"How about we make pancakes for breakfast?", Clara (5) asked with a twinkle in her eye I find difficult to resist. As delicately cracked eggs sloshed into the bottom of the bowl and little flour puffs encircled our heads, I thought how many precious moments I've spent with my girls in the kitchen. Certain Clara was equally enraptured in our culinary fellowship I inquired what was her favorite part of making pancakes.
"Choosing what shape each family member should get." This was an answer quite different from the one I expected. In truth, our pancake "shapers" are limited in choice. Besides Mickey Mouse, they symbolize various holidays with hearts, bunnies and chicks rounding out the choices. It struck me as a bit odd that she took such great pleasure in designating a shape out of so few. One by one she selected a particular shape for each of her sisters, punctuated with her rationale for each pick.
Since Scott was already at church, only she and I remained. After some contemplation, she chose the two hearts. "Because I want Jesus in my heart like He's in yours, Mommy", she explained.
This morning I began the book of Matthew. It is satisfying to begin reading the gospels during the Easter season. Somewhere amongst those bunny and chick pancake shapers, Jesus reminded me what a treasure the next month will be.
The book of Matthew opens with the complete genealogy of Jesus' earthly father, Joseph. This account seems almost out of place when one considers that Joseph was only Jesus' step-father. Jesus had been conceived of the Holy Spirit. As if God were reading my mind, I notice that the next verses give us a picture into what was happening in the heart of Joseph. This passage highlights three distinct characteristics that Joseph portrays:
- Respect (Verse 19) - When Joseph discovered Mary's pregnancy, his initial reaction was to save her from public disgrace. He didn't worry about what the neighbors would say behind his back, but rather how he could protect his love.
- Obedience (Verse 24) - Simply put, Joseph did what God asked of him. He was fully within his legal and religious rights to divorce her but instead He chose to believe the angel and continue his relationship with Mary. In fact, he obeyed every detail given him right down to the name that should be given to his step-son.
- Restraint (Verse 25) - Joseph brought Mary home to be his wife but did not consummate their marriage until after Jesus was born. Personally, I've never known a groom that exercised that extent of restraint but he forewent satisfying his own desires to watch over Mary and take care of her needs until after Jesus was born.
Could it be that God gave us this genealogy because it was in that grand line-up of relatives that Joseph learned the qualities of respect, obedience and restraint? Was it from Jacob who worked fourteen years for Rachel that he understood restraint? Perhaps it was from Boaz who fulfilled his marital obligation as kinsman redeemer that he comprehended obedience. Was respect patterned after David's example when he stood by his friend Jonathan and honored their friendship even after death by caring for Jonathan's relative?
There in the kitchen it dawned on me how many silent lessons we teach our children. Someday Clara will realize that technically her father was a step-father to two of her sisters. Scott's character qualities of respect, obedience and restraint have made and will continue to make an impression on each of his children. Joseph and Scott share these attributes because they've modeled their lives on a common source.
By putting those traits into practice, Joseph was uniquely qualified to be Jesus' daddy. Jesus in turn has qualified Scott to be the daddy to our four precious daughters. This morning a pancake griddle was transformed into an altar where I praised God for the impact my husband has on our kids by living out his faith in front of them.
Jesus, thank you for inserting my husband in all four of my daughter's genealogies. You knew the kind of father he'd be to our girls. You knew he would far surpass anything for which I could ask or even imagine. You knew he would show each of them how blessed it is to live life with You. That's why Clara peered into a heart-shaped pancake and saw Your love written there. Today help me choose my words and actions carefully that I too may be someone after whom my children should model their lives.