Do you feel powerful or powerless as a parent? What about any other role where God has called you to serve? It doesn’t take long visiting social media websites, or talking with other parents at our kids’ schools and sporting events, to notice that in a lot of ways, parents today can feel easily overwhelmed—or powerless. Looking back several generations, did our grandparents and great-grandparents feel the same way? It’s true that parenting styles were much different then—for better or for worse—but the question I ask myself, is have we made parenting, or leading our home, more complicated than God ever intended it to be?
Admittedly, if you ask just about anyone who’s experienced it, (at least in this generation), being a parent can be one of the hardest things you will ever do. Why is this, and does it have to be this way? One reason I see that parenting has become so difficult in this generation, is the over-complication of simple leadership of the home. With all of the information and predictions that are available today on possible cause and effects, and the parents’ responsibility to protect children to prevent future negative effects, it is easy to find yourself stressed out and even worried. As opposed to rejoicing in and appreciating each day that God has made, as opposed to casting our cares on God—receiving His yoke, as opposed to trusting in our Heavenly Father, and the power of His Word and His ways, we’ve taken on more than we were ever meant to carry. The results are stress, worry, false responsibility, strife, powerlessness, and ultimately, discouragement.
It’s no wonder these are the results—even Father God didn’t protect His children from themselves, worried about how that would affect their future. Even His first children—without exposure to sin and provided abundantly with everything they could possibly need—made wrong decisions. What’s more, is that in that place that God provided His children with everything that they needed, He also gave them the responsibility to take care of it and the opportunity and space to choose not to listen to Him. Some of us struggle with giving our kids responsibilities, and some of us would even love to take that tree out of our children’s gardens—the safe place of provision that we have given them. We would love to barricade them in, and barricade the serpent out. Then, if that didn’t work, we’d love to fix the effects of their choices for them, whether they learned from them or not and whether they desired help or not, and set them neatly back in the center of the garden. Maybe that’s just a temptation that my husband and I battle—or maybe there is nothing new under the sun.
Yesterday’s parent understood that we can’t fix everything ourselves, no matter how resourceful we are, even if we are the ones responsible for leading our homes. We also can’t protect every decision and every action made by our children. Ultimately, God gave each one of us choice, even though we are all different with different experiences. He also gave each one of us mercy and grace—or the opportunities to make choices, to learn from our mistakes, and to receive power from His supply to walk out the fullness of who we are in Him.
The security for the parent is this: no matter what choice your children make, no matter what happens in this life, God has provided a Way to redeem what was lost or stolen and to restore what He purposed. If we want to have the opportunity to experience that Supernatural Love and Power, and we want our children to have that opportunity, we are going to have to trust God, and rest patiently as He rests.
So, does that mean we don’t train our children, provide safe environments for them, or provide consequences? Of course not. What it does mean is that we choose to love them unconditionally despite their choices or actions, with the supply that God gives us. Just as we provide for them naturally, we also provide for them spiritually by: leading them in discovering God’s Word to them, leading them to know God personally, showing them how to serve and bless others, teaching them to practice thankfulness, praying for them, and showing them how to love others unconditionally. These are the things we can do, and these are the things that God calls us to do to partner with His plan.
While we’re in the gap, instead of compensating for our kids, worrying about what their today says about their future, or protecting and preventing their choices, we can do all the things God has called us and empowered us to do, trusting He means what He says. If we are in need of solutions, that’s a great place to start! Anything more or outside of what God is personally calling us to do can actually be to the detriment of all involved. Our prayers are effective (James 5:16), the Word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12) and does not return void (Isaiah 55:11), everything is under the feet of Jesus (Ephesians 1:22), sin and its effects were paid for and dealt with on the cross (1 Peter 2:24), and the seeds you plant today in training up your children in the way they should go are inside of them when they get older (Proverbs 22:6, 2 Timothy 3:15). Just like God’s first children, the choice is up to them. The opportunities you give your children today to make choices in the safety of your own garden will prepare them for the world, and their future.
Let’s give our children the opportunities to grow in understanding with their God, not just our culture’s definition of success. Just like the uniqueness of who God crafted them to be, so will be their journey with Him.
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children.” Isaiah 54:13 NRSV.
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