Do you have children? Are you investing in them? No, not just are you making sure they have food in their mouths and a roof over their head; I’m asking if you’re actively pouring yourself into your children so that they will have the skills and wherewithal to become the people you envision, accomplish great things as adults, and fellowship with the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent, here in this life and in eternity!
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people….” (Galatians 6:9-10 NIV)
God tells parents to tell their children about and teach them to obey Him; He tells children to honor and obey their parents. Yet no where is there a specific command for parents to love their children or sacrifice for them–presumably, because as a parent you really don’t have to be told to do this; you just naturally do! Yet how does that love express itself? For many parents, it’s through a heartfelt desire to see their children have happier, more successful lives than they themselves had.
Yet, when you’re in the middle of it–when your household is filled with grade-schoolers, middle-schoolers and/or high-schoolers and their busyness–it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that this phase isn’t forever; that it will end. Your children will grow up, and move out–before you know it, you’ll be moving them off to college; later yet, they’ll be getting their own place, and once you’ve gone through this with your youngest–they’ll all be gone!
My point is that your time of influence with them–that window of opportunity during which you can significantly impact their future for good through instruction in God’s Word and wisdom for living their future life–is remarkably brief. We typically imagine it to be around eighteen years–roughly until they graduate from high school and move on, to college or elsewhere. Yet the sad truth is that our influence can wane way before then, depending on us, them, the company they keep, and other influences in their life such as school and technology. Some children still seek out their parents’ company and advice in college and beyond; others shut them out barely out of childhood. So what does this mean to us as parents; why do we need to be aware of this while our children are still very young?
We need to recognize this so that we make the most of every opportunity to pass on to them what they will need to know and practice–and believe–before they begin listening more to other voices in their life than ours, keeping in mind that these days that can be as soon as your child has their own unsupervised technology or goes off to school!
My personal opinion? Parenting is best not delegated–not to sitters or nannies or even grandparents–because the person who is there will by default be most influential in the child’s life. I understand life is harder for some than others, and there are times a parent simply cannot be there, but I do not believe that is ideal. I say this not to put constraints on anyone (I’m a parent too), but to open your eyes to the tremendous potential influence parents have on their children–if they are there and cultivate a loving, vibrant relationship with their child. (Keep in mind that it is entirely possible to be physically present yet distracted by your own interests or pleasures, leaving your child unparented.)
I am a older parent now, and can reflect on my successes and failures. We have three wonderful children–two of them adults; one still in high school–and I love all three and am so incredibly proud of their accomplishments! I can see them bearing beautiful fruit in some aspects of their lives; in others, as their parent I am continuing to do good–to lift them up in prayer–because God promises that at the proper time I will reap a harvest if I do not give up!
My advice? Don’t stop loving Jesus; don’t stop loving your spouse; don’t stop loving your children. Most importantly–don’t ever give up! Most of all not on Jesus, because we exist for Him, not He for us, and God never promised us an easy path. He did, however, promise that He would work all things together for good for those who love Him–which He is doing, even if it doesn’t seem to me at the moment like He is! Not on your spouse, because God honors marriage and hates divorce. And certainly not on on your children, because even if they’re adults–God isn’t finished with them yet! How do I know? Because they’re still alive–and I am still here to implore Him on their behalf!
Realize that when things seem to go wrong, there is a great temptation to throw up your hands and despair; to think the future is fixed and incapable of being impacted–yet how wrong this is, because as long as you have life and breath you can continually bring them before the throne of grace in prayer! Why? Because God hears us and acts!! Jesus said:
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:7-11 NLT)
Dear Lord God,
Help me keep on asking–not give up doing good–because at the proper time You will give a full harvest! Amen.