Torn Curtain Parenting

Over the years

It was in Canberra, far from family and with just a few newly-formed friendships, that I found myself pressing in for more of Jesus. Jeff walked with God. Literally. He’d leave the house each morning, dressed in his shirt and tie, as most Canberrans do, and he’d walk the tree-lined streets, around the periphery of the architecturally-stunning Parliament house, through the park with the autumn leaves crunching beneath his feet, and in to his office, and by the time he arrived, he and the Lord had shared their hearts, heard what was on each other’s minds, drawn closer in the way only two who walk together as a habit can.

I stayed at home most days, keeping house, raising two young sons, nurturing inquisitivity, instilling character and as best I could, imparting values and truth and knowledge and love into their young lives.

And I communed with Jesus too. Only it wasn’t on long morning walks. It was in the midst of baking cookies and cleaning muddy footprints off floors, and delivering binoculars to little boys playing on the roof of the shed. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. I found myself speaking his name more often during those days.

As a child, I’d been taught to use the name of Jesus. I ended every prayer as my mother had. ‘In the name of the Lord Jesus, Amen.’  You don’t just ask of your own accord. Why should the Father answer my request? Because I asked in the name of His beloved Son, that’s why, and I understood that, I used his name, and I prayed like a woman who knew, if nothing else, she had not a leg to stand on in the presence of God if not for the precious love of Jesus.

But across the simplicity of those Canberra days, something stirred in my spirit. The Holy Spirit is indeed a Wonderful Counsellor, and somehow He bypassed my mind but formed on my lips an old phrase we’d sung over and over as children.  '. . . Life, and Health, and Peace.'

My lips were forming an old phrase we’d sung over and over as children: ‘Life, and health, and peace.’

We’d stood, our hymn books open in the quiet of the Sunday morning service, and without an instrument in sight, all those heartfelt voices rose in love to Him who had redeemed us and paid the price for our sin, because we knew what Charles Wesley knew, and we sang it like there was nothing dearer in the world.

 

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.

 

I wrote those three words in thick black ink and placed them above the kitchen bench.

 

JESUS

LIFE.  HEALTH.  PEACE. 

 

Soon, I wasn’t just breathing ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.’ I was reciting the words like sacred synonyms of the Beautiful Name: ‘Life, health, peaceLife, health, peace.’

I’d kneel beside little boys as I stroked their heads before sleep settled on them, and quietly sang,

 

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, In a believer's ear;
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away all fear.

 

I’ve moved on a bit, I guess. Perhaps there was something primitive about my repetition of a name, my constant repetition of three small words as I moved through the day.

Now I find myself in a huge church, lights and musicians and energy galore, and my two boys are nearly men, and they’re up on stage worshipping, or they’re jumping in praise with their friends in the church equivalent of a mosh pit, and then the tempo slows, and there’s a quiet transition, and tears get me every time, because His name is about to be sung, and I still can’t help but love Him all the more for the mention of His name.

Those Hillsong people nailed it again, and the lyrics haven’t lost their power for all the times they’ve been sung, and I’m crying my heart out and trying to get the words out but I keep getting choked up . . .

 

What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King

 

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

How I’ve learned to love His name.

We’re declaring the Gospel now. There’s a reason we love him, and it’s not just the way his name sounds on our lips. It’s the fact He ever loved us to start with, the distance He bridged to bring me close.

 

My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now?

 

 We’ve moved from beauty to wonder now, and we’ll lift His name til kingdom come.

 

What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King

 

But it’s the last refrain that finds me absolutely wrecked in His presence. Because all that time, all those years ago, I never realised the power of the words I was speaking out. Never knew that I was doing more than just enjoying His beautiful name. Never realised it wasn’t just another form of prayer. ‘Lord, please bless our family with life and health and peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.'

I see the years roll, like wave after wave - Jesus, Jesus, the power of His very name has done so much more than invoke a blessing. I may have loved his name and longed for the benefits He brought, but now I’m realising the power I’ve been wielding all along.

How I’ve repelled the enemy from our lives over and over, simply because no devil can stand at the name of Jesus.

We’ve rushed infants to hospital, but they haven’t died. We’ve had bills stacked high, but they’ve all been paid. We’ve had no idea what to do, but we’ve stepped out in faith. We’ve discovered our woundedness and been healed. We’ve broken down strongholds and we’ve cast out demons, and we’ve hugged the unlovely and forgiven those who wronged us, and it hasn’t come without a fight, but the weapon all along has been the precious name of Jesus.

And today, for any measure of life and health and peace in my life, my family, my world, it’s all been won because there is power in the name of Jesus.

So here I am today. Jeff's car is his sanctuary now - he still turns his morning commute into a Place of Meeting. Eric is eighteen - on the brink of decisions that will shape his life. I flicked through the material he's studying in English class this weekend, and in the face of all that this generation is being fed, all I could come back to was, 'Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.'  My second son boarded an intercity bus last night - he's working away from home four days a week, and the only thing I can send with him that can conquer my fears and pave a path of life and peace under his feet is the name of Jesus once again.

 

. . . the only thing I can send with him that can conquer my fears and pave a path of life and peace under his feet is the name of Jesus once again.

 

And then there are our daughters, Evangeline and Liberty, and I can't be everything they need, can't give them every opportunity - gracious, they've barely had two consecutive years at the same school in their entire lives - we love them to bits, but there's plenty of gaps in our parenting, for sure - but today I find myself speaking into every one of those gaps - Jesus. You who fill all things. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. 

Because it's more than a beautiful name. It's a powerful name too.

 

Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name, above all names

What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King