December 12 - Malachi 3:1-4; 4:5-6
v.6 "And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
Becoming a father has held up a mirror to my daily demeanor. Andrea can tell you I know how to brood with the best of them. Sometimes, I just need to be left alone. My mind prefers to chew on challenges for a few days (or months) before talking about them.
Children are incredibly perceptive, aren't they? When Ezra suspects I'm distracted, he will get in my line of vision and say, "Hi Dad!" When I'm fully engaged and playing with them, the boys hardly ever bicker with each other. I don't say this to claim all the credit or blame for the behavior of my kids, but I do notice that when my heart is turned toward my sons, their hearts are receptive.
The Bible teaches there is much more at stake in the parent-child relationship than simply a happy and functional family. When the hearts of parents and children are open to one another, Christ has an opening to our hearts as well. And when the families of a nation are centered on faith and live open-heartedly, the land itself is strengthened against destruction.
The scripture at the top is the last verse of the Old Testament (as Christians have reordered the books of the Hebrew Bible). It is a striking warning and promise rolled into one - pure law and gospel. Judgment Day is coming...but the Judge's intent is not to strike the land with utter destruction, rather it is to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents.
When the season is stressful, or the world is maddening, or your faith is fleeting - turn your heart toward those closest to you: parents, children, brothers, sisters, friends. Intimacy combats anxiety.
The Lord who came will come again and renew the heartland.
Holy Lord, turn our hearts to those closest to us. Strengthen our families, our communities, and our nations, for your glory. Amen.