I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. “Parenting in the 21st century is not for the faint-hearted.” Not when you have seven children at least! Much as we decide not to allow society to influence us, the challenges are nonetheless great and we often feel overwhelmed and find ourselves at the point of defeat. Also, the desire for our children to walk right before the Lord is indeed worthy. But the fear of them wandering or missing the call of God upon their lives only adds to a parent’s list of anxieties and concerns.
Whilst pondering these thoughts one day, a question came into my mind: “Do you think you have these children because you deserved them?” Without hesitation, I answered, “Of course, the Bible says the fruit of the womb is a reward.” As I gloated in the fact that I was all deserving of each of these blessings, the revelation came like a lightning bolt!
NO! The truth is that none of us is deserving of anything we have or are given; and that includes our children. After all, the holy and faithful have children, and so do the evil and ungodly. The sun rises and sets on all – on good and exemplary parents as well as those who have abandoned and abused their children. Is the one who prayed and fasted for a child more deserving than the one who conceived a baby out of wedlock? Not in the least.
What qualified us to be parents, and deserving ones at that? A desire for godly offspring? Or simply a moment of uncontrolled passion? More pointedly, who qualifies us to be parents? Interestingly, it’s a more difficult process to adopt a child than to have one of your own. Clearly, if God is the One who opens or closes the womb, then it is He who qualifies us to be parents! I didn’t become a parent because God foresaw that I would be a good one. Not at all! I became a parent because God decided to bless me with that privilege. As with everything else that came by the grace of God, I also became a parent by that same amazing grace!
This revelation did two things for me:
Firstly, it humbled me greatly and brought me down to earth. It’s not about me, my qualifications, my abilities, not even my character or spiritual maturity. Not that these are not useful in the journey and tasks of parenting but these were not the factors that brought about the births of my children. It was God who bestowed His grace upon me and my wife and blessed us with our lovely children, all products and gifts of His grace.
Secondly, it liberated me greatly and relieved me of the pressure and demands I had unnecessarily placed on myself. As I became a parent by His grace, so will I continue to be a parent by His grace. Nothing I do can make me more deserving of my children. But as I have received these wonderful gifts of grace from God, I will do all I can to be the best steward of God’s grace, knowing that as I trip, fall and mess up along the way, I can always run boldly to His throne of grace to find help in time of need! What liberation and freedom I have, found only in the Spirit and not in the law of parenting; for the former brings life and peace whilst the latter brings death.
The next time you feel that you’ve messed up as parent and that you’re just not good enough to be one, just remember this: it was the grace of God that made you a parent to your children, and it will be the grace of God that will enable you to parent your children. In no way does this release us from the responsibility we have as parents to teach and train our children in the ways of the Lord. It does, however, release us from the lie that we must be perfect before we can fulfil that task. May the Lord keep us strong in the grace that is found only in Jesus Christ to be the best parents we can be.