As I have been thinking about infant salvation the words of Spurgeon urge me on to ponder the state of my living children, to reserve my tears for them. These words are haunting me and gripping me as I come to terms with the reality that I have not shed many tears for my living children. Perhaps because they are still young, I rest in the knowledge that should they die tonight they will be with the Lord. But the years go by too fast and one day soon they will be of an age where they will be held to account for themselves.
Perhaps I take comfort in the thought that because I am homeschooling my children and they are being raised in a Christian home with a Christian worldview and we are teaching them to think biblically that they will naturally become Christians themselves. The problem is this view depends on me and my actions. The problem is that our salvation does not come naturally. Our salvation has nothing to do with ourselves. We are saved by the sheer mercy and grace of God. He has looked upon me with unmerited favour.
And so, the only place I can place my children and their salvation is in the hands of God. This begs the question of whether or not I really trust God. Can He be trusted with my children? What it has come down to for me is the words in Pslam 127, “unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain,” and I think of the city as my children. “Unless the Lord watches over my children, I stay alert in vain.” All my worry and anxiety over the eternal state of their souls is vanity.
Where I draw comfort from and know that I can trust God with my children is the reminder of I Peter 5:7 to “cast all your care upon Him because He cares for you.” He cares for me and as I cast all my cares upon Him, they become His cares. My children are my chief concern. Until I had children I did not battle with anxiety. My life was rather care-free. As I cast the care I have for my children upon the Lord, they become His concern. My children are not unknown to God, they are not out of His sight and they are not “lost.” And so, every night when I tuck my children into bed, I whisper in the ear of each one, "Mommy loves you lots, but Jesus loves you more." He does love them more. Infinately more.
As these busy days pass, filled with routine tasks, I am grateful for the fresh reminder to pray unceasingly for my children’s souls. I am grateful for others who have been pondering the same things with some excellent posts: my good friend at A Mother's Musings, Leslie at Lux Venit, and Josh at Unbound.
At the risk of making a lengthy post even longer, I’d like to end with the words of Spurgeon which are at once challenging and encouraging as we consider the salvation of our living children:
“We have spoken of those that are dead, what shall we say of the living? I think I might say, reserve your tears, bereaved parents, for the children that live. You may go to the little grave, you may look upon it and say, "This my child is saved; it resteth for ever beyond all fear of harm." You may come back to those who are sitting round your table, and you can look from one to the other and say, "These my children, many of them are unsaved." Out of God, out of Christ, some of them are just ripening into manhood and into womanhood, and you can plainly see that their heart is like every natural heart, desperately wicked. There is subject for weeping for you. I pray you never cease to weep for them until they have ceased to sin, never cease to hope for them until they have ceased to live; never cease to pray for them until you yourself cease to breathe. Carry them before God in the arms of faith, and do not be desponding because they are not what you want them to be. They will be won yet if you have but faith in God. Do not think that it is hopeless. He that saved you can save them. Take them one by one constantly to God's mercy-seat and wrestle with Him, and say, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me." The promise is unto you and to your child, even to as many as the Lord your God shall call. Pray, strive, wrestle, and it shall yet be your happy lot to see your household saved. This was the word which the apostle gave to the gaoler, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house." We have had many proofs of it, for in this pool under here I have baptised not only the father and the mother, but in many cases all the children too, who one after another have been brought by grace even to put their trust in Jesus. It should be the longing of every parent's heart to see all his offspring Christ's, and all that have sprung from his loins numbered in the host of those who shall sing around the throne of God.”
Recently I have had some discussions about the salvation of infants who die. The Bible is clear that one must have faith in Christ in order to be saved, yet infants and young children have not made that profession. How could they? In light of the doctrine of election, it has been suggested to me on two occasions that it is likely not all babies who die are recipients of eternal rest for clearly some vessels have been set aside for destruction.
This is upsetting to me for so many reasons. As one who has faced the death of my infant daughter the thought of her resting in the arms of Jesus brought much comfort and yes, even joy in my sorrows. To know that she will never experience pain and suffering is a great comfort and brings peace to my soul. The loss was therefore mine and not hers. My daughter has gained everything though my arms are empty.
In light of the assurance I received as I walked through the valley of death, it grieves me to think that there are couples out there who have not received the same assurance and as they mourn their loss, fear for the soul of their deceased child. How cruel. And how inconsistent with the character of the good and merciful God of the Holy Bible.
If He could redeem me from the curse of Adam, and if He could save me from my own willful rebellion, surely He would save a small child who though a sinner in his very nature had no opportunity to accept or reject Christ's atoning sacrifice on his behalf.
Here is the crux of the argument I have received. Even babies are sinners. They are not innocent and we cannot claim on the grounds of innocence that they will be saved. I agree. I have three living children, I fully realize that newborn child cares only for himself.
Thankfully we can reconcile the doctrine of sin and the doctrine of election to the absolute salvation of ALL infants who die. To summarize Spurgeon, "only the elect die in infancy." ONLY THE ELECT DIE IN INFANCY! The sin that was inherited, is washed away by the blood of Christ. What a good and gracious and merciful and loving and glorious God we serve and worship!
Spurgeon, in his sermon on infant salvation goes on to remind us that in light of the assurance we can have over the salvation of our little ones who've died, our grief and mourning and tears must rightly be spent on our living children. For they are the ones who are at risk of facing the wrath of God and spending an eternity in hell.
Thankfully there is theological and scriptural clarity to be found. Desiring God has answered the question of where babies go when they die, along with John Piper in a funeral sermon for a baby who lived only 10 minutes after birth. John MacArthur has also addressed this issue with a great deal of clarity in a two part sermon (Part I here, Part II here). Spurgeon's sermon is fantastic as well and he minces no words for those who would dare suggest deceased infants are anything but saved. There is real comfort and assurance to be found in knowing from scripture that our separation from our small children is only a moment in light of the eternity we will spend together worshiping our good and glorious saviour who has indeed saved us!
"During their young years, when my days seemed to be shaped by interruptions, I’d often think: wiping runny noses and messy bottoms is not my calling; calling the refrigerator repairman and rescuing the spoiling contents of the fridge is not my calling; washing dishes is not my calling, walking through the dried remains of spilled koolaid is not my calling. At the end of a day, when I had done nothing—except those things and others like them—it could be pretty depressing. What’s the point when that’s all there is in life?
My only hope was remembering that when God gave me children, he called me to be a mother. His calling to a mother is that she be his servant, his tool, toward raising little boys and little girls to be godly men and women. One important thing for me to realize was that God is the only one who can bring our children to himself. But he gives me the privilege of being part of what he’s doing.
It helped to remember that every job has un-fun parts, including mothering. It really helped to look at somewhat older mothers and remind myself that there will be other chapters later, when I’m done with crushed cheerios underfoot."
Those crushed cheerios are all to familiar! Yes, the above picture is of my real-life floor. Read the rest here.
I love this picture of children by G.K. Chesterton:
"The most unfathomable schools and sages have never attained to the gravity which dwells in the eyes of a baby of three months old. It is the gravity of astonishment at the universe, and astonishment at the universe is not mysticism, but a transcendent common sense. The fascination of children lies in this: that with each of them all things are remade, and the universe is put again upon its trial. As we walk the streets and see below us those delightful bulbous heads, three times too big for the body, which mark these human mushrooms, we ought always to remember that within every one of these heads there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation. In each of those orbs there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea. "
Being pregnant, I find that my cravings for certain foods are stronger than usual as are my repulsions towards other foods. No strange combinations - just strong cravings. As a result I have not always been able to find the right recipe in my collection of cookbooks. This lead me to do some google searches for recipes and I came across a great site called allrecipes.com. It has a search engine so you can type in "gingered chicken" and get a list of recipes of that sort. Each recipe is rated by users and commented on which I am finding very helpful. There is also an index so you can find recipes by ingredient, ethnic origin, type of meal and menu options. At the top of each recipe is a converter for how many you are cooking for and then the measurements are adjusted accordingly, as well options for print sizes. I'm having fun finding new recipes and have come across some keepers like this recipe for Asian Chicken which turned out fantastic. Bon Apetit!
Often I hear children referred to as a stewardship. I often refer to myself as a steward of my children and have an obligation before God to train them in the way they should go as one who will give an account. But is this biblical? We have been given several commands in scripture to teach our children about the Lord. I believe we will give an account for what we have or have not done with our children. So there is a stewardship involved. But is it really stewardship that the bible teaches regarding our children? I believe the answer is no.
This morning I was reading 1 Corinthians 9 during my devotional time and a few things stood out in this regard. The apostle Paul is talking about his role as a preacher of the gospel. On the one hand he claims that he ought to be able to receive payment for his labouring, but if he does so free of charge he is free from obligation and will receive a reward. Verse 17 struck me and got me to pondering how I regard my children and my role as proclaimer of the gospel in their lives, "For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if unwillingly, I am entrusted with a stewardship." And so, I began to ask myself what my heart is towards my children. Have I received them willingly or unwillingly. Do I willingly and joyfully proclaim the gospel to them or do I do so as one under obligation. Do I expect payment for my labour as though I am a steward; am I anticipating a return on my investment?
Here is the clincher for me. Nowhere (from my own observations) does the bible link children and stewardship. Children are regarded as rewards. REWARDS! The gospel is linked to stewardship and so as stewards of the gospel, we proclaim it to all who have ears to hear including and especially to our children. But our children are not the stewardship they are the rewards for how we handle our stewardship of the gospel. And as such we will reap the fruit of our labours in the gospel. Verse 24 helps bring this concept into focus, "Do you not know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you might win." The prize to be won is my children. If I handle the gospel well, as a good steward - my return or prize will be my children who will rise up and call me blessed. "A youth left to himself is a disgrace to his mother"(Prov 29:15) but "discipline your son and he will give you comfort; he will also give you delight" (v17).
If we look at Christ, He willingly laid down His life for us. He was not under compulsion or obligation towards us but rather laid down His life for us so that He would receive us as a reward (see Eph 1:11). So if we labour well as stewards of the gospel towards our children they will be delightful rewards and will become a heritage we will not be ashamed of.
This perspective changes everything. If my children are my reward and yet bring me shame, I need to examine how I am running the race and guard myself from becoming "as one who runs aimlessly, or boxes like one who beats the air" (I Cor 9:26). If I view my children as a stewardship, my temptation would be then to regard them as obstacles to my reward if they are not bearing fruit. That is a big difference. Reward or stewardship? May I rightly view my children as rewards and remember my stewardship of of the gospel towards them.
While thinking about some of the more practical aspects of how things tend to function in my home, I thought I'd post about my strategy for meals.
Breakfast and lunch are simple and very routine. Cereal and toast for breakfast; PB & J for lunch. My husband likes to have a can of soup or else we share any leftovers from dinner for lunch.
Dinner is varied and unpredictable. This makes up for the very plain breakfasts and lunches. For starters I work from a "staples" plan. This means I keep the freezer stocked with meat, the fridge stocked with veggies and potatoes and the pantry stocked with canned foods, rice and pasta. I have a wide variety of spices and lots of condiments in the fridge. I first began doing this after a restaurant cook told me that restaurants usually form a menu that is made up of a small variety of ingredients that are offered several ways. So if a restaurant offers Salmon, usually they offer a few salmon dishes. This saves having expensive food go to waste because no one ordered that particular dish. Here is a sample of what types of food I regularly stock up with:
Meat (I buy the big packs from Costco and freeze them in meal size portions)
- chicken thighs
- chicken breasts
- ground beef
- pork tenderloin (winter), pork chops (summer)
- roast beef (winter)
- chorizo sausage
- a big bag of large carrots (I find these more versatile for cooking and they cook faster when sliced than the baby carrots)
- sweet onion
- frozen peas
- frozen corn
- red pepper (my son loves)
- Tomato Sauce
- Diced Tomatoes
- Green Beans
- Pineapple Chunks
Condiments I Keep On Hand:
- Soy Sauce
- Pataks Mild Curry Paste
- Brown Sugar
- Apricot Jam
- Hoisin Sauce
- Assorted Vinegars
- Olive Oil
With These ingredients on hand here on some dinners I make regularly:
- chicken stir-fry (2 or 3 variations) served on rice or noodles
- sweet and sour chicken thighs served on rice (3 or 4 different recipes used)
- spaghetti and meat sauce (my personal favourite)
- roast with potatoes and gravy
- tenderloin with roasted potatoes
- chicken curry (my husbands favourite)
- chicken fajitas
- stew (chicken and beef varieties)
- bean soup with chorizo
- jambalaya (with the chorizo)
- chicken provincial
When we have guests I just make more and serve a salad to add a little variety to the meal.
Some of the cookbooks I am really enjoying are: Looneyspoons and Crazy Plates by Janet & Greta Podleski, and The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman. The latter is probably my favourite right now. The recipes are simple to make and the book has excellent indexes, so I can find a recipe by ingredient, cooking technique or ethnicity.
At the end of the day I let my stomach do the talking and cook whatever I personally feel like eating. I am so grateful that my husband is not a picky eater and enjoys (generally) all I cook. When something is not his preference, he never complains. Occasionally he makes a request and we go with that, but I think because he doesn't ever complain it is a joy to cook his favourites for him. Bon Apetit!
This is what a typical day looks like in our household. I try and confine my trips into town to one day a week. That will be the day the kids have gymnastics and I do my shopping after that. I also try to shop as rarely as I can get away with. Shopping and I never really bonded.
7:20 a.m. - my alarm goes off for the first time
7:40 a.m. - after hitting the snooze button a couple times, I get up
7:40 to 8:30 - devotions; during this time my two older children rise and get themselves breakfast, they have bowls of dry cheerios and make themselves toast. Usually my 1 yr old wakes up during this time and if he is fussy I get him up and put him in his highchair with cheerios and a bottle which he feeds himself. Cheerios in the morning can keep them all occupied for quite some time so I can finish my devotional time.
8:30 - I get my youngest his bowl of oatmeal and feed him. Then I let him loose to crawl around a play a while. When the other two are done eating they are sent off to get dressed, brush their teeth, etc.
8:45 - 9:00 - I get my breakfast. Need I say that I too have a large bowl of Cheerios (with milk)? (We usually go through 6 1000 gram boxes a month!) While eating I read the local paper and check out all my favourite blogs.
9:30 - My youngest goes for his morning nap and I hit the shower.
10:00 - Empty dishwasher of clean dishes and load; if dishes in dishwasher are still dirty I load with breakfast dishes and start cycle. Then I gather up the laundry and get it going. Somewhere during this time my husband usually gets up for the day and is having breakfast. If he doesn't need to rush out then I sit and have coffee with him.
10:30 or 11:00 - We start school
12:30 or 1:00 - School ends and we head back upstairs for lunch. Usually the baby is up and hungry for his lunch too.
1:30 - I get my lunch.
1:30 to 2:30 - this time space is a bit fuzzy. My youngest is crawling around, the older two are playing together. If the weather is decent, as it has been lately, they are outside playing. I have daily chores I have assigned myself like vacuuming or the windows, that ideally could be done during this time, but don't always happen. Some general tidying up does usually happen.
2:30 - 4:30 - The baby goes for his afternoon nap and QUIET TIME begins. Lately before we start our QT and after the baby has gone to bed we have a little game of dominoes. Then my daughter plays in her room and my oldest son plays in the family room downstairs or has a sleep on the couch. And I READ!!!!!! Or lately, I've been having a little nap myself. Also, if guests are coming and the house is getting really unruly this is the time that I'll do major cleaning, especially the bathrooms.
4:30 or 5:00 - I begin thinking about what to cook for supper and then begin cooking.
6:00 or 6:30 - we sit down together as a family and eat supper. Afterwards my husband does a family devotional. Then the older two are sent off to get their PJ's on and brush their teeth. If baths are required that night, I'll bathe them. The kids play, usually with their Dad in the living room while I clean up the kitchen.
7:30 - I read the kids stories.
8:00 - All the kids are in bed.
8:00 - 10:00 - Sometimes we watch a movie, lately we've been checking out houses on MLS or we just sit and chit-chat.
10:00 or so - bedtime. Once in bed I like to read a novel until I fall asleep.
Labels: Practical Matters