Mom! He has my belt!
Mom! She won’t give me my stuffed lizard!
Mom! He took my money!
These cries from my children pierce me, too hard. Didn’t we just talk about dying to ourselves? Didn’t I just patiently explain to them that Jesus died for their sins so they are no longer slaves to sin, slaves to these desires that rise up within them so strong? Didn’t I just ask them to think about how much God loves them so that they could love each other with His kind of love?
Aren’t I doing things the right way? Then why aren’t they? Why aren’t my children responding the way I want them to? Why aren’t they following the formula? Didn’t they read the same parenting books I did?
My motives and true desires are so exposed when things don’t go as I planned!
Am I laboring to raise my children for His glory, or for mine? Did I read the books so that I could find The Path to Raising Christian Kids, or is this parenting thing really all about us- me and my children learning even more to lean on Him, to surrender to His good plan?
If I read the books, if I gave them the talks, to bring glory to God, to shine the spotlight on Jesus and His incredible work on our behalf, why am I so anxious when they don’t respond, when they turn right around and have the same fight all over again?
Didn’t I just ask Him to glorify Himself in any way He chooses in my life? Didn’t I just surrender my hopes and dreams for my children and our family to Him? Am I already taking it all back, setting up my own kingdom so quickly after declaring His Kingdom and His will are my greatest desires?
Ah yes, I am prone to wander just like my children! I, too need a fresh look at the Savior. I need a new reminder that I serve a King who sits on His throne, that He is writing a story, a Grand Story, to bring Himself fame and glory and honor. And He has included me and my children in this Story of redemption and grace.
But we are not the stars of the Story.
The Grand Story He is writing does not depend on my kids getting it right this morning, on them taking in my well-crafted talk and responding immediately and completely.
No, He is writing His Story, and all of our stories, the good and the bad, to showcase how amazing He is, how perfect and glorious.
Even now, while I wait for the fulfillment of His purpose, while I wait for my hope to be realized, I can be encouraged I can even be changed– by the words of John in God’s Revelation to him,
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!
I can take my focus off of myself and my expectations for my kids, and I can bring my attention instead to the heavenly scene John described in his book,
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
I can be free to parent in grace, to parent with real hope.
Hope that His plan will be accomplished. His perfect plan, crafted in Love, to bring Him the most glory. The glory of God is where my true joy must begin. That is where hope can finally take root in my heart.
Here, at His throne, I can release my children from the expectation that they must bring me glory. Before Him, I still must teach and train and show them over and over again the beauty of the Gospel truth. I can tell them they can be set free from sin because the Savior lived the perfect life and died in their place and rose again. Here, before Him, I can teach and train and pray, and leave them in His hands.
I don’t have to take their sin and failures personally, I don’t have to get depressed or anxious when they are not responding.
I can look hard and see where He is working in their lives instead of trying to pound out every bit of disobedience and bad attitude.
I can discipline and teach with great hope and expectation that One Day, the end of this life will come, and we will enter into His Rest, we will bow before Him, and we will also join this heavenly scene,
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb… and they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands…
(Revelation 5:8-14 ESV)