This week I listened to a group of mothers discuss their rules and guidelines about sleepovers for their children. Threaded through the conversation was the responsibility we all have to protect our children. Since then, I have not been able to get the topic off my mind. I left the conversation thinking, “Yes, of course, we are to be wise about where we drop off our children, to whom we entrust them for care, and keep an eye on their friendships, but would I say my job is to protect them?
I drove home thinking, “No, it is not my job to protect my children.”
What is my job, then? My answer is currently two-fold.
First, to love them.
As each of us walks with Jesus, we will each love well, but differently. I can relax and love my children with my style of loving. That love creates a safe home, to the best of my ability, where they experience relationship in a way that acclimates them to understanding the love God has for them.
Second, my job is to raise them up to live out the following verses:
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.(Mark 12:30)
- Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I command. (Matthew 28:19)
Each of these verses requires that I protect my children for God’s story…
not that I protect my children.
First of all, I can’t protect my children. Truth is, any of us can dutifully pick the “right ” home, “right” friends and “right” school and all it takes is one stray moment when a classmate says to our child, “Hey, look at this” and our child is exposed to gross material on an iPhone. Or this summer at a pool party or sleepover all it takes is one stray comment to our child about his or her stomach size to plant the seed for an eating disorder. Or when a young man takes one of our daughters on a date and does not treat her heart with utmost care, a proper view of marriage and men begins to erode.
I can’t protect my child.
Any day that my child has gone to bed protected and safe, God did the job, not me.
Second, if I am to train up a child to make disciples of all nations, then by definition, I am going to allow them to interact with people from every tribe and every nation (Revelation 7:9). This means exposing them (age-appropriately) to the world. This means having friends that don’t know Jesus yet. This means exchanging visits in each others homes. If I am going to train them up to disciple other people, our family must learn to serve people when we don’t feel like it, and serve people different than us and point people toward faith in Christ. I have quaked in my boots watching my young son deliver food to people on the streets, but I couldn’t live these verses and “protect” him too.
- I can’t raise my child up to change the world if I teach him or her to be afraid of it.
- I can’t raise my child to change the world if I teach him or her they need mommy to be okay.
- I can’t raise my child to change the world if I teach him or her they are only safe at home.
What I can do…and must do… is pray protection over my child and my entire family.This week as my son left for camp I prayed every day as I watched him leave the car, “Lord, keep the bad friends away and let the good friends in.” I am trusting He did just that for me…and Himself.
I pray every day that the Holy Spirit “rips through my family line,” transforming each person and using my family line to change the world for Jesus Christ. I am trusting Him to do something magnificent with my family of normal, frail human beings who have the Spirit of God residing in them.
But by praying such things, I have to move out of God’s way. I have to let the world…the world I am commissioned to reach…into my sphere of influence and into my home.
So let’s be wise mothers, but let’s release our children back to God for protection.
Let’s pray this week, “Lord, protect my children!”
About pictures and current events:
To the man responsible for running the world in our home: Happy Father’s Day.
To all the victims of tragedy in Orlando, Florida this week, I grieve what happened to each of you. I am so sorry. May you find all people rushing toward you with genuine love and comfort.
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