This post has been mulled over months, forgotten and pressed under the moving madness, and now resurfaces with urgency in my heart and on our home front.... we are needy.
As I remember and recall my prayer-plan to be a peacemaking authority, I have got to add too it the prelude that sets the stage for every other method and aim in their lives and in mine, as their mama...
I have got to be a mama who prays desperately, boldly, earnestly for my kids.
I felt a little stab when I read Paul Miller's book A Praying Life, the place where he mentions the huge numbers of Christian parenting books that are out there. (I've drunk down a dozen such books like I was a deer being hunted by toddlers with guns.) As he pointed out, perhaps most of these books emphasize "Christian parenting methods" or "Biblical child reering" but sadly, sometimes they might not even mention praying for our kids. Or maybe there's just a polite hat tip in that direction before laying down the rules, the steps, the methods that you can really rely on...
But what could be more Christian, more Biblical, more vital for this job than prayer!? God forgive me for being so completely decieved that I could do this work of blessing and loving these children well enough by getting the right method and somehow implementing it by myself… No way. This so reminds me of a line from a sermon, "The things you need most are the very things you can not produce on your own. You need God or all you're going to have is the small and fading stuff you could do, you could make by yourself."
K Burns, thank you for the list of characteristics of Biblical Humility that you sent... Yes, yes! true humility will mean desperate prayer, "and a great deal of it." I know God's grace abounds to the humble and I want, I desperately need His grace. So I might pray quick shots of "Lord, humble me." but if I shoot off that prayer so quick and then move throughout the day completely relying on myself, my perfect parenting methodology (even however imperfectly we implement it).... no way, am I putting myself in the place where His grace should over abound to me. Lead me to be prayerful, Lord. Make me humble and let your grace abound!
Joel Beeke urges parents to pray Habitually, Spontaneously, Covenantally, Specifically and Earnestly for our children. He shares this example (Bringing the Gospel to Covenant Children, p36):
"Spurgeon remembered sitting on [his mother's] lap and feeling her warm tears as she prayed, "Lord, Thou knowest if these prayers are not answered in Charles's conversion, these very petitions will have to bear witness against him in the day of judgement."... The lesson was not lost on her son. "The thought that my mother's prayers would serve as witness against me in the day of judgement sent terror into my heart," Spurgeon later wrote."
And in praying for them, I'm going to be affected to love them better, to more deeply esteem their eternal value. I'm happiest in motherhood and I think I best bless, best serve my kiddos when I'm remembering deep respect for the children I've been given, when I bind myself to cherish and dearly esteem who. they. are.... all the weight of the image of the eternal, living God living distinctly, uniquely magnificent in each one of my children.
This scene has stayed running in my imagination recently: I'm with our children as grown adults who fervently love the Lord and are serving Him zealously with their whole lives. In my dream scene, I'm sitting next to them on the couch, perhaps with their spouses and children gathered close too, all of us watching videos of their childhood.... What if the whole reel, every crunch moment, could be played back for us to view together then?
I know that Christ is with me always but I need that awareness deeper sometimes. I've wished for a tattoo on my soul of James 5:9. The Judge is at the door, but at times I've spoken with snobbish superiority to my little loves. I wish it wasn't so, but it's happened. And I think that the Lord isn't the least bit surprised by my sin. He even built in another help for me. Not only can I try to remember that He is near, right at the door, but even right there, in my own children, their two eyes looking right back at me, I can see a glimpse of Christ. There, in those eyes, I see the image of God, my child manifesting the glory of the Father like no other being in the universe quite does. Their eyes can bring the conviction of God for me and I can be turned again to humility, Christ-dependence, respect for them and kindness….
Because it really is the slime of this world that sneaks in to twist my view of my children from "image of God" to "frustrater of my plans." (Hello, idolatry.) It is the filthy, flawed wisdom of this world that tells me that children are annoying, dirty, not worth my time..... None of that is what God sees in them, who He made them to be, why he loves them and died for them. I need my eyes open to see Christ in them, to bless them, to honor God in how I care for them, to cherish these little image bearers of God and to respect them as now-playing-silly, now-needy, future leaders of God's church.
May God be praised in parenting that abounds with His love…. a love that perseveres in prayer and deeply respects these precious little people. And may our home, and their lives, abound with joy and peace and patience and self-control, prayerfulness and mutual respect…. and all of this is only from You. Please give us your grace, more of your great love, for your glory, Father.
May the strained attempts for peace in our home, this daily battle for joy and truth, may it all be woven together to make beauty, souls glad with laughter and love, as only a sovereign God could possibly work out of the mess of our lives.....