by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

November, 2006

In his book, Lake Wobegon Days, Garrison Keillor describes growing up in his fictional home town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. In one chapter, he tells about winter when he was in the seventh grade. Each student who lived in the country was assigned a “Storm Home” in town where he or she could go if there were a blizzard during school. Keillor’s Storm Home was that of an older couple who lived in a little green cottage by the lake. He imagined that they had somehow chosen him because they liked him. Of course there was no blizzard that winter but he envisioned going to their house and having them welcome their “storm child.” He fantasized that they would give him hot chocolate and oatmeal cookies, and tell him how glad they were to have him.

When we are tossed and afflicted by the storms of life, we have one who welcomes us as “storm children.” Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “. . . you have received a spirit of adoption. . . . we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ . . .” (Rom. 8:15b, 16b-17a NRSV). We have not only been welcomed but have been adopted into the family of God and are spiritual heirs alongside Christ. And John wrote, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” (1 John 3:1a NRSV). Jesus came into the world so that we could be children of God.

How do we become children of God? Jesus has already done the “hard part,” purchasing our salvation (1 Cor. 7:23, Rev. 5:9). Jesus said, “‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’” and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven;’” (Matt. 5:9, 44b-45a NRSV). If we are motivated by love and dedicated to peace rather than conflict, we are doing God’s will and being children of God. Later, Jesus took a child and said, “‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matt. 18:3b NRSV). If we can come as a small, weak, humble child–a “storm child”–we can enter the kingdom of heaven and become children of God.

God sent his own son, Jesus, as a “storm child.” He was born in a stable because there was no room for him and his earthly parents anywhere else (Luke 2:4-7). And yet he fulfilled the words of Isaiah: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6 NRSV). Jesus was the child of God, given to the world. Although he was poorly received in those days, we can receive him today. John wrote, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,” (John 1:12a NRSV). If we believe and receive, we can become God’s children. Jesus himself said, “‘Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘. . . I was a stranger and you welcomed me,’” (Matt. 25:34a, 35b NRSV). Whenever we welcome another “storm child” in his name, we welcome Christ and invite him into our lives.

As we welcome other “storm children” in Jesus’ name, they will know that we are children of God, brothers and sisters of Christ. They will know that we are part of a family (Gal. 6:10), a family of God that knows no bounds, only love. They will know that ours is a family worth joining, a family that provides a safe, accepting “Storm Home” for all the “storm children” of this world.

“It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, ‘I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again, ‘Here am I and the children whom God has given me.’
“Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.” (Heb. 2:10-15 NRSV.)

Copyright © 2006 by David Phelps