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Life

My Girls Will Exist Forever

Bailey1My home is officially a budding sorority. Last week on Tuesday, my wife delivered our second daughter, Hope. Now, I’m outnumbered three-to-one. A friend recently told me I will either have to buy a truck or a male dog. Not sure about either of those, but a trip to Cabela’s may be on the horizon. Teenage boys hate dads who shop at Cabela’s.

Hope1

As I have been playing with our older daughter, Bailey, I have realized how big she is. She is almost two years old, but compared to “Baby Hope” (her pet name for her new sister), she is a giant. She is getting older. She is growing in intelligence. She can carry on a conversation for almost a minute. As I have held Hope and watched Carly gently mother her in this first week, I realize that though she is my little peanut right now, she too will be big some day. I realize that one day she, like Bailey–and me with my parents–will not need me anymore.

More than these things, I have felt the weighty reality that both of these little girls will exist forever. Read that again: they will exist forever. That is the kind of truth you build your life and parenting around. Bailey and Hope, just like Carly and me, will either spend eternity in the glorious, blissful presence of God’s glory or in the horrific, terrifying presence of God’s wrath. There is no alternative.

When I meditate on this reality when I’m running back and forth across our apartment with Bailey for the forty-seventh time in the evening, or when I am holding Hope and soaking in the fountain of youth aroma that is newborn skin, I realize that Christ in the gospel is the only solution to parenting two precious souls who will exist forever. The gospel both profoundly humbles and motivates me. I am humbled because I am enlightened to the fact that only God’s grace will save these girls. Only he can draw them to his Son and make them treasure him. If it were not for grace, I would have no life or love for Jesus. So, like me, my girls need a lot of grace. I am humbled because even the best parenting strategy will prove naught if God’s grace is not working. At the same time, I am motivated because while God is the one who draws, he uses sinful, frail instruments like daddies and mommies to accomplish his glorious purposes in children. The good news of the gospel is that salvation is by grace through faith. I am saved by faith, but the faith that saves is never alone. Because I am saved by faith not by works, I am now free to work hard because my failures cannot crush me. Through the gospel, I am also empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God the Father–Parent par excellence–now lives in me. Incredible.

This tension keeps me from worrying about my daughters’ eternal destiny, but it also keeps me from being a lazy dad. It’s a tight rope to walk, but a fun and exciting one. By no means do I walk it perfectly; that’s why I need the grace of Jesus.

Bailey and Hope: I love you both and there’s nothing you can do to make me love you any more or any less. May God pour his saving grace on you both, and, in me, may you see a man who is motivated by grace to be a simple instrument in the Redeemer’s hands to show you how much you really needs his grace.

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Life

The Comfort of Advent

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” (Matt. 1:23)

For many people, Christmas is the most brutal time of year. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a recent divorce, loneliness, or something else, Christmas can be a sad reminder that life is not how it should be. Even if Christmas is a happy time for you, the indwelling power of sin and the general brokenness of the world reminds you that, indeed, life is not how it should be.

On that first Christmas night, when Mary bore Jesus in a dirty stable, the world was no different than ours. It was filled with disease, war, oppression, injustice, famine, hunger, and private sin. The problems were less noticeable because Mary and Joseph didn’t have Twitter or CNN, but they were no less prevalent. While “long lay the world in sin and error pining,” the baby boy Jesus, entered with a most precious name: Immanuel, which means “God with us.”

The God of the Bible is transcendent: he is holy, lifted up, and above all things (Isa.57:15). Nevertheless, he is immanent and personal. God “became flesh and dwelt among us” so that we might see “his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). The God of the Bible is sovereign over the plight we face, yet he is not immune to it, for not only is “God with us,” he is with us in our sufferings.

The baby called Immanuel would grow up not as a rich, famous ruler who had servants fluff his pillow all the day. No, he grew up “a man of sorrows, and [was] acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces” (Isa. 53:3). He became a servant and though he was God, he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped…and [he] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6, 8). His suffering on the cross was for you: he took the penalty of sin you deserved (Rom. 3:21-25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Col. 1:22; 1 Pet. 2:24). His suffering on the cross was also with you: he is the one who “comforts us in all our affliction…For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:4).

This Advent season, you may ask God, “Why have I suffered so much? Why is life so hard?” You can take comfort in the fact that Jesus–very God and very man–asked his Father the same question: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). You see, Jesus lost the Father’s hand so that you might grab hold of it. He lost fellowship with the Father so that you might enter the Father’s family. He took the wrath of God so that you might only receive grace. Jesus suffered not to eliminate suffering in your life or in the world (though he will do that on the last day). He suffered so that you might ultimately share in his victory over suffering through his resurrection.

What a comfort! What a Savior! Truly, Jesus is Immanuel.

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Life

Welcome, Bailey Noel

Bailey Noel Pruch. 6 pounds, 13 ounces and 21 inches long. Praise Jesus, through whom everyone is made, for this beautiful creation.