“I already have my after school snack at home,” I bragged to my brother as the school bus bounced down the dirt road toward our stop at the edge of the cornfield. I thought about how sweet the Brach’s caramel chews hidden in my dresser drawer would taste. The night before, on a trip to New Market grocery store with mom, I had put them in my jacket pocket as we walked down the candy aisle, and nobody noticed. What a score!
Their gold foil wrappers glinted as I snaked them out from their hiding place between my dresser drawers. The fact that they had to be eaten in secret would make them only taste sweeter. But of course, after bragging to my brother about my after-school snack, I refused to share any with him. So he told on me. When I heard mom calling my name from downstairs, shame and guilt exploded within me, ignited by my sin-scorched conscience.
That evening, I experienced the longest five-mile car trip of my life. Just Mom, Dad, me and an overpowering air of dread. In the store manager's office, my eyes welled with tears, my nose began to run, and my voice quavered out an apology as I produced the few remaining uneaten candies, several empty wrappers, and all the coins from my piggy bank.
On the way back home, Dad talked about how the Bible teaches us not to steal, how stealing is a sin, and how God hates sin. But he also talked about how God loves the sinner, despite hating sin. He talked about how God gave His only son, Jesus, to wash away our sins. Dad and Mom both assured me that my sins were forgiven in Jesus' name and blood, even the sin of stealing. My burden was lifted. All was forgiven. The trip home was so much quicker than the trip to the store.
I would guess that nearly all believing families have similar stories to share. We all fall into sin. And when our actions cause harm to others, we incur a triple debt: to the offended party, to society, and to our own conscience. Feelings of guilt lead to a sincere apology for wrongdoing, and we seek to make amends to other people and to society. But believers are extra lucky because God’s children been given to know the power of God, and faith to believe sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and blood: the perfect balm to soothe a bruised conscience. And this knowledge and faith are instilled and reinforced through the everyday habits of a believing home.
Faith guides the life of a believing home. We learn the ABCs of faith at services, Sunday school and discussions at home. Faith makes us long for God's word and fellowship with other believers. May this longing never subside! My parents grew up in believing families and homes, where it was a priority to gather with believers, and Mom and Dad endeavored to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Christ, the Chief Cornerstone, is the foundation of faith, and in a believing family and home we receive support and encouragement to walk upright on the way to heaven.
I remember hearing a preacher say, “When you serve God's children, you serve God.” When we serve and encourage each other, including the children who share a place in our lives, we also experience God’s blessing ourselves. I’ve had to learn this lesson many times since that day I took candy from New Market grocery store. But there is much more yet to learn, and much remains to teach the coming generation. Sometimes this responsibility seems overwhelming, but then I remember that God promises to always provide a way to handle whatever challenges He lays before us.
With my wife and family at my side, I hope to continue learning and serving. But my most fervent prayer is that God would provide strength to continue believing, and to remain among His flock where living faith and hope flourish.
Poikkeusolojen vuoksi radion ja netin välityksellä lähetetyt Suviseurat saivat kuulijoiden palautteen perusteella positiivisen vastaanoton. Historiallisten Suviseurojen järjestelyt sujuivat suunnitelmien mukaisesti, eikä suurempia häiriöitä ilmennyt. Seurojen keskeinen sanoma välittyi kaikkialle maailmaan ja seurapuheet käännettiin yhdeksälle kielelle.