As much as we want for our kids, He wants for them more
Yesterday was my oldest son’s birthday. Eight years ago, Cal took my heart right out of my chest and he still walks around with it in his little hands today. When Cal entered this world, God introduced me to a kind of love I’d never before known. A love so spontaneuos, so profound, so immediately sacrificial. A love that gave me just a little more insight into how Jesus loves me as His beloved child. And yet I know my love for Cal -and his brothers- pales in comparison to the love Jesus has for His beloved sons and daughters.
I adore Cal. I see so much of my husband and myself in him. I see in Cal his Daddy’s strength and determination and I also see my drive and outrageously competitive nature. I see his Daddy’s incredibly tender and loving heart but I also see how my selfishness seeped into his DNA. And I see Cal’s deep desire to do the right thing and the intense frustration he experiences when he makes choices that are not in line with who God created him to be.
And in all of that, I so much want to teach Cal and give Cal what God is teaching me and giving me through His grace. I want Cal to know that He is loved higher than the highest mountain and deeper than the deepest valley on his very best AND very worst of days. I want Cal to know the width and depth of Christ’s love for him. More than anything else, that is what I want for my son.
I want him to know all of this so that he will desire to walk through life entrusting everything into His heavenly Father’s care. I want him to know that whatever road he walks, Jesus has walked it before Him and also walks it with Him.
I want him to live boldly, securely, and sacrificially in His Father’s love.
Speaking of sacrificial love, our preacher taught on Genesis, Chapter 22, yesterday. The sermon was about God’s testing of Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son, his only son, Isaac, and it got me thinking about the extraordinary trust Abraham had in God.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
I thought about the agony, the confusion, the frustration, and the questions that Abraham must have had on the way to the mountain. But still, He trusted God. With his very precious and only son, he trusted God. And God not only spared Abraham’s son but because of Abraham’s trust and obedience, God made him this promise,
“One day Someone will be born into your family and he will bring happiness to the whole world.” God was getting ready to give the whole world a wonderful present. It would be God’s way to tell his people, “I love you.” Who was he? God’s Son, his only Son- the Son He loved. (~ The Jesus Storybook Bible)
As our pastor pointed out, God’s testing of Abraham was to make space in Abraham’s heart for the fullness of His blessing to come.
And on my son’s 8th birthday, this passage got me thinking about how I trust God with Cal (and with each of our boys). Because even though God does not ask me to put Cal on an altar, He does ask me to put Cal back in His hands and entrust him to His sovereign care.
Cal is not mine. He belongs to Jesus.
Cal has only been entrusted to my care for a short while so that I can point him back to the creator, lover, and redeemer of his soul.
And thank God for that. Right? Thank God that Cal’s life, his hope, and his confidence is not meant to be in my frail hands but in God who is, in the words of John Piper, infinitely complete and full and perfect in Himself.
O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.
Being in God’s hands is a much better deal!
He is Creator, Savior, Redeemer, and Best Friend. The beginning and the end. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6
(I am fallen, sinful, imperfect, disobedient, doubtful, wandering aimlessly for peace where peace cannot be found, mom.)
He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. ~Hebrews 13:8
(I have the patience on a saint on some days and I’m a ticking time bomb on others.)
He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. ~Colossians 1:17
(I am behind all things and through me, all things fall apart.)
Though I am God’s beloved, infinitely adored, and unconditionally loved child who is being continually transformed into His image by the power of His Holy Spirit, I am, and always will be, a sinner in need of my Savior.
And in my daily failure as a mom, His grace covers it all. Every last bit.
When I don’t model God’s heart well to our children, there is grace. When I fail to use a teachable moment to teach them what really matters, there is grace. And when I don’t have a wise answer to one of their thoughtful questions about Jesus, there is grace.
Why? Because as much as I love my boys with every piece of my being, Jesus loves them more.
So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
I was reminded of this important truth during a recent conversation with a good friend who was sharing how hard it is to let go of her teenage son. She was saying how much she missed the days of snuggling with him at bedtime and getting kisses at drop off. But she also shared incredibly beautiful wisdom as she talked about how much she wants for her son to have a relationship with Christ, and what she is learning about giving her son the space and freedom to explore and develop his own relationship with Christ. She said, “I know that as much as I ‘want’ for my son to know and love Jesus, Jesus ‘wants’ it more.”
And ever since that conversation, I have been encouraged and comforted by the truth that as much as I “want” for my boys, Jesus “wants” it more.
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.
So I share this with you today because my own heart desperately needs to be reminded of it.
We exist as parents to somehow demonstrate (in small, imperfect, and fallible ways) the love that Jesus has demonstrated to us, and what the response to that love, that grace, looks like. But I can assure you I fall short each and every day. So while it is important that I model what a life in Christ looks like for our kids, it’s significantly more important that I model for them what His grace looks like in my life. Because just as our kids will understand kindness or respect or thankfulness as it is modeled to them, so too will they understand His grace as it is extended to them.
Now of course we want to set a stellar example for our kids to emulate. The problem is, we aren’t doing our kids any favors by pretending like we’re perfect. In fact, our ability to say to our children, “Me too! I struggle with that sin too! Thank God for Jesus!” is one of wonderful ways His grace can reach our kid’s hearts.
Authenticity is one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me, and it’s one of the gifts I most desire to give to my children because authenticity allows grace to reign. We don’t have to be perfect and parent perfect for our kids to turn out perfect. We just need to know that His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness! (2 Corinthians 12:9)
There is so. much. freedom. in embracing the fact that our primary purpose is not to point to ourselves as the ultimate model for our children but it’s to point away from ourselves and to Jesus as the only infallible One they will ever have. He is the only One who has never, and will never, let them down. He is their perfection, not us!
Isn’t that freeing?
Our failure, our mess, our sin – it's all a precious opportunity to point our kids back to Jesus as the only infallible ONE who will never lose His patience with them. He is the only One who will be completely trustworthy, all of the time. He is the only one who will never fail to love them unconditionally. He is the same yesterday, today and forever more. We can put our weight on that!
Our role, as parents, is to keep praying our children back into the palms of Jesus’ nail pierced hands.
We can be the vessel by which our children experience His unrelenting love and mercy.
We can be obedient to the commission to disciple our children in the truth of Christ, and to teach them what really matters.
We can open the floodgates for Christ to shape and fill our children’s hearts with His love.
We can pray that our children grow a heart that is tender to His voice and passionate about His word.
And we can proceed with hope, trusting in the Holy Spirit to captivate their hearts with His love.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
As much as we love our kids, He loves them more. As much as we want for our kids, He wants for them more.
Let’s remind one another to rest in that good news!