Faith, life, Parenting, relationships, Spiritual Encouragement, Stories from Scripture
Comments 7

Why God Loves Kids and How to Become One

 

For the Lord sees not as a man sees: for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. {1 Samuel 16:7}

And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. {Mark 10:16}

***

It was late and I was ready to call it a night.

My introverted nature vied for a quiet room and a bed to crawl into since I had been with people since noon. Introverted me needed to recover from all that social interaction.

But there was something more that needed my attention. Demanded it.

I spoke her name as I walked into her room. Light poured in through the doorway revealing the hill of her frame beneath the covers on her bed.

Every inch of her was hiding.

She lay perfectly still, as if asleep.

Only I knew she wasn’t.

I spoke her name again and added, “I know you aren’t sleeping.”

A slight stir.

“Sit up.”

I waited.

Eventually, she scooted up and in the slanted light I saw her red-rimmed and puffy eyes peering through a tangle of hair.

And thus began the midnight talk about honesty, her confession of sneaking and lying. And broken trust lay in pieces.

A silent prayer slipped heavenward: Help me help her.

So much shame hung on her small frame. Only a decade old and just in this one week (one night!) she racked up a slew of lies. She believed they were stacked neatly, unnoticed, like a pile of books against the wall; but her deception was discovered and now, we had to dig through the wreckage.

Sort through the sin.

This is the hard work of grace. Grace is not a magic eraser that removes the debris in a wave of a wave and poof! No, its a sorting process and one that involves owning-up to the stuff, then handing it to God, trusting in his mercy. HE removes it, HE casts it as far as the east is from the west. HE forgives us completely and sets us in a new paradigm where shame cannot define us.

But we have to let him.

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My child’s story was Eve’s story.

There was a rule: no itouch for a week.

There was a temptation: Maybe I could us it when mom isn’t home? Just once or twice.

There was the fall: I did it and no one saw.

But the act required the lie and the lie required another and another.

And the lies slipped in and became a toxic friend. A friend that offered her protection from revealing, embarrassing white-hot shame while at the same time isolated her from the freedom she craved. That same friend twisted me, her mom, into an enemy.

Her perception had been twisted by her deception and now, she stared at me not guilty and repentant but afraid, angry, immovable.

My heart cracked.

I saw her stolid expression, stony as a rock cliff rising on a mountainside.

Only grace, Jesus’ grace, can move that mountain called shame.

I said His words and spoke hard truths in love. All the while I prayed for a softening, a yielding of spirit, not for me to mold and push and reform her, but to offer up to Jesus in my mother-hands: here, Savior, make her like you.

Because my hands are too rough, my skill in parenting too rudimentary. Her spirit needs the expert touch of a master. This dark conversation in a dark room became a prayer in which I turned my rights as mother, as a parent, over to the One who knows this girl better than I.

***

Jesus welcomed the children. We all remember that story well.

The disciples, men caught up in the ideas and ideals of their man-centered world, wanted to shoo them off into ambiguity, to keep the children unimportant and disposable. But Jesus wouldn’t have it.

We don’t know the names of the children who’s heads rested under the blessing-hand of the Savior. I think this is by design, because we know in hearts that read the message and not just the words of the story that those children are our children.

Those children clamoring to receive the blessing–they are us. You and me.

***

Not long ago in church, we revisited the story of David, Israel’s great king and particularly, his childhood.

When we first read about David, he was young, the Bible refers to him as “ruddy” which means red-cheeked – he was too young to shave. David, still on the edge of manhood, spent his childhood days watching over helpless sheep. But here, where the enemies were real, ruthless and hungry, David’s character would be tested.

When the lion came, could he not sacrifice one sheep to its ravenous attack and report back to his father that he didn’t see the danger coming?

When the bear came, David could spare a couple lambs to protect himself, couldn’t he?

No. In the wilds of the field, there was little room for deception, for lazy, self-protective thinking — one wrong move and death was certain to follow. This proving ground required integrity and courage. It built into David qualities he would need again and again as he grew older and life grew complicated. David would, as the Bible tells us, fail to make the better choice, and death and destruction certainly followed. But he always, eventually, returned to the God who trained his heart for leadership and faith out there in the wild fields where beasts roamed and sheep depended on his care.

He was a man after God’s own heart. He had, forever, a child’s heart.

This was the child God called up to serve and lead.

My child has a call on her life. There are people only she can love and lead into places of grace. There places in her future that will demand courage, faith, grace, humor and joy that only she can bring.

How will God call her? Whom will she lead? Whom will she love?

Will she be ready, will she be willing?

Only God knows.

We had to clear the debris that my daughter’s deception scattered in her thoughts. We applied truth and grace, prayed for forgiveness, wiped away tears.  Grace healed her from the wrong impressions that sin left upon her mind.

She is pliable clay. She is wet cement. She wanted a do-over. Don’t we all?

She is small enough to crawl upon the knee of Jesus and receive full blessing, abundant grace.

I want to be small enough, too. I don’t want to build fortresses of shame, isolated mountains of lies. I want to be in the open field where there may be danger, but there is air and life and room to find God.

 

And I pray: Make my faith young, and expectant and vital, keep me in the wilds of truth and vulnerability. Remind me, Oh God, that I need you and your light to dispel the lies that threaten to shadow y thinking, to teach me new ways to dance under your blessing. Amen

***

Friend, won’t you join me there, at the feet of a forgiveness-giving Savior? A life-giving and blessing Savior? Won’t you trust that he has a call on your life, too? He can repair our hearts. He can make our faith young.

 

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7 Comments

  1. Oh, this is the hard stuff of parenting. Knowing their hearts but holding them accountable…it is sooo hard. Bless her little heart. Grace is better appreciated when we long for it ourselves. And–have I said how much I love your photo above? That happy you with your head leaning in your sweetie? It floods grace and beauty.

  2. God has a purpose for my girls. I need to remember that big picture truth in those moments of my own rudimentary parenting! Thanks for the reminder! Blessings from Rachael @ Inking the Heart. Visiting from Leaving a Legacy

  3. Jessica White says

    Thank you for the reminder of how simple and yet hard it is to teach our children grace and to grow in grace ourselves. Having two daughters, I must admit I fail at this often. I want my way not God’s way and it is easy to dole out punishments instead of connecting the dots of sins’ consequences and offering grace and forgiveness.

    • Jessica, sometimes the simple things are the hardest, right? One thing we can remember is that whenever we turn to God for more grace, we receive more grace. He supplies us and loves us through the process.

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