Sometimes late at night, I toss and turn, wondering... will my children love Jesus when they grow up?
In my bouts of anxiety, I am reminded of a distant memory -- of that one hot summer in NYC years ago...
My face dripped with sweat as the heat wave steamed up the streets of Manhattan.
A shy girl most of my life, I didn’t really know what I was thinking when I signed up for that summer’s college missions trip.
There I was, standing in the busy intersection, at a booth with a poster: “Free Prayers! Free Bibles!”
What was I doing here again? I tried to think of an escape...
But before I could run, I found myself facing a woman.
With tears in her eyes, she poured her heart out. Trembling, I mustered up some words to pray.
But she wasn’t done. She had questions. Thankfully, I had a pamphlet! So I started to read it line by line, word for word. At one point, she asked to hold the booklet herself because I was shaking and mumbling way too much.
Before I knew it, she asked if she could pray to have a relationship with Christ. I was floored.
Huh? What just happened?
Many years later, as I look back on this experience, I finally understand it in the context of John 4:37-38: “One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the hard work, and now you have taken up their labor.”
Many events and people had shaped this woman’s life before I met her on the streets of Manhattan. In no form or fashion did I exert great effort to convince her of the gospel. The work was already done – God used many who came before me in this woman’s life to till the soil and sow the seeds of the gospel in her heart.
And yet, I got to reap what others had sown before me. All I did was show up.
Over a decade and a half have passed.
I am now a mother to 4 children.
Unlike my college days, I am not on just any mission trip… but motherhood.
Instead of getting to reap easy harvests like that one summer long ago… now, as a mom, I am on the other side -- called to hard labor of sowing the seeds of faith and tilling the soil of their hearts daily.
But instead of following this, there are too many days when I fall short and my failures taunt me. Instead of singing praises or quoting scriptures, all I remember is how loudly I yelled and how I hurled explosive criticisms like hand grenades.
My poor children. They have front row seats to my sins and hypocrisy. The odds are stacked against me.
I’m anxious. How can my children come to faith with a failure like me as a conduit of the gospel?
How will they ever come to the knowledge and love of God and His gift of salvation?
It also doesn’t help that everywhere I turn, there are new stories of Christian families who have kids who walk away from faith.
My heart breaks.
And then I remember--that sweltering day on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Shaking, trembling, and mumbling, I could barely even read a pamphlet aloud.
And yet, that day, God showed up.
His grace covered my failures in Gospel-Sharing 101. His mercy beckoned the lost woman to Himself, in spite of me.
You see, I was so busy worrying about my own failures, performances, and outcomes… that I forgot that it’s God who orchestrates it all!
His plan to accomplish the redemption of his people was in place long before you and I became mothers to our children. He was there when the first act of sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. He was there when Adam and Eve failed to obey Him. He was there even when Adam and Eve hid from Him even as He called out to them. And he revealed his plan to them right then and there save them from their sins and restore the relationship they had broken (Gen 3:15). That’s why He sent His own son, Jesus, into this world, as a baby born in a manger that grew up to be a man who would bear our sins.
He will save His people. Do you see how it works? You are not responsible for the salvation of your children, mama. You can no more produce that faith in your children than you can produce it in yourself. Look for where He is at work in their hearts and step into it in faith; not faith in your abilities, but faith in his power to use an imperfect mother to lead her children to a perfect savior. You can plant and water in freedom knowing that it is God who gives the growth of regenerate hearts through faith in his son.
We fret, we toil, we are anxious... We worry about our children.
But here’s the thing. God pursued us and called us to Himself through His son, didn’t He? Despite the shortcomings and failures of our parents and leaders. And He’ll be that very same God for our children.
The coming of Christ delivers us from the burden of the responsibility of saving our children because we see in His birth, life, death, and resurrection that God is faithful to His promise to accomplish our salvation. His finished work proclaims that salvation is secured by and through His power alone.
Let me encourage you to entrust your children to the Creator of their hearts and souls, who through the gift of His son reveals: there is nothing that can keep Him from the ones that He loves. He will reach them by any means necessary.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION:
- Who do you believe is responsible for the fate of the souls of your children? Use the anxiety you feel over their salvation measured against the amount of time you pray that God would call them to himself as a measure.
- How does the coming of Christ, promised all the way back in Genesis, give us confidence that God is able to save in spite of any circumstance?
- How does the knowledge that "God gives the growth" change the way that we "plant" and "water?"
Lilly Chow is a writer over at EquippingOurKids.com, a blog that helps Christian parents raise steadfast kids in an unsteady world. As a former youth leader and now mom to 4 kiddos, she is passionate about equipping the next generation. For more actionable tips, download her FREE quick start guide: How to Tackle Your Kid’s Questions About Faith (Even When You’re Stumped)