“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:5, 6 NIV)
We had another rather full day here of things that were not anticipated. As a result I was brought back to this passage, and saw it in a new light.
Today, the finger of the Lord was directed to Verse 6, I had already seen that this was not about old creation fathering or parenting, but rather about the parenting of a new creation, that done in and by the Spirit in the lives of believers. But what was underlined for me today is the fact that it is fathering or parenting that is found wanting, and the result or fruit of such want is “the land stricken with total destruction.” Aren’t we glad that the good side of this promise applies to spiritual relationships, and not old creation relationships?
But what hit me today is that it is fathering or parenting that is found wanting, not mentoring, not discipleship, not “leadership,” not brothering or sistering, but “fathering,” (parenting). There is something about the content of parenting that is wanting, and the lack of which results in “total destruction.” There is a particular relational content that is needed due to negligence, dysfunction, abuse, or failure in fathering. Spiritual fathering or parenting is not given for the purpose of supplying just any relational deficit, but specifically for the deficit in healthy parenting. We have just seen the result of what that deficit looks like where national politics is concerned, and sad to say we have seen the result of that deficit in what’s been calling itself “church” for two millennia. As I thought about this in the context of my day today, I realized that the truth of this was at the center of every one of my experiences of and with my spiritual children. I was not given to them, and they were not given to me to supply just any deficit, but parental deficits in particular. And looking back I realized that in every case, I had been given what was needed for the healing of those deficits. I didn’t always do very well in bringing that supply to their lives, but it was always there supplied by the same Spirit Who supplied the relationships.
This is so very important to understand, because failure of understanding results in wrong and broken expectations. Parenting or fathering is a different supply from brothering/sistering or discipleship or mentoring or leadership for that matter. It is possible to be a not fully equipped brother or sister, without being in deficit where parental content is concerned, and vice versa. This is to say that the content of a parent child relationship is different from a sibling relationship, so not being so good at being a sibling doesn’t disqualify us as a son, daughter, mother or father.
Perhaps enough said about this for now. The importance of this understanding is tremendous in light of the “total destruction” that resides in our misunderstanding of the promises of God.