Messiah would die as a guilt offering for sin (Is 53:10, John 18:11)
Messiah would be resurrected and live forever (Is 53:10, Mark 16:16)
Jeremiah & Lamentations The Weeping Prophet Messiah would be God (Jer 23:6, John 13:13)
Messiah would be a righteous Branch (Jer 23:5)
Messiah would be our righteousness (Jer 23:6, 1 Cor 1:30)
Ezekiel The Son of Man Messiah would be a descendant of David (Ez 34:23-24, Matt 1:1)
Daniel The Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven Messiah would be 'a son of man' given an everlasting kingdom (Dan 7:13-14, Luke 1:31-34)
Messiah would come 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Dan 9:25, John 12:12-23)
Messiah would be killed (Dan 9:26, Matt 27:35)
Revealed as the 'stone' (and His kingdom) that smashes the kingdoms of the world (Dan 2:34,44)
Typified in the 4th man in the fiery furnace - one like 'the son of gods' (Dan 3:25)
Hosea The Bridegroom Typified in Hosea's faithfulness to his adulterous wife (Hos 3)
Joel The Baptizer With The Holy Spirit Messiah will offer salvation to all mankind (Joel 2:32, Rom 10:12-13)
Messiah would baptize people with the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32)
Amos The Burden Bearer God would darken the day at noon during Messiah's death (Amos 8:9, Matt 27:45-46)
Obadiah The Mighty Savior
Jonah The Forgiving God Typified in Jonah being 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a fish (Jon 1:17, Matt 12:40)
Micah The Messenger With Beautiful Feet Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2, Matt 2:1-2)
Messiah would be from everlasting (Mic 5:2, Rev:1-8)
Nahum The Avenger of God's Elect
Habakkuk The Great Evangelist, Crying For Revival Messiah would come from Teman at His return, full of glory (Hab 3:3)
Typified in the life of Habakkuk (his intercession and prayer for his people)
Zephaniah The Restorer of the Remnant
Haggai The Cleansing Fountain Messiah would visit the 2nd temple (Hag 2:6-9, Luke 2:27-32)
Zechariah The Pierced Son Messiah would be Priest and King (Zech 6:12-13, Heb 8:1)
Messiah would be ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zech 9:9, Matt 21:6-9)
Messiah would be God (Zech 11:12-13, John 12:45)
Messiah would be pierced (Zech 12:10, John 19:34-37)
The Son of Righteousness Messiah would appear at the temple (Mal 3:1, Mark 11:15-16)
Messiah's forerunner would come in the spirit of Elijah (Mat 4:5, Matt 3:1-2)
N.T Book Main Revelation Titles / Names Revealed of Jesus
Matthew The Messiah The Son of David (Matt 1:1)
The King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2)
The Son of God (Matthew 2:15).
The Bridegroom (Mattew 9:15)
Mark The Miracle Worker The Holy One of God (Mark 1:24)
The Servant (Mark 10:45)
The King of Israel (Mark 15:32)
Luke The Son of Man The Horn of Salvation (Luke 1:69)
The Consolation of Israel: (Luke 2:25).
John The Son of God The Only Begotten Son: (John 1:14,18)
The Lamb of God (John 1:29,36)
The Bread of life (John 6:35)
The Light of the World (John 8:1)
The I AM! (John 8:58)
The Door of the Sheep: (John 10:7,9)
The Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
The Resurrection and life (John 11:25)
The Way, the Truth, the Life (John 14:6)
The True Vine (John 15:1)
Acts The Ascended Lord The Prince of Life (Acts 3:15)
The Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42)
The Just One (Acts 7:52).
The Hope of Israel (Acts 28:20)
Romans The Justifier The Rock of Offense (Romans 9:33)
The Deliverer (Romans 11:26)
The Lord of the dead and the living (Romans 14:9)
The Root of Jesse (Romans 15:12)
1 & 2 Corinthians The Last Adam The First-fruits (1 Corinthians 15:23)
The Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45)
Galatians The One Who Sets Us Free The Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 1:3)
Ephesians The Christ of Riches The Head over All Things (Ephesians 1:22)
The Cornerstone: (Ephesians 2:20)
Philippians The God Who Meets Our Every Need The Name above all names (Philippians 2:9)
Colossians The Fullness of The Godhead The Image of the Invisible God (Colossians 1:15)
The Head of the body (Colossians 1:18)
The Beginning (Colossians 1:18)
The Firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18)
The Hope of Glory (Col 1:27)
1 & 2 Thessalonians The Soon Coming King The Lord of Peace (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
1 & 2 Timothy The Mediator Between God And Man The King of Ages (1 Timothy 1:17)
The Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5)
Titus The Blessed Hope The Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13)
The Great God and Saviour (Titus 2:13)
Philemon The Friend, Closer Than a Brother The Lord Jesus Christ (Philemon 3)
Hebrews The Blood That Washes Away My Sins The Heir of All Things (Hebrews 1:2)
The Faithful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17)
The Author and Finisher of our Faith (Hebrews 12:2)
James The Great Physician The Lord of Glory (James 2:1)
The Judge at the door (James 5:9)
1 & 2 Peter The Chief Shepherd The Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4)
The Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4)
1 & 2 & 3 John Everlasting Love The Eternal Life (1 John 1:2)
The Righteous (1 John 2:1)
Jude The God our Saviour The Only Wise God our Saviour (Jude 25)
Revelation The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! The Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last: (Revelation 1:17, 22:13)
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev 5:5)
The Word of God (Revelation 19:13).
The King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16)
The Bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16)
* Prophecy Source: http://www.messiahrevealed.org/book-index.html Please check this link for additional prophecies
LEAVE IT UP ALL YEAR LONG
Not too many years ago newspapers carried the story of Al Johnson, a Kansas man who repented, who came to faith in Jesus Christ. What made his story so remarkable was not his conversion, but the fact that as a result of his newfound faith in Christ, he confessed to a bank robbery he had participated in when he was nineteen years old. Because the statute of limitations on the case had run out, Johnson could not be prosecuted for the offense. But because of his complete and total change of heart, he not only confessed his crime, he voluntarily repaid his share of the stolen money! That’s repentance – radical reconstruction of the heart.
Of all the decorations you have, this one is the most important of them all. It’s invisible, because it first takes place in your heart. The Holy Spirit changes you through the Word, and through baptism. It’s visible, because you become empowered to show your repentance in your...
The Invisible Church
Warren Weirsbe tells a story of a free-lance missionary that visited a pastor friend asking for financial support. "What group are you associated with?" his friend asked. The man replied, "I belong to the invisible church."
His friend then asked, "Well, what church are you a member of?" Again he got the answer, "I belong to the invisible church!"
Getting a bit suspicious, his friend asked, "When does this invisible church meet? Who pastors it?" The missionary then became incensed and said, "Well, your church here isn't the true church. I belong to the invisible church!"
His friend replied, "Well, here's some invisible money to help you in your invisible church!"
Source: Warren Wiersbe, Be Rich, p. 103.
“Work With It!” Romans 12: 1-8: Key verse(s): 6 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”
“All things being equal!” Where that may be the rallying cry of today’s philosophical democratically-driven culture, it wasn’t the impetus for justice in the Brunner household as I was growing up. In the first place, nothing was really “equal” in the sense that everyone in the household shared the same potential or received the same rewards. There were six children in my family and two parents. I had three sisters and two brothers. That would make a household equally divided between the genders, four males and four females. That is where equality began and ended. First, there was the matter of parents. Although there were only two of them and six of us, they outnumbered us substantially in the areas of discipline, the giving of rewards, teaching and provisioning along with the numerous other inherited duties and tasks of Christian parents. No, very little if any equality on that level. And, for that matter, freedom either. My Dad could drive the car and go to work. He could use power tools and, occasionally, spit on the lawn. None of us could do those things. My Mom could drive the car and write out checks for groceries, pay the bills and go on a date (with my Dad) every now and then. Best I can recall, until we were much older, none of these things were available to us either.
On a sibling level, apart from the fact that we at least shared the role of brothers and sisters, equality beyond the point that I had the same right to have clean underware as my brothers, was pretty much limited. Although my brothers and I followed roughly in close sequential fashion, age was still a distinction. For example, being the oldest, I was the first one to drive and also the first of the brothers to own a car. That privilege came with age and driving skills. I handed down my first car to brother number two and he to three. For the most part we lived in a small, closed society that ran pretty well on the inequity dictated by position (child or parent), age and, yes, gender. Despite the fact that all of us children shared some duties like cleaning the house and doing the dishes, the roles within those duties were often specific to gender. Boys were often given the dirtier jobs like taking out the trash or sweeping the basement floors (because of our close association with the element) and girls the more detail-oriented and perfected tasks like dusting and polishing. And, when there was hidden dirt to root out, that was a job for a woman since God has given them radar when it comes to finding dust, grime, and all the invisible elements of the dirt world that are truly hidden from a man’s view. My mother was wise enough to know this. Yard duties gravitated to the boys and household chores gravitated toward the girls. None of us really wished to cross the line into the other’s territory and certainly didn’t feel put-upon by our singular assignments.
Over time, as age and wisdom brought us closer to our parents in freedoms and responsibilities, as soon as our new-found status came into contact with their “sphere of power” the inevitable friction resulted and, like opposing magnets, we were repelled. God led us out into our own little words to establish our own closed systems. Mom and Dad continued on without us as gradually each child pushed upon their level of authority. Although economic circumstances compelled me to return to home briefly after a couple of years, the old powers that held us separate but functioning when I was young were no longer there. It was only a matter of months before I found my own apartment again.
Was it wrong that there was so little equality within our home? Should my parents have shared more of their freedom and authority with us? Although neither of them recognized these inequalities as tangible assets, I am sure that Mom and Dad would have found it foolish to share such things. God had, in His grace, called them to be parents, not children. Their roles as children had been left behind. First when my Dad joined the army and then when marriage called my Mom from her home. The inherent inequalities of the Brunner household were comfortable and sound. The gifts that God gave us as children and those He blessed my parents with as adults were perfect for the work that needed to be done and the love that needed to be granted. There was no need to long for another’s role since the ones given each of us were just right for that time and place.
God calls each of us to do something in this life. And, even when that calling is similar to another’s, it is never exactly the same. God is not democratic nor is the family. And, for that matter, neither is the world into which He has placed each of us. He expects us to honor the role given us by doing our best and preserving the work that has been given us in that role. Unfair? Perhaps! But when you consider the fact that each of us has one foot in heaven what matters where the other is placed here on earth?