[aside]This post was originally written for my friends at the ONE PROJECT.[/aside]
On April 14th, 1983 my parents were at home in Ft. Wayne, IN singing and playing their guitars. As recently converted hippie rockers, this was not an unusual way for them to spend their downtime. Most nights they were exploring their relatively new-found faith in Christ together by making music and finding their lyrics in the Scriptures. On this particular night, my dad found inspiration from the prophet Isaiah – a great book to accompany any psychedelic inclinations.
As my mom went to bed, my dad found himself in Isaiah 40 and started writing a song about what we know as the coming of Jesus and the call of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Messiah. He penned the words to a brand new song called “Clear the Way.”
“Clear the way for the Lord, clear the way
In the wilderness, clear the way
Make straight in the desert a highway for God
In the wilderness, clear the way”
While the ink was drying on his lyrics, my mom who had been sleeping, woke up in intense pain and notified my dad that the baby was coming. A few hours later, I was born.
As I grew up, my parents would remind me of that story, and that in some way they believed that God wanted me to know that similar to John the Baptist, I was called to be a person that would make way for Jesus in this world. It’s a story I’ve always held close. While my dad had no way of knowing that I would enter the world on the same night he stumbled into a new song, my parents would very intentionally retell me this story so I would know this was a generational blessing from them to me.
This seems reminiscent of the parts of Scripture where the patriarchs of old would lay their hands on their children and bless them and the generations after them. At the end of the book of Genesis, we read of how Jacob does this with his twelve sons. Before he passed away, he laid his hands on every one of his sons, “blessing each with the blessing suitable to him.” (Gen. 49:28). Jacob was able to look each one of his sons in the eyes and pray a promise of God over them as he saw fit.
Each of us carry an intrinsic desire to receive a “fatherly blessing” — whether from our father, mother, or other meaningful people the Lord has placed in our lives. These kinds of blessings remind us that we are part of a larger, ancient story that God has graciously invited us into through Christ. Blessings remind of who we are and who we are becoming. Blessings root us into God’s unique call on our lives.
Thirty-one years later, married, and having sons of my own, I’ve wanted to continue in my father’s footsteps and do something special for my family that they could carry for years to come. So for Christmas this last year, we did something different. Of course, with a 1 1/2-year-old and 5-year-old, I couldn’t pass on purchasing an absurd amount of Legos (besides, that’s what Jesus would want, right?). But I decided to take the gift giving a step further.
For several weeks leading up to Christmas, I spent time in prayer and asked the Holy Spirit to direct me to Scriptures that I could bless my wife and two sons with. I came across three distinct blessings that resonated with me. Coincidentally, all three of the Scriptures I found were in the book of Isaiah (the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!). The words of each Scripture were laid out in a nice graphic design and then packaged in a beautiful, wooden photo frame. As they opened their gifts, I explained to them that these blessings were promises from God for them. While my sons are a bit young to fully understand, I expect there to be future moments where just as my parents did with me, I’ll remind them of God’s Word and the blessing that is available to them.
Let’s be honest — it’s a rare thing in our culture to have received this type of blessing from our parents. Even for those of us who know our mother and father, many have never even been given the privilege of having any type of “spiritual” conversation with them. Furthermore, we may feel like we’ve “missed” our chance to do this for our own sons and daughters. As a society, we have the opportunity to rediscover the ancient tradition of blessing our children — whether through a song, a prayer, or even the words we choose to remind them of when they mess up.
It’s never too late to become a people of blessing — people that proclaim the Word of God over our families, friends, neighborhoods, and cities. If we are “blessed to be a blessing,” then let’s seize every opportunity to do just that.
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“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” — Deuteronomy 6:6.