Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Parent's Self-Examination

Pastor Mike preached an excellent series from God’s Word called ‘Walker to Walker’. Over the past couple weeks he has focused on the parenting years, which reminds me…I recently received an e-mail from one of my four brothers.  He said, “I used to know a lot about parenting…of course that was before I had children.  Now it’s all by trial and error, mostly error.” 

Don’t we all feel that way as parents sometimes?  The nurture, care and responsibility to raise children in this time and culture is certainly not a job for the faint of heart.  As I listen to the joys and challenges other parents face, and as I am a fellow struggler in the parenting years, I have concluded that God allows us to be parents that we might understand His heart in a deeper way. 

Before we were blessed with our youngest daughter, we lived in a big elegant Victorian home.  I remember an artist friend questioning why in the world I would want to have children.  She said, “but you have such a nice life!”.  It’s funny what people sometimes value – isn’t it?  I would give up that “nice life” over and over again for the joy my daughter has brought me.  No material possession even compares to the privilege of being a parent.     

God created the universe.  In some ways, we could say that before He created Adam and Eve, God “had a nice life.”  There was eternal oneness, unity and fellowship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (John 1:1).  God made a pristine, beautiful world (Genesis 1:1-25)…and this section of Scripture ends with “And God saw that it was good.”  The Psalm 103 speaks about angels that sing God’s praises, and Psalm 104 describes God as being “clothed with splendor and majesty” – being all-powerful as He set the heavens and earth into place.  It would seem that God really did “have a nice life”, yet He desired children.  It was God’s desire to be a Heavenly Father to many.  He above all others could forsee the obstacles and heart aches that parenting can bring.  But He still chose to create us, love us, send a Savior for us, and embrace us as the objects of His lavish affection. 

When parenting is difficult and even heart rendering, I am reminded of what God goes through as He lovingly parents us.  As older adults we can identify with the turmoil our children go through growing up, because we were there once.  As Pastor Mike says, “we were never their age in this age” which is so true, but certainly our hearts can remember just how hard it is to grow up. Sometimes – the mind games and temptations that can battle in a young person’s soul are fierce.  As believers we know with every fiber of our being that if our children took strides in their spiritual lives, it would make their road so much better.  We long for them to embrace their spiritual heritage, to fall in love with God’s Word, to place high value on Christian friends and fellowship, and to come to understand, by personal experience, the wonder and power of prayer.  We long for our children to know these things by their own experience. 

Then, with the shoe on the other foot I ponder, now how does the Heavenly Father long for me, as His child, to grow and understand His truth in a deeper way?  Do I take the time often enough to recall my spiritual heritage, and to appreciate those who have made God’s Word come alive to me at different points in my life?  How am I doing in the area of delighting in God’s Word as being “sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm119:103)?  Do I place enough value on Christian friendship – not just visiting and having fun together (even though that is important), am I having true fellowship with my Christian brothers and sisters and sharing the deep things of the faith?  Do I understand how much I need the support of my Church family to be strong in this world?  Do I daily participate in more than superficial prayer?  When is the last time I cried over my sin, or danced before the Lord in joy and thanksgiving?  

As we long for our children to mature spiritually, I am reminded that we need to show them how to grow not only in word, but by example.  God loved us enough to send His Son to live and walk among us and show us “how it’s done.”   

Lord, thank you for privilege of being a parent and for the opportunity to know your heart better.  May we learn to treasure our children, as you treasure each one of us. 

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