Watching my children struggle with sin tears me apart. It doesn’t matter whether they are being disrespectful, stubborn, rebellious, deceptive, or selfish… every time I see it, an enormous part of my heart cringes and tightens up with worry.
Because more than anything, I want to see my children come to salvation.
So often I find myself pleading with the Lord, “Please draw their hearts to you, convict them of their sin, and grow in them the desire to love and obey you! …and please do it quickly and gently!” Because, honestly, I am so afraid that instead of my children’s eyes being opened to the truth through Sunday School or family devotions, God will use trials and hardship to lead them to Himself. And I desperately want to protect against that.
But when I sit down and think about it…and I mean really think about it…I realize that my desire for my children’s salvation has become greater than my desire for God’s glory. And I am ashamed that there is a part of me that wants to protect them from the course God has laid out for them if it were to involve pain. I have tried to chain God to a long list of expectations, asking that He redeem those little hearts on my terms; being too afraid to completely trust Him with any plan He has purposed for His glory. But even in the midst of this tight-fisted battle with trust I am reminded of that Psalm 3:8 truth,
“Salvation belongs to the Lord…”
Oh, how I sometimes wish that it could belong to me! Then I could bind up those precious hearts in surrender to the Lord before they are faced with the deep sin struggles in this world! But no, salvation does not start with me. It starts with the cross.
That cross – it is painful, terrifying, and yet so necessary. It is not peaceful and carefree. No, it’s heart-wrenching and bloody. When I begin to think about what my Savior endured on that cross for me, my stomach tightens along with my soul. It is never easy to linger there for very long. And the thought of leading my little ones to that messy, heavy, soul-aching place –the place where the wrath of a Holy God was poured out – is so frightening to me.
Lord, I don’t want to get it wrong.
What if I mess this up? What if I say or do that one thing that may lead them to run away from or reject the cross?
I can’t keep silent either. “His Word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jer. 20:9) Because I know – Trust me I know – that my children desperately need the cross. Because they need a Savior… as much as I did and still do every. single. day.
But no matter how many times or how many ways I lead my children to the cross, I cannot make them fall in love with the One who died there. Instead, I must lay my broken, messy, anxious self before a faithful, loving, all-powerful God and find strength and hope and peace in the promise that He is even more concerned with redeeming my children than I am.
And as much as I want to protect them from pain and heartache, I know that this awesome, incredible, powerful God, who has mountains and stars singing His praises – this God, who is so far above and beyond my comprehension or imagination, will write their story for His glory, not my comfort. Even if the path to their salvation winds through addictions, rebelliousness, promiscuity, or depression, this God – my God – who does all things for the sake of His great name, is faithful. He’s the only one that can take those tiny, sinful lives and turn them into something good, something redeemed, something beautiful.
But while I have been asked to surrender control over the path of their salvation, I am by no means exempt from the responsibility to guide those hearts to the One who is in control. No, I must pour myself over the teaching of God our Savior myself. I need to read, speak, live, and breathe the gospel. Because the more that story is engraved in the deepest parts of my heart and mind the better I am able to communicate it to my children every day. And it must be communicated every day.
The harsh reality is, my children began life as enemies of God. As hard as that truth is to grasp, I cannot ignore it. And rather than dismissing the significance and eternal weight of their sin I must point them to the One who hears their cries and saves them. I must point them to the cross. Because when they see even a little of His pain, willingly, and faithfully endured for them there, it will help them see how much He loves them. And so I will bring His story into the everyday moments of our lives.
For as I talk and read and speak and make His Story, the gospel story, our life, God begins working miracles in their little hearts. Those sweet, life-giving gospel words are day-by-day penetrating the darkness of their lives and drawing them closer to the sweet, life-giving Savior.
And as much as I would sometimes like to manipulate the details of their salvation, I choose instead to lean on the Author of Salvation, trusting that He will write their story better than I ever could, and thankful that above all their lives are in His hands…which are far more capable and loving than my own.