As I was getting ready for bed one night, the fear appeared like a sudden thunderstorm.
What if my children grow up and choose not to follow Christ?
As the rain drops of doubts continued pouring over my face, I had to keep wiping the water out of my eyes to catch a glimpse of the light of Christ.
It made me realize that I was focusing on my abilities and performance as a mom, thinking that by it I could control a heart. If I just led them in the right Scripture memory, listened to the right songs, said the right prayers, talked about God enough, used the right curriculum, and trained in the right way, I could produce the faith my children need.
It’s almost as if I’d convinced myself that I was the one who made my own “desperately wicked” heart soft. (Jeremiah 17:9)
When I see a problem or potential problem, I want to do everything in my power to fix it. Letting go of control leaves me feeling helpless. When my six-month-old daughter cries and I don’t know why, my neck and shoulders tense up, and my mind starts going crazy with all the possible reasons she might be unhappy.
My mentor encouraged me to invite Jesus’ peace into those times, even if I don’t have the mental capacity to pray more than, “Jesus, please help me. I invite your peace into this time of crying.” God has used those tears (mine and hers) to show me how good it is to depend on the One who is Sovereignly Dependable.
Gloria Furman, in her new book, The Mission of Motherhood, says, “Things that are part of our design—our need for others in community, our physical limitations, being embodied in an “earthly tent,” and our lack of knowledge—are not failures.. . If your neediness is simply because you are a human being (i.e., not omniscient, not omnipresent, not omnipotent, not God), then you have reason to rejoice.
“You see the love of the second person of the Trinity to inhabit the same earthly frame as the one you have.. . You see how your neediness points you to Christ’s sufficiency. You see the wisdom in God’s design to make you depend on him for everything you need…And you glory in his grace” (124-125).
The beauty of the gospel is that the Father is the One who draws our hearts, Jesus is the One who accomplished our redemption on the cross and continues to intercede for us, and the Spirit is the One who empowers us to live according to His Word.
When my focus is on treasuring Christ, longing to grow in my knowledge of Him and opening my broken, dependent self to the Spirit’s work in my life, it becomes less about methodology and more about inviting our children to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
Since my three-year-old son is currently obsessed with construction equipment, I can share with him about how much more powerful God is than excavators. And when he wants me to thank God for steamrollers, I can thank God for all the good equipment He gives to make our lives easier.
In an excellent panel discussion of moms about teaching our kids theology, one of the speakers emphasized that our kids’ understanding of God is both caught and taught.
Another mom shared that when we teach our kids about God, we aren’t offering them something different than what we learn—it’s the same truth cut into bite-size pieces or pureed.
Loving Him First
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is reminding the Israelites of God’s commands.
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9 ESV)
The only way we can prepare and “puree” the truth for our children is if we are loving Him and studying His Word first.
I don’t know what pains or pleasures God is going to use in the story of my family. But I’ll never forget my theology class in college when the professor encouraged us, saying that though it may seem like someone will never look to the Lord, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”
1 Peter 2:9 says that as believers we are part of a “royal priesthood.” Gloria Furman lifted my spirits when she reminded me that “Jesus is having mercy on your kids, for he put a priest in the next bedroom whose prayers ascend like incense before him as you boldly approach the throne of grace and plead for your children’s souls” (164).
As we trace the generation after generation of God’s redemption story, we can be comforted that God grows things, and He’s not in a hurry.
Father, thank you for the children you’ve placed in our lives. Would you show us how to surrender them to you, even as we intercede on their behalf? Would you grow us in our knowledge and love for you, so that we can truly invite others to taste and see that you are good? Thank you for Jesus.