“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced …”
I have often pictured my home as a boat on the water, with Clay and I at the helm, seeking faithfully to guide our children to a healthy life of righteousness. The true source of grace, wisdom, beauty, health, and goodness in our family amidst the storms--the way we made it through--was totally the Lord, as we based our lives on scripture and walking with Him in faith. The secret is Him.
Yet the storm has always raged for us, just as it does for you. What are some hindrances to walking by faith as a parent?
When we walk by fear, we say, "What if I am not a good enough parent? What if my children give in to cultural storms? What if we do not have enough money to make it? I am just not adequate to this task." We tend to look at the storm around us and find it threatening, so we become discouraged. When Simon looked at the face of Jesus, he could walk on the water, but when he looked at the storm, he began to drown. Hundreds of times in scripture the impossible-sounding command is given: "Fear not!" If you are living in fear, the life of God will be squeezed out. We cannot live by fear in parenting, or we will fail to show our children the reality of God.
A parent who is dependent on Formula thinks, "If I spank this way, or follow these rules, or use this curriculum or find the right formula, then I will be able to raise a perfect child." This kind of parenting depends on works. This reliance on works is dependent on getting everything right, and can also be a little fear-based: certain kinds of music, dress, bad influences, tv, movies, people--life--will tempt my kids, so if I prohibit all of these things and hold fast to my rules, then my kids will be safe.
Of course, being wise about some of these influences is important. But our children have been born into a dark world. We cannot keep them from all that might harm them out there by using control, rules, laws, and formulas. God is still God, even in this time in history. Formulas will disappoint, because they neglect the heart as one of the most important factors of life. Following law will never equal the redeeming power of God and no matter how you search, you will not find the right formula--If God had wanted us to follow a formula, He would have made it easy and given us one.
We tend to depend on ourselves and put lots of effort into forcing our world to be more controlled. This temptation causes us to think things like ... "If I just get up earlier, have more quiet times, control my kids more, make all organic meals, be a perfect mom, train them more consistently, provide the best friends, then I will have better children." The flesh depends on the advice and input of man, media, and experts, as well as always seeking to work harder and putting more effort into parenting.
Now of course, again, parenting is hard work. But when our focus is on trying to help God by exerting great amounts of energy, then eventually, we will come up against our own limitations and want to throw our hands up into the air and give up. "I can't do this. I am exhausted. I am failing. You have asked me to do more than I can possibly do."
And of course, that won't be true.
What's the alternative to these three failing "F's" of parenting?
Since we know that God's will is good and acceptable and perfect, then we know He has not asked us to do more than we are able to do. It seems God used life to bring me to the end of myself--three out of four clinically asthmatic kids, seventeen moves, mental health issues, church splits, fire in our home, car accidents, etc. There was just no way I could do it all or be perfect.
But, God wanted me to walk by faith in Him. Every day I learned to give to Him my fish and loaves: "Lord, I know I am not perfect, I cannot provide all my children need. But I am giving you my best, my heart---here are my fish and loaves. Please, would You make it enough?" No child is the same. No family puzzles are the same. God, our devoted and ever-present Father, wants us to come to Him, to ask Him to work, to ask His grace to fill our homes, to ask Him who has access to the brains of our children, to draw them to himself.
Miracles happen where God is the One we depend on to work. We acknowledge we are not adequate, but He is. We release our problems and sadness, limitations and fears into His hands and leave them there, and then move to an attitude of worship. We do what He leads us to do and live within our own limitations every day. Whatever we do not get done, we put it back into His file, knowing we can have a go again tomorrow. He is the source of supernatural life, and He wants us to walk this parenting path by faith, just as we walk every other path.
He is the Way.
Do you tend to lean naturally toward fear, formula, or the flesh as you work through parenting issues? How might you begin today to walk more by faith?