“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
Last week I challenged all who are parents to be the first and most important spiritual teachers to their kids. It was old news to some and alarming to others. I, too, am sometimes alarmed by the enormity of the task we’ve been given.
I have more history of messing up God’s plan, or at least rerouting it at times, than carrying it through to completion. At least, when left to my own abilities.
Today, I have a good comforting word for you: God is okay with your having the task of teaching your kids about him and his goodness. He designed the process, knows us deeply and somehow is still willing to let our inadequacies work alongside his sufficiency.
Our job is to walk with our kids, train them as we know how and tell them about our faith while demonstrating it. But we can relax in knowing the Savior is Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit’s job is to woo our kids toward heart-changing and life-changing moments while we walk alongside them.
God hit me in the head with a 2 x 4 to demonstrate this several years ago.
Our daughter Caitlyn was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 3. For two and half years, the focus of our family was primarily her treatments and health with other activities thrown in here and there. Gary and I made the decision early on not to watch television news, or anything on tv that was negative. We wanted a positive atmosphere believing attitude can make a difference in health.
About a year after her last treatment, Caitlyn and I visited college friends in Illinois. We parents knew each other, but the kids had not previously met. I stopped outside the room where the kids were playing when I heard this conversation between 9 year old Joey and Caitlyn.
Joey: Are you the Caitlyn who had cancer?
Joey: Do you still?
Joey: We prayed for you, but I didn’t know who you were. Did you think you were going to die?
Caitlyn: Yes, once. Do you have Barbies?
Isn’t that just like kids? They ask questions we don’t dare ask, and when the conversation peaks, they go back to playing as if the world as we know it did not change in that moment.
How could this have happened? Gary and I did everything possible to be positive. We never even mentioned not all survive leukemia. Yet somehow, in her soul, she knew the gravity of the situation. The worst part? Gary and I didn’t know anything about it. She had to deal with it herself. But, our daughter dealt with the possible of death and we didn’t help her through it because we did not KNOW about it.
The next day, as she and I drove back to Indiana, I couldn’t help myself. I brought it up. (This surprises exactly no one who knows me.) I told her I had overheard her conversation with Joey the day before.
Me: So, you thought you might die?
Me: Were you afraid?
Caitlyn: At first, but then God told me I wasn’t going to die.
I somehow kept the minivan headed the right direction. I don’t recommend having these conversations while driving. Of course, to avoid this, you have to actually know this type of conversation is going to happen, which you never do until you’re smack in the middle of it with no where else to go.
Me: God told you…?
Caitlyn: Yeah, he said I’d be okay. Then I wasn’t afraid. I was only afraid a little. Can we listen to Raffi?
My brain swirled to process this new information.
How could she think she might die when we so carefully painted a positive atmosphere? How could she have those thoughts and not tell me? How could God talk to her without going through me? (I spy with my little eye a bit of self-importance there.)
And then I realized — God has an important role for Gary and me to play in our kids’ lives. But His role is even bigger. We can’t know everything. But He does. We don’t have all the answers, But He does.
God loves our kids more than we do, even though that seems impossible. And God can deal directly with our kids without going through us. He not only can, but he does.
The more I thought it about it (with Raffi and Caitlyn having a sing-along) the more calm I became. In fact, I became serene. My job as “mom” became easier and less overwhelming the instant I realized God was allowing me to partner with him on this journey, but with His serving as senior partner.
You, dear parent or grandparent, have a role to play. But breathe deeply. Be still and know. God loves our children even more than we do, and will work tirelessly in the partnership of raising our kids. In fact, He will see it through “until it is finally finished on the day Christ Jesus returns.”
Does this give you comfort? Please share your thoughts with a comment below.