We Can’t Teach Them Everything
I was looking for a specific book on our bookshelves the other day when I had a tiny panic attack – a moment of realization that hit me like a ton of bricks. There are so many great books on the shelf that my 12-year old hasn’t read yet! She’s almost 13 – what if she never finds time to read The Trumpet of the Swan, or Nory Ryan’s Song, or The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle?
I LOVE books, and I desperately want Claire to read every.single.good.book in our house! As I scanned the shelves and shelves of books that still need to be read, I started to feel like a failure. How could I let her grow up without reading every book on the Newbery list??
Obviously, this is completely ridiculous. Claire doesn’t have enough time or interest to read all the good books – there are simply too many of them. I think as parents, though, we often feel the same desperate, panicked feeling about teaching our kids everything they need to know about faith and God and life before they leave our homes. Have we taught them enough about temptation, about prayer, about relationships, about responsibility? Did we make them memorize enough verses or do enough family devotions?
As my kids have started to grow up and spread their wings, I’ve begun to accept the fact that I can’t teach my kids everything. I can do my very best to prepare them for the things that life will throw at them, but I also know that there are some lessons that only the Holy Spirit can teach them.
Thankfully, we serve a God who asks us to teach our kids about his commands and heart for them, but he doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He is more than able to fill in the gaps and teach our kids the lessons that we can’t.
Looking again at our family’s bookshelf, I realize that many of the books that I love so much, I didn’t read until I was an adult. Thank goodness it’s never too late to discover a good book, and it’s never too late for our kids to learn from their heavenly Father, who loves them and knows them intimately.
My prayer for my kids these days is that the Holy Spirit will speak loudly and insistently in their lives. If their spirits are listening and submitting to His, then they’ll learn all the lessons they need to. This knowledge and realization relieves me of the pressure of perfect parenting and allows me to truly partner with the only one who has a perfect plan for my kids’ lives.
There is one crucial duty of a parent alone which will render children equipped not only for the challenges of life but entry into Heaven. That duty requires that we4 impart to children the expectation of intimate communion with God enabled by their selfless personal surrender of vulnerability to Him. God does not just fill in the gaps left by good books, parental teaching, or even the Bible. He personally defines these teachings imparted by us to them. In this manner, each encounter with our teaching can and will result in passionate and genuine eagerness to embrace true obedience to God, not out of duty, but out of what will become their selfless love for the Father; the same love so manifest in that of our Savior for Him. Jesus did not merely encourage us to teach our children about Him, but to encourage their encounter of Him by setting them at His feet, and then not just to be instructed by Him but to be embraced personally by Him in His love for them. As parents we cannot begin to make our children desire God or even desire obedience to Him, only He can do that with the vision of Himself which arises within them as they approach Him allowing personal vulnerability to Him. I was fortunate to have “discovered” the communion with God He offers each one of us nearly 70 years ago as a small child and consequently have never forgotten why I was created and to whom I am destined.
We forget at times that we have no power to even know precisely what genuine obedience to God is for each of our children. We humans can only love obedience to God if we truly love God Himself. What we do possess as parents is our parental consecration by God allowing us the ability to lead our children personally to Him. Even though our destitution with respect to imparting to them genuine sanctity is immense, their Savior and Creator, and the Holy Spirit have no such constraints and can freely impart to them whatever our children will allow because of our encouragement. Our one true mission as parents is not merely to impart good teaching or good behavior to them, it is to impart encouragement of the desire of their heart and ours which is personal and intimate communion with God. In this manner, our children may be equipped with certainty, because of the insatiable love for God which will soon develop in them, to not only defend against the world, the flesh, and the devil, but embrace their certain entry into Heaven. This transformation can happen in them even at a very early age if we will only allow them the opportunity.
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