Grace and I have recently been reading the book If Jesus Were A Parent by Hal Perkins. What a great book to refocus us as parents in the midst of all the transition that has happened over the last year. In just 11 months we have moved around 5 times, went from filling half of a 25 foot UHaul truck to the brim with all our stuff (we shared the Uhaul with another family), to fitting it in the back of a pick-up truck. All the while traveling at least 4,644 miles between all the places we have been. And we still have approximately 5,700 miles to travel in the next 4 months.
If you are a parent you know that it doesn’t take much to know your shortcomings while attempting to raise children. Well, for us, that has been magnified beyond what we have ever experienced in the midst of all the transition we have recently been through. Feeling vision one moment in how to raise our children while wrestling with failure in our hearts the next. However, one thing that has stayed steady is our yearning for our children to have a reality that Jesus is the Messiah, what that actually means and it’s implications on their lives now based on expectations of His return.
Many of you know and have heard us talk of a children’s curriculum, children’s Bible founded on Messianic expectation and even children’s songs. It all started in October of 2009 during a prayer retreat where I could not get off the floor weeping for hours and the Lord blindsided me around the subject of children. It hasn’t wained since and remains alive to this day. All of that continues to be at the forefront of our hearts but the Lord had a much different timetable than we thought by which to birth whatever it is that He has for us in all that. The old Richee would have whipped something right up in my own doing without God’s leadership along the way. From my past experiences in ministry I have learned that a lot can be produced by men’s effort and intuition “for the Lord” (just look at Babel) but account for nothing in the eyes of the Lord and even be detestable to Him.
It is imperative that we constantly realize that God knows our heart reality better than anyone and to trust His leadership with it. Apart from that, we will be led astray by the deception that we know what is best, act on it and then pat ourselves on the back following it. I have been learning over the last few years that I’m not as great as I had made myself out to be and it was all a product of trusting myself with my life decisions and not the Lord. Busyness and distraction; perceived success and praise from others had deceived me into habits and ways of thought that kept me from patience, long-suffering and just about every fruit of the Spirit. And that is just it!! In my past I agreed with the language that described who the Spirit is and what He does but He wasn’t actively leading my life.
As we have read If Jesus Were A Parent I have been so thankful for God’s tender leadership and have realized that He knows the best timing for all that needs to come forth. I await His “go ahead” on it all. I now strongly know that the Lord doesn’t want something that makes good behavioral children, but something that causes Jesus’ Messiahship to be more real than anything they can experience in this life. My heart has been sparked in so many areas related not only to my own children but to other parents and their children as we have traveled and had the privilege of experiencing so many incredible families. Little by little we are learning how to incorporate Jesus into everyday life of family without it becoming a fairytale, joke or taking a back seat to all the trinkets that children get thrown at them by the spirit of this age.
By the grace of the Spirit, I am reminded daily at how important it is to walk by the Spirit and live the cross before my children. Do I save them? Nope. I am their hope? Nope. However, who I am directly affects who they are. I have a long ways to go but I am more passionate now than ever at how important it is to authentically be able to say to my child(ren), “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Where I live with a real faith for the Day of the Lord, His return and all that comes with that, allowing it to echo into every nook and cranny of our lives. Without that, Jesus will easily take a back seat in the hearts of our children and leave them as detached from Him as any unbelieving peer they might link arms with. When crisis comes and things shake, may they not run to fear, complaint, offense, whining, material possessions, food, etc. But may they know You and trust You in such a way that their first response leads to You, thus leading those around them to the same place.
Bottom line for me is that I desire to hold the physical hand of my children after receiving our resurrected bodies at the Day of Jesus’ appearing and to walk on this earth in perfection right beside them. That doesn’t just happen automatically and I realize that the love of many believers is going to, and already is, growing cold while times become harder in many ways but especially when it comes to walking in righteousness. I have little disciples among me who will either enter His Kingdom or be placed in Gehenna. That is a reality that I try to remember daily.
I am more convinced now than ever that parenting ranks pretty stinkin high on God’s priority list.
Help us Lord by your Spirit as we parent. It’s only by your grace and leadership. Thank you for your patience and long-suffering.