They say that when you become a parent, everything changes. That is definitely true. Your own wants and desires are put behind those of the child you bring into this world. The one thing that I have found most unexpected upon having children is how they are absolutely and completely their own person. In some ways this is wonderful; in others, terrifying. Particularly when you realise that they are totally in control of their relationship with God.
For the first few years I was calm about this (they were, after all, tiny, sweet and mostly well-behaved). Then their speech and bad behaviour kicked in. Well-meaning Christian friends told me that I should use every example of bad behaviour as a teaching opportunity to tell them about Jesus. Try doing that as your three year old throws a truck at your head. I felt panicked, worried and upset by the ‘monsters’ I could see rising up in my children’s eyes as the bad behaviour kicked in.
I realised then that nothing terrifies me as much as the thought of my children choosing not to love Jesus. Yet God does not want us to be terrified of anything and gives us tools for these situations – prayer, and his Word. Bible verses are, and always have been, my peace in these moments. Nathan’s youth pastor and his wife wrote this verse on Arya’s dedication tree, and it has given me both comfort and direction:
‘Those who are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish in the courts of our God.’ Psalm 92 v 13
God has not promised that my children will become Christians. That decision belongs to them alone. But he has given us an abundance of promises – to be with me as I try to teach them about Jesus, that he will give me the words to say through his Holy Spirit, and most importantly that their Redeemer is strong, and that he will ‘thoroughly plead their case’ (Jeremiah 50).
God has given me the children I have for a reason. He has revealed himself to me for his glory. So I take heart that my Redeemer, who has overcome the world, will use the feeble efforts I make on his behalf to increase his kingdom, however that may be. I hope these verses below will encourage you in whatever field you are working, or for whoever you are praying desperately for. Our God is with us, his grace is training us, so let us fix our eyes on Jesus.
‘My sheep hear my voice,’ John 10 27
‘Men ought always to pray and not to lose heart.’ Luke 18 v 1
‘You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.’ Psalm 61 v 5