- Sonya Leigh Anderson
As parents and caretakers, the vision for our kids’ flourishing starts here on earth but extends all the way into eternity. We’re teaching them to govern creation now but also raising them to co-rule with God in the new creation.
-Christianity Today, March 2023—Education and the End Times, by Andrea Palpant Dilley
I recently read this quote in a magazine and I can’t stop thinking about it. I believe I even dreamt about it last night. What an unusual perspective, and profound! It sort of reorients the whole story, doesn’t it?
Raising my own children in the church, I’d say there were two priorities. #1—leading kids to pray a prayer of salvation; i.e. asking “Jesus into your heart” so you can go to heaven. And #2—teaching kids to obey their parents, the command which comes with a blessing.
I realize this summary is overly simplistic. Of course we taught our kids the “big story” of the Bible, all ten commandments, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We did our best to teach them about grace, and our boys had the additional bonus of being somewhat immersed in The Covenant Story. We even spent one Christmas skiing in Colorado, where our family devos were from Revelation. That said—
Never, not once, as far as I can recall, did we ever talk to our kids about co-ruling with God in His new creation!!
Can you imagine?
Yes, actually. I am not only imagining it now, I am also thinking about all the ways I might share this news with my sons and their children… not to mention the little ones my husband and I teach on Sunday mornings…the youth I help shepherd on Wednesday evenings…and the collegiates I lecture on Tuesdays.
Listen, young people! You have a PURPOSE here on earth that extends to ALL THE WAY TO THE NEW CREATION!!
How amazing is that?
Last week Kyle joined me as the guest speaker for our Hope Youth “relationship series”—February being the month for LOVE. As the oldest people in the room, my husband and I shared our vast wisdom on the topic of “becoming the person you’d want to date.” Week 3: Becoming a person who is secure in who God created you to be.
Obviously…based on the above quote…we barely scratched the surface.
Yes we looked at Psalm 139 ("You knit me together in my mother's womb...") and we talked about spiritual gifts and we imagined ourselves as God’s masterpiece created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). We talked about the two things needed if we’re going to be secure in who God created us to be: first knowing how God sees us; and second understanding ourselves as the unique individuals God intentionally designed.
But listen…I now understand there is WAY more to this story (the part of the story I’ve never thought to share…)
And it’s this—
God created you on purpose for a purpose, with WORK to do. This work is called flourishing. And the work you do here on earth connects to the work you’ll continue to do forever! Stated another way—those “good works” He planned in advance for you to do don’t end here…but are the training ground for your eternally flourishing life! Yikes.
Monday of this week, just before our most recent Minnesota blizzard, Kyle and I ate dinner and studied Ephesians with our dear neighbor friends. Two Barbs and their husbands, Jon and Todd—and the six of us started our discussion with “Show & Tell.” In the spirit of Ephesians 2:10 each of us shared a “masterpiece” unique to our own God-design. And it was precious. Todd amazed us with his genius for creating electronic gadgets; as a teen he wired a remote-start for his car, long before such things existed! Jon showed us a picture of himself at church as a 10-year-old boy; the start of his career in public speaking. One Barb brought a t-shirt from her years in camp ministry (the very thing she knows she was made for!) The other Barb talked about creating VBS experiences for children. Kyle showed off a wood-working project. I brought my book. Each of us agreeing, we are most alive when we’re doing THE THING we were made for.
Amazing, isn’t it?
Last week I wrote here on this blog about the creative presence of “ruakh.” (Thoughts from a college lecture I’d recently given.)
Ruakh is Hebrew for “spirit” and “Spirit”—illustrated by this quote from The BibleProject:
“Throughout the Hebrew Bible, God interacts with and influences humans by his ruakh, connecting himself to their ruakh, their own breath and spirit–the essence of their perspectives, affections, and creative ideas.”
From the beginning of time God created humans to “rule”—to join Him in caring for His creation. God breathes his ruakh life into each unique person, empowering them to join His creative work in this world. Some people build things; others grow things; some of us nurture. We teach and we write and we study. We mend and we fix. We lead and we serve. We are healers and explorers, musicians and artists.
How would it change our perspective in this life if we knew we were part of a lasting work? How much joy would it bring if we saw ourselves as creators for a New Creation?
What if my God-designed purpose merged earth and heaven into one continuous story?
Mind-bending isn’t it?
I can’t wait to tell the kids about this!