All Is His: What I Wish I Would Have Known
In our family’s homeschool from infancy through high school, some days were smooth, even idyllic, but many days prompted several overarching concerns that sounded like this in my mind: “Am I hindering my child? Is there a better way to teach this? Are my children picking up my bad habits? my husband’s? How will I ever get my son from where he is today to where (I think) he needs to be as an adult? How will I care for all of my daughter’s needs and still teach her effectively? How do I fulfill my other vocations as daughter and friend, neighbor, worker, and congregation member? Am I ever doing enough? How do I know?” What I wish I would have known can be expressed in that simple reminder: All is His.
Luther writes, “‘All things’ that have being—obviously also all of our wisdom and abilities—derive not from themselves, but they both have their beginning from Him, are preserved through Him, and must continue in Him” (LW 78:15). As Paul says in Acts 17:28: “In Him we live and move and have our being.”
What does this mean? Nothing happens “by chance and accidentally, but everything comes from and through His divine counsel and good-pleasure. He cares for us as for His people and sheep; He rules us, gives us good things, helps us in danger, preserves us” (LW 78:15). I taught this to my children, yet I did not always know this for myself.
The mysteries of God will yield comfort to the believer, and His Word in Genesis through Revelation reveals His power that is far beyond our own. More than omnipotence, which would be of little comfort on its own, the very mercy of God comes to us in the person and work of Christ Jesus for us. And by the working of the Holy Spirit, we believe. He holds all things together. This comforts me, thus the recent emphasis in my thinking: “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
We may worry about much or think we do much on our own, “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6).
Lest we find this knowledge too abstract for our everyday moments, Martin Luther explains the great mysteries in small details. “Who can ever learn or explain how it happens that a leaf grows out of a tree, or a grain becomes a root, or through wood and kernel a cherry grows from a blossom?” (LW 78:16). Similarly, he teaches in the Small Catechism’s explanation of the First Article that God “has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have” (emphasis added). A master of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric, Luther was both a recipient and proponent of what we now call Christian classical education. Note especially the expert use of details and of the word all to bring us great certainly in God’s great promises. Luther continues his First Article explanation by saying, “He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil” (emphasis added). This is a helpful reminder for us in our instruction of our children.
All Is His
He does all of this. He has given; He also gives. He richly and daily provides; He defends. (I do not do this. We do not do this. He does this.) And He does this because He loves us in Christ, and He is good. “All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me” (Small Catechism, First Article).
In those many doubt-filled and prideful moments in which we look to ourselves or begin to trust in our own abilities, we only make things worse for ourselves, as we feed our doubts and coddle our pride. However, when in prayer we commend our children and their education and their very lives and all things to His care, we can know that He gives us all we need. He already has given us all we need in Christ, and He will continue to do so.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
As we confess our lack of trust, our fear, and our pride, we have One who forgives us. Jesus died for even this. On earth, Jesus alone trusted God in all His ways, and Jesus alone always prayed, “Thy will be done.” Just as our dear Savior, Jesus, comes to our children, so He comes to us. He prays for us even now. All is His, given to us.
We can see this clearly when we confess the Apostles’ Creed. While our theologians today may wrangle about the Third Article of sanctification, our Lutheran pastors must faithfully bring to us through Word, water, bread, and cup the Gospel of Christ as confessed in the Second Article of redemption. Perhaps now as loved, forgiven, redeemed, and daily cared-for parents, we can reclaim the proclamation of the First Article promises of creation.
“He causes all created things to serve for the uses and necessities of life. These include the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens, day and night, air, fire, water, earth, and whatever it bears and produces. . . . So we learn from this article that none of us owns for himself, nor can preserve, his life nor anything that is here listed or can be listed. This is true no matter how small and unimportant a thing it might be” (LC II 14, 16). He gives all. So even today as we teach and raise and love our children, we can remember, know, and trust this truth: All is His.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Small Catechism quotations are from Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation, copyright © 1986, 2017 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
The quotations from the Lutheran Confessions in this publication are from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, second edition, copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
The quotations marked LW are from Luther’s Works, the American Edition: vol. 78 © 2015 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
This article first appeared at Concordia Publishing House’s Education blog.