Several years back I was working through, in my opinion, the best Bible study ever: Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Much of that study has stuck with me over the years, but for this devotion, I want to highlight one particular thought. Kyle was talking about a man whose daughter had grown up and left the church and her faith. And the father said something I’ll never forget, he said, “I raised her in church, but I didn’t raise her in Christ.”
Lately, God has really been challenging me in the area of parenting. My kiddos are growing up entirely too fast, and I’m beginning to understand the pain my parents went through of raising myself and my wild siblings. Parenting is hard work, and some days I fail so hard. I get frustrated and sometimes raise my voice. I spend too much time focused on everything else: social media, a clean home, our calendar, ministry, etc., that I can’t remember if we’ve even connected that day.
As if that’s not bad enough, I’m also guilty of letting the little things become big things. Like a few days ago, I became really upset with my oldest for allowing our dog inside with dirty, black paws to leave tracks across my white rug. I was so frustrated with my son and his lack of thoughtfulness toward the house cleaner, aka me. Right after I finished having myself a little tantrum, I received a text message from one of my dear friends asking for prayer. Her brother-n-law and sister-n-law had been in a terrible accident with their church youth group in which three teenagers lost their lives. Talk about a change of perspective. In that moment, I looked at the young man I was ready to ‘whoop’ and became so incredibly thankful he was still with me and able to make messes.
Now, I am far from having this parenting thing figured out, but as the Lord has been challenging me, there are some things I am learning. There are many things the Lord is teaching me, but the most important and life-changing goes back to what was said in that Bible study: raise your children in Christ. Just showing up to Sunday morning service isn’t the answer and beating them with the Bible isn’t going to work. Making them memorize the Torah won’t work either, but living out our faith day after day, that will change everything. Loving our kids like Christ loves us shows them a genuine faith, a faith they will always come back to. When I react with anger and put everything else ahead of my blessings, my children, I’m not emulating Christ very well. Some days that love comes in the form of “I’m sorry.” Sometimes it happens by saying no to others to say yes to our kids. Often, it’s an extra long hug and an encouraging word. It’s not losing your cool when they share their struggles, but instead loving them just like Jesus loved the prostitutes and tax collectors. This kind of love is never easy, but it is a must. And by the way, we absolutely believe in spankings, but we also absolutely believe in the love of Jesus.
I don’t know what your parenting struggle is, but when you build your home on the foundation of Christ and His love, you can’t fail. Your children, my children, they will make mistakes and let us down. They will drive us bonkers more often than not, but how will you respond? We only get one life with them. And friends, it is so swift, and frankly, we aren’t promised even one more day. May we make the most of the days we do have and love them like Jesus.
Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain. In vain you get up early and stay up late, working hard to have enough food— yes, he gives sleep to the one he loves. Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. They will never be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the city gate. (Psalm 127:1-5)