When Teagan was first born, I went through the most incredible transformation. I never knew that I could love so powerfully, fiercely, and fully. From the moment that sweet, little girl was placed in my arms, I knew that I would stop at nothing to ensure that she always felt loved, cared for, and truly seen.
I was absolutely resolute in my determination, but I felt so completely inadequate and in desperate need for God’s guidance and direction. It was then that I dedicated Teagan’s life to God. I wanted Him to be the forming influence in her life. I knew that no matter what I could accomplish or dream up for my precious child, His way, His plans, and His vision for her life would always be far superior. It was my job to be His ambassador in her life. Pointing her in every moment to live a life that honored God while enjoying His great goodness. I knew that the cost would be high, but not for a moment did I doubt the high calling and importance of parenting my precious gift from God.
But where would I begin?
With such a young child, how would I begin to plant the truth of the gospel in her heart?
I knew that I had the great privilege of being raised by God-honoring parents who truly lived their faith. Which, at least in part, allowed my hardened, rebellious teenage heart to be open to the authority and influence of my parents. Without a doubt, a huge factor was that I felt and experienced my parents’ love on a consistent basis.
I knew I was important to my parents and they tried to encourage me to be nothing more or less than exactly who God created me to be. My dad would take me on monthly one-on-one dates. My mom would stay in my room until all hours of the night listening patiently as I poured out my heart to her. Through hundreds of softball games, I knew I would always have at least one of my parents sitting in the stands, cheering me on through rain or shine. Even with five kiddos, my parents saw and prioritized me. They prayed for me, continually pointed me to the Bible, and encouraged my faith to be active by serving in our church.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
There is nothing more important than prioritizing our role as parents. We have only a brief season in which to invest ourselves in this task. We have only one opportunity. We cannot go back and do it again.
But the needs of our children are not convenient.
We must learn to pause, to teach, to connect to our children whenever the opportunity arises – despite its interruption to our schedule or plans. To deny our desires in place of the growth of our children is difficult. We will need God’s strength and provision – but we can be sure that He is trustworthy and so very faithful.
Tedd Tripp says it this way in his book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart:
“Parenting is your primary calling. Parenting will mean that you can’t do all the things that you could otherwise do. It will affect your golf handicap. It may mean your home doesn’t look like a picture from Better Homes and Gardens. It will impact your career and ascent on the corporate ladder. It will alter the kind of friendships you will be available to pursue. It will influence the kind of ministry you are able to pursue. It will modify the amount of time you have for bowling, hunting, television, or how many books you read. It will mean that you can’t develop every interest that comes along. The costs are high.”
So when my four-year-old’s story seems to drag on for hours, I will listen with my whole heart – engaging her – getting to know her world a little bit better. I’ll set aside time to take my son to get ice cream so I can focus on his smile as I learn what makes him laugh with delight. I’ll volunteer in my daughter’s classroom and ignore an important phone call so I can play cars with my son just a little bit longer.
Because I truly know that the treasures of this life will fade away, but the souls of my children matter for eternity.
The cost may be high – but the benefits are priceless.
In the difficulty of the daily grind, let’s take a moment to pause and remind ourselves of the beauty of raising children who will not depart from their faith. Children who find grace, power, and fullness in God alone. Who know that Christ is relevant everywhere for everything and are not easily swayed by the deceptive ways of this world. Children who will raise our grandchildren to know and love the Lord.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on your houses and on your gates.
Our children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord! Let’s encourage one another as we raise our children with this truth at the center of our hearts. Let’s strive to raise children who feel both loved and respected as they are emboldened to pursue God above all else.
Let’s let go of our hopes and dreams for who our children will become, and instead do our best to stir God-influenced visions into their hearts.
Let’s get creative in our pursuit of our children, so that they don’t doubt – even for a minute – how very important they are.
All glory to God forever!