“Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for (Ruth) who loves you, who is ore to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Ruth 4:14-15
Before my grandmother passed away a few years ago, she would often tell me a story about when I was younger. On one occasion, as a toddler while I was playing, she was overcome with a sudden urge to pray for me. That day, as she used to tell it, she prayed a very special prayer for me- one of protection, one of service, one of a life dedicated to the glory of God. No doubt, she had prayed for me countless other times. But that day- that day was special. It was different.
Whether or not she was aware of it, the Bible speaks of this type of prayer as a “blessing.” Fathers would often pray a special blessing over their children. I’m not talking about a general, “Lord keep them safe and use them at some point.” No, I’m talking about a specific, Spirit-infused prayer over a child’s life. The child that is born at the end of the book of Ruth is given a blessing by a chorus of women praising God for how He has restored Naomi. This child, like Boaz, was called a “redeemer” and a “restorer of life.” I’m not going to give away any spoilers here, but God certainly answered that prayer! And, as I reflect on my own life, I am convinced that God has (and continues) to answer the prayer of my grandmother.
Last night, as Allison and I were talking, I realized that as a father I have the privilege in leading my family in practicing affirmation and blessing. To my shame, I honestly forget to do this. But, as I see my children growing, I realize that they are unique and special and different and fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s my right, my obligation, and my privilege to speak words of life and affirmation to (and over) my children. I am called to give them a blessing, a prevailing prayer that will guide their lives. My grandmother constantly reminded me of this story, no doubt because it was a very special moment for her. I grew up knowing that I was loved and affirmed and set apart for the glory of God. The reformed community speaks of this as a covenant blessing (though we stop short of infant-baptism!). It is a practice that has fallen out of vogue. But, in a world that constantly drags us down, what a blessing it is to know that your parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents affirm you, love you, support you, and see the hand of God on your life. Speak blessing to your children. Speak affirmation to your spouse. Speak love to the world.