Right now my hands smell like poop.
Well, not right now because I just washed them. But they smelled like poop a few minutes ago. Why? Because my 18 month old daughter Gwendolyn has figured out how to take her diaper off. She’s gotten into the habit of taking off her diaper while still in her crib, which often results in her and her crib being covered in poop. Oh yeah, and my hands also get covered in poop as I clean her off.
So often parenting doesn’t feel like parenting. It feels more like riot control, and I’m using the word “control” veeeeeerrrrry loosely.
Family devotions often feel the same way. I’ve got all the right resources. I’ve got the Jesus Storybook Bible and The Big Picture Story Bible and Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers. I’ve read Shepherding A Child’s Heart and am regularly trying to address heart matters with my kids. But despite all these great resources my family devotion times often feel more circus than sacred.
I’ll gather Charis and Ella and Gwendolyn together in the living room, and for the first 15 seconds everything looks very promising. Then Charis and Ella will get into a grudge match over who gets to sit on the couch. So I sort out the grudge match. By the time I get everything sorted out it’s likely that both of them will be crying and saying things like, “I never ever get to sit on the couch ever!”
Then we start reading. The reading usually goes something like this…
Joseph’s brothers were not kind to him at all. They were jealous of…Charis please stop laying upside down off the couch!
Joseph’s brothers were jealous of the coat his father…Ella if you don’t stop playing with Kleenex box you’re going to have to go lay on your bed.
Joseph’s brother’s were jealous of…Gwendolyn give me my iPad!
They were…yes Ella you have a coat just like Joseph.
And on and on and on. It takes 20 minutes to read a few pages. By the time we reach the end of the story I’ve pretty much given up on being heart-oriented, gospel-centered, and all those other hyphenated words I’m supposed to be. I’m just trying to make it to the end.
I believe in the doctrine of election because it’s in the Bible. I also believe in the doctrine of election because I have kids.
I desperately need God to save my kids because I know I sure as heck can’t. If I were ultimately responsible for the salvation of my children I would have a complete nervous breakdown.
I’m not saying biblical parenting isn’t important. Of course it is. But biblical parenting doesn’t produce saved kids, only God does that.
My parents did a wonderful job of faithfully teaching us from God’s word. We regularly had family devotional times. But I often fell asleep during family devotions. There were many times when my hard heart simply didn’t want to hear what God’s word had to say. When my dad wanted us to wake up at the crack of 8 AM for family devotions during the summer I told him very clearly, “You are ruining my summer.”
My parents were faithful to teach me God’s word, but they couldn’t make my heart come alive. Only God could do that. And praise God, he did make my heart come alive.
When God saved me all the things my parents had taught me began to slide into place and lock together, like a jigsaw puzzle being assembled. The Holy Spirit would bring things I had been taught to mind and would use those things to convict me and change me. The seeds my dad had been scattering for years finally began to blossom and bloom.
Right now parenting feels part biblical, part survival, and part insanity. But I have faith God will save my kids. Not because I’m doing a bang-up job as a parent, but because God is faithful. I believe God will use my feeble efforts to bring forth good fruit in my kids lives. I believe God will use the seeds I’m desperately flinging. I believe God will save my kids because he is mighty to save, not because I’m mighty to teach.
Gotta go. I smell poop.
+Original photo by shane o mac