Children, buffets and the infinite resources of heaven (godly children)

Children, buffets and the infinite resources of heaven

In my previous godly children post on this blog we talked about how children being children can often teach us more about Kingdom living than all of our cleverness as adults.

Case in point: At home we always dish up set meal portions and so attending an event with a buffet where you can help yourself to all these foodstuffs was a wonder beyond imagination to my children.

Perhaps it’s a British thing but, out of politeness, we hold back from fully filling our plate to ensure others behind us in the queue get enough (or at least don’t accuse us of being greedy). Those who don’t keep to this unwritten rule are always talked about in the most negative of ways, especially when food runs out.

However, my children didn’t abide by this unwritten rule and piled the food high on their plates and even when they hadn’t finished what they had they went back for more again and again and again.

I could feel the embarrassment in me fuelling a volcanic eruption that would put Mount Vesuvius to shame. But then you get that feeling that God is standing by your shoulder, clearing his throat and saying “ahem” to give you a hint that maybe you’re just missing something beautiful….

Are my children being selfish and not thinking of others? Or is it that they simply have no concept of it running out?

Why would they? They’ve been brought up by parents who love them and provide for their needs and so when they see the huge array of food spread out why would they even think of food running out?

They are models for us to how we should relate to our heavenly Father.

We have a Father who gives good gifts to his children (Mt 7:11) – in fact our Father is so good that we who love our children are called evil in comparison. Think for a moment. The universe was created as a love gift for His Son Jesus (Col 1:16) – that’s the extravagance of our Father. And we are now his children (1 Jn 3:1) and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17).

But do we act like adults at a buffet with God? Do we hold back from asking for too much frightened that our father’s heavenly storehouses (Mal 3:10) will run out? That there won’t be enough blessing to go round? Or that there are others who are more in need and so we shouldn’t ask?

Or do we hold back from asking too much so we don’t become too indebted? So we can live “safe” lives?

Or maybe we believe the lie that Satan has been telling from the beginning that our Father is holding out on us? That he can’t be trusted?

Let’s learn from our children that our Father can do far more than we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20), who loves His children and wants to bless us.

Maybe it’s time to ask to see the riches of Christ poured out so that we will love so much more and become hopeless indebted to the One who’s worthy of it all.

Amen.

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Dealing with bad language (godly parenting)

what to do when my child uses bad words
*CONTENT WARNING*
This post will use the bad language that one of my children said.
The purpose is that you can experience the horror but still see how to respond in a godly way.

“I have to teach you a great new card game the boys taught me at my camp!” my eldest boy said excitedly at the dinner table, “It’s called cocksucker.”

Time stood still.

“I’m sorry?” I managed to splutter whilst chocking on a piece of potato.

“cocksucker” he said again.

Maybe my wife and I had misheard, “cobsucker?” I asked hopefully.

“No, COCKsucker,” he said again.

OK….he clearly means the very word we wished he had never mentioned to all of us.

Now the main problem with being a Christian parent is that we can all too easily react to the world’s darkness rather than acting from a Kingdom perspective. The light is so much more powerful than darkness – and so we don’t need to be afraid of what our children pick up. But we do need to turn on the light and help them see things in the light of truth.

I wanted to shout “how dare you use that filthy language in my house!”

Now whilst this would have vented my anger and satisfied my righteous indignation it wouldn’t have helped my son (or the rest of the children gathered round the table) what that word meant and why it was unsuitable. Nor would it have helped him make good choices in the future.

Instead he would have learnt to not share his excitement, to keep quiet about words he hears at school or (in this case) “Christian camp” and then go and seek answers elsewhere.

I want my children to come to me and ask me about what they pick up in the world so that I give (what I hope is) godly wisdom and advice.  This means that I first have to become unshockable like Jesus.

Jesus often knew what people were up to (eg the woman at the well Jn 4:17-18 and Jesus anointed by the sinful woman Lk 7:39) and he hung out with tax collectors and sinners (Mt 9:10) and would have heard coarse language from these common people.  Yet we don’t see any mention of him reacting or being shocked by sin.  Why?  Because sin is no threat to him – he is a threat to sin.  He knew since the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8) that sin was a defeated enemy.

So I needed to have a calm and candid conversation with our son that went something like this: “cock is a slang word for a man’s penis.  It’s used to describe how it’s not something precious made by God but something that is used to go anywhere and do anything just like a cockerel struts around and does what he wants.  So you can see what cocksucker will mean.  However, the phrase cocksucker us used to say that they will do want they want and you must suck it up – you must be their slave.”

My son went rather pale at this point when he realised how they had treated him.

“So I think they weren’t being very kind to you.”

My son received this information and was then able to make a wise choice about the word and to his credit he calls the game President instead.

Now in our case it was clear that he had no idea what the word meant.  Sometimes a word might be said to see what reaction it gets or as deliberate defiance.  The first time it occurs we need to have a conversation like the one above and then subsequent times it occurs we can take appropriate disciplinary action.

Good word bad word project

Walker Moore in his excellent parenting book “You want to pierce what?” (which was developed further in his “Rite of Passage Parenting”) talks about the “good word bad word” project he did with his sons.  He got a big bit of paper and divided it into two columns – one for good words and the other for bad words.  Each evening they would discuss words they had met at school that they were unsure about their meaning.  He asked them not to repeat a word they’d heard at school until that point in the day he had told them the meaning and they could decide which column they would go in. If it was a bad word then they chose two good words to replace it and put them in the good word column.

In three years we had every swear word in the English language on the chart.  Eventually we had no more words to add to the bad word column. It’s amazing the communication barriers that go down when you are writing down filthy words with your children.  We also, however, wrote words that carried confusing meanings.  We were able to talk about subjects like homosexuality and abortion before our children reached nine years of age!  Opening up this kind of communication gave my children the knowledge that their parents would not over-react or be shocked at anything they wanted to discuss…without this project, my boys would have endured years of seeing Dad seethe with anger over words they heard at school, and the only lesson they they would have learned would have been, Don’t say the bad words in front of Dad.  Instead they learned that there are things that are good and things that are bad, and they must developed the skills to know the difference.

These skills were then applied in other areas of their lives.

Summary:

  • Firstly, let’s not be naive and think our children won’t encounter these words in their lives – we cannot shelter them from the world – indeed we are supposed to be in the world (but not of it) not separated from the world in a bubble. How can we be salt and light if we keep our salt and light separate.
  • Secondly, let’s not react to bad words – Jesus is more than able to save sinners and cleanse us from every wrong doing.
  • Thirdly, let’s train them – disciple them – and give them the tools they need to make great choices.

If you enjoyed this post then you may also enjoy another post I wrote called “Parenting with faith or with fear”.

Dad, are willys rude (teach your children godly sexuality)

Are willys rude

I was walking with my youngest son to the garage to pick up our car from its service when he asked:

“Dad, are willy’s rude?”

“Not at all – God made them so they can’t be rude.”

“But when I say willy at school I get told off. So they must be rude.”

I could see the logic.  I also had to do some on the spot thinking….

“OK. What’s the coolest present you can imagine?”

He thought for a while and then replied “A minion’s pizza!”

I have no idea what that is – and frankly neither did he – but it combined two things that he loves together so it must be cool.

“So imagine one of your friends gives you a minion’s pizza and you throw it on the floor. And your friend says ‘That’s so rude!’”

“So is a minion’s pizza rude?”

“NO!!!!”

“But they said it was. So it must be rude.”

“It’s not rude”

“Well why did they say it was then?”

“Because I of what I did with it.”

“Exactly. God made willys and so they’re not rude – but you can do rude things with them like talk about them in a bad way. So just like we treat a special cool gift like a minion’s pizza in a special way – we need to treat our special cool gift of willys in a special way too.”

This kind of conversation captures the two principles of teaching godly sexuality – we affirm it’s goodness and we affirm its holiness (and also here and here).

Just affirming one of these two would lead to disaster whether that be worldly hedonism or religious repression.  So it’s important to express both.

I hope this conversation proves helpful – if you want to add your thoughts below then please do so – or if you want a godly answer to a question your child has asked then do also comment below.

Am I a bad parent? (godly parenting)

bad parent

 

Do you feel like you’re a rubbish parent?

Do you feel like you are damaging your children?

Let me tell you about a couple I know of.

The wife was only about 13 or 14 and was naïve and inexperienced.

She married a husband who was much older than her and was a manual labourer who only just managed to keep them off the bread line.

They were so poor they couldn’t even afford a goat that is the traditional celebration meal for their first child.

For most of their life they lived in a “dodgy” town which the rest of their country looked down upon.  In addition, due to an incident they became social outcasts in their community.

This incident also nearly caused the whole marriage to be called off – in fact the husband had to be persuaded before he’d even consider going ahead.

So clearly the couple had weaknesses and lived in an area and environment that wasn’t brilliant for bringing up kids.  Their parenting wasn’t much better.

They lost their eldest child and only noticed after a whole day!  It took a further three days of searching before they found him!

In addition, they didn’t get their eldest child – in fact, they thought he had lost his mind and said as much in public and tried to take charge of him.

These two incidents show some serious weaknesses as parents and I question anyone who thought they were suitable for adoption.

Yet this was the couple God entrusted with His beloved Son.

These were the imperfect parents who were raising His perfect Son.

And just like they messed up we are going to mess it up.

Now don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t going to be one of those motivational posts that say “don’t worry about it – God has trusted you with your children so you must have what it takes and everything will be fine.”  That would do you and your children a disservice.

We are going to mess up yet God still calls us to be parents.  How do we move forward in such a contradiction?

Recall that as parents, we are only meant to be an image of the perfect parent – we don’t have to be perfect (and indeed can’t be) our job is to apologise when we get it wrong and point to the perfect one.

For example, I regularly say “I’m sorry I messed up and lost my temper.  Daddy God is so much more patient than your earthly daddy.  Will you pray for me that God will make me more like Him.”

Similarly, when my children mess up, I forgive them and pray with them that the Father would transform them too – we are all on a journey together of being transformed from glory to glory.

Whilst saying sorry is helpful there are still consequences of our mistakes that a sorry can’t fix.  But, we have a God who can redeem our mistakes.  There are so many times I have prayed for my children as they slept that he would undo the damage of my mistakes and He has been so gracious.  He delights in restoring all things and transforming them into the likeness of His perfect Son.  Despite the illnesses, brokenness and dysfunctions my wife and I have walked through our children are becoming whole.

Furthermore God knows that we can’t do it on our own and He doesn’t expect us to do so.  The resources of Heaven (including wisdom) are available so that we can carry out this most important of tasks if we ask for them.

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career. ” CS Lewis

So when you mess up and the Accuser starts giving you grief don’t seek solace in platitudes – seek the forgiveness that is freely available through Jesus’ blood and the transforming power that is freely available for you and your children through our union with Him.

Father, thank you that there is grace. Thank you that everything we need is available in You. Give me my daily bread for parenting my children and forgive my sins as I forgive my children’s sins. For Yours is the power to transform situations and the glory that comes out of your redemption, for ever and ever. Amen.

If you want a light-hearted look at Mary and Joseph as parents I did a short skit on this:

Other related posts are “God will never give you more than you can handle (and other myths)”, “Nothing is impossible” and “Jesus is Wisdom Incarnate” where I share more of our journey into parenting and God’s grace.

CEO or Father (godly children)

john-spencer-2

My eldest daughter had her first day at primary school and was distraught to discover that there was another girl in the class with the same name.

“But daddy, how will you know which one of us to pick up at the end of the day?”

I replied, “Because only one of them is my daughter.”

This might seem silly to us grown-ups but maybe my daughter’s question is actually something we say to (or think about) our Father in Heaven.  And maybe my response is a shadow of a truth that we adults need to hear from our Heavenly Father

How often in our lives do we honestly think that God won’t notice us?

I mean there are a lot of other Christians doing the same things as us….

When I heard God’s call clearly to start helping parents teach their children about godly sexuality I was so excited about the revelation He was showing me.  I felt so special that He would call me to this task.

But then I discovered that God had called others to the same task.  I was devastated.  What’s the point in so many of us doing the same thing?

And the enemy whispered that I wasn’t unique, I wasn’t special, that I can’t have heard the call right. Anyway why would God call me to such an important task and besides who would listen anyway.

I confess that I fluctuated between giving up or doing the task but covering my insecurity with a false bravado claiming how great I was.  I was fearful of those others who were doing the same thing so I didn’t want to reference their resources and I even resorted to visiting “competing” ministries’ websites to try and steal their visitors for my own site.

I was just like my daughter:

Wondering whether my Father truly notices me and knows who I am, whether he values what I’m doing.

I didn’t realise my uniqueness to my Father.

But what if their gifting is greater or their ministry bigger?

What’s the point of me doing the same thing when others are clearly more qualified.

Let me giving another example with my daughter:

On a parents’ evening at school when I go into to look at the children’s work displayed on the walls – is my daughter worried I’m going to only look at the pictures which are drawn the best?

By no means!  She knows that I’m looking for her work.  It doesn’t matter to me whether another child has drawn a particular picture better than her as I’ve only got eyes for her work as that is the one that is most precious to me.

So it is with our Heavenly Father:

God is not a CEO of a company with a limited number of positions that we all have to compete for.  He is a Father that delights in the uniqueness of each of His children.

Suppose my daughter compared her work to others and saw that they were better and give up writing or drawing.  I would be heartbroken.  There would be a hole in my world.

So too with us.

If we could compare our ministry or gifting to others and give up because someone else is better we would break our Father’s heart.  He values what we are doing.

There is always room for another child in the Father’s family as every child is unique and brings a distinctive flavour to the family even if they do the same things/hobbies as each other.  And only when they’re all present is the whole family complete.

There is room for you.  Never fear.

Father, open my eyes to see you as the perfect father who delights in me, knows who I am and delights in the work I do for Him.  Let me realise that there is a special place for me in the family and help me to bring my contribution to it no matter what others around me may be doing.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is my second post on godly children – looking at how our children behave to open our eyes to how we behave as children of God.  My first was a guest post on this blog.

An absolutely excellent article on this subject was written by Matt Stinton on the Bethel Music blog here.  You won’t regret reading it.

PS If you own one of those sites that I spammed during my insecure days – please forgive me.  Know that I now honour you by recommending your sites and resources to my followers and I create memes that honour the revelation you have received.

Redeeming Christmas (Godly Parenting)

 king-size-bed

The God of festivals

God loves celebrations, festivals and feasts.  In the Old Testament God proscribes seven annual feasts for the Israelites:
  1. Passover
  2. unleavened bread
  3. firstfruits
  4. weeks (pentacost)
  5. trumpets
  6. Day of Atonement
  7. Tabernacles.

This is in addition to the New Moon feasts, Sabbath year feasts and Jubilee feasts.  Indeed part of their tithe was a saving to celebrate these occasions (funny how Pastors don’t mention that part!).  God loves celebrations as it’s a reminder of His goodness and faithfulness to us in the past and it’s a taster of the heavenly wedding banquet to come.

As Christians who are like our perfect Father, we should also be a people of celebration.  However, Christmas has been taken by society and changed into a consumerist beast.
As a parent I want my children to experience a godly celebration but I don’t want them to get sucked into a selfish mindset and miss the grace that’s available to them.
Here are some ideas which I hope will bless you and your family and enable you to redeem this celebration and put Christ back into Christmas.

St Nicholas

We never wanted to lie to our children about Santa as they may then think we were lying about other aspects of Christmas or Christianity.  However, we also didn’t want them to miss out on this aspect.  So how do we redeem this?

On Christmas Eve we read them the story about St Nicholas about how he gave his money to help the poor (here’s the Amazon link to the book we use but it’s out of print and the prices quoted are just silly).  After reading about it we then do the same as St Nicholas.  We put some money in envelopes†, one for each child and then ask the children to ask the Father to tell us which house number to deliver to and what message he would like to say.  We then go out together and post them and run away giggling.

In addition, we still do stockings at home.  Our children also get to pretend to be St Nicholas to us.  So I give them the presents for my wife’s stocking and they get to wear a beard and put them in her stocking.  She then goes into her room feigning surprise – “who has put presents in my stocking?” and the children giggle.  We then repeat this but this time she gives them presents to put in my stocking.

We then tell them that we will return the favour when they are sleeping.  “Will you wear the beard, daddy?” “Of course” I reply winking.

Who’s birthday is it?

It’s so easy in the excitement of giving and receiving presents that we forget whose birthday it actually is!  So two things that we do to help.  The first is that just like at any other birthday we have a cake and we sing happy birthday to Jesus.

The second is an idea that I read in the excellent testimony from Floyd McClung “Living on the Devil’s Doorstep”:

 As is normal on a birthday, we give presents and tell the recipient how much we love and appreciate him.  But this time it is Christ’s birthday, so we “give gifts to the Lord!”  After a time of prayer and praise, we take turns to bring our presents to Jesus.  It may be a new song, a newly written poem, a personal Scripture, a drawing, painting, or performance of a new drama.  One time a group got together and bought a table-tennis table for the rest of the community.  They figured God would delight in seeing the enjoyment their brothers and sisters got from it!  All of us choose the most personal way we can of expressing our great love for Jesus and our joy at being able to celebrate His birthday.

So typically the children make some craft or put on a show.  I often write a song or poem and my wife creates something beautiful.  It’s a great opportunity to ensure Jesus takes centre stage.

Advent

Personally I love the advent candle that has the names of Jesus on – that we burn at dinner and talk about.  However I saw this picture and thought it was fab:
reverse-advent-calendar

Christmas hampers

Alternatively, we just prepare a Christmas hamper for a local needy family and deliver it to the recipients.  We have an excellent local charity called Besom, who allow us to actually deliver the hampers.  This is so important as I want the children to experience the joy of giving and meeting people whom something we take for granted means so much.

I want to ensure that my children aren’t insulated from the world around them – they need to experience first hand those who have less to balance out media which shows those who have more and fuels the spirit of covetous. To quote one of them after a visit, “why don’t they have any carpet in their house daddy?” – such a precious question to talk about how much we have.

Waifs and strays

Usually we pick up those who are on their own and invite them to stay over Christmas Eve and share Christmas with us.  Jesus’ birth brought in all sorts (shepherd’s renowned for their lies and Pagan astrologers) and Jesus himself was a refugee in Egypt.  God is the friend of the widow, orphan and the foreigner (eg Dt 10:18) and so our celebrations should, just like in the OT, welcome those:
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Lk 14:12-14)

Giving starts young

It’s easy to think that our children need to be older until they can give gifts – or that we buy it for them to give to their siblings.  But to quote King David “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (2 Sam 24:24).
We want our children to experience to cost and joy of giving.  So they might make something or, a common idea in our family, is to give a token that says something they might do for the other.  Such as one of their chores around the home (eg laying the table or washing up) or a game or treat that might do (eg take them to the park to play soccer or play a board game with them for 30 minutes).

Budgets

We have a budget that we won’t exceed (if you’re interested it’s £10 for all of their stocking and £30 for all of their other gifts).  For many years we spent a silly amount of money on stuff that didn’t really bring happiness.  Once we brought in the budget it not only simplified this Festival and removed the covetousness, it also forced us to be creative and thoughtful with our budget (See the tokens idea above).  We let our children know this budget – so when they ask for outrageous things we can simply say that it’s outside our budget but we can give you the £30 cash towards it and you can save up.  This instils the concept of saving and working for reward.  Though often the children realise that just having cash won’t be as much fun.

No lists

This last idea we’ve just started.  Often our children would compile lists of what they want.  But we have found that these are driven by fads, ads and wants.  So we experimented with asking them not to make lists.  This does two things.  First it forces us to think and listen and ask ourselves what would bless them.  It’s so easy to just throw money but not thought.  Secondly, we get to help our children experience a taste of our heavenly Father who knows us intimately and gives us good gifts.  They learn to trust that we love them and know them well enough to choose things that will match the way God has made them (eg one year I bought my eldest son some wood and nails as God has given him such a practical gifting – he then used this to make a skateboard ramp).
I hope that these ideas help you out – if you have any more ideas then please do share them in the comments below to bless other parents.  May you experience God’s love during this season.

† We go for £50 in each envelope as we want people to experience a taster of the lavishness and the overwhelming grace available to us through Jesus and also so the children see that we give away to others more than we spend on each of them.

*Please note that I am an Amazon affiliate which means I receive a small commission if you buy a book after using my link.  This helps me offset the costs of publishing.  It doesn’t influence my recommendations of the books I recommend though.

Parenting with faith or fear (godly parenting)

parenting-with-faith-or-fear

A couple of weekends ago I took my son on a dads & lads weekend.  Since the car journey was about 4 hours to get to the activity centre I brought some conversation starter questions with me.

One of them was “what is something I always say to you?”

His reply to me was eye-opening.  Without hesitation he listed off “drink more, you look tired you should go to bed early tonight and get off your electronic devices”.

He spoke the uncomfortable truth.  Now each of these are important to me and it would be so easy for me to justify my nagging:

  • A friend of mine got kidney stones and was in agony.  He warned me to drink more to prevent the same happening to me.
  • At university I stayed up way too late which meant I was too tired to deal with life and as a consequence got into all sorts of problems.
  • I had an addiction to computer games which meant that in the early years of my marriage my wife was a computer widow.

Surely these are legitimate concerns.  But the truth is my nagging doesn’t come out of wanting the best, it comes from a place of fear.  I am concerned/worried/fearful (whatever I choose to call it) about their future and rather embarrassingly I realise that I haven’t taken these issues to God in prayer.

And so this is why this post has been delayed a week.  Sure I could have written what we should all do without actually doing it – Christians have been doing this for centuries – but I thought I would actually taste and see that the LORD is good and then pass that on to you.

Whenever something threatens us or those we love we always have two choices.  We deal with it in our own resources or we go to the place where change actually happens: on our knees (2 Cor 10:4-5).

If we choose the former and take control we will get stressed, we won’t be at peace because the truth is that we have no control over how the future will turn out.  We’ll end up nagging our children (or worse) out of fear.  This will do one of two things: they’ll think we’re over reacting and therefore ignore us and get their guidance from others (who may not have their best interests at heart) or they’ll become captives to fear too.  Neither of these are what we want for our children.

Where do we go from here?

Firstly we need to be honest with ourselves and our Father about our fears.  They need to be expressed to Him not to our children.  We don’t need to play games with Him as He already knows what we need before we ask Him (Mt 6:8).  So why pray at all if He already knows? Because by expressing our fears to Him we deepen intimacy.  We open ourselves up to more of His presence in our lives and that’s when we start to experience His peace and transformation.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)

 So why don’t we ask God for help?  Or why do we ask for help but still try to keep control of the issue?  Because fundamentally we doubt either His goodness or His power or both.

We don’t have to be anxious as He’s a good father who gives good gifts to his children (Mt 7:11).  He isn’t frightened but laughs at the plans of His enemies (Ps 2:4).  God created Adam and Eve even though Satan had rebelled and would seek to lead them astray.  He wasn’t worried as Christ was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).  The solution was already available before the problem even arose!  There is no contest between light and dark.

If you’re still struggling with seeing His goodness or power then in Philippians it says:

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things” (Phil 4:8)

Unplug the news and internet clickbait that feeds our fears.  Read testimonies and plug into what God is doing around the world.  As you do, then your hope will rise as you realise that He is good and He is on the throne and He can bring about transformation that you seek.

I’m not writing this as someone who just says these words.  There are two times which stand out in my life where I experienced the “peace of God which passes all understanding”.  The first was when I was friends with my wife-to-be.  I was her teacher and she was my student.  We had both knew from God that we were going to marry, but we also wanted to do things right.  So we were waiting until she left school before we would date.  We were open about this and went to the head of the sixth form to let them know.  However, being careful one of my other students saw us in a car together.  We were worried that they would assume that something sordid was going on and we were so fearful of what would happen despite us doing the right thing.  I remember getting on our knees together and praying.  My wife had a picture of angels surrounding us in protection and I felt that Psalm 34 was for us which was the same message:

I sought the LORD and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the LORD encamps those who fear him and he delivers them. (Ps 34:4-7)

The peace of God hit us like a wave.  And the outcome?  The student saw us both in the car but was somehow blinded so that they didn’t recognise my wife-to-be even though they knew her very well.  Amen.

The second time was when my wife was rushed into hospital in excruciating pain.  There they discovered that my wife had an ectopic pregnancy and were going to rush her into surgery.  We were devastated.  We didn’t want to have to choose whose life to take and we begged that God would receive Rachael before she went to surgery.  We phoned our church for prayer and I remember in the midst of this maelstrom a peace descending on us – a calmness that we just couldn’t explain given what was happening around us.

The outcome?  My wife had a visit from a kind doctor who said he had watched the surgery via the uplink and showed her images of Rachael who had burst the fallopian tube and had died.  Though it was sad we were so grateful to God.  When we asked to see this doctor again, no-one knew of him.  When we asked if we could have maybe a photo from the uplink video we were told that there was no video taken.  The Father in His infinite goodness sent my wife an angel to give her comfort and let us know that He had answered our desperate prayer.

I won’t pretend it was easy as we walked through our grieving process but I bought worship DVDs that we sat and watched with the volume up so our senses were filled with songs of Him.  We sought out worship songs of lamentation so we had something to sing to Him in this time when we couldn’t sing many other songs.  And He met us there over this time.

We’re nothing special.  The same can happen for you so that you can experience a feast in the presence of our enemies (Ps 23:5).  We can feast on His goodness and provision whilst our fears are looking on.  God loves our children more than we do.  He has better plans for them than we do.

So what happened with my son?

Since prayer I have found myself calmer inside.  Even though I still have boundaries on the time he can spend on his devices I’ve found that it’s coming out of a place of peace and so I’m more flexible and kinder than I was when I was in total control*.  I am operating now out of a place of faith that God has good for my son and am working in light of that rather than out of fear of the worst.  It’s meant that our relationship has improved – there’s more fun – it’s weird that by giving up control I have found more freedom to love.

I’ve also been honest about my failing my son by not trusting God’s working in his life and asked him to pray for me if I start losing it again.  Which he does.  I don’t need to fear this as I’m not the boss, God is.  And my job as a parent is always to point to the true Father than I am a mere shadow of.

May you experience the same freedom as you give your fears to Him.  May you operate out of a place of peace as you trust that He has the ending already known even if the route is not the one we would have chosen.  In Jesus’ precious name.  Amen.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ But he refused saying ‘people will pretend to be your friends and take advantage of you and you’ll end up losing everything.  Stay at home where you’ll be loved.’  The son did so, as he had no funds to go elsewhere but he always resented it and never learned the true depth of his father’s love for him.”

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like this one where I talk about God renewing all things.

*Please understand that this is not a blind faith that says everything is going to be ok and does nothing to bring about God’s holy will – we are co-workers with Christ we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done”.  The difference is whether we are operating out of faith or fear, out of trust or control.  And that makes a difference to whether we are parenting with grace and the spirit or law and the flesh.