This past weekend at Renovatus was an exceptional one for me. It’s quite an exceptional church to begin with. However, after spending time with families and parents, planning for activities and watching life happen, I came to the conclusion that I want to be more like the members of this particular community.
You see, I don’t have any children yet but when I do, I hope to emulate the love of those Renovatus parents. Here’s why:
They love their God well. I recently heard a pastor say that he loves his wife and children best when he loves his Lord first. I’ve seen this time and again in those who choose to love their families well. Renovatus parents create and cherish sacred spaces to hear the voice of the Lord. They abide in Him and He in them. They are captivated by the love of one Father, who in turn shows them what it means to love their children. They love their God well.
They love their spouses well. Not every parent is married and not every child has two parents living with them. Fortunately, because of the above point, there remains grace enough for the journey of parenthood. For those who are married, I see a consistent tenacity to make their marriage a foundation for parenthood. In about a week, well over 50 members of our community will be on a marriage retreat. They do this for love, hope and strength. They love their spouses well.
They love their children well. Renovatus parents love their children in word and in deed. They love them in truth and in discipline. They bring them to church. They pray Hannah prayers. Listening to their hearts at a parenting workshop, I heard some goals. Their goal isn’t perfection, it’s honesty. It’s trusting and obeying. It’s seeking, weeping and believing on behalf of the gift that God has granted. Through labors of love, the wonder and sheer entertainment of children, God shows Himself faithful in their innocence. Renovatus parents speak into a future they cannot see. Renovatus parents love their children well.
They love each other well. Sitting at that same parenting workshop, I listened as parents shared their wins and failures with each other. In an age where individuality has become the hallmark of spirituality, Renovatus parents lean into and upon their community. They reach out to each other for support, including watching someone else’s children at church or at home. Phone calls are made, letters are sent, food is prepared and clothes are donated all in the name of love for another. They love each other well.
Finally, listen to the words of 1 John 4:7-12 as Eugene Peterson phrases it in The Message: My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!