Monday, February 08, 2010

The next generation of Christ-followers...

Not long ago, I was asked to give a devotional at a baby shower for a new mom having her first baby. I thought I'd re-post some of those ideas here (in a less personal version) for any of my Gentle Readers who could gain encouragement from them.

First, let's read Psalm 127:

Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

As I think about the exciting road that is ahead of first-time moms, this psalm seems to address many of the things that motherhood will bring her way. Each of us who become a parent for the first time discover that we have a God-given capacity to love that is deeper than we ever thought possible. We also find our hearts can be more crushed and broken than we ever thought possible. We discover new heights of joy in our children, and often more depths of sorrow. We are amazed as our children show child-like faith, and discouraged as we see our own sin become their sin. We have hopes and dreams for our children that may overcome us and them if we are not careful.

But the first thing I encourage you to remember, new moms, as you encounter these strong and amazing emotions, is that this baby is not really yours at all. This baby belongs to the Lord, and you will only be entrusted with this little one for a short time. Unless the Lord is building your house, or your family, you are laboring in vain. Give this baby to the Lord every day. Remember that God has dreams and hopes for this child, and give her to Him over and over again, and wait patiently for His dreams to be fulfilled..

The great temptations that come to every mother are anxiety and worry. We worry about health and development, about intelligence and education, about acceptance and opportunity, about our own loss of freedom and independence, about a million different details concerning this little child. But when we worry, we are denying that this child belongs to God. No matter how hard we work to bring about perfect opportunities or friendships for our children, or protect them from danger and evil, the plan of God is perfect for their lives. If we labor day and night and let anxiety rob our sleep, we are usurping God’s place, and laboring in vain again. As it says in verse 2 of Psalm 127:
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

As we depend on God, we learn to release our anxiety and trust Him with these precious little ones, who belong to Him and are beloved of Him.

Verse 3 tells us that children are a heritage from the Lord. They are our heritage, but more than that, they are His heritage: they belong to Him, and your first responsibility as a mom will be to teach your child about Christ, and to show her what it looks like to be a follower of Christ. She will learn everything you show her—those things you try to teach, as well as those things you would rather she never saw in you. I challenge you to watch your walk with the Lord, and live it out before this little one in faithfulness. Be her example of how a child of the King behaves, and set priorities in your family that will always remind her that she is a heritage from the Lord.

We see in Verse 4 that children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. As you train this child to be a follower of Christ, she is a weapon you send into the future. She will begin at your side, but she will fly forth and go places you have never been and will never see. Never forget that you are preparing a warrior for Christ, to stand for Truth in a broken and hurting world, and to speak love and redemption there. But for our children to perform that task, we have to let go of them, and let them fly as the Lord has ordained them to go. The job of a mother is to put herself out of a job, by remembering that she is training the next generation of Christ-followers.

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