Weaving the Patterns of Life
May 9th, 1965 @ 8:15 AM
WEAVING THE PATTERNS OF LIFE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Luke 2: 51-52
5-9-65 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor leading this Mother’s Day service. Now next Sunday morning, in the providence of God, I shall begin preaching a long series of sermons on the Holy Spirit. I had thought to begin this series last October, but I have been delayed for lack of understanding and knowledge.
I have never faced a preaching assignment, one that I felt I ought to assume—not that anybody else forces these things upon me, I have an inward compulsion. I have never faced a preaching assignment that was as difficult as this one on the Holy Spirit. Just as I have thought I was ready and had these things outlined in my mind, then I would fall into the deepest of all theological confusions and have to start all over again. And I am not completely ready yet. There is so very much that God will have yet to teach us. But we are going to begin, and maybe as we go along God will show us things that now we do not quite comprehend. I could hope it would be possible for you to be present for every one of those messages.
I never heard any series on the Holy Spirit in my life. And because of extremities and excesses, it has been the practice, almost universal, of our pulpits to shy away from it. But there is not anything that is so pertinent to us today, we who live in the age of grace and of Pentecost and of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There is not anything so pertinent to us as the third Person of the Trinity, who is in our midst, who regenerates our souls, who keeps us and shelters us and guards us, without whose care we would not be able to stand before all of the wiles of the evil one. We need to know. It is because we do not know that we need to listen. I need to know. So next Sunday morning at this hour, we shall begin. The first two sermons are going to be on The History of the Holy Spirit, following from Pentecost to this present day. What has happened? What has been the doctrine of the church? And how has it affected the lives and the ministry and the testimony of God’s people? We are going to begin next Sunday morning. And the Lord give us wisdom as we face and enter into this most significant of all of the studies we could ever give our hearts to.
Now today is Mother’s Day and a beautiful and precious day it is. Most of the times I do not turn aside to preach a special sermon; just once in a while. Christmas I do. Easter I do. On the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the death of Dr. Truett I prepare some kind of a message, a denominational message usually, in memory of that far-famed preacher and pastor. Then one other time I do and that’s on Mother’s Day. And I love to do it. The title of the sermon this hour is Weaving the Patterns of Life, and it is a following of the life of our Lord Jesus, who as a boy, as a child, grew up under the loving care, and the watchful eye, and the constant love and intercession of His mother Mary––and speaking now humanly––and who reflected in His life, the teaching and the training of His mother. Now that’s going to be the thought of the sermon, weaving the patterns of life; doing so, weaving into the soul and life of the child all of those patterns that appear in womanhood or in manhood.
In the second chapter––and this is not a text––in the second chapter of the Book of Luke, after the story of the youngster, the Lad in the temple [Luke 2:46-50]: “And returning to the home in Nazareth, He went down with them, and was subject unto them: and His mother kept all these sayings in her heart” [Luke 2:51]. And the life of the child is so much a reflection of the life of his mother.
When General Douglas MacArthur was a cadet in West Point, if you have read the story of his life, he entered a great trial of soul, a conflict in his soul, one that concerned honor, and duty, and loyalty. And if you would know General MacArthur, you would know how such a conflict as that would enter into a civil war in his soul. Well, at that time, when he was struggling in a great trial, his mother sent him a poem. And this is the poem that she sent to her son:
Do you know that your soul is of my soul such a part
That you seem to be fiber and core of my heart?
None other can pain me as you, son, can do;
None other can please me or praise me as you.
Remember the world will be quick with its blame
If shadow or shame ever darken your name.
Like mother, like son, is saying so true
The world will judge largely of mother by you.
Be sure it will say, when its verdict you’ve won,
“She reaps as she sowed, this man is her son.”
[Poem by Mrs. Pinky MacArthur]
That’s what I’m talking about: the reflection of the faith, and devotion, and life, and training of the mother of the home in the life of the child.
Now, this is so very apparent in the life of the Lord Jesus. For example––and these are just examples––look how so many times in the life of our Savior He will be described as praying before He breaks bread, before He eats dinner: “Then He took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude” [Matthew 14:19].
Now look again: “And He took the cup, and gave thanks” [Matthew 26:27]. And again, “And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying [Matthew 26:26] . . .” And in likewise also the cup after supper [Matthew 26:27]. I turn the pages again after His resurrection from the dead, “And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave to them” [1 Corinthians 11:23-24]. Now, I’m not speaking of our Lord from a heavenly point of view. Of course He would have done that, being God’s Son. But I’m speaking of it from a human point of view.
Don’t you think they did that in the home in which He grew up? Don’t you think that all the days of His life He knew no other thing than to bow His head and to pray before the breaking of bread? What He did in all of His afterlife is a reflection of what He knew in His home.
Again Mark as he outlines the life of our Lord in the first chapter, describing our Savior, says, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” [Mark 1:35]. And this again is reiterated in the life of our Lord. Going up into a mountain, going into a solitary place, rising a great while before day, praying, pouring out His soul unto God; a pattern in His afterlife to which He was introduced as a child. Just once again, “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up,” emphasizing it, “where He had been brought up, where He was reared as a child; and as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day” [Luke 4:16]. And the pattern of all of His afterlife, on the day God had set apart for the assembly of His people and for public worship, “as His custom was, where He was brought up as a child, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day” [Luke 4:16]. These are the patterns of life that are woven into the very woof and warp of our being. And they are reflected in all of the habits of mind and attitudes of soul in the years that follow; the patterns of life.
Now I want to speak of it two ways; one, in the family; and the other, in the church; first, in the family. What a meaningful, and significant, and comforting thing to have God in the home. In my life and ministry, I cannot understand, and I cannot enter into the choice of a family to shut out God. I don’t understand it. I don’t see it. Maybe it is because I live in a world of tears, and despair, and sorrow, and heartache, and illness, and pain, and sickness, and age, and death. Maybe it is because almost every day of my life some area of tears, or heartache, or separation, or death I will touch. But it just emphasizes to me our desperate need of God. And I don’t understand how people volitionally and willingly shut God out.
How precious and how marvelously comforting, strengthening, to have God with us. All of us remember the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman. He passed by the little town of Shunem. And in the town was a great woman. The Bible says that. “And there was in Shunem a great woman” [2 Kings 4:8]. And she noticed his passing by, and she said to her husband, “Let us build a little chamber for him on the wall, convenient, quiet. Let us put therein a table, and a bed, and a stool, and a lamp. And it shall be, when he passes by, he will turn in.” And Elisha did so. He made that his home, that little prophet’s chamber on the top of the wall [2 Kings 4:9-11]. So upon a day when he was resting in this place provided by that dear couple, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” And she stood before him, and he said, “You have been so kind to us with all this kindness. What shall be done for thee? Shall I speak of thee to the king, or to the captain of the host?” She said, “No. I live among mine own people. I am happy here in this humble home. I have no ambition to be a lady in waiting at the king’s court, or to be recognized and received by the captain of the host of Israel” [2 Kings 4:12-13]. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? “I am happy here in this home, as I am, pleased.”
Then Gehazi suggested to the prophet, “They have no children” [2 Kings 4:14]. And Elisha said, “According to the time of life, thou shalt have a son” [2 Kings 4:16]. And a little baby was laid in her arms, bone of her bones, flesh of her flesh, life of her life [2 Kings 4:17]. And the little lad grew up. And upon a day when he was out in the field with his father, he said, “Oh, my head, my head.” And the father did as all of us do. He said to a servant, “Take the child to his mother.” And the little lad was taken to the home. And she held him in her arms until he died [2 Kings 4:18-20]. And then what? And then what? When you shut God out of your life, there’s not anything else. That’s all. There’s nothing to be said, there’s nothing to be read. There’s nothing to be done. Dig a place in the clods of the earth and bury us out of sight, because there’s not anything else when we shut God out of our lives. That’s the end. That’s the blackness of despair.
Not so to one who loves God. She took that lad in her arms up to that little chamber, and she laid him on the bed of the prophet of God [2 Kings 4:21]. She made her way to Mt. Carmel where Elisha lived. And when she saw him, she said, “Did not I ask, did not you promise me a son? Then why has this despair and this sorrow come upon my house?” [2 Kings 4:28]. And Elisha followed her to the home, and went up into the chamber, and saw there the lad. Oh, what a sadness, what a sorrow! But God hath purposed some better thing for us, of which this is a parable. And Elisha put his mouth over the mouth of the lad, and his warm body over the cold body of the lad. And Elisha breathed into his body his own breath, and his own life, and the lad was raised from the dead [2 Kings 4:32-35]. And he gave the child back to his mother [2 Kings 4:36], which I say is a parable—God shall breathe into our fallen forms the breath of life [1 Thessalonians 4:16]. And to the believer, and to the disciple of Jesus, and to the Christian family, the dissolution of a family circle is not the end of the book; there’s another chapter. It’s not the end of the life; there’s another yet. It’s not the conclusion of the story; there’s something else to be said; this in the circle of a Christian family [1 Corinthians 15:51-52].
Oh, how the Lord, how the Lord is good to those who open their hearts to Him! So in all of the issues of life, looking to Jesus, believing in Jesus, all of the things that come have a place and have a part. Our tears, and there’s not any life without its tears; our sorrows, and there are no homes without sorrows; and our disappointments, there are no visions and dreams without disappointments; but in God all of these things have a rich contribution to make to our children and to us and to our families.
My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me
I cannot see the pattern,
But He worketh steadily.
Sometimes He weaveth sorrow,
And I in selfish pride
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.
Not till the loom is idle
And the shuttle ceased to fly
Will God unfold the canvas,
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Master’s skillful hands
As the silver and the golden
In the pattern He has planned.
[“The Weaver,” Benjamin Malachi Franklin]
And to a godly home and to a Christian family, the sorrows as well as the joys, the tears as well as the smiles, the triumphs as well as the defeats all have a part in God’s choice and in God’s elective and sovereign grace.
There is so much I have prepared to say, I’m not going to begin to say it all. Let me conclude with just a few words. In the training of our children and following this thought of their reflection of what we teach them in our homes, I’m told this isn’t true actually but I read of a parable. And the parable said that the baby sharks were teaching the baby crabs to walk forward and not backward. Now I’m told that baby crabs don’t walk backward, but anyway in this parable it says they did. The baby crabs walk backward. And the baby sharks were trying to teach the baby crabs to walk frontward. So the parable said that no matter how well the baby sharks had succeeded in teaching the baby crabs to walk frontward at the end of the day, the next morning the baby crabs were all walking backward again. And the baby sharks couldn’t understand until they went home with the baby crabs and found that the father crabs and the mother crabs all walked backward. That is a little parable of our children.
And one in the Bible is this: the tree said to the olive [tree], “Come and reign over us.” And the olive tree said, “Shall I leave my sweetness to reign over you? Shall I leave my fatness to reign over you?” Then the trees of the forest came to the fig and said, “Come and reign over us.” And the fig tree said, “Shall I forsake my sweetness to reign over you?” Then the trees of the forest came to the vine and said to the vine, “Come thou, and reign over us.” And the vine said, “Shall I leave my fruit of the vine to reign over you?” Then the trees came to the bramble, and said, “Come thou, and reign over us.” And the bramble was complimented, and satisfied, and said, “Then come and put your trust under my branches, and I will be king over you” [Judges 9:8-15]. Oh, what a parable here in the ninth chapter of the Book of Judges. Somebody will reign over the souls and the lives of these children.
I one time heard the president of the board of trustees at the Buckner Home say, “The streets of our city confer no degrees, and they bestow no diplomas, but they educate with terrible precision!” Somebody will teach these children; they will. And if it is not the olive, and if it is not the fig, and if it is not the vine, then it will be the thorn on the bramble. And if these children are not taught by godly parents and by Christian teachers in the church, they’ll be taught by the filth and the scum and the blasphemy of the world. O God; the responsibility and the duty that comes to every home and the life of every parent when the child is placed in your arms; and they reflect what they’re taught.
Moses, forty years of age, heir to the throne, looking upon his brethren, renounced the kingdom of Egypt to suffer affliction with the people of God [Hebrews 11:24-25]. Where did that come from? His teacher as a little boy was his mother [Exodus 2:1-9]. “And train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” [Proverbs 22:6]. Forget it? You can’t. Drown it out of your life? You can’t. The memory of godly parents; the memory of praying mothers; the memory of godly fathers; the memory of church and song; the very melodies bear back to the soul of wayward and prodigal children the preciousness of the life committed to God. Ah, what a holy responsibility and heavenly assignment! “Here, take this child, and raise him up, rear him up, teach him up, guide him up for Me.” And weaving into his life those patterns that are so beautifully apparent in all of the after years of manhood and womanhood; God grant it to us in our homes and in our families.
Now Brother Till, let us sing our song of appeal. And while we sing it, while we sing it, somebody you give himself to Jesus [Romans 10:9-10]. A family you, coming into the fellowship of the church; a couple; one. As the Spirit of the Lord shall lead, make that decision today. Come, on the first note of the first stanza. “Here I am, pastor, and here I come,” while we stand and while we sing.