This week our twin girls are 27. It has been absolutely amazing to watch them grow into who they are today. I can see right through those adult faces and remember the elementary artwork, treasured sentences each has said that are seared into my memory, the hours spent on the soccer field, and holding them tightly when the tears flowed and I cried with them. I remember bath times being long and joyous as we talked and played as they used bath toys and water crayons until their fingers were wrinkled and the tub had a ring. I remember teaching them to climb on playground apparatus and throw a ball. I remember teaching them to ride a bike and drive a car.
I can’t make my children love God.
My job as a parent is to provide roots and wings — roots in God and wings to soar into His Kingdom purposes. I did my best to live Deuteronomy 6:6-7 with my children: These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. In the end, however, I can’t produce heart change or make a child fall in love with Jesus. I am not that powerful, and neither are you. It is Jesus that will draw them and keep them, not our parenting abilities. Jude 1 lays this truth out so beautifully: Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Don’t you love that? Called, loved and kept.
Peter thought he was powerful enough to stay faithful.
Peter said to Jesus, “Even if everyone deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter — this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically, “Even if I die with you, I will never deny you!” (Mark 14:30-31, Matthew 26:33-35, John 13:38)
I thought I was powerful enough to stay faithful.
My attitude matched Peter’s: “The rest of the world might leave Jesus, but not me!” Then I decided the Christian life was too hard and began to live life :my way.” Seven years later, I found out I was pregnant in a dating relationship. The instant – I mean instant – I found out I was pregnant, God got me back as a fully repentant woman, never wanting to leave His side again.
I truly began walking with the Lord the minute I found out about my girls.
Whether planned or prayed for; expected or a surprise; adopted or birthed; born well or sick; delivered at home, at the hospital, or delivered on the way; all babies are a gift from the Lord: Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)
What keeps people faithful to God, then?
Both Peter and I learned that passionate intent and desire to follow Jesus was not enough to keep either of us faithful to the end, and the same is true of our children. I know that now.
What is the key to success?
An account of this conversation between Peter and Jesus occurs similarly in all four gospels but in Luke we learn an additional message from Jesus that occurs prior to Peter’s adamant display of commitment to Jesus: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. Son when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers. Jesus keeps us to the end.
Jesus doesn’t just pray for Peter, but for all of us.
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
The same is true of our children.
Ultimately, I can pray for my children and they still may not be faithful, but if I don’t pray, then I am not joining Jesus in His. Like Jesus prayed for Peter and prays for us, I can do the same for them. My children and step-children are prayed for children. My husband is a prayed for husband. My friends are prayed for friends, as are my neighbors, co-workers and students. By praying, I am reminded that it is His work to keep them, not mine, and my prayers invite His power into His process for each of them.
God writes their story, not me.
My understanding and power to keep my children safe or faithful is limited. So I point them to Jesus at every turn, pray like there’s no tomorrow, and keep them in the Creator’s hands and in his Story. When parenting like this, I better remember….
Our children are more His business than ours.
Picture Explanation: A birthday celebration with dad’s grilling!
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