This post is a reminder to myself of the high calling I have as a parent. God has commissioned me to live out Deuteronomy 6 with my children. It is a task I am woefully falling short in. Rather than feeling fulfilled at the end of the day, I often feel tired, defeated, and useless. That’s the honest-to-God-awful truth. “Don’t eat on the couch please!” “Wipe up that milk.” “Why is there a dirty sock shoved between your bed and the wall?!” “Stop fighting!” “Stop whining!” One of these days, during a high stress moment, I swear that all the veins in my head will pop at once and I’m gonna die on the spot. Parenthood should have a warning sticker on it.
But sometimes, in His grace, God interrupts my unbiblical madness and speaks to me.
My daughter recently took some honors placement tests since we moved here from another school district. She was in honors math and english at her previous school and excelled in both so I had no concerns. When she got her scores back, we were all shocked. She didn’t make it. I tried to hide my disappointment but she’s a quick one. She read my face and dropped her own saying, “Sorry.” I felt so bad.
It’s humbling what parenthood reveals about me. I’ve often preached that we ought to love our kids just as they are and help them to get better. But I see more and more, what I really mean is we should help our kids to get better so that they become more lovable. I am much more performance driven than I care to admit. Why else do I feel negative when my only hope for an athlete son fails to score a goal in his peewee soccer league? Why did I get a knot in my stomach when my supposedly super smart daughter didn’t get into honors math? Why do I feel happier when there are more people at my church and sad when fewer show up? It’s sobering when you realize how deeply layered your insecurities lie.
I wrote a little note to my kids at night when reflecting on these things.
If you could see what I see, my children all four of you…
I see a superhero, a princess, a scientist, and a concert pianist.
But if you never become or even strive to be any of these things, it’s OK.
You are not loved because you are the best
You are not loved because you tried your best
You are loved because you are mine — my blood, my flesh, my heart
That’s the way God is with us, isn’t it? We are not loved more because we are the best, because we’ve performed well, or attained high honors at school, or because we were famous. We are not loved more even because we tried our best. This is where a lot of us get confused. We know we are not the best so we think if we just try harder, God will love us more. It’s screwed up, I know, but we all do it. But the gospel says, we are utterly loved because HE is the best and in Jesus Christ, we are guaranteed an eternal love as His children.
Paul, take it away! Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When we get this, a couple of things happen. One is security. We become secure people. We become “convinced” (v. 38) people. Convinced of what? His unconditional love “in Jesus Christ our Lord” (v. 39). The Father loves us with the perfect love He has for His Son. This is good news for those who are united with Christ.
It’s like this. When my second child was a baby, he might have as well been a cute blob because he just sat there wandering into space. But my heart would melt when I saw him… just sitting there. He was my son! He didn’t do anything well. He didn’t even try to do anything well. He just sat there. In the same way, if we are simply in Jesus Christ, the Father will love us with an unconditional love.
A second thing that happens is growth and subsequently ministry. When his love fills our hearts, we are transformed from the inside out. The very core of who we are comes alive with his love and we become more like the one who changed us. Zaccheus was someone who got this (Luke 19). Hated by all, but loved by One, he repaid in exponential amount the people he had robbed. Zaccheus was not loved because he was good or because he tried hard but simply because he met Jesus. Because he met Love, he lived a life of love. When you live a life of love, other people experience Jesus through you. That’s ministry. It’s quite amazing, isn’t it? All his life, Zaccheus’ middle name was “Gonna Get Mine”. All the arrows pointed towards himself –> “Me, me, me!” But after he met Jesus, his arrows pointed upward at God and outward at people. Anyone who stepped in his path was hit that day with a barrage of love-arrows. The inevitable result of someone who is loved is that they become lovers.
I pray we will all be inundated with His love today.