With both my boys it was relatively easy to conceive. In fact, with my youngest, it happened without us even trying! Even so, in advance of having children, I prayed for them. In my womb, I prayed for them. After their birth, I have prayed for them. I recently came across 1 Samuel 1:27-28, which says, "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord. (NIV)".
That's not always easy. Especially when my children make poor choices and the inevitable consequences come, I want to save them. I want to pick them back up and protect them, rather than "give them to the Lord". There are even times I want to bear the consequences rather than see them suffer. But we all make our own choices, and ultimately we all answer for them...on this side of heaven or on the other. I believe strongly in, and hold fast to, God’s direction to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I also accept the fact that the book of Proverbs is not a collection of promises that will be fulfilled as long as the conditions are met, but instead are maxims that wisely describe the way God has made the world to operate. Of course, God often blesses Godly parenting, but ultimately our children have free will; they can choose to follow or reject our ways because God created them with the ability to do so. Even the Lord Himself knows what it is like to be rejected by His children (Israel) and to have disobedient children (Adam and Eve). I am reading a terrific book titled, “When Good Kids Make Bad Choices [Help and Hope for Hurting Parents],” which has reminded me of these truths.
Of course I also realize I am not always a "Godly parent". Thank goodness for mercy and grace and forgiveness. The Lord is so faithful. Think of how many times He blessed Israel, even when they would fall back into sin after being rescued by God. I also don't hesitate to ask my kids for their forgiveness when I have messed up. I pray that the humility they see in me (as well as my strength and resolve in other situations), will make an impact on how they treat others, and help them see the benefit of repentance. I also recognize the need to forgive them when they have intentionally or unintentionally hurt me...whether they ask for forgiveness or not. We are commanded to forgive to be forgiven. (Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:36-38 NIV)
And, finally, what I have found most important lately is that my boys know I love them...no matter what. When they were small, I would say, "I love you more than the world is big." And I want them to know that is a really "big" love...an unshakable and unmoveable love...an unconditional love. Regardless of what choices they make, and what consequences come, I will love them. When they are acting most unloveable, that is when they need to hear it the most. Oh, my words may not be accepted at the time, and they may seem like they don't care. They may even throw hurtful things back to me. But I cannot waiver, or I lose an opportunity to live out the purpose I've stated on this blog...that my boys would know they are loved, valued, adored, cherished...by me, and by God.
I pray something in what I've written has touched your heart, reminded you of a truth, or given you something to praise God for. If nothing else, remember that "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3 NLT) If you are a parent, thank God for His gift. If you are not, know that you have still received, or have access to, an even greater gift. The gift of having a Father in heaven who loves you "more than the world is big". He knows every choice you've ever made...good and bad; He knows your every thought...good and bad; and He loves you no matter what. His is a free gift of love, hope, joy and ultimately an eternal life in a perfect place He is preparing for you. It's the best gift you will ever receive.
Oh...and in my next post, I think I will explore how to react when you don't feel like your child is a "gift...a reward" (at least in the moment of chaos, turmoil, pain or even just disobedience). But for tonight, I choose to praise God as both a mother, and as a child of His. Blessings to you.