This committed-to-holiness-whatever-the-cost, parenting thing. It can be wearisome. It isn’t popular. It doesn’t come naturally. It requires strength in every way. Strength I don’t have. It’s challenging enough for me, to keep my own “living sacrifice” from wriggling off the altar. Weak and selfish human beings, entrusted with the care and nurturing of other weak and selfish smaller ones? How on earth do we begin to believe we can do this alone?
The aches and struggles I experience as a parent help me realize just how fragile the human heart is, how impressionable and fickle, how needy and desperate. I mean mine…not just those of our kids. Especially mine. It truly is the greatest wonder of all wonders when a heart turns to Christ, of its own free will.
Free will is a beautiful thing. It is the thing which makes us so much more than puppets, merely performing God’s bidding. Free will is also a formidable thing, because the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Free will is a strapping, robust thing which is governed by whatever is held closest in the heart. For better, or for worse. What we treasure holds our hearts.
There are lots of times and ways by which we release our children to the Lord…again and again…for God to do with them according to His perfect will. We feel trepidation because our hearts are flesh. We forget His goodness and all His perfections. He knows it. God mercifully calms my heart again and again through this ebbing and flowing of motherhood.
I read these words (Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1) this morning. Perfect for my heart:
“Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”
The Bible says “we are not our own“…everything about ourselves was given to us…physical bodies, personalities, talents, aptitudes, gifts–everything. Our kids are not “ours” either. They are His, lent to us…to give back to Him. Shot out into the world as arrows. This implies skill, aim, and purpose on the part of the archer. That’s you and me. We do our best to hone, straighten, and then point those arrows in a good direction.
How refreshing and healthful it is, when I remind myself of this often: He chose me to be their mom. God doesn’t make mistakes. He can use me as their mom, an earthen vessel, for His great glory. I’m that tender, delicate, vulnerable little offshoot, abiding in Him. The Bible uses the word “branch”, but the meaning is actually this…brand new growth, the color of a “Spring Green” Crayola. I need Him. I must hold onto the Vine day by day, moment by moment.
What enabled Hannah to “keep it together” when she took her precious boy to the temple? It was the condition of her own free will…bolstered by what she held closest to her heart. It was God Himself. Loving Him. Loving who He is. Loving what He does. Loving His purposes. Loving the security she knew she had, because He always keeps His promises. A bit of her prayer in the second chapter grabbed me:
“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”
He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Deut. 32:4