by Billy Eutsey
If you were a fly on the wall of the Eutsey home lately, I think you’d leave with a few take-aways:
1. I think you’d probably roll with laughter if you could hear some of the things Charlotte says to us, and you’d melt when Hunter waddles around and blows kisses to everyone.
2. You would definitely admire the kindness and grace Sarah Beth extends to me when I act more like Jackie Gleason than Mr. Cleaver.
3. And, you’d probably recognize that our life is characterized by arrhythmia and clutter – we’re often exhausted by it.
We were created for rhythm and order. The creation story in the first couple chapters of Genesis teems (see what I did there?) with rhythm and order:
“And there was evening and there was morning, the first day,” the second day, the third day, etc.
“God said, ‘Let there be ____.” And it was so…and God saw that it was good.” (Over and over)
God worked six days and rested on the seventh – a rhythm He set for His people until Jesus returns to usher us into an eternal Sabbath.
God gave creation over to the stewardship of man and told him to keep it and to subdue it – to cultivate it and to master its inherent order.
After the fall, life became cursed and toilsome and chaotic because Adam’s sin destroyed our harmony with our creator. That’s a hard life to live – it’s supposed to be, and that curse is pervasive in every area of our life here on Earth. It severely affects our parenting. It makes sleeping hard. It makes waking up hard. It makes it hard to eat well, hard to be on time, hard to be patient, and hard to be present.
Our God is one of order and justice, and He is also one that loves His creation and patiently sustains it while his plan of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration is revealed and accomplished. The curse of sin affects everything, but it’s been restrained by our creator from consuming everything entirely. We still enjoy the patterns He set into motion at the beginning of time. There is still evening and morning like there was the very first day, gravity still keeps our feet planted firmly to the ground, the rain still waters our crops, trees provide oxygen for us to breathe. It’s all so ordinary and mundane that we take it for granted.
The word “ordinary” has become a theme in the Eutsey home over the past few years – it started with a book by Michael Horton that uses the word as its title, and more recently has been in the advice of good friends to “celebrate the ordinary.” It has popped up in podcasts – specifically one episode entitled “What is the good life?” (Surprise! The “good life” is one characterized by appreciating the ordinary things God has given us). Even the church reformers referred to the “ordinary means of grace” to describe what happens when we pray, take part in the sacraments, hear scripture preached, and read it for ourselves. I firmly believe that God uses “ordinary” means to accomplish his purposes so that, when extraordinary results arise from ordinary means, there are no questions about His supernatural superintending work.
The reformers called those things means of grace because they are the vehicle (the means to the end) by which God intends for Christians to experience His grace and have a taste of the harmony and rhythm that once existed prior to the fall and that will exist forever after Christ comes back. Over time, as we “attend the means of grace,” we’re formed more and more into Christ’s image (the end that justifies the means). This is definitely what the great theologian, Johnny Cash, was referring to when told us to “get rhythm when we get the blues!” The more our daily rhythms of thought, word, and deed reflect the rhythms of our creator, the more joy and harmony we’ll experience. It’s a foretaste of Heaven!
Parents in our society are being crushed under the pressure to be extraordinary parents (while also being extraordinary people on our own) who raise extraordinary kids that grow up to do big, extraordinary things. I know you feel it. I do. We’ve got our own set of “means” to live by now. For some it’s success or recognition – maybe (like me) just to “be well-liked” like Willy Loman from Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman. For others, it might be something else entirely, but regardless, every effort to “attend” those means forms us into the likeness of whatever end is in sight. Inevitably, we’ll exhaust ourselves pursuing those things because there’s no true end to those paths.
We’re urged in scripture to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author (pioneer) and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).” He’s the end we need to keep in sight – He said it’s finished, and we can rest in that. I don’t think I’m crazy to suggest that our daily activities, when steeped in the word and in prayer, can be means of grace as well. It’s entirely feasible to be growing in grace while you’re drinking your morning coffee, repenting to your wife for being checked out, brushing your kid’s teeth, disciplining your child, or repenting to your wife for being checked out (did I say that already?).
The means of grace aren’t just for us though, they’re for the people participating with us! As parents, we have the special opportunity to raise our children in the “fear and admonition of the Lord” like our church’s baptism vows state. While we’re learning to fix our eyes on Jesus, we get to take them along with us on that journey and point them to Him as well!
Everything we do points us and them to something. It’s either Jesus or it’s something else.
Would you join me by trying to “get rhythm” by making every ordinary moment an opportunity to point ourselves and our progeny to Christ? We’ll be better for it. That’s a promise.
“We always need a reminder of Grace: God’s love inspires our actions, but our action does not inspire God’s love. Our family habits will not change God’s love for us, but God’s love for us should change our family habits” – Justin Whitmel Earley, Habits of the Household.