A week or so ago when we gathered, Janae shared about her heart for praying for our kids. I was specifically touched by her sharing about the need to overcome fear in our parenting (and how prayer is the key to that). From my observation, I think she put her finger on one the most significant strategies of the enemy against our families in this generation. Fear. Anxiety. It can be strangling and overpowering.
I distinctly remember a moment from around twenty-two years ago. Jill and I were back in Uganda, after having welcomed our first child into the world. Rebekah was 2 months old, and we were staying in the home of Ugandan friends while we searched for a place to live. Life was full of upheaval and change and the unknown. I remember Jill looking at me, while holding our baby daughter in her arms, and asking, "What have we done?"
Indeed. What had we done? We had lived a year in Uganda ourselves... but to bring our newborn here, to a place still so foreign, and so far from family. It was easy to feel that danger lurked in every corner, and that our most loved and prized treasure would suffer on account of this life we chose to live. What about medical care? Wouldn't she be more susceptible to disease? We had unpredictable schedules, often had people in our home, and traveled a lot -- by bus and bike and car (with no car seats or even seat belts!) and lots of walking. What about armed thieves and crazy people and the swarms of well-meaning folk who loved to pass her around? Were we irresponsible? Thankfully, God's peace won the day for us, and as we talked, we remembered what we had done. We had obeyed God to the very best of our ability, and were even now attempting to do that day-by-day. We remembered that God is a Father, and is utterly trustworthy. Of course, there were times when fear attempted to rear its ugly head and hold us back, but God's grace was abundantly available.
In addition to ongoing prayer, one of the things that helped us time and again was the example and availability of other families who lived such beautiful lives with their children. Even now, when Jill and I think about the Dangers, the Kiyimbas, the Slaters, and others, our hearts are filled with gratitude and inspiration. We were able to experience families who were relaxed and confident, filled with fun as well as discipline, and powerfully reflective of the love and nurturing nature of our Father in heaven. They willingly made sacrifices for the sake of the gospel, but we saw that, in the long run, their children gained rather than lost. Such is consistently the way of Jesus. Over the years, that has been our experience as well. I tell you all this because the Father is forming you into just such dads and moms -- ones who powerfully and patiently live out Kingdom family in a way that instructs, inspires, and comforts others. This is a high and noble calling!
We don't always get to choose our circumstances, and sometimes the ones we face are scary and intimidating. We don't have guarantees about how our kids will turn out, or whether or not their lives will be peaceful or traumatic. But God is a faithful and good Father. We can trust our kids to him and relax a little. They'll get sick, and they'll get better. They'll injure themselves, and their bodies will heal. They'll disobey and protest and scream and embarrass. And they'll cuddle and smile and laugh and dance and reach their little arms out to us and capture our hearts again and again. We'll mess up more than we like to admit. We'll scold when we should comfort, yell when we should be calm, give in when we should stand firm, ignore when we should engage, pamper when we should discipline, be annoyed when we should be fascinated, speak when we should shut up, and remain silent when we should speak. And on and on and on.
But God is a good Father still, and He loves you and your children still, and He holds you and them still.
My kids are alive in spite of my carelessness, bright in spite of my laziness, and lovers of Jesus in spite of my many failures. They are better than my parenting would seem likely to produce.
So, like Janae said, let's pray faithfully and in faith for our children. This is our weapon against the fear that would paralyze. And let's enjoy them and spoil them and discipline them and train them and care for them and comfort them and play with them and provide for them and protect them and love them to the best of our ability -- while never trusting in the best of our ability, and never fearing the worst of our weakness. Because God is a good Father.