My family and I recently ventured to the great Kern River in Central California for a weekend of relaxing, fishing, and playing in the water. Did I mention that the Kern River is one of the deadliest rivers in the United States? There are swirling whirlpools, thundering rapids, hidden rocks and dangerous undertows—not to mention an extremely fast current in a river that is the fullest it has been in more than 10 years. Does that sound relaxing to you?
It was beautiful, mind you, but absolutely terrifying to this mama. And though no fish were caught, many laughs were shared and memories were made. But I was afraid to turn my back on any of my kids, lest they slip and fall into a river that was ready to take them on a quick trip down a perilous journey never to return! This kind of reminds me of parenting in general.
I want my kids to experience beautiful and memorable things in life, even some exciting and exhilarating moments! But, I want to protect them from being swept away. I could be so fearful that I hold them tight and close and in fact, they miss out on moments that may be scary moments where they have to learn to trust God. These could be normal, coming-of-age dangers that are very real and I must trust God to get them through.
The great theologian Charles Spurgeon wrote that we call upon God, but then we try to carry our burden of fear for our children on our own. “You mock God,” Spurgeon says, “you use the name of God, but not the reality of God.” I am guilty of that! I cry out to God to protect my child from questionable friendships, and then I fret over it. I pray for their safety and worry until they get home. I ask God to heal them and then I cry myself to sleep when they are sick. Gary L. Thomas writes in Devotions for Sacred Parenting, “Perhaps God gave us children in part to make our own faith more real, to keep us from settling for merely naming God rather than pushing into the reality of God.” He goes on to write, “Some of us parents insult God by verbally placing our children under his protection but then worrying as though he were either deaf or powerless.” Ouch. I know my God. He is neither deaf, nor powerless and yet I live in fear when I should rest in faith!
This week I challenge you to ask these questions Gary Thomas lists:
- Who cares more about our children—us, or God?
- Who is better able and more equipped to protect our children—us, or God?
- Who looks on our children with greater understanding of the future—not just ten years’ time, but for all eternity?
However, I recommend you still wear a life vest near the Kern River!