John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by John Howard Farmer

Visit the Irvington Baptist Church website

Invest in God’s Children

Hazel and I have just returned from spending a week in missions at Eagle Eyrie, Lynchburg.

I am so proud of the 380 youth, chaperones and leaders. Indeed, I know there is a future ahead. Day in and day out, we observed the kids and saw time and time again the promise of our future.

Invest in our youth.

There is a grand Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 11:6-9. Let’s read it together:

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.”

Study this with caution, for it has nothing to do with a child leading adults. Step up: adults are to lead our children.

Read a bit more:

“The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

This is a discussion of the day of the Lord: the day in which Jesus Christ will remove the curse of sin from our world and restore peace to all creation. A child will be able to lead a lion (or a wolf, etc.) around without fear. All God’s dissimilar creations will live in harmony.

I believe that this prophecy will indeed become true on some future day; a day of God’s choosing. However, until that day, shouldn’t we all try to sustain and help our community be a place where God’s children can live in peace?

When my little boy was a wee lad, I sometimes worked out of town, dashing home on a Friday late. Saturday morning was catch-up chores day, followed by church on Sunday morning.

Lee had reached an age when a hug or kiss from dad was tantamount to child abuse—most especially if in public.

The drive from Richmond’s Bird Airport to far Chesterfield County was too far.

Lee was usually in bed when I took to the hall toward his room. That room was such a special, peaceful place. When my dad (Lee’s granddad) and I built that house, friends became laborers of love. Even then, Lee had a following. The windowsills, closet racks and light switches were all installed at what the friends called Lee-high. Lee’s choice of decor would probably not stand muster on HGTV today. It was all boy.

Without turning on a light, I would scour the room to discover in which pile of stuffed toys my lad had played. Sitting down upon his bed I just looked at him. It was a good enough place to pray. He’d survived kitten licks, woods safaris with his dog, Ernie, protecting hearth and home from his tree house, tending his chickens and gathering eggs, and two trips a day on a yellow bus.

Prayers were always of gratitude, always petitioning Christ for his safety in a world into which he was thrust; for me to be a better dad and for a place for Lee in God’s kingdom. Followed by a pat or two, a hug, a kiss on his mug, I got the best pay for the visit, “Nite dad.” In that peaceful setting, with no onlookers, it was okay to be kissed by one’s dad.

I am occasionally shocked to learn of a disturbance at our public schools: bullying gone wrong. “Our schools are inhabited by gangs,” a parent comments.

Sadly, my TV reported on a girl bullied by her peers, who had committed suicide.

Society in general is corrupted by hours and hours of movie and TV violence, to the point where human respect for others is off our radar.

Our school kids are at risk. Wait! Their parents are as well.

Don’t be duped when folks apply “race” to a situation, a report. We are all part of the one human race: “We who walk upright.” Color may be a distinction. Even here words fail. I am not white, I’m faded pink with freckles. Very few folks are white, black, red, yellow and so forth…

This I know, when we start a conversation with color; it portends prejudice, which may skew the conversation toward negativity.

Talk about it in the confines of your own home. Remind each other that God made us all and equally so. Get out your Bible and read the lessons holy. Gather your church groups, classes, and role-play positive images about being one another’s neighbor. Be bold enough to admit past mistakes to your kids; share how you felt when being picked upon; how you were wrong in relating to another person in your past. Talk about what the Good Book says about “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Help the kids returning to school re-acquaint themselves with civility.

I saw on Facebook a while back, pictures of some Coan Baptist church-folk gathered around a fire pit, praying and being led by that once little boy of mine… sharing faith (and food).  I checked short to thank God for calling me to pray over that lad so long ago. He is an answered prayer.

A covering of prayer and honesty will bring a harvest of peace to every community.

Adults, take the lead.

Being a bully is not cool, it is stupid.