Faithfulness in Ambiguity

by Eric Elkin

[T]he Lord… said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.’
— Gen.17:1

We packed our bags and were ready to go home. Peggy was holding our newborn daughter in her hands. A nurse came into the room. You could see she was struggling to be gentle as she spoke to us. Looking at us both, she said,“You need to leave the hospital now, but you can’t leave until you name your baby. So you’re going to have to decide…now.”

The pressure forced us to make a decision we had struggled with for nine months. We never really agreed on our daughter’s name, we just divided the naming rights. I got to choose her first name, a Norwegian name reflecting my heritage. My wife got her middle name. Peg gave her a name passed on through generations of women in her family.

One might think the experience would have taught us a lesson. However, there we were again when our son was born two years later. Once again, a nurse was forced to tell us we had to name the baby before we could leave the hospital. This time we switched. Peggy chose his first name, and I got the middle name. Again, names were chosen reflecting our family’s heritage.

We forged a covenant with our children when we named them.  A covenant between parent and child. It was more than a promise, “I will do for you.” A covenant is a mutually binding agreement. We, as parents, will care for you, our children. And, we, as parents, want you, our children, to walk blamelessly in life. The problem with this covenant, neither parent nor child can walk blamelessly through life. Both will do and say things which hurt the other. Acts which can leave deep scars.

It’s this truth where I find a connection with Abraham and Sarah. Even though Abraham gets all the press and credit, the covenant was forged with both mother and father. Neither could walk blamelessly with the Lord even though it was a condition for abiding by the covenant. They could, however, speak and listen.

To walk blamelessly is not really about walking without error. It is to be faithful to each other. Faithful relationships are where both parties speak and listen to each other. Parents speak to their children and expect them to listen. However, parents need to listen to the words of their children. It helps them learn to walk together. So teach your children to walk blamelessly and teach it to yourself as well.

Click to read: Genesis 17: 1-17

Reflection Questions:

  • What is the meaning of your own name?
  • How do speaking and listening build better relationships?
  • Where do you feel not heard?
  • How do you speak to God? And, when do you listen?

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