I love family gatherings like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  These gatherings are even more special when all four of our children and their families are with us.  However, even when we don’t have the joy of having all of them here, I love to be an observer.  I am not much of a conversationalist, but I love to watch and listen to my children and their spouses conversing about all kinds of things.  I don’t recall any gathering which was ruined by interpersonal discord (this could be selective memory, but I’ll call it a blessing!).  Sure, there were disagreements and hurt feelings on occasion, but there was reconciliation in the end.

By far, my favorite observations are watching my grandchildren play with each other, or even by themselves.  From the mesmerizing observation of a sleeping baby to the action-filled competition of a Rubik’s Cube race… from the leadership and follower-ship of a multi-age swimming pool game to something as simple as a hike in the woods… it is so satisfying and absolutely enjoyable to watch my grandchildren relate to each other, smile and laugh and talk together, solve problems together, design new games together, and just encounter – and tackle – the things that life has thrown in front of them while they are hanging out together!  I just sit there in the background and watch.  Depending on the activity, I participate, but always, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude as I observe even one of them for a while.  I pray for them as I realize that they are a gift of God to their parents and a crown for me.  Initially, my prayers are for their salvation; following a decision to personally trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for their salvation and eternal life, I pray that they grow into faithful followers of their Lord in utilizing their gifts and being an effective witness for Him.

Did you know that your Heavenly Father looks down on you with similar thoughts?  King David recorded these words in Psalm 139:17-18, “How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You.” Doesn’t that blow your mind?  I mean, if I, a human being, have joyful thoughts of my children and grandchildren, how much more significant is it that the infinite, transcendent, all powerful, all knowing, ever present, holy, righteous, just, gracious, wrathful, good, faithful, solitary, eternal Creator would have thoughts for me?  David describes them as ‘precious’.  These thoughts are so numerous that they are beyond our ability to count.  Even when we are sleeping, He is thinking precious thoughts about us.  I can understand that from my own observation of a sleeping baby.  Don’t you just love holding a sleeping baby?  They are so innocent and the little sounds they make bring tears to your eyes.  They are so dependent on the one who is holding them and so vulnerable.  A loving parent or grandparent is watching over them and that is what our Heavenly Father relates to us.

But what about the times when children are not so compliant and demonstrate their relation to Adam and Eve (i.e., original sin)?  Do we still have precious thoughts about them?  Deep down inside we do, even though they may bring disappointment or evoke anger in our response because of their disobedience.  After dealing with the wrong, we can look at them with eyes of love. So, when you and I sin against our Heavenly Father, there is a barrier which we place between Him and us.  He is displeased with us because we are not acting like someone who is born of God.  Instead we are acting out of our old character.  Our Father still has precious thoughts for us yet He will not leave us and will never cast us out of His presence.  We can be confident in saying, “I am still with You”, as David says in verse 18.  Because He is a loving Heavenly Father, He disciplines us but He never leaves us.  He has precious thoughts toward us, because we are His adopted children and we were purchased with the infinite price of Jesus’ life.

So, meditate on how precious God’s thoughts are for you; not only when you are pleasing Him in obedience, but also when He is disciplining you.  “How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How vast the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You.”  The writer of Hebrews recorded these words, “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom [his] father does not discipline?  But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He [disciplines us] for [our] good, so that we may share His holiness.  All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness ” (Heb. 12:7-11).  Our Father’s thoughts are all encompassing and they bring Him delight, just as we delight in observing our children and grandchildren.  Just think about this.  Even as God is keeping all the universe in perfect harmony, He has time to think about you.  That’s how precious His thoughts are for you!

Bill Olsen, Elder

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