Our children are not ours to keep. Being a foster/adoptive parent has taught me this more than anything. I loved our son abundantly but was not given the opportunity to raise him even to his first birthday. Now as we see our little girl grow each day, we are reminded that every day is an unexpected gift. The reminder that children are God’s and we are to steward and raise them well sinks in deep. I get phone calls from the state about where baby is scheduled to be for the week. Judges and case workers decide how many days we will raise her. On the days there are visits, I see her mother face to face. As I hand her the daughter I love, and the one she grew and birthed, it shocks me into the reality that none of my children belong to me regardless of how God gave them.
God is the creator and sustainer of all things, therefore our children are His. Children are a gift and blessing from God, but they are not ours to keep. He has given them to us in order that we might, “raise them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). We are to teach them His ways and speak His words to them.
The Lord has entrusted us with precious gifts. It matters the way that we shepherd them and train them. As parents we are the first representation of God they will know. We must show them that He is a God of both love and justice. We must love them as Christ has loved us, with grace and compassion. At the same time, we must discipline them in love for their ultimate good and to show them that God is just.
“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives…God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12: 6,7b).
The Ultimate Goal
My goal as a mother is to drive my children to Christ. I do not desire mama’s boys and daddy’s girls, I desire Christ followers. Every sin against them gives us a choice. Are we as parents willing to show them that we are sinners too, and need a Savior just like them? Or do we stand in pride thinking we do not need to ask forgiveness from God after yelling at our 4 year old? Or maybe we are on the other side, constantly reminding them of the grace of God and love of God, but not showing them the justice of God. Are we scared to biblically discipline our children or use grace as an excuse to be lazy?
If I have taught my children to be good people and productive members of society but have neglected the teaching of the gospel, I have failed. If I have taught them to be nice and to obey rules but failed to express the beauty of the grace of Christ, I am not stewarding God’s gift well.
As parents we must lay the foundation of obedience out of love for Christ. As God shapes our desires through His word, we desire to please Him. We desire to follow His commands because we trust him and know that He is working for our good. We do not obey for the sake of obedience. We want to teach this truth to our children. We should desire their hearts to be filled with the love of Christ. It is only out of this love they will desire to please and obey the commands of God.
They Will Leave
Someday, all my children will leave my home. God will take them one way or another. I pray I get many years with all of them, but I may only have minutes or days. When they leave, regardless of age, I want to know that I have loved them by showing them who God really is. I want to season my words with salt from the scriptures. I want them to see that Jesus heals paper cuts and broken hearts. I want them to see the joy set before them in Christ so they can endure the trials they face. I pray they know Christ intimately because He has saved them. Ultimately it is God who saves. I just pray I have prepared their hearts well when He calls.