Yesterday we celebrated Father’s Day. During the day, I was reminded that the biggest legacy we can leave our children as parents is the knowledge of God. Growing up, I used to feel my testimony was boring as I grew up in a Christian home. Being older and looking back now, I see things a little differently. I now see that having a Mum and Dad who loved Jesus and were honest with us about their walk with Jesus gave me a wonderful start to my Christian life. As Mum and Dad taught us the things of God and also sent us to a Christian School where these truths were built on, expanded on and supported, I was given the greatest gift.
Recently, I was reading a discussion thread focusing on what age a child may become realistically declare they are a Christian. As I ponded this thought, and the parental anxiety that was apparent in the comments, I realised that so often we can get confused as to what our responsibility is towards our children. It is not our job to save our children. We cannot force our children to make a confession to Christ. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. As God tells us, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8).
Our job or responsibility as parents is to train. We are to teach. We are to cultivate a home that provides an environment that makes following Jesus something that is modelled and genuine. As Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says:
“6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
In these verses, the writer clearly assumes we will be spending time with our children in order to teach them diligently, talking with them of the reality of Jesus and truth of the Bible when we are sitting, walking (or driving!); when we are putting our kiddies to bed and when we wake up. We shall have this truth on display in our homes. But mostly, as verse 6 says, we are to have the word of God written on our hearts. If we don’t take care of our own handling and knowledge of the word of God, how can we be teaching them?
Lately, parenting has been more challenging than usual. Over the past few months, the kids have welcomed a new sibling, had their new sister in hospital with mummy for a week, battled with seasonal viruses and moved house. It seems that the last month particularly has seen these adjustments really hit home for the kids and mummy has been weary and a little less patient. But, as I turn to the pages of the Bible (if only I did this before the mummy-tantrum!), I find comfort. Proverbs 29:17 says:
“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your heart.”
This we can heed. This can give us hope- as we are consistent in disciplining, in shaping the character of our children, we will find rest and delight. Children are hard work, but they are also a blessing:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5).
We can be comforted in the knowledge that God has our kids. He is working. We have responsibility but the ultimate responsibility of saving our children is God’s. We can pray, we can teach, we can train. He leads, He saves, He keeps. He will not turn one away. As my daughter’s memory verse says:
“25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25